Friday, January 16, 2009

Rock that scarlet "SL", baby

He sipped wine and looked at me with apprehension across a candlelit table.

"So, um, I have to be honest -- it kind of bothers me," he said.

I knew what was coming, but I tried to look innocent as I asked him why.

"You write it in first-person," he continued. "Like you think it's . . . real?"

"Absolutely not," I assured him. "Just think of it as fiction."

The topic was delicate. 

The topic was this blog.

And unfortunately we weren't two well-groomed avatars on a giddy pixelated date against a gorgeous Windlighted backdrop. 

We were two adults "trying each other on for size" in the real world, dining in a crowded restaurant on Date No. 3 -- he, in rumpled business attire after a long day at the office; me after hours of agonizing over my hair, makeup and how best to dress my way-too-prominent bones (a newish development ever since my appetite vanished with my employment status).

He was a successful executive who, if I squinted, looked like Harry Connick Jr. He had a nice house, a dog and a 10-year-old son. His jokes were bad, but his kisses were off the charts, so up until that moment he was getting a pretty high score in my book.

And up until that moment, I thought I was getting a pretty high score in his.

Up until that moment.

"Well, I never really took you for one of those Star Trek/World of Warcraft people," he said. "And, um, reading that blog, it seems like you're really into that game. . . . [pause] . . . It looks like something my son would play???"

(Oh lord, buddy, you'd better hope not.)

His eyes pleaded for reassurance.

I cursed Google, and the fact that GENIUS GOOGLE had found the one teeny Web site in the world out there that linked my real name with this blog, and the fact that the guy had felt the need to Google me anyway. Why can't they ever just stop at a credit report and a criminal background check and LEAVE IT at that????

When I got done with the internal cursing, I gave him my timeline of "Why I'm on Second Life" excuses:

-- It started with a guy in real life.

-- The guy lived in Texas, so we used Second Life as a "long-distance relationship tool."

"It's just like chatting on AIM," I explained. "Except you use avatars and, I don't know, you can um, swing on a romantic swing or hug or kiss or . . . you know, whatever."

("Swing on a romantic swing." Oh God. Or get naked and have pixelated shower sex with your fully animated private parts. And by the way, my boobs are HUGE there -- you'd love 'em!)

The excuses continued:

-- "Well you see, as the former PR director for [a global company], it really was my job to get on Second Life because I was constantly evaluating offers from marketing firms that wanted to create a Second Life version of the brand. . . .

-- ". . . and even though I'm now unemployed and obviously no longer speaking to Long Distance Romance, I stay on SL because I have other friends there . . .

-- ". . . oh, also I should really stay tuned-in to that whole, um, 'forum,' because I fully intend to be employed again someday and, as such, need to be as current and as well-versed in all aspects of social networking as possible . . .

-- ". . . and, um, because I work with fashion and beauty editors in real life, Second Life can be educational in that . . . uh . . . aspect since it mirrors so many real-life fashion trends, so, um, you know, I can really get a feel for what women respond to there and . . .

-- ". . . well, it's actually kind of like an interesting sociology experiment, just to, you know, watch how people react in that 'venue' and, uhhhh, since I'm supposed to be a public relations expert, I'm always studying how people, um, relate [that's it, 'relate'!] to each other and how they relate to virtual businesses and uh . . .

-- ". . . hey, are you gonna eat that last shrimp?"

Hell no, I didn't hear from him again. I got a polite e-mail from him a few days later, stumbling through a badly worded depiction of a hectic work schedule, a busy life, parenting responsibilities, his epiphany that I deserve someone with more free time, etc., etc., etc. 

It failed to say the one thing he really meant:

"You're a geek who totally and completely freaked me out with your weird and kinky video game."

Crushed, I vowed to grow up and start acting like an adult.

I demolished the online evidence of the connection between Me and Emerald Wynn.

And I turned my thoughts to more dour grownup topics, like unemployment insurance, grout cleaning, Oprah Winfrey's world domination, me vs. cat puke, birth control pills and how much I hate them, coupon-clipping, vitamin intake, energy conservation, smaller pores, soy candles, world peace, acclimating myself to a cheaper brand of gin, fiber grams, toenail fungus, whether or not to purchase an Obama Victory Plate for my future imaginary grandchildren, "what the hell is that smell in my refrigerator?", headhunters, human resources departments, references, to tweet or not to tweet, Deepak Chopra, decaffeination, "I swear to God that's a blow-up doll my next-door neighbor is banging over there," eyebrow waxing, lip waxing, bikini waxing, ShamWow!, omega-3 fish oils, "mineral makeup is bullsh*t," gas prices, cell phone minutes, Nancy Grace, recycling, antioxidants, free radicals, peptides, acai berries, terrorism, plane crashes, kidnappings, confession, communion, genuflection, meditation, "I always thought I hated Kelly Ripa but I actually sort of like her," coloring in scuff marks on black shoes with a Sharpie because shoe polish costs $4, horoscopes, my IRA, cashing out my IRA, 401Ks, cashing out my . . . "Hey, where the hell IS my 401K???", Jehovah's Witnesses and how to keep them away from my door, status updates, text messages, apps, deadlines, invoices, receipts, "I didn't think it was humanly possible but I really do think my ears have gotten bigger this year," my roots (hair, not ancestry), my roots (ancestry, not hair), antiquing, spellcheck, grammar, word counts, biographies, business books, self-help books, the economy, the lack of an economy, cover letters, war, whether or not I can handle Wal-Mart in the middle of the day and dead-sober, taking money from my Visa to pay off my MasterCard, taking money from my Discover card to pay off my Visa, taking money from my savings account to pay off my Discover card, "How many pizzas can I order before Pizza Hut thinks I'm a shut-in?", Excedrin, Advil, Tylenol, Xanax, Midol, Ambien, Pepto Bismol, Lexapro, hand-sanitizer, hairball remedy (not for me), Rescue Remedy, lactose, gluten, smoothies, Spanx, wheat grass, my thyroid, "wash in cold water with like colors," Starbucks, duvet covers, tire pressure, "let set for two minutes" and why????, filtered water, whitening strips, crunches, lunges, curls, the Downward Dog, belly breathing, getting into the gap, getting into The Gap, designer knockoffs, toxins, cellulite cream, ant traps, the paralyzing decision between nutty or creamy, tax write-offs, consignment shops, five-dollar foot-longs, dollar menus, dollar stores, "can I borrow a dollar?". . . ENOUGH!!!!!!

Yeah. It was like that.

So after a couple of months of that little experiment, one day I stopped and declared, "I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF THINKING LIKE AN ADULT FOR A WHILE!"

And I logged back on here.

It was like a sigh of sweet relief. Like a druggie getting a fix? Ah, how about just embracing the realization that I have FUN when the world isn't on my shoulders, when my mind isn't clouded with all those ultimately meaningless details, and when I'm goofing around with my friends, whether they're online or in front of my actual flawed face.

And the last time I checked, a little fun is nothing to be ashamed of. Particularly these days.

If a man ever looks at me across a dimly lit table again, a question on his lips and eyes begging for reassurance, I'm just gonna shrug and say,

"I'm a creative type. I need my playtime. Now pour us some more wine, kiss me and shut the hell up."

(My thanks to Luth Brodie over on SL Revolution for the post, "That Cold Dead Stare of Confusion" -- I've seen it too.)


Aisuru Rieko said...

brilliant piece of writing

Peter Stindberg said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you! That last tagline is BRILLIANT.

Thanks for this report, it expresseses your frustrations and your doubts very well. I too have erased the links between my FL and my RL some two years ago when my SL took a turn I did not envision before.I too would feel insecure if questioned for it.

But you came up with the perfect answer. Good luck with date #4!

Nuuna Nitely said...

This was a great, great post.:) Really loved reading it. Thank you. And yeah I have tried to explain SL to my friends too. But I always make it sound less then it actually means to me.:/ But in their eyes I'm already a big geek anyway..:D

Alicia Chenaux said...

I still don't understand why he felt it necessary to google you. Man, it has obviously been way too long since I've had to date anyone.

Emerald Wynn said...

Hey, thanks. That's too kind of all of you. LOL - there's no Date No. 4 with that guy.

I think they Google me when they find out I've been a journalist and then a spokesperson. Then they can show up for a date and mention articles I've written or quotes in the news or whatever. Nice of them to make the effort. But yeah, it gets a little voyeuristic. And I've been taking this yearlong "sabbatical," so now all the decent intellectual stuff is pretty much gone and only stupid stuff is left.

Sheesh. When I learn a guy's name, I check the local child molester directory to make sure he's not in there and that's about it.

Krissy Muggleston said...

I confess, I google everyone. I shouldn't confess that, should I? I'm with Nuuna... I tend to downplay my true passion for SL. Good job on the brain dump and candor. :)

Milla Michinaga said...

I love your writing! And that last line is brilliant -- I'm gonna be using it. :)

Learning Teacher said...

I didn't bother to google the guy I'm corresponding with (that I met through an online dating website). He doesn't have a unique name, I'd end up with billions of unrelated results from people with the same name :P But I searched Facebook and Friendster with the email address he uses to write to me. Nothing turned up. LOL


Nimil said...

i think it's pretty sad that someone would judge you for what you do in your spare time. you seem like a very intellegent human being and i love your writing style. (first time reading this blog >_>)

i have thankfully never encountered anyone who has judged me for being in second life. my parents worry that i am in some sort of internet sex cult but that's because they only see the bad press, which i try to counteract with the good press (when i can find it) but beyond that, if someone is going to have a problem with it, then they probably weren't worth the trouble of speaking to anyway.

Emerald Wynn said...

Sorry for the late pop-in but wanted to thank Milla and Nimil for stopping by and for your kind words.

Hugs, Krissy!