Terri's Cellar Door

Stuff that happens to me, Terri.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Modern Romance

*This is another story, not really true in most ways, only sort of true in others. Also, sorry about the formatting, but it's a little messed up, you know, sometimes. I'll post a link here, if you want to see the original. Further, this one isn't from a universe that I've created, but I might do something a little longer with it later. I changed it a lot from the originial idea that I had which was a young woman meeting a man online who died, and then she goes to his funeral, but yeah, don't steal that idea.*

A Modern Romance
By Terri Day
Is there a such thing as love at first type?
I'm your typical internet nerd. The first thing I bring up is my emails and then the
tabs start opening: Google, Tweeter, Facepages and MyBook. I can't help it. Whenever my
internet is down, I feel like I'm cut off from the rest of the world, stifled in some important
way, and that something important, something pivotal and life changing is happening and
I'm going to be the only person on the planet who doesn't know about it. I live and breathe for
the bits and bytes that circulate through the airwaves and find their way to my little
computer screen, anxious to grace my eyeballs with their presence, and me eager to allow
them in.
When Ken and I met it wasn't over cocktails at Happy Hour, or moving across the
dance floor to music so loud that it makes conversation impossible. It wasn't at church or at
the store, or any of the common places that a person would think to meet someone that they
could consider living the rest of their lives with. It was online. I was doing my usual searching
of the web and came across a particularly interesting site that would allow you to talk to
complete strangers with just the click of a button. Even more anonymous than a webpage I
jumped in, eager to meet new people with interesting stories. After the first couple of freaks
who were looking for nothing more than a cyber hookup, I ran across Katie. She was a high
school student who played the oboe and was looking forward to going to college. When our
conversation was through I met Shae, a young guy who had an obsession with Braveheart
after his parents divorce. I was eating it up. This was the stuff that great writing was made
from and being an amateur writer myself, I was always on the lookout for new and fresh
material. This place was a gold mine.
It was only after Asy, the French college student who could talk to ghosts, and
Wen, the Chinese student who was looking to learn English did I come across Ken. We started
the conversation simply enough,
You: Hello
Stranger: Hello
This was par for the course. I usually started off these jaunty, verbal outings with a
cursory glance around. Like a rabbit poking it's head out of the den after a hard snowfall, I
wasn't going to go running out without a clear sense of direction.
Stranger: So, what are you up to?
You: Nothing, just surfing the net and talking to random strangers.
Stranger: Oh, wow. You're not going to belove this....
You: What?
Stranger: So, am I!
From that moment, I was hooked. I'd only know Ken for a few moments but I knew
I felt something strong for him, something real. We ended up talking for hours that night, and
into the next morning. We took our conversation to a chat service, so we wouldn't lost one
another. We lived in the same city. Perfect. We had the same interests. Perfect. We loved the
same movies, the same books, we even used the same emoticons to express out happiness,
disbelief and embarrassment. There weren't two people more suited to one another than we
were. When we started finishing each other's sentences, I was floored and told him to get out
of my brain.
KennyBoBenny: No way! I like it here. *snuggles into Sandy's brain*
I told him it was the sweetest thing that anybody had ever said to me. And I really, truly
meant it.
KennyBoBenny: Sandy, I'm just dying to ask you something.
SandraD: Okay, what is it?
KennyBoBenny: I was just wondering...
SandraD: Yeeesssss? ^_^
KennyBoBenny: What you looked like. Can you send me a picture?
And there is was. The question that can make or break a lot of online relationships.
I don't think of myself as particularly awful looking, but the mental picture that a person gets
in their head of the person that they're talking to online and the way that the person ends up
looking can be two totally different things. I gulped. I really liked this guy. Should I send him
a real photo? Or something a little doctored to make me look like the supermodel that I could
never hope to be?
SandraD: You send me a photo first.
I waited a moment, and no response. I was about to acquiesce when the reply came back.
KennyBoBenny: Okay
“KennyBoBenny is sending you a file, ACCEPT?”
I happily pushed the button. The file opened. He was gorgeous. Beautiful blue eyes,
warm chestnut hair and a smile, oh, a smile that seemed to light up the screen. He had a
carefree whimsical look about him. One that said, “I'm a fun guy to be around.” My heart fell
even harder. Still, I was a little scared, and a little unsure about my part of the bargain. I could
see he was typing again.
KennyBoBenny: You sending your pic now?
I scrambled for an excuse. Now wasn't the time, I would send it later! I don't know
if I was more worried about him or me, but I knew that I couldn't send the picture right away.
SandraD: I think something's wrong with my computer. I'll have to send it by email.
KennyBoBenny: :(
KennyBoBenny: Ok
We made an agreement to chat the next night, wished each other sweet dreams,
and right before turning off my computer, I sent him the picture of me. It wasn't my best one,
but it showed off some of my nicer features, and it was real, and I felt that I at least owed Ken
It was three days before he was online again. The day after I sent the picture, he
emailed me back, telling me how beautiful I was. I fell even harder, and walked on sunshine
for the rest of the day. Then evening came and he didn't log on. I felt upset, but not betrayed.
He had told me that he might not be able to log in that day, and it wasn't a problem. I was
magnanimous, I was graceful, I was understanding. I wasn't going to smother him like I'd
done in my past relationships. I was going to be the “good girlfriend.” The evening first whole
day I was not graceful or magnanimous. My patience and my understanding were gone,
replaced with a suspicion and a paranoia. Had my picture done it in? Was that the reason
that he didn't want to talk to me again? I had been so witty, so charming, why couldn't guys
see a woman for who she really was, warts and all? It didn't seem fair! I was raging and
railing, and checking my email every couple of minutes; just hoping that I had missed his
email and it was there, at my inbox, just waiting to be opened. Filled with apologies and how
sorry he was, and continuing praises of my beauty. What had I done to be turned away so
abruptly? Why couldn't guys have the courage to just say thanks, but no thanks, instead of
leaving a girl hanging in such a heartless way? And why didn't I have the courage to move
one? Why did I sit in the dark, hoping that he would log on, and hoping that could just talk to
him one more time? Tell him I would change whatever about me it was that he didn't like,
change whatever it was that made him not want to spend any more time on our 'relationship'!
I tried to convince myself that it wasn't me, that things were just not going my way, and that
maybe I should just move on. But even after one day I didn't want to say goodbye to Ken, I just
wanted him back.
The second day I spent doing a personal inspection. I got up early to work out and
try to lose those hard 15 pounds that I had put on in college. I stood naked in my bedroom
mirror, going in close and squinting my dark eyebrows, checking for wrinkles that I might
have overlooked. I threw out the clothes that made me look fat, or too old, or too young. I
went to the bookstore and came home with at least a half a dozen self help titles. “A Road to a
Better You.” “It's Not Too Late to Be the Best You.” “Thirty Days to Living Your Life the Best
Way You Know How.” “A Week to Walking the Road to a Better You.” I probably could have
just bought the last one and saved money on the whole set. I enrolled in a pottery class, signed
up for a hiking workshop and went out and bought a new bicycle. I would be the exciting,
amazing, beautiful woman that Ken would want! I would form her myself and inhabit her
body and that would be more than enough and he would love me! It was that simple. There
would be no more regrets in my life, no more things left undone. I would be the Alpha
Female, and I would take what was rightfully mine.
The third day after I hadn't heard from Ken took a turn for the worse. I didn't
bother waking up until ten, telling my boss I was sick only after she called to check and see if
I was alright. I told her I had a cold. I don't think she believed me. I crawled out of bed,
leaving on the sweatpants that I had fallen asleep in, only to reach the couch and again
collapse. By two the table was covered in pizza boxes, used tissues, ice cream cartons, and of
course my laptop, open and beckoning, but to no avail. I had already called the Rec Center
and cancelled my pottery class, and when they had asked why, I gave a bawling, throaty
confession, which made the pottery teacher on the other side of the line very uncomfortable.
After convincing me that it was him, not me, she hung up, and no doubt proceeded to tell her
coworkers of the bullet she had just dodged by getting a completely batty nutjob out of her
class. I didn't bother calling the hiking instructor.
I had tossed the self help books that I had so dutifully collected, and more in an act
of symbolic retribution than anything else, burned them in a trash can in my backyard. The
paper must have been made from some kind of synthetic stuff because it burned quickly and I
was breathing in lung fulls of black smoke before I got a chance to move to the patio. Later,
after dousing the flames, I dipped my two fingers into the gunky mess, and like an Apache
applying war paint, drew two black lines under my eyes. If Ken wanted a war, so be it. I
marched into my living room, and in a big sweeping motion I turned Lifetime off of the TV,
cleared the table, and brought my computer into full view. Within minutes I was on his
FacePage, using what I knew of his hobbies, pets and of course, his birthday to crack his
password. Once in, I found his ex girlfriend and left a string of foul mouthed curses on her
wall. Then, logging onto his MyBook, I found as many porn stars and terrible bands as I
could, and friended them all. Leaving his contacts littered with undesirables. And finally the
Pièce de résistance. Using the same password as the others, I logged onto his email, and sent
messages to all of his ex-girlfriends (whose names I had found earlier), and his mother,
informing them about a particularly nasty venereal disease that they might want to get
themselves tested for. I laughed triumphantly, surveying my handiwork. That would teach
him to be so wonderful, so charming, and then make himself scarce! I laughed maniacally,
but after a few minutes of open mouthed guffawing, died out. I still missed him. I pushed the
computer away and reached for another, only partly thawed container of cookie dough ice
cream. I didn't regret what I had done, but it hadn't really helped me feel any better, had it?
The laugh that a moment ago had been so exultant died on my lips. I wasn't feeling so good.
SandraD: Okay, now I have a question for you...
KennyBoBenny: K, what is it?
SandraD: It's pretty serious...
KennyBoBenny: lol, okay, now I'm worried. Just tell me.
SandraD: (^_^) Ok, ok, here we go....
KennyBoBenny: omg, haha, spit it out already, the suspense is killing me!
SandraD: Here we go: What....
KennyBoBenny: Uh huh
Sandra D: Is...
KennyBoBenny: Uh huh, lol.
SandraD: Your favorite dinosaur?!
I awoke with a start. I smacked my teeth to get some ground in cookie dough out of
my gums. I had been in some sort of sugar induced coma, and my head was throbbing. I
probably would have been better off drowning my sorrows in a bottle of Jack Daniels. I
looked at the clock : 3:15. The angry red numbers glared back at me, as though they were
witnesses to my little escapades, and didn't like what they were seeing. I shook my head to
clear it a bit and went to the bathroom. While brushing my teeth I looked in the mirror. It's
not as though I didn't like what I saw there. I was a young, attractive woman. I wasn't a
Beyonce or Halle Berry, but I definitely had my good points. I smiled into the mirror. I was
constantly getting compliments on my smile, for instance, which wasn't so bad, now that I
thought about it. I had a pretty good job (with a caring boss), and I had my head on straight. I
had spent years teaching English to little Chinese kids! I was fluent in Mandarin for Pete's
sake! I'm funny, and pretty smart, I'm into politics and sports and movies, and great books. I'd
be a catch for any guy. I straightened my shoulders and looked again into the mirror. And for
the first time, I actually believed it. Yeah, I thought to myself, I'd be a catch for any guy. Forget
Ken, there are plenty of fish in the sea. I spit out the mouthwash and changed into my
pajamas, humming a tune to myself.
“I'm walking on sunshine, whooooa, whoa!”
Then my computer beeped. I sauntered over slowly, picking up empty cartons as I
went along. I probably should shut the damn thing down and go to bed. There was nothing
wrong with choosing a little sleep over more online communication. But then again, what
they heck, right?
KennyBoBenny: Hey
KennyBoBenny: Hey, you there?
KennyBoBenny: I'm so sorry we didn't talk over the weekend. I just got swamped, and before I
knew it it was Sunday night, and I had a paper due.
KennyBoBenny:We should do coffee sometime.
We're having coffee tomorrow afternoon.


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