Friday, September 5, 2014

Sincerely, Your Online Predator

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: body.

JOJO3489: Hi.

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,