Chandler, Arizona, United States

There's an old saying. If you don't want someone to join a crowd, you ask them, "If everyone were jumping off of a cliff, would you?" Well, I have. So my answer would be "Yes". True story.
Profile continued . . .

How I Met Your Mother Pt. 1

Sunday, March 23, 2014

this entry brought to you by radiohead, "optimistic"

It's difficult to explain exactly how Michelle and I met.

The easy answer would be, of course, to simply say "We met on the Internet," but if I say that, the next question is either what online dating website we met on, and often a smile saying that their best friend had great luck with that, or a queasy frown with a comment that they're hesitant to try it.

It's at this point that I'm forced to say no, we didn't meet on an online dating website. I've known Michelle since I was 16; online dating websites didn't exist in 1995, not as such. In fact, the World Wide Web itself barely existed, Netscape having been created in 1994, and Internet Explorer having been created in 1995. There was plenty of stuff to do and say and read on the Internet, but the concept of just looking at a picture took minutes, so if you were on the Internet, and we were, the World Wide Web was a great concept that did barely anything. I remember in the early days of the web people on the Internet referring to it as "The World Wide Waste" derisively, because there was nothing there. Nowadays to say that there was an Internet at one point but not a World Wide Web seems inconceivable-- the two are utterly interlinked nowadays.

Back when Michelle and I first tried living together, back in 1998, it's not as if it was any easier to explain how I met my girlfriend. In 2014 if you say "I met her on the internet" they assume internet dating websites. It's got a pleasant context since everybody does it, but it also has a connotation of doing-it-on-purpose, of actively seeking someone else out, which isn't true in our case. In 1998, if you said "I met her on the Internet", it meant that you found her on an anonymous chat site, and that she was a dude, or, if you'd actually met her, then she was secretly a murderer.

"Oh, good for you," they'd say if you hadn't met them yet, laughing in their head at your gullibility, you were definitely spending your time chatting with a hairy dude in his mom's basement.

"Oh my god, wow," they'd say, eyebrows raised if they knew this person was actually inside your house right now. "You have to be careful. You never know with the Internet-- she could be some psychopath."

What never made sense to me is that I could meet a girl at a bar and she could still be a psychopath. Meeting someone face to face does not mean you're somehow more able to sniff out psychopaths. People met weirdos and were murdered way before the Internet was invented.

Anyway, Michelle and I actually met on what's called a BBS. There were different kinds of BBSes, some that you dialed into directly because they were local, some that you would download files from, but in this case, it was a place that you accessed through a program called Telnet and typed an address into, much in the same way you do now, and in this case, the closest approximation we have nowadays would be an forum. There were different rooms with specialized subjects to write about, as well as a form of instant messaging, only there were no graphics, just text.

It shouldn't surprise anyone who knows me well, but I used to write poetry. My relationship to poetry is unique, in that I wrote it all the time, but despised reading it. Have you ever read poetry? Sometimes it's really good. Mostly it's idiotic nonsense. Mostly it's really, really bad, and when it's bad, it is pointless, and when it isn't bad, it's pretentious.

There was a person who posted anonymously as "alien". I thought it was clever. I was a moody, self-loathing, depressed teenager-- excuse me, I am a moody, self-loathing, depressed person, but when I was a teenager I was more keen on wearing it on my sleeve. "Alien" was a really good name for a person to post under-- I felt that way. I felt alien. I was inspired by her to anonymously post as "child", which was sort of my take on "alien".

The problem is that I didn't much care for "alien"s work. It was drivel. Nonsense. I wouldn't call it pretension, it just had no meaning-- it was just words, no structure, no reason for being. And yet everyone in the forum-- this was when I was still new to the BBS-- kept gushing over her work, which she sardonically ignored. It irritated me that this person was getting the attention she was getting. Keep in mind I wasn't jealous-- I wasn't posting yet. I was simply annoyed. I remember thinking, if this is the bar that they're gushing over… wait til they get a load of me.

And then she posted a poem called "Alien Water Kiss". It's funny, Michelle has the poem written down, and I've read it again in the years that I've known her, and it's by far not her best work. I couldn't tell you what it was about this poem that I liked. But there was something about it that clicked. I liked it. And from then on whenever she posted, she just seemed to get better and better. She would introduce most poems in this sullen, dead-pan way, this sort of "whatever" tone, that would then spill into these really interesting, creative poems. She really was the stand-out poet on the board. What's the word for developing a crush on someone through their work? I felt that. I admired her. I wanted to know her.

One day someone named "Dazzle Fink" posted a poem. "I usually post anonymously as 'alien'," she said, "But I am probably not going to come here again, so who the hell cares what my name is."

I don't think I even read the poem. I checked the time; she had posted it the previous night. I immediately went to my mail box and typed as quickly as my fingers could move, trying to keep things brief. I'm a verbose person-- duh-- but I didn't want to risk her logging on and leaving before I was done. I wrote that I was 'child', I wrote that I was a fan, that I really admired her work, that I wanted to chat. There was more, I think I told her that "Alien Water Kiss" was the first poem I liked, I gave her a brief opinion on what I thought of her work overall, but the important part was speed.

And sure enough, the moment I finished the email, she logged on. I knew on her screen it said that she had a new email and who it was from, and I messaged her. "Hi," I said. "I just wrote you. I'm a huge fan!"

"I'm a huge fan too :)" she said. "I can't believe you emailed me."

I assumed she was lying. Why wouldn't I? There was no reason for her to also admire my work. That was just a thing she someone says when they're being polite.

"I'm really nervous," I said, waiting for her to read the email.

"I'm really nervous too :)" she said. This started a chat friendship. Her poetry was very sullen and contemplative, but through chat she seemed sullen and sarcastic. She was dry and funny, mean but coy, a sort of Sullen Pixie Dream Girl, into all the exact right things, into all the things I was into. The best music, into Nirvana and Pearl Jam and R.E.M. but somehow into tons of the more obscure stuff I was into but somehow also knew tons I didn't. On the Internet she was the coolest fucking person in the world, she sort of oozedcoolness, she could type a two or three word sentence and you could just see this cool dripping off them.

And then she asked me for my number and called me. Instead of the sullen cool chick smoking cloves who couldn't be bothered for anything, she was a giggling goofball. All those other things were true-- fucking cool, fucking smart, fucking into the coolest shit, but she was the opposite of sullen, with her "Khee-hee-hee" giggle and her out-loud guffaws. Hardly the intimidating sullen girl, she was a delight, a sort of movie-ishly perfect girl that it was impossible to not get a crush on.

(cont'd tomorrow, because this one's pretty long)

with love from CRS @ 12:49 PM 


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