You might as well hear it from me – I met a boy on the internet. I just said that out loud, didn't I?
If you look to the top of this page, and re-read the introductory blurb in that little partitioned box, you might notice it's worded a little awkwardly. It's not my fault, it's just that there's no other way to say it in the 500 allowed characters without rewriting the paragraph. And I've got no time for that, because I'm far too busy actually doing the thing that sounds awkward. No longer is "soliciting dates with foreigners" listed as an alternate activity to writing, but rather "soliciting dates with a foreigner" – a subtle, but significant change. Did you catch that? Against all odds, I've gone singular.
As a beloved friend of mine likes to announce with an open-mouthed grin, to anyone willing to listen, "Kate's met a boy on the internet!" She does it because she loves the confused scowl the statement elicits and the red in my cheeks, and she loves hearing me justify the truth of it. I have met a man via the internet, but not on purpose, and not like THAT. And I really like him, and that wasn't on purpose either, but, yes, maybe like THAT. Liking him is actually a very inconvenient state of affairs, for which I blame him entirely.
If the bubble bursts as I've been warned it might/promised it will, then I suppose I could re-list myself on Montreal's dating market before the end of the summer, and I wouldn't have to go all the way to England to meet him, which would save me a lot of hassle. That doesn't look like it's going to happen, though, because he keeps getting better and better and seeming more and more real, and I can't quite remember meeting anyone in recent history who could make me feel what he does. I'm packing my bags and heading for Heathrow. If we hit it off, I'm really screwed.
That said, I'm not crossing five time zones and one of the world's largest bodies of water just to check him out. This trip has been planned for a year or more, with the purpose of visiting another beloved friend in London, someone who's known me for ages, and is deeply invested in my best interests, and her own. She moved there years ago, and I've been promising to visit just as long, but the allure of tropical beaches and the Latin American unknown kept trumping my good intentions. This friend of mine is clever, and romantic, and just a little tired of always being the one to cross the ocean for a visit, so I wouldn't be surprised to learn that she orchestrated this entire fiasco to make sure I'd cross the pond, for real this time. Alternate explanations for what's happening include, naiveté, coincidence and kismet.
Regardless of her intentions, or lack thereof, she made the fateful introduction sometime around January, through a social networking site – this fact is a source of great embarrassment for me. I barely knew what he looked like when the exchange began, and didn't think much about it at the time. Initial silly, sporadic messages about little-to-nothing gradually evolved into daily hilarious emails, which eventually became well-composed, highly entertaining essays of epic length for which I held my breath. Soon, I looked at every photo of him I could find, twice, and that's about when I acknowledged I'd already taken something too far, or I'd become one of THOSE people, but I couldn't quite put my finger on what that something was, or when I might pass the point of no return. I was too distracted by the butterflies inhabiting the space my vital organs used to occupy.
Of course, as I hear these things go, I became obsessed with the idea of talking to him, but was terrified to call, lest a real conversation change something. He'd given me his number weeks earlier, when I was still the kid in grade three who wouldn't talk to the boy she liked. Thinking about it made me feel as though I was preparing to jump from a bridge. Once I managed to grow balls enough to actually dial his number, he missed the call. Admittedly, my relief grew with every unanswered ring. Leaving a message might be easier, I thought, until I started actually leaving it. Keep it short, I reminded myself, you just want to touch base. A drive-by message of sorts. Hanging up, my heart was pounding and I asked myself, out loud and very sincerely, "What the EFF are you doing?" And right then, the phone rang. Ga-gunk was the sound my heart made.
"Hello?" There was a pause on the other end, as there sometimes is with international connections. It was him, I was sure of it. My ga-gunking heart ricocheted off my flipping stomach, sending my head spinning, and the whole process transformed me into a giggly, dumbstruck teenaged girl. Not unlike a concussion would. At least I wasn't in grade three anymore, I was in junior high.
"Hello, Miss Savage?"
"Yes..." I answered tentatively. Something wasn't right. I wasn't expecting a thick Asian accent.
"Hi, this is the Hudson Bay Company and we have a new offer for you." It was the fastest I've ever managed to get off the phone with a telemarketer. Thinking he'd called, realizing he hadn't, left me with whiplash.
Seconds later, I threw myself backwards onto my bed, bicycle-kicking my girlishness into the air, yelling, "This is too intense! This is too intense!", and the phone rang again. That time, it really was England calling. Our first conversation was wonderfully, appropriately and thrillingly sweet and awkward, and I was both hooked, and pleased with myself for keeping it together after all those bicycle kicks. That time, after hanging up, I said this out loud: "Oh, great. You really have met a boy on the internet." He'd left me thoroughly, undeniably, inescapably intrigued, and yet completely embarrassed about how we'd met.
What's happening is the exact inverse of a one-night stand. We're all talk, no sex. Not even close. In fact, I'm not even comfortable mentioning it here, because I know he's reading this. We've already established that we're intellectually compatible, uncannily like-minded, and we each think the other is great, but the idea of intimacy in any sort of physical sense seems as real as telekinesis. Maybe it's possible, but I'm not entirely convinced, so I don't spend time thinking about it. Still, I'm not about to rule it out. As it stands, we'll be friends without a doubt, and anything more will just have to manifest as naturally as this unlikely situation began. Thinking about anything beyond that first "hello" might send my heart ricocheting again, leading to another concussion, and I hear the human brain can only handle so many of those.
Sure, it seems too good/lame/strange to be true, but all the best (and worst) things start out feeling that way. I like him as much as is possible to like someone I haven't yet met, and it would be a shame to end the story there.
Dear readers, you may now heckle.