Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Most Obnoxious Site on the Internet

At some point way back in the 20th century, I registered myself with (no, I’m not going to link to it). The Internet was kind of a new thing then, and even though I didn’t really enjoy high school the part of me that is a big snoop liked the idea of finding out what had happened to all those losers I went to high school with.

At first, let people post superlame formulaic bios about themselves. Maybe two people in my class did that (I sure as heck didn't). Then all of a sudden you had to pay to read those two lame-ass bios. Who’s going to do that? The only thing you could view for free was the married name of the girls who’d gotten married and chosen to change their last names. It was probably about that time (maybe five years ago) that that ad with the girl with the ‘70s glasses and the mushroom-cap hairstyle and that beefy jockstrap of a guy started showing up on every other Web site I visited. It was bad enough to keep seeing those two, but what really galled me (and continues to gall me) is that question that goes something like this: He married her? And they had six kids!!!!!!!!!!????? The sexist subtext of which is: “This hunky specimen married this goofy, four-eyed bowser? And he actually had sex with her a minimum of six times? Ewwwwwwww!!!!” I hate that, and that ad is the chief reason I hate, although there are other reasons only slightly less chiefly to hate it.

I still get e-mails pretty regularly from begging me to become a “Gold Member,” so I can have access to a whole lot of information none of my classmates have ever provided. In other words, so I can pay for something that doesn’t even exist.

The other day I got an e-mail from them telling me that a “Linda Jackson” has sent me an e-mail. I don’t know anyone named Linda Jackson, but, mildly curious, I went to the site—only to find that it has gotten even lamer than one would ever think possible! Since no one ever ponies up for the Gold membership, they are now offering short-term memberships for the oddball price of $2.47. So to read the e-mail that the mysterious Linda Jackson sent me, I would have had to pay $2.47. By that time, I had figured out that Linda Jackson was actually Linda Grabel—Classmates had grudgingly included her maiden name in parentheses—a fellow marching band member and alto sax player.

I barely remember anything about her. She had glasses and a rather pointy nose. She marched next to me in parades, I think, but she was definitely on the outer periphery of my group of friends. Hmmmmm. Is she worth $2.47? I decided she wasn’t, mostly because I don’t want to contribute in even the teensiest way to keeping in business. (How, by the way, does it stay in business and how does it pay for that unrelenting bombardment of ads?)

I felt a little bad for not paying to read her e-mail, but then I noticed that you can send someone “a message,” which is apparently different from an e-mail. (?) So I did that, slyly telling Linda to e-mail me at my regular e-mail address and thus thwarting whole stupid set-up. Well, the message got through to her, although tacked on a preposterous little note identifying my message as an “unpaid message.” (Let’s just see them try to collect!) Linda sent me a two-paragraph e-mail informing that she has six kids (just like the mushroom girl!), that she is still married to Jim (am I supposed to know who he is?), and that they live in San Jose, California. That’s it? I mean, I guess six kids would pretty much keep you from doing anything else, but she didn’t give me much to go on that is going to motivate me to fire back a reply.

I guess, rather than writing a rant about, I should be writing a response to Linda. After all, I did sent that unpaid message to her, implying that if she sent me a real e-mail (not to be confused with the Gold Members-only e-mail), I would respond, but, to tell the truth, I’m not sure now if I really want to reconnect with someone who I was never good friends with to begin with. I mean she was a nice person and everything, but seriously I doubt if I could come up with three facts about her. And, quite honestly, I have terrible trouble keeping up with my e-mail correspondence with my really close friends as it is.

I guess I’ll just send her an e-mail saying I have zero kids, am still not married to B, and live in Portland, Oregon. Is that too curt and ungenerous? Sometimes I think I’m very miserly about my time, and as my mom always used to say, sometimes you loom much larger in someone’s life than they loomed in yours—so maybe I do owe her something, but at the moment it just feels like a burden.

Apropos of nothing previously mentioned in this blog entry—B reminded me that today is the 13th anniversary of our first date. We went to an all-you-can-eat Polish buffet (my idea) on Milwaukee Avenue in Chicago. I piled up my plate with pierogi and pickled herring and went back several times for more. B ate very sparingly, which is really not at all like him. I should ask him if he was doing that so I wouldn’t think he was a hog. Clearly, I wasn’t worried about making a dainty, ladylike impression! I remember that he listened in rapt attention to everything I had to say, and since it was our first date, you’d better believe I was babbling away like a brook. We talked about plays, music, and movies and he wrote down the names of some of the movies I mentioned I liked on a napkin and took it home with him.

By our next date, however, he'd apparently forgotten what I looked like! We met in the lobby of a theater to see a production of the play Laughing Wild by Christopher Durang. I walked right by him several times and he showed no sign of recognition. To be fair, I should confess that I wasn’t quite sure I remembered what he looked like either and thus walked by him a few times before actually feeling confident enought that he was the right guy. The play (his choice) was excellent, and afterward he told me that he'd rented all the movies on the napkin from our first date and thought they were great. A good sign, I guess.

And that’s why--13 years later--we are still together! How’s that for soppy sappiness?


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