1000 WORDS ON…MY VIRTUAL LIFE
I’ve been in some crazy situations with women in my day, but this one was by far and away the most bizarre.
At very least it provided me with the perfect anecdote with which to describe my life as a citizen of the global community popularly known as “Cyberspace”.
I had been chatting to “sharon_the_angel” for a good few months by then. Sharon was one of the regulars in Yahoo’s Dublin Global Chatroom #1. In fact, she could be better described as First Lady of the room. She was always there, and by the picture in her personal profile, I could tell she was easily the best looking. So when I (“crumlindude”) received an invite to pay a visit to her house in Tallaght on a sunny July morning in 2003, being a hot blooded single (if separated) male, I would be forgiven for thinking I was on to a good thing.
Oh, if only it could ever be that simple! First, there was my lifelong propensity to ignore any signals that could be sent out by a girl that fancied me. I was fully aware of this failing, and found it hard to reconcile my invitation with the fact that Sharon was also prone to flirting with another chatroom regular Phil, who went by the charming moniker “i_wanna_lik_u”.
My visit was to be on the Wednesday morning, and the excuse was that I wanted to actually meet some people from the chatroom before we all went out together on the Saturday night downtown, an outing which Phil was also meant to be attending.
Then, there was the warning from another chatroom friend “hey_kitty_kitty” (or “kitty”) that Sharon had been known to actively look for a boyfriend for her mother, another chatter known as “Marilyn101”. She was 18 when she had Sharon, and is attractive for her 40+ years. I had also chatted to her a few times, and got on quite well with her.
And so, as I left the house to head for Tallaght, I knew I was to meet a potential partner, but I wasn’t quite sure whether it was to be one 9 years my junior or 9 years my senior. Two hours, a few joints and much awkwardness later, I was just as unsure!!!
Whereas I must have seemed a polite individual with not much to say, the inside of my head was actually a turmoil which wasn’t helped by the hash I was smoking. Should I flirt with Sharon or Marilyn? Have you ever gone into a shop, down to your last few pennies, and been unsure whether Coke or 7up will quench your thirst? Once you choose and twist open the top of the bottle, there’s no turning back? This is where I was that morning.
Marilyn and I seemed to get on very well from the start. We had similar interests, most specifically the smoking of hash, so my first instinct was that I was meant to flirt with mom. But then all of a sudden, Sharon said I was “very handsome”, and started chatting to me. And to top it all, they seemed like nice people, and the last thing I wanted to do was make the wrong move and alienate them for good.
"Do I dare
disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time,
for decisions and revisions that a minute will reverse."
(taken from "The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock" by TS Eliot)
And so I did nothing. Half-stoned and very confused I made my excuses and left in the early afternoon. God only knows what they made of me. I have seen them both several times since, but after that day I decided that I had made two extremely platonic friends from my online escapades.
Overall I would say I have made at least a dozen good quality netfriends over the years. The only trouble is, to meet a dozen decent people, you have to chat to hundreds if not thousands. There are a LOT of sick puppies out there! One of my better online pals Noreen (“mrs_jim_morrison”) puts it perfectly:
“If you want to meet people online, the odds will be extremely good, but the goods will be extremely odd!!!”
Truer words have seldom been spoken.
So why was I chatting at all? I was never a confident conversationalist with the opposite sex, and when my marriage fell apart in 2000, I tried in vain to get back into the singles scene. I hung around with a crowd that went regularly to Club92 in Leopardstown, and my attempts at chat-up lines were beyond pathetic. My apprehension at volunteering my status as being “used merchandise” would sap any self-esteem I had.
In most online communities, you have what is known as a “personal profile”, as mentioned above. This is basically a web page whereby you can give a synopsis of your own life scenario. Naturally, most people lie, but I figured if I put the “separated 30-something father of 2” info on there few would doubt it. I was convinced that this was the only way I could ever possibly meet someone for a long term relationship.
Luckily for me, Sandra was to twice disprove this theory. Our first spell saw me staying away from the chatrooms for a while, but when we split up, I resurrected my online persona and became a regular myself in “Dub Room 1”. Over the two periods of prolonged chatting I would say I had about ten dates, maybe four of which went further, but NONE of which promised anything worthwhile long term.
Ironically I was on a night out with a bunch of “chat-roomies” when Sandra rang me to ask could we give it another go. Drunk and all as I was at the time, I still had the common sense to agree. Looking back, I’m sure many would belittle my chatroom antics, but it was a crucial period of my life and I owe a lot to the genuine friendship shown to me by my cyber buddies.
© JL Pagano 2004
NEXT, #34 : 1000 WORDS ON…FOOTBALL IN IRELAND [as this is all about, well, what the title says it’s about, and also since I will be away in five days when I would normally publish it, I will stick it on my sports writing blog now. The next instalment you will see published here will be #35 : 1000 WORDS ON…EVEN MORE BLOODY LYRICS!!! and you'll see it hopefully on August 28th]