to lie in a chat room
The music was a segue into all the things that were going on during those years. Nirvana was over, but grunge was becoming mainstream with Kurt Cobain's untimely death. MTV and technology was beginning to take up a bigger space in our lives. My dad brought home an old Compaq from work, the school he worked at were upgrading and had to get rid of the old to make room . Space Invaders was the new nightly addiction, overtaking Duck Hunt and Blades of Steel.
At school, we had Number Crunchers and Word Munchers wheeled in enormous Apple MacIntosh computer carts that barely fit through the door way. We would feverishly work to get our assignments done only to work more on the beastly computers. That was the beauty of this new novelty. I t was an instant motivator, work hard so you could go practice addition and phonics. I wonder if one day soon, kids will get to finish their work on a computer in order to get an opportunity to read, write, or draw with their hands instead of "play time" on a cyclops.
And then came the day with our Superintendent that the hallway filled with wires and an entire section of books in the library were being crammed onto higher shelves to make space for a computer room. An entire room devoted entirely to computers? Surely we had reached the future.
Then came the day that we were set up and the Superintendent led us through logging on. We had to create a username and a password that we would remember. The blue screens with the white cursors blinking at us... the world, our oyster.
I was 13. I was in a chat room. We were chatting with students from a high school in Central Saskatchewan.
And then I lied.
I started chatting with a boy. I told him I was 16. My friend was beside me giggling, we thought this was so funny. The novelty of it was bizarre and apparently altered my perception of right and wrong instantaneously. This world of anonymity and interconnectivity. We chatted back and forth a few times. I relished in the thought that I could be someone else. I think deep down I knew that nothing would ever come of this. I lived in a tiny town and had no access to a vehicle, and figured that he was probably lying too.
Then we swapped phone numbers.
And he actually called me one day. I can't explain how natural all of this seemed, I didn't even give it a second thought that I was lying to a poor boy in some small town in Saskatchewan, and had no remorse over it and that we were in a pseudo relationship when I had never had a boyfriend before but now had a virtual one. I can't remember exactly if it was planned, the phone call, it must have been because I snuck into my dad's office at home, it was the only room in the house that had a landline and a door. We talked for maybe 5 minutes, because what can a dorky 16 year old and a lying 13 year old really get into?
After that chat he must have gotten wise to my age, the online chatting slowed. And we never talked on the phone again. Or, like me, he wondered what the heck he came to his senses and realized he was talking to a stranger from across the province. Chances are, in reality, I forgot my username and password and had to create a new one and he didn't get the opportunity for the relationship to progress.
Then, there was a tornado in his town.
I had never even heard of his town before, and here it was on the news. I kept looking for his name to roll along the bottom of the screen in some epic format. My parents wondered why this news had made me so uncomfortable, I immediately asked if anyone had been killed or any names mentioned on the news. It was more like a really windy day on the prairie and a few shingles got torn off and maybe a tractor tipped. F 1 at best.
I called him the next week. It was a halting conversation. I wanted to leave it be, my friend convinced me that I wanted to know if he was ok, this stranger that I met in a chat room. I wasn't so sure that I cared that much, but I wanted to know if there was any grit: did your dog get swept up in the tornado, did your dad's crops get ruined, did you go to the land of Oz and talk to Oz himself, did you find the yellow brick road? (I was a wee bit dramatic as a pre-teen)
He was fine. His dog was fine. The crops were fine. No Oz.
Boring old chat room teenage boy.
The rush and thrill were sucked right out of the mystery in that revelation. He was just like every other boy in my small town. He was probably 13 too.
That is really the extent of my online dating experience. I would like to think I was a pioneer in that area. You're welcome eharmony, and match.com, I was a trail blazer.
Oh man, my mom is going to blow a gasket when she reads this post.