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We Met Online
At a time when the only people hanging out online were perverts and axe murderers
We met online at a time when, according to common knowledge, the only people hanging out online were perverts and axe murderers.
But, hey, I was also hanging out online, so that couldn’t be true for everybody.
The site doesn’t exist anymore, and I’m not sure what compelled me to join it in the first place, but here was the schtick: You post a single profile photo, and people rate you 1-10 solely based on how you look. It was a terrible site. I have no idea what my rating was, or if I ever even got one, because it was quickly obvious the only people getting close to a 10 were actual models or mostly naked women. Which, fine, if that’s your thing. It wasn’t mine. Case in point: This was my profile photo:
I did meet a few people from the site, though—guys who would instant message me and strike up a chat.
He was one of those guys. I talked to him for a few weeks—first online, and then on the phone—before I agreed to meet with him in person. His friends vetted me over the phone, a fact I found weirdly sweet and protective. And, after a month, we agreed to meet in person.
We’d be leaving straight from my job for a concert at Paradise Rock Club right up the street. I really gussied myself up for the event in a versatile outfit consisting of my best pair of JNCO jeans, topped with a boxy blue men’s t-shirt 2 sizes too big for me. Probably also some Vans knock-offs on my feet.
All shift, as I stocked shelves and counted out change, I fought to keep down the butterflies. The guy was cute. And, on top of that, he seemed sweet and well-adjusted. The hum in my chest intensified every time the automatic doors slid open, and disappointment tingled my extremities when it wasn’t him. What if he didn’t come? I mean, why would he, really? I was just some girl on the internet. Nothing special.
But then, just as I was tamping down the nerves for the five-hundredth time, there he was. He was even cuter in person. I couldn’t believe my luck! When he walked through the door and around to the front of the customer service counter, though, I was met with a surprise.
He had brought a friend.
“Is it okay if he tags along?” he said.
Friend interjected, in a very Boston accent, “I want to make sure you’re going to do right by my friend here.”
Sure, it was weird. And, based on some—okay, all—of my previous experiences, some might say I wasn’t a terribly good judge of character. But I was a new woman now, making better decisions. They were both totally normal young men, and I knew them both not just from the internet but also from the telephone. They definitely were not perverts or axe murderers. And they’d come all this way. Might as well have a good time.
“I parked over there,” the guy said as we left, gesturing to an 80something Ford parked a ways down the street. “Is that cool?”
“Should be fine,” I said. I hadn’t ever driven a car in the city; in three years at an urban university with adequate enough train service, I hadn’t needed one. But it was too late for the meters to be running, and I guessed it was just a park-the-car-and-come-back-for-it-later situation.
I hadn’t realized the concert was 21 and over. Sadly, though we were close in age, the guys were above that threshold and I, below. The bouncer turned me away at the door and my sails deflated. I couldn’t help my age, and he had known it from the beginning, but that didn’t stop me from flushing with embarrassment.
But he wasn’t fazed. “Oh, well,” he shrugged. “Dinner?”
I was so focused on the concert I hadn’t thought about dinner, but there was a Chinese restaurant next door, and so the three of us ended up there instead. Afterward, I suggested we all go back to my place. (You can relax. I feel you tensing up, but this isn’t that kind of story.)
I had a bunch of roommates back then, but none of them were home, and so the three of us hung out in my living room and watched one of the two movies on our shelf: High Fidelity. At this point, 21 years later, the only thing I remember about the film is that we hated it. All three of us. By halfway through, we were just having our own conversation, throwing out a jab at the movie every now and again because, for some reason, we let it run in the background.
Then the movie was over, and it was one in the morning, and the only logical thing was for the guys to go home and for me go to to bed.
I walked them out to the main street, and then up to where they’d parked, but as we approached I began sensing something was wrong.
“Um,” he said.
We had walked for three blocks at that point, and—
“Where’s your car?” asked Friend.
—there wasn’t a single car parked on this side of the street.
“Oh, no,” I said.
To Be Continued next week! This essay is a response/reflection based on's recent series of posts about how he and his wife came to be. This inspired me to write down the story that's been in my head (and of course my heart) for 21 years now. But, truly, it is too long for one essay. So, while I hadn't intended to copy Alex's three-act format wholesale, I might end up doing so. Hope you enjoy (and that you stick around for next week)!
Let me know your thoughts in the comments! What do you think is going to happen next? How were you feeling as you read this? Do you have any funny/romantic/weird date stories? Tell me!
P.S. Here’s that post from Alex.