The year was 1997. I had just celebrated my fifteenth birthday with an extravagant quincanera dress and photo shoot at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami.
“Look at the child bride!” tourists yelled.
I had also just joined my first ever online chat room. While not a significant part of most people’s adolescence the online chat room is where I found my voice as a writer and pathological liar so it holds a special place in my heart.
Maybe I should have been reading Tiger Beat or giving out hand jobs like a good ninth grader but I preferred the anonymity and confidence boost provided by total strangers who had no idea how uncool and hairy I was.
Unfortunately, when I started tinkering with the platform I was more online predator than creative storyteller.
Now that I’ve developed a conscience, I realize I owe some people an apology. Specifically, those of you I made believe I was typing with my feet after losing both my arms in a horrific gator accident.
This was during the slow dial up days and I remember crafting my story as the yellow AOL man “ran” in place.
Everglades. Airboat ride. Gator. BOTH arms.
SFX: Beep. Boop. Beee. Cksshhssshh. Beeeeep.
And then the curtains of the internet drew open for me to step on stage.
I joined a Stephen King fan club chat room or maybe it was a single parents support group and began typing. Slowly so I wouldn’t blow my cover.
TwinkleToes82: Hey every
PeterDan: Hi.TwinkleToes. Welcome to the group.
TwinkleToes82: Female here. Age 28.
PeterDan: You a single parent TwinkleToes?
StellaStar: You like Stephen King?
TwinkleToes82: Yup. 4 kids.
JOJO3489: Oh wow. Must be tough raising them without a partner.
Here goes nothing...
TwinkleToes82: Na. What’s tough is raising them
TwinkleToes82: without arms.
urGuy has signed off.
PeterDan has signed off.
Jenna24 has signed off.
At that point, about half of you left the group - the uncomfortableness palpable - but the rest of you stuck around to hear my inspiring story of survival and to offer your words of encouragement.
JOJO3489: That's truly amazing. You learned to type with your feet by practicing on an old typewriter in a dark basement.
StellaStar: My favorite Stephen King book is Pet Sematary.
You proved your worthiness as my new online friends and were there for me the way I always imagined a Stephen King Single Parents fan club would be.
And even though I wasn’t really typing with my feet or raising four kids without arms or a man, you still lifted my spirits. So, I want to thank you and apologize for online predatoring on your kindness.
Your friend forever,