Saturday, July 09, 2005

Gwen 2: Deeper...

Since I'm lazy, I'm going to name this one after the girl who eventually becomes the focus.

Ted and Jamie showed up one Saturday evening to help me install and set up the software for a WWIV system. Since I only had the dorm phone line, I could only run the thing between 11pm and 8am. This bugged me at first, but later I began to enjoy it--the whole thing had sort of an underground feel to me, as I started getting calls.

The board itself was called Midian, after the freak haven in Clive Barker's Night Breed. I kept it up for almost two years, in some form or another, until I got a girlfriend who wasn't into that sort of thing, and my PC died.

But back to the story: Jamie was in his mid to late 20's, bigger and taller than me, with long curly black hair and a moustache. I'd never met anyone under the age of 40 who had a moustache, but it suited him somehow. He ran a Mac board, so he was more or less along for the ride, although I think he talked shop with John about whatever system they were using while Ted and I were dicking around with the XT.

Ted was shorter and walked with a kind of confidence I later realized to be insecurity masquerading as ego--Napoleon syndrome, you might call it. He wore a beard, had a shaggy haircut, and in general reminded me of someone from an early 80's remake of "Grease" or "West Side Story." He was very friendly, and before they left I had a complete board, program for outcalling to his board nightly (WWIV was set up with regional hubs, so everyone didn't have to call every other board to get messages and info transferred), and an invitation for dinner the following weekend. Jamie gave me a big hug and invited me to Rocky Horror Picture Show sometime in the near future.

As you can imagine, the next couple of weeks were pretty sleepless. At first my room was crowded with people watching the new toy in action, but within a week or so it was just me, tweaking the board and waiting for someone to call. Which they did, moderately, but nothing really exciting happened. I began to sleep at night.

Then, sometime in the third week, The Girl logged on. I missed her, but it was enough to keep me staying up late for another week.

The next week, she logged on again, and this time paged me (I'd forgotten about that til just now, remind me to mention this function in context, if this turns out better than I think it will). We typed back and forth on a primitive IM screen for some time, and then she abruptly logged off. I waited for an hour, but at around 1am I logged off. I knew little more about her than that she was a serious flirt, and liked me a lot.

Two or three days later, she sysop-paged me again, and apologized for logging off so abruptly. She seemed nervous, but we chatted for a bit--and then she did it again. Bemused, I went to bed.

The next night she called me, voice.

Her voice was...a normal voice. Nothing special, nothing that comes to mind all these years later, but it was a feminine voice, talking to ME. What's more, she sounded cute. Now, I understand (from difficult experience) that guessing someone's appearance by their phone voice is just plain setting yourself up to fail. But back then, it never occurred to me that she would be anything but gorgeous.

The first thing she told me was that she might hang up suddenly. Her name was Gwen (spelled with a Q, but I'm not about to spend the next week mis-striking "Q" on this keyboard), and she was a senior in high school. She was first-generation Vietnamese-American, and her father absolutely FORBADE her to date (or talk to) non-Vietnamese boys. This served primarily as a challenge to her, so she spent most evenings sneaking off to call round-eyes like me to spite him. Thus, the sudden hangups.

We became something approaching friends--if it's possible to have sexual tension without ever having met, we had it, but we were so remote, and living such different lives, that it never occurred to me. Also, over the Christmas holidays, I fell back in with my old girlfriend from high school, so my time and attentions were turned elsewhere.

Which was probably why it didn't bug me when she started talking to me about the man in her life.

She first mentioned him a few days before Valentine's Day, in one of those off-the-cuff remarks that just begged for me to ask more. I'm perverse--I didn't. She didn't persist, and talk went on about various things until I fell asleep.

Valentine's Day, I got a giddy phone call from her early in the evening, which was very rare. "He said he loves me!" she squealed in my ear, "we spent the whole day at the mall, and he gave me a picture, and we just walked around and shopped and kissed, and he told me he loved me!"

She chattered on for some time, with me making affirmative noises while attempting to debug FORTRAN code (I know now, you cannot debug FORTRAN code, especially not while you're listening to a 17 year old girl yap about her love life on the phone). I wasn't paying full attention, in other words, so I almost dropped the phone when she squeaked "and then he said that if he hadn't married her first, he would already have asked me to marry him!"


At 8:36 AM , Blogger Muskrat Love said...

Ah, Jefe. Master of the cliffhanger.


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