OK, readers. Mak is Back for the 3rd installment.
(Hint: In the chat room chapter below he is Hands_Solo. In case you don’t get that right away.)
A note: When I wrote this back in 2000, there was no social media, only chat rooms and message boards. I was one of the first 700,000 people on ICQ, before it was bought out by AOL. It was all research, of course. That goes without saying.
Hands_Solo has entered the Chatroom.
SlickChick_2001: Hey, Hands. Cute nic. A/s/l????
GettinLucky: Hi. Hands r/u m/f?
Eminemfan26: What ru doin solo w/ ur hands? lol
Tigger: Anyway, No-Brainer, that’s what my girlfriend sez. Hey hands.
Hands_Solo: Hey to all. Thanx for the welcome. From Maryland. 29 y/o. No sex.
No-Brainer: lol @ Hands. We’ll see if we can accommodate you.
GettinLucky: A senior citizen!!!
Nymphmistress: Lucky ur tripping. 29 a great age. Seasoned. Right Hands???
Slick_Chick2001: Am 21 today! Legal!
Tigger pours Slick a beer now that she is legal.
Tigger: Ru buzzed yet?
Hands_Solo: Uh, hate to ask this, but is anyone in the mood for a real discussion?
Hot pix of PamelaTwin and HungDaddy!!!!!!! Click Here for Awesome Twosome!!!!
Nymphmistress: They’re baaaaaack. Did anyone see those pix? They are pretty lame. Hands…ru m/f???
Slick_Chick2001: Tigger. Thanx, dude. Yummy. Buzz is starting!! Nymph – - Hands doesn’t want to tell us if it’s a him or a her. It’s a secret. Shhhh!!!!
GettinLucky: Hands I will have a real discussion. Y not?
No-Brainer: Please. Dying for a real discussion. Hands, don’t cave. I think it’s cool re: keeping gender a secret. BTW, not 21. lol A real adult with a real job, even.
Eminemfan26: Maybe hands is a faggot, or a dyke like NM so the answer is both or neither. lol.
Hands_Solo: NB – Not exactly a secret. I just don’t see why it’s relevant. Which brings me to the discussion. I know this question has been asked before and it’s a bit late in the day, so to speak,…but…Why are you here – each of you? Why do you chat?
Nymphmistress: M&M – f*** u, ok? Hands, I don’t care what you r. Anyway, everyone lies, so whatever you say could be true, but not necessarily. M&M could be my 67-year-old aunt Sophie. How you doin Sophie? Sorry I cussed at you just now. lol
GettinLucky: Chat to pick up hot girls, get their pix, jerk off.
Tigger: Chat b/c bored at work, can’t watch TV. lol. Anyone else at work?
SlickChick_2001: I think it’s a safe way to kind of play and flirt and fantasize, you know? It’s like being in reality TV except without the prize at the end. lol.
No-Brainer: Tigger – yeah, I’m at work. Hands – R U a psych major or something? Marketing thesis? Industry spy?
Eminemfan26: Hands – who the **** cares? What are you? My civics teacher from Roosevelt?
Hands_Solo: lol. No, NB, a Writer. Humanity spy.
GettinLucky: Anyone seen Sam around?
No-Brainer: I like that even if it is a bit pretentious. As to your question: I think it’s a form of entertainment. There’s a lot of mystery, and guessing, who is who. And then ultimately you just imagine what you want. A whole village of people in your own voice. ( I can be pretentious back. lol.)
WetOne has entered the chatroom.
WetOne: 19f Horny. R there any guys want to chat?
Hands_Solo: NB – thanx. I like that a lot. lol. Pretentiousness is an occupational hazard for me. What do you do?
Eminemfan26: WetOne – Look no further for the ride of your life. Do you have pix?
GettinLucky: WetOne I am da man. You sound really hot. Click for my site – - lots of pix of me.
No-Brainer: Get a room, will you all? Hands – Glorified Techie.
Nymphmistress: Anyone notice how quiet Tigger and SlickChick have gotten?? Private time, guys? lol. Tigger is cheatin on his woman! Shame, shame, Tigger. lol
Hands_Solo: NB – A computer geek!
GettinLucky: Yeah, Tigger doin his bouncy bouncy bouncy thang. ROTFL.
No-Brainer: Well you never know, do you? lol…… and a girl, BTW, not that there’s anything wrong with that. I gotta go – my boss is here. Bye all.
Hands_Solo: Bye, NB. Nice meeting you. Thanks for your help everyone. I’m starving. Gotta go eat.
GettinLucky: Hands goin to eat No-Brainer.
Nymphmistress: ROTFL @ Lucky.
The Balding Briefcase Hotel: Reflections from the Bar / Lounge
By M.A. Kohl
A little over five hours ago, I started driving North from Maryland. I just got on Route 95 and sacrificed myself to the Tollbooth Deity. I believe I have found his shrine in this hotel here somewhere in Jersey.
I was “finally” settled a few months ago, but that was then and this is…how does the end of that go? So here I am, running away to nowhere in particular, just North, escaping advice from good hearted but too-certain friends.
Would you believe I didn’t even notice what city I’m in, or the name of the hotel? What difference does it make, really?
I am nowhere, no matter how you slice it.
I did not get a room. I’m not ready to pledge the next sixteen hours of my life to one beige and brown bedspread. There are so many more beige and brown bedspreads out there, I wouldn’t want to settle for the first one I came across. Now I sound like my ex-fiancé. Must be the Patty Hearst thing.
I feel like I have the Sunday evening blues I used to get in grade school after my bath, but I get the sense that it’s like this all the time here in this lobby. My laptop is perched – get this – on my lap. I’m still wearing my jacket. I’ve had two coffees and I am working on a third. I keep on getting them to go from the bar / lounge. It’s unclear which it is, a bar, or a lounge, so the sign says both, but it’s really only one room.
I look around. I wish I hadn’t. There are places like this, where everything’s clean and not unattractive, just somehow managing to avoid the responsibility of becoming in any way beautiful. There are places like this. I have a large plant next to me of the take-up-as-much-space-with-green-as-you-can variety, a pretty palm thing that is convincingly plastic even though I’m pretty sure it’s real.
The balding briefcase people of the mid-Atlantic have been coming and going all day, one at a time, at non-specific intervals. Different shades of gray and brown offering sports coats a try at matching the hotel furniture perfectly. Will the winner get to take the sofa home?
I have moved over to the bar / lounge. It was inevitable, with the clouds hanging overhead looking almost like an evening sky. The rain is at that point where it hasn’t fallen yet, but there’s no real turning back either. I’m the only one here, other than two businessmen cutting what looks like a mediocre deal over what I now know to be mediocre scotch.
After a few minutes, a guy sits down right next to me. The place is totally empty and he chooses a spot right next to me. I pull my laptop closer in. I glance over: He’s forty-something and medium height and paunchy and balding and not unpleasant looking. He is the human version of the color taupe.
And he wants to chat. “You in business?” he asks me. Not surprisingly, he has the kind of voice you’ve forgotten before you ever heard it. I answer briefly: No. Freelance writer. “You don’t say. Me, I’m just on the way, by the way, “ he says. “Traveling salesman. But I guess that’s obvious.” It is. Three points for self-awareness.
“You divorced?” He asks, “You have that just divorced look. Me, I never made it to the altar. Almost, a few times, but never, you know, all the way to the minister.” He chuckles, swishes the ice in his glass impressively. Meanwhile, I’m envisioning a relay race, this guy almost touching the minister’s outstretched hands before the whistle blows. “No,” I say, “No altars.”
We sit there quietly for about half an hour, him looking up at the silent television showing soap operas, me staring into my laptop, writing nothing. I can’t bring myself to talk to this guy. I feel like a bad person, but I just can’t. He goes on a bit about his business. I hear none of it, but I nod every now and then. Try to smile at least once, for good measure.
He gets up to go. Straightens his tie and wipes his nose on a peach colored extra soft tissue. That must be from home. “You can’t run away forever, “ he tells me, or himself, but it sounds like he’s reading the side of a herbal tea box when he says it. “You can try, but it always feels like this.” He pays. For both of us. And then he disappears into the elevator.
I sit there with a strong coffee and wonder:
What was he like at twenty-nine?
I look outside. It still isn’t raining yet.
From: Michael A. Kohl [email@example.com]
Date: Monday, January 8, 2001 12:01 AM
To: Ken Bogan [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Subject: RE: On Spec Essay
Hi. I wrote this piece on the road. Not sure if you can do anything with it, but if you can use it for Empire’s “Separate Piece” feature, or something, it’s yours. I don’t generally like to bother you with on spec pieces like these, but …what the hell…I’m a special correspondent now! Hehehehehe…Do you regret it yet?
You can always get me by e-mail.
P.S. I’m off to California to interview Ollopa in a couple of weeks. I’ll send him your best, of course. His sister’s with him, you say? Ahh, Ken-bo…remember her? Anything/one else you want me to cover out in SF while I’m there? (Pun intended.)
P.P.S. I should really come by and say hey if I’ve made it up this far, but I’m being hurtled back down by menacing inertia. Get you next trip, man. We need to catch up.
Note to Self:
My Favorite Things: (for Tia Sappher, the hottest shrink on earth, if I ever get back to see her again…Trying to remember what it is I live for…)
- My sixth grade teacher (Mrs. Wolff??) who told me that my essay on the framers of the constitution made her laugh
- My brother’s Tupperware farm on Long Island (and I guess his kids)
- Babysitting Derek’s boat…in particular the bar
- The air outside at the beginning and end of night – especially in Montana that time…
- Black leather, just not pants (never, ever pants), especially furniture
- Those really short colorful beaded necklaces that girls wear right up on their necks, especially when they have a suntan…speaking of which…
- That time I drove down to Ocean City with Rachel in the middle of the night when her parents were out of town. … the Bay Bridge, with the sunset behind us… Later, on the beach….
- English poets, American beer, at the same time
- Kahlua in coffee
- Girl techies
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