Tuesday, May 6, 2008

early onset internet ...

my mom had two full walls of chalkboards in her third-floor classroom, and bookcases teeming with titles like: "tales of the fourth-grade nothing," "nothing's fair in fifth grade," "bridge to terabithia," and "superfudge." but the greatest perk of having my mom be an elementary school teacher was that every summer she got to take home one of the macintoshes from the school's computer lab.

she would set up this clunky box of technology in our den with some rules about making sure to always turn off the monitor and to ground myself before touching anything so that i didn't static school's property into a sizzling mess. i'd spend the summer saddling my friends with dysentery and syphilis and fjording shit. i opened a simulated lemonade-selling business where i negotiated pricing according to weather conditions and the cost of supplies. i formatted floppy discs, then coded them with passwords to keep anyone from finding the equivilent of cave-drawing: flashing boxes and robotic stick figures.

the computers evolved, eventually we had a color screen. then came the internet. we were subscribers to a service called "prodigy" which divvied out complicated screen names like, username: wxzzy061. i'm not sure that anyone ever explained to me what this internet was, or its place in this world. i just knew that it was the preferred haven of 47 year old perverts going by the name "betsi" who would try to extract your home address so they could -- at their leisure -- hide in your closet, drug your chocolate milk, throw you into the back of a nondescript van and whisk you away to cleveland.

to me, the internet was a place to meet likeminded fans of the song "OPP," and "humpty dance." it was a spot where i could defend the acting skills of the woman who plays crickett on "the young and the restless" [i was labeled a troll on this bulletin board.] and on the internet, i could browse forums about "depeche mode," missives by people with names like "bondage angel." [mine was lil' girl ... a name i was proud of and that totally revealed me as a true fan. i spent many hours declaring my loyalty to black celebration, music for the masses and violator.]

of my friends, just princess linda also had "the internet" and together we used it to get around my 10 p.m. phone curfew and midnight car curfew. we would stay up late sending messages back and forth:

"and so then alex goes ... and i was like ..."
"but do you think he like-likes her or just likes her?"

once we went to AOL i found lots of those creepy men to IM with at 3 a.m. it was all very innocent, and only once did i drive to a truck stop in the middle of the night to meet some guy with a 1970s hot rod who had billed himself as much taller. i let him watch me eat an omelette, and then went back to rochester.

it's probably not surprising that i met my boyfriend on myspace. ... i mean at subway.

sometimes i wonder what it would have been like to always have access to the entire world. what if i'd had a blog when i was a teenager, chronicalling unrequited love and the haunting sounds of the song "little 15." how my favorite food is the maid-rite and how i hate playing the saxophone.

i know one thing: there would be archives filled with poetry. oh yes. there would be poetry.


Perfectly Shelly said...

"Do the HUMPTY"
and I LOVE maid-rite...FAVE.
I didn't have internet til adulthood, so I missed this part of life.....
and Crickett? *tear* she was my HERO in the 80's for being a 'regular' girl dating a rock star......'Danny". I mean isn't that EVERY 17 yr old's fantasy?

Don't know how young you are, but, hey, we may be long lost sisters......me, the much OLDER matronly one, of course.

L Sass said...

My first AOL screen name was OMer 13, selected when I was (shocker!) 13. We were one of the first families I knew to get AOL, and boy was it glamorous!

Maurey said...

I used to love all those books. My little brother was Fudgie, for sure.

Flenker said...

My early days on the internet were spent looking up sports information. And downloading MIDI versions of songs, mostly the Final Fantasy video game soundtrack.

Wow, I used to be a huge nerd. Yes, USED to be.

Krupskaya said...

When I worked as an operator standing by, I took phone orders for Prodigy. It cost like $250 (back in the early 1990s) and I had no idea what it was for.

Semi-Charmed said...

oh how i loved laura lee bell.