Here’s where it really starts, in the direct chat between HS (Mak) and NB (You don’t know who she is yet.) Thanks for hanging in there, reader. A long one this time…
And btw….So much has changed in a decade!!! Be sure to look for clues of nostalgia for 2000/1. (Pre-9/11 world.)
I called Andrea when I got back from my little Jersey trip:
“Hey. Good morning, Anj. It’s Michael.”
“Where have you been? I was so worried about you! I told Josh he was going to have to help me break in if I didn’t hear from you soon.”
“I didn’t know you worried about anything. Did Josh agree to that, by the way? To drive all the way out to Annapolis to break the law?”
“Of course I worry…What do you think I am?”
“I was up in Jersey for a few hours, Miss Clavel.”
“Meeting someone from the chat room, were you?”
“Yeah. That’s it. You caught me.”
“Yes. I always drive up to Jersey to meet people I don’t know in the hope of getting laid or killed. Either one would be very cool with me right now.”
“God, Mak…Listen… I’m late to work. Can I come by later? I really want to talk to you…I have some time tonight. The drive will do me good….”
“Absolutely. If you can part the debris with your holy walking stick, you may find me across the wilderness on the couch, or, alternately, on the couch.”
“I’ll have to dig that up, my stick….”
“It shouldn’t be too hard for you to find. It might be next to your whip.”
“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?”
“It’s way too late for me, Anj.”
“I’ve heard that before from you….”
“Hey…Mak? We can’t meet on the boat, can we? Or go there afterwards?”
“Is that near my couch? It’s freezing outside.”
“Forget it. I’ll come to the house.”
“Cool. I have beer.”
We are gathered here today
treason of the soul;
to tell a person he is whole
by gluing on another.
Do you take
this sweet young thing
to have and to hold
(your life together)
love and cherish
(cheat and perish)
until death do you part?
(Well, at least that’s a start.)
(Now a prayer: O, Lord,
will you protect them from themselves?
For they still believe
in shrink-wrapped morality:
profane and sacred clear
But you know as I do what love is lost in
And whom God has brought together
let no man put asunder.
- MAK, January 2001
Hands_Solo has entered the Chat Room.
Nymphmistress: Welcome back, Hands!
Tigger: Hey, hands. Kind of slow today. Just me and NM and a few private chats who r not posting at all in here. What’s up?
Hands_Solo: Nothin much. Just got back from a little road trip, trying to figure some stuff out. Did you ever drive somewhere and then drive back right away?
Nymphmistress: I’m from LA. We do that kind of s*** all the time. lol.
Tigger: Yeah, I’ve done that. It’s a good way to clear ur head.
Nymphmistress: What’s wrong. Hands? What happened?
Hands_Solo: Long story. Any interesting thoughts today? I really should be writing; I’m avoiding it by being in here.
Nymphmistress: Avoiding lots of s*** like all of us. For me out here it’s still real early. Just can’t sleep. Insomnia. Tigger at work bored, as usual. What a group!!
Tigger: Well what else r u gonna find on chat? People who are busy and happy and satisfied? lol
No-Brainer has entered the chatroom.
Tigger: Speaking of which. lol
Nymphmistress: lol @ Tigger. Hey, NB. How r u today? Site running OK?
No-Brainer: Hi, all. Welcome back, Hands. Yeah, work is OK. I read what you wrote there, Tigger. Profound! Welcome to thinking humanity. How does it feel?
Hands_Solo: Hey, NB. Glad you could join us. Did you read what Tigger wrote? Do you agree?
Hands_Solo: lol @ my lag. Now I see NB read it!
Nymphmistress: The lites in my house are kind of blinking. I think the power is about to go out again. If I disappear it’s cuz my laptop died.
Tigger: Good luck with all that Nymph. Must suck. Glad no power probs in Florida. Lots of other probs lol but that’s not one of them. lol I’m from Palm Beach.
No-Brainer: No kidding. Did you vote Buchanan? lol
Tigger: Didn’t vote at all. But that’s not something you want to advertise down here lol. It’s all dying down, tho. More or less over now that the man is about to be sworn in.
Hands_Solo: America is running out of energy and brains, all at once! lol What do you do, Tigger?
Tigger: Storeroom manager at Sears. Imagine the fun! lol… S***!! My boss. Gotta go. Bye.
No-Brainer: Looks like it’s just you and me, Hands. Slow day. Did you write whatever it was that you wanted to write? On chatting? …Sounds interesting.
Hands_Solo: Not finished yet. It’s the second part of a web column. I have to send it out today – editor waiting. I’m kind of distracted. Can’t formulate what I want to say.
Hands_Solo: What’s the question?
No-Brainer: lol….Sorry…I sometimes just assume people can read my mind….
Hands_Solo: Well, you are a woman.
No-Brainer: Ahhh….So you are a guy. Thought so.
Hands_Solo: Caught red handed! Serves me right for being a chauvinist pig.
No-Brainer: I wouldn’t call you that…
Hands_Solo: Gee, Thanx…lol….Well, what would you call me?
No-Brainer: Someone who has all the answers, is what it seems like.
Hands_Solo: Hmmm….Well, I’m working on it, but I seem to be short a few. lol
No-Brainer: It’s not worth your time.
No-Brainer: What’s the question?…lol
Hands_Solo: Have you tried? To find all the answers?
No-Brainer: I knew them once. Didn’t you?
Hands_Solo: lol….Yeah….I guess I did….
No-Brainer: So my unasked question before was…What is distracting you? What’s wrong?
Hands_Solo: Just a mood, I guess.
No-Brainer: That’s bulls***. No one serious and literate ever comes into this chatroom unless they’re going through something.
Hands_Solo: Is that a fact? Should I take that as a compliment?
No-Brainer: If you want.
Hands_Solo: Does this wise maxim apply to you?
Hands_Solo: Care to share with Uncle Hands? lol
No-Brainer: Hmmm… Not sure I’m in the mood to become material for one of your articles. No offense.
Hands_Solo: …None taken. It was a fair suspicion. ….Although I do have the capacity to engage with humanity without utilitarian motives. Sometimes. lol
No-Brainer: Not sure I believe you.
Hands_Solo: That’s usually been my problem with women…lol
No-Brainer: There’s clearly a reason for that.
Hands_Solo: Which is?
No-Brainer: Well….I don’t really know you that well….
Hands_Solo: Uh-uh. You made a statement, chiquita. Back it up.
No-Brainer: All right….Well….You seem interested in knowing everything about everyone else, getting into other people’s heads, but aren’t willing to share anything about yourself.
Hands_Solo: That’s a lot to digest before breakfast.
No-Brainer: You stole that line from Pacey on Dawson’s Creek.
Hands_Solo: I don’t know who you are talking about.
No-Brainer: You lie, lie, lie.
Hands_Solo: God, you’re good.
No-Brainer: You have no idea. So are you more like Pacey or Dawson? Or Jack? lol
Hands_Solo: I will not dignify that with an answer. I started watching it years ago to see Grams. I like older women.
Hands_Solo: I can’t believe there’s another intelligent adult in this country who watches that show.
No-Brainer: Should I take that as a compliment?
Hands_Solo: If the belly ring fits.
No-Brainer: lol….My belly ring days are over….
Hands_Solo: Mine, too. lol
No-Brainer: I mean….Motherhood does funny things to your belly…
Hands_Solo: Wow! You’re a mom. Have to say, that surprises me…
No-Brainer: Why? B/c moms are supposed to be forty and doing mom stuff and not chatting in here?
Hands_Solo: Hmmm. You got me. Again.
No-Brainer: Well I am 28.
Hands_Solo: Wow. Again.
No-Brainer: Got married right out of college.
Hands_Solo: Is that good or bad? lol
No-Brainer: lol It has its moments, but then it has its days…..if you know what I mean.
Hands_Solo: I’m afraid I don’t. You will have to read me your mind. lol
No-Brainer: I mean, I look at my son and everything else stops. And my husband is a really good guy. But missing my twenties….that’s starting to hit me now….Hard.
Hands_Solo: Is that why you’re in here chatting?
No-Brainer: Negative, Sir.
Hands_Solo: I thought that was a good guess.
No-Brainer: It was. Why do men need to congratulate themselves all the time?
Hands_Solo: Because women never do it for us.
No-Brainer: OOOOOooooHHHHHHH. You got me, Captain Testosterone.
No-Brainer: You did your twenties right, I’ll bet.
Hands_Solo: Each and every day was one of fierce and unrelenting doing. You missed quite a party.
No-Brainer: I’ll bet I did. Seriously. I’m sure I did. What were your early twenties like?
Hands_Solo: Are you serious?
No-Brainer: Are you scared to share, Captain T?
Hands_Solo: lol…Harsh….Well, let’s see. OK. I broke up with an amazing girl in my sophomore year, the one I probably should have married. I think. And then the rest of college was an effort to forget about her through a succession of…female people who I hope I never run into ever, ever again. Although I probably wouldn’t recognize any of them.
No-Brainer: Were you shitfaced or just a shit?
Hands_Solo: lol. Both, Ma’am. Want to take a shot at me on behalf of womankind?
No-Brainer: I think you did a good job shooting yourself.
Hands_Solo: Hmmm….You’re pretty smart, you are. Anyway…One good thing about school was that I did manage to make some great friends there…one of them…Derek…he’s a lifer. You know what I just realized?…Somehow all my best college friends are really, really wealthy and / or successful now. Hmmmm…..
No-Brainer: lol. That’s your punishment for the women.
Hands_Solo: You believe in this Karma stuff? Or was that more of a Judeo-Christian punish the wicked sentiment?
No-Brainer: Maybe. I don’t know. Go on.
Hands_Solo: What? You want to hear more? Is this penance or something?
No-Brainer: Yeah. If you want. What did you do after college?
Hands_Solo: Stayed at Georgetown. That’s where I was in school. Took more than four years to complete a two year Masters in English Lit. lol. Worked a bit also, copy editing, some small journalism jobs. Stayed with that even after I got my useless degree. Kept living in Georgetown, kept writing.
No-Brainer: No girlfriend?
Hands_Solo: Not in the singular, no.
No-Brainer: So there was a lot of support for the Budweiser and Durex families in those days, huh?
Hands_Solo: lol…Yeah. I guess. Also lots of arrogant writers and professors and editors…I spent my days trying to learn from them and then outdo them, and my nights making them into material for my eventual book…
No-Brainer: Did you ever write it? Your eventual book?
Hands_Solo: No. Well…I’m trying, actually. It’s taking me in another direction, though. I don’t know. I got a good deal more poetry out of the experience than anything else. It’s the lazy man’s high literature.
No-Brainer: Why would you call poetry lazy?
Hands_Solo: Because if you can do it, it’s like having to pee. You just have to write that poem, it comes out, and then it’s over. It comes through you more than…more than you actually working on anything.
No-Brainer: Then you have a gift. Why would you call that laziness?
Hands_Solo: This is starting to sound an awful lot like therapy.
No-Brainer: And how do you feel about that?
Hands_Solo: lol So you see…My twenties got me beyond nowhere in the end, other than a bunch of good connections with editors who I ended up working for now… That should make you feel better….You have a husband, a job, a kid, a real house, right?…..
No-Brainer: And you have memories, experiences, something to draw on for your writing career….
Hands_Solo: Lots to draw on. Lots to erase.
Hands_Solo: Was that congratulations?
Hands_Solo: Hallelujah. I’ll have to alert the men’s lobby.
No-Brainer: lol…So you never entered the high-tech boom where the rest of us almost thirties reside, huh? Lucky you.
Hands_Solo: Actually, I did, briefly. I worked for one of those start ups that was an end down before the market even crashed.
No-Brainer: lol….no luck…poor Hands.
Hands_Solo: lol….Again, made some great friends there, though…and during roughly that time period met not one, but two women….
Hands-Solo: Well…one of them was one of those things that didn’t end too badly. Know what I mean by that? It just kind of was there and it just kind of went…
No-Brainer: Oh boy. I know exactly what you mean.
No-Brainer: Who was the second woman?
Hands_Solo: I believe I was accused of sharing nothing but asking probing questions, and now it seems that my accuser is guiltier than I….
No-Brainer: You speak verily, my lord.
Hands_Solo: Speak, then, wench, or I shall have thee locked away.
No-Brainer: lol…I’m already locked away…remember?
No-Brainer: lol….OK…Remember you asked me about what I believed just now? Reward and punishment? Karma?
No-Brainer: Well I have been thinking a lot about all of that shit…You hit it on the head. I’m actually wondering more…..If all the stuff that happened – and didn’t happen! – in my twenties, and all subsequent results that I’m living with now….were what I wanted on some level, even if I didn’t know it at the time….because of who I was, who I am… and therefore, what I deserve…even if I regret it later….Or is it not about that? You know? Maybe things just kind of happened to me that way, that’s how the chips fell….And then I became who I am…Does this make any sense at all?
Hands_Solo: I can’t believe you’re asking me this.
Hands_Solo: Have you been reading my mind? Is that why you assume that people can communicate telepathically? Because you actually can?
No-Brainer: …You have a long lifeline, child. What’s this? A secret!!! Oh, My!
No-Brainer: I was really just asking…Maybe it’s one of those things where life imitates life…
Hands_Solo: It’s called synchronicity in the literature…Jung coined that term for meaningful coincidences…Anyway, that’s been the thing at the top of my think pile for weeks….
No-Brainer: Hmmm……Interesting…..Are you into Jung?
Hands_Solo: At the moment…about neck deep.
No-Brainer: Ah hah.
Hands_Solo: I don’t know the answer to your…our….question of course….Who does?
No-Brainer: Good of you to admit that….
Hands_Solo: lol…..So I guess neither of us is going to talk about what we are each talking around, huh? Why we’re obsessed with this circular fate question? Why you’re trolling the net for meaning? Even though you owe me a good few scroll-downs of sharing, young lady!
No-Brainer: Doesn’t look like it right now. Sorry.
Hands_Solo: Yeah……Well, whenever, I’ll be floating around here if you change your mind…
Hands_Solo: lol. That’s funny…That’s what my dad does a lot.
No-Brainer: What is?
Hands_Solo: Ditto. My mom will write me a card for my birthday or something and she’ll write this long inscription, and my dad will scribble underneath: Ditto. Love, Dad. It’s funny. I’ve always wondered about what makes a person write Ditto.
No-Brainer: I’ll have to get back to you on that one.
Hands_Solo: lol…Where are you from, by the way? You “sound” East Coast.
No-Brainer: I’m from Decatur, Ill. Ever hear of it?
Hands_Solo: Yeah, sure. One of those Cohn Brothers type places, right?
No-Brainer: lol. Almost. Never thought of it like that.
SlickChick_2001 has entered the chatroom.
No-Brainer: S***……..Staff meeting! Bye…
SlickChick_2001: Bye NB. Hi, Hands.
No-Brainer: Hands – email@example.com
SlickChick_2001: NB Is that ur e-mail?
Hands_Solo: No. That was NB’s sister’s mail. She’s gonna get me a job.
SlickChick_2001: Cool. What do you do Hands?
Hands_Solo: Not much. lol. How bout you?
SlickChick_2001: lol. In college. Junior. Finals now. Sux.
Hands_Solo: Hmm. We were just talking about college. Enjoy it while you’re there.
SlickChick_2001: That’s what everyone sez.
Hands_Solo: I didn’t know everyone was that smart.
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