i hope that you don't laugh.

thirteen and desperately lonely, from time to time, i cruised the chatrooms. there was a good variety, like cancer survivors, korn rulezzz, depression, wicca, buffy, you name it. people would roleplay, get into arguments, and basically say whatever they felt they couldn't say in real life. fascinated by, and possibly suffering from depression, i visited its chatroom. it proved to be a real pity party, and most of the time, different users constantly threatened to kill themselves. thus, most of chat time was spent learning about another's problems, and trying to provide support. it was a fantastic display of miserable oneupsmanship. compared to the self-proclaimed broke divorcees, terminally ill, and truly inconsolable, i didn't have much going for me. sure, i had acne, nothing to do on weekends, and spent a good majority of my time listening to self-hating rock and roll cds, but the fact was, when it came down to it, i just couldn't compete. all complaints were waved off with a simple phrase: "you've got your whole life ahead of you."

i started visiting local chats with the hope of meeting a nice girl. the internet made things much easier for the socially inept. i didn't have to go to the mall or movies or dances to pick up chicks. i could just sit at home and bite each and every time i saw someone post: "13/f." and bite i did. soon, there was emily and jeanna and gwen and sarah and ashley; the list went on. a whole list of girls i would chat with on a regular basis; i had no idea what they looked like, and they couldn't see me, either. it was perfect. this cyber reality helped fulfill a part of my own reality that was desperately lacking: the ability to speak to the opposite sex.

i started falling for emily. she didn't tell me much about her physical appearance, except that she had curly hair, was white, and was around my height. sounded good enough, right? well, you probably know where this story is going. i started bragging about her to my friends, none of whom had girlfriends, the kind of boys who just froze when even just an average-looking girl would come speak to them. "so, when are you gonna meet her?" they would ask me. i would smile, and just shrug. life was great.

we would chat online after school for weeks and sometimes we would even call each other. one saturday, i told her how i thought this fat girl on a bike was following me home from the circle k. she laughed at that. i don't remember much else of what we talked about. what else do thirteen year-olds talk about? school, their friends, and that's about it. but she had a nice, gentle voice, and i pictured all the things we were going to do together. we talked for a few weeks when we finally decided one weekend that we were going to see a movie together. what movie? it didn't matter; whatever was playing.

it ended up being the fifth element. i brought my friend along, in case emily turned out to be some big fucking scam, or else a pervert kidnapper who had a female voice. when we got to the virgin record store, these two girls were looking at us, and they were giggling. my friend looked at them. "better not be their asses," he said. i was nervous, but i had on deodorant, so i was okay. i browsed the cd racks, though i wasn't really interested. i just wanted to meet this pretty girl i had been talking to, the girl who was going to improve my quality of life, make everything that much better. suddenly, i heard her voice. "hey," she said.

i turned to face her, and then i must've turned white. she could probably see the disappointment on my face, and that must've made her heart sink more than it did mine. i could've lied; i could've said, "no, i'm not the guy with the rage against the machine shirt who said he'd meet you here at this specific time today." but i didn't. i admitted to being myself - my horrible, superficial self. we went to the movies, and i didn't say a word to her. i can't even remember the film. it was like watching a movie while you're stoned, and the whole hour and a half ordeal somehow compresses itself into a five-minute preview. "talk to her," my friend said, nudging me. "about what?" i said.

soon enough, it was over. when she left, we simply said goodbye. i'd like to think that she was just as disappointed in seeing what i looked like, but my ego was too big to even consider that a possibility. we waited for her dad to pick her up, and then we said goodbye. they drove off, and her dad smiled a huge smile and waved to me, as if he were saying, "thanks for giving my poor daughter a chance." i waved back and forced a smile. i'm going to let your whole family down. and i did. i called her that night, like i said i would, but i was standoffish and said that i was tired and wanted to go to bed early. afterward, i unplugged my phone from the wall, and i left it that way for a week.

it was a cruel thing to do, i knew even then. my friends laughed at me, and i was the butt of their jokes for the rest of the year. i hoped that it wouldn't follow me into high school, but somehow, it did. people still talked about it because i guess there wasn't much else to talk about. i'd like to think that if i were a better, more noble person, i wouldn't have done what i did, but the fact is, i'm not.

i'm just like everyone else. and i find that unsettling.

1 comment:

ms.meggie said...

nice allusion to the stars. wow, i can't believe you never told me this story.