November 7, 1998
Blowing Chunks


The Story: Boiled Down Into Neat, Tidy, Easily-Digestible *Chunks*


  • Boy and Girl meet in the Baby Boomer Chat Room in 1995.  Boy is just one of manyonline pals that Girl enjoys chatting with, both in and out of The Boom Room.

  •  Boy is a physician in PA,  Girl is a SecraTerri in TicTac. Both are married with children.

  •  During the summer of 1996, Boy diagnoses himself with possible leukemia ... a rare form of the disease to which he is genetically predisposed. Boy is certain that his days are numbered.

  •  Boy tells no one online of his concerns, except for Girl. While he waits for test results, she attempts to keep his spirits up with nightly chats and goofball e-mail.

  •  Boy grows quite dependent on Girl, emotionally. Girl grows quite dependant on Boy's dependance.

  •  When Boy eventually turns out to be healthier than GOD   --  he sends her an ecstatic e-mail entitled "I'm Aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive!!!!!"  --   both Boy and Girl rejoice. The intensity level of the cyber back & forth heats up a few degrees.

  •  On the Fourth of July 1996, Boy announces to Girl that he has "fallen in love" with her. Girl, always a sucker for the L-Word, decides OK ... this might be sorta fun.

  •  Boy invites Girl to "meet." Girl says "OK" ... thinking he probably means a clandestine lunch at The Red Lion Inn in Tic Tac.

  •  Boy sends her plane tickets ... to the CARIBBEAN. 

  • Girl immediately goes on a crash diet. Boy immediately writes Girl a prescription for birth control pills.

  • The day after Thanksgiving 1996, Girl swallows her fear (and a couple of Xanax) and flies across the country to meet Boy in Atlanta.  She later describes the moment when she got off the plane and saw him for the first time as 'the thrilling moment of her life.'  

  •  Boy sings to Girl after they make love for the first time. They enjoy ten giddy days on the Caribbean island of Bonaire, convinced that they hved at last found the other halves of their respective souls.

  •  Boy and Girl part tearfully at the Atlanta airport, desperately in love but uncertain whether they will ever see each other again.

  •  Boy and Girl spend a miserable Christmas 1996 apart from each other ... making their respective families miserable in the process, as well.

  •  Boy eventually announces that he "cannot stand it anymore" and arranges for them to spend four days together in New Orleans in February. It is only AFTER the plane tickets have been purchased that they realize it will be Mardi Gras weekend ... but that just seems incredibly serendipitous to them both.

  •  Disaster strikes. Two days before Girl is due to depart for New Orleans, Girl's HUSBAND discovers her handwritten, X-X-X-rated journal from the Caribbean, tucked into a pocket of her suitcase. (He was looking for a "magazine", he says later.) An emotional hurricane of unbelievable proportions blows through Girl's household as a result.

  •  Girl eventually manages to convince her husband that the affair is a thing of the past & that she is meeting "other friends" in New Orleans. (Girl's Husband is not exactly a rocket scientist.)

  •  Girl's Husband drives her to the airport two days later. (See: "not exactly rocket scientist," above.)

  •  Feverish reunion between Boy & Girl in the New Orleans airport, followed by four days of noisy, sweaty, hedonistic Mardi Gras celebration. (And they even manage to leave the HOTEL ROOM occasionally.)

  •  Four days in New Orleans, however, see Boy & Girl arguing about dumb stuff a lot ... like food. (Boy accuses Girl of being an "unadventurous eater" because she refuses to eat soup with chicken beaks swimming around on top.)  This is guilt and fear beginning to manifest itself in unrelated ways.

  •  Parting, once again, is like amputation.

  •  Boy and Girl decide, not once but several times, that for the sake of their sanity, their families, their HEALTH, their bank accounts, that maybe they will let things "cool off."

  •  Boy sends Girl plane tickets to PENNSYLVANIA two weeks later. (So much for "cooling off.")

  •  Girl's Husband, by now certain that something is indeed GOING ON, goes through the roof when Girl blithely announces that she is once again hopping onto an airplane to "go visit friends"  ...  her third trip in as many months. He tells her, in no uncertain terms, that if she goes ... the marriage is over.

  •  Girl gets on the airplane for PA, convinced that Boy is her destiny.

  •  In PA (and a side trip to Niagara Falls) ... Boy and Girl FIGHT LIKE CATS AND DOGS. There are occasional fun moments, but mostly it is an eye-opening experience for them both. Little differences that didn't seem like so much of a problem from a distance of 3,000 miles -- his fanatical tidiness, her fondness for loud alternative music, her desire for a future together, his desire to not get caught -- are now right there in their faces.

  •  Boy feels Girl is lazy, immature and self-centered. Girl feels Boy is stodgy, pretentious and hypocritical. Boy hates Girl's music. Girl hates Boy's stupid GOATEE. And so it goes.

  •  Boy and Girl part tearfully (as usual) at the airport ... both promising to try harder "the next time."

  •  What neither Boy nor Girl realize is that whilst they were busily arguing in a cheesy heart-shaped jacuzzi in NIAGARA FALLS (Boy: "Where does it hurt?" Girl: "The ring finger on your left hand") ...

  •  ... their respective spouses were on the phone.

  • With each other.

  • Comparing NOTES. Planning STRATEGIES.

  • [gulp]

  •  Upon arrival at home, Boy's wife delivers him an ultimatum: sit down at the computer  and write a goodbye letter to Secra ... or forget about watching his children grow up.

  •  He writes the letter whilst Girl is still 38,000 feet in the air, obliviously winging her way home to Tic Tac.

  •  Girl stands in front of her computer at 11 p.m. Sunday night, suitcases still on the floor beside her, and reads the Goodbye Letter from a Boy who had wept in her arms a mere eight hours earlier, promising to be her "true companion forever."

  •  Girl swiftly goes to pieces.  She spends the next two weeks in the worst emotional turmoil of her almost-forty years ...

  •  .... until Boy signs online one night a couple of weeks later, using a new screen name, and i.m.'s her. 

  • "Want to talk?"

  •  Sigh.

  •  For a little while, things seem headed right back to the place they were before. Intense sneaky i.m. conversations .... intense sneaky phone calls ... intense sneaky plans for the next "rendezvous."

  •  Until Girl suddenly begins throwing up a lot in the mornings.

  •  Girl knows precisely what this means. 

  •  Girl is terrified, angry (he was the one who prescribed her birth control pills) and physically shredded.

  •  Boy is ELATED ... at first. Rants a lot about how a baby will keep Boy & Girl "connected for life," how he will provide emotional and financial support, how he hopes the child will have Girl's eyes and Boy's singing voice. 

  •  Boy quickly becomes less "elated" when Girl makes one thing clear:  if she is expected to go through with the pregnancy, she "expects" more than a check in her mailbox every month.

  •  Suddenly ... Boy begins making noise about his committments to the family & life he already has.

  •  Girl knew precisely what this means. 

  •  Boy makes it clear that he will not pay to have the pregnancy terminated because it is a violation of his principles as a "healer."

  •  Girl says to Boy, "For a 'healer,' you are pathologically skilled at KILLING people, little by little."

  •  Two weeks later, Girl sits weeping in the lobby of an abortion clinic while her sister holds her hand. It is the very worst day of Girl's life.

  •  Months pass. Girl just sort of exists from one day to the next ... drinking too much, sleeping too much, crying too much, thinking too much.

  •  An online pal, thinking that the cure for Girl's current woes is to PLUNGE IMMEDIATELY into another online romance, sends Girl a photo & an e-mail address. "You'd really like this guy," she writes.

  •  Four weeks later, Girl is crossing the Oregon/Washington border with *Someone.*

  •  *Someone* and Girl are terrible for each other on every level that matters. *Someone* feels Girl is lazy, immature and self-centered. Girl feels *Someone* is stodgy, pretentious and hypocritical. *Someone* hates Girl's music. Girl hates *Someone*'s stupid GUN.  *Someone*  is a staunch Republican. Girl is a staunch Bohemian. And so it goes. But Girl has made the choice to leave her family & move to Oregon, and she figures she owed it to everybody to make this thing work.  

  •  Girl and *Someone* are together for several months. There are occasional happy moments -- moving into a new apartment together at the beginning of 1998 is one -- but Girl's head and heart definitely are not in the game.

  •  One Sunday afternoon in the spring of 1998, an i.m. twinkles onto her computer screen, from a name she's never seen before.

  •  "I thought you were someone who used to sing to me," says Girl to the Unknown I.M. Person.

  •  "That's funny," says the Unknown I.M. Person. "I thought you were someone I used to sing to."

  •  Three weeks later Girl is winging her way to Chicago and another frantic, feverish reunion with Boy.  (She tells *Someone* that she's flying to TicTac to visit her children.)

  • Her flight is delayed St. Loo for almost six hours, due to a labor dispute. By the time she finally gets on a connecting flight to Chicago at midnight, she is exhausted and terrified that he won't be at the other end to meet her. When the pilot pages her over the airplane intercom -- "A person on the ground at O'Hare is very concerned about you," the pilot says  -- it is a moment of relief so profound she bursts into tears.

  •  Chicago is a blur of sex and apologies and sightseeing and new promises. Girl comes home, feeling certain that this time he is going to realize how fabulous & important she is, and will never ever let her go again.

  •  Girl lets herself into the Oregon apartment at 11:30 p.m. Sunday night ... and *Someone* is sitting there waiting for her, murderously calm. "Did you have fun in Chicago?" he says.

  •  Two weeks later Girl is moving into The Tree House.

  •  Boy is ecstatic. "This is WONDERFUL!" he spews over the phone. "Now I can call you anytime I want to!"

  • Girl is worried sick about how she will be able to do stuff like eat and pay bills and flush her toilet  .... but Boy reassures her at every turn. "I'm here to support you," he says, and he sends her a big check to help her out with her deposits and moving costs. He also sends her a box of crusty, twenty-year-old pots and pans, relics from his college days.

  •  Living alone in the Tree House is an interesting experience from Day One ... Girl has always wanted to try living on her own  ...   but it is also lonelier than she had anticipated.

  • Boy calls her every day, usually between patients.  At one point he promises to fly out and spend the weekend with her  (but then cancels because it turns out to be a holiday weekend, which he wants to spend with his family). 

  •  Boy and Girl fight over something stupid ... and Girl, who is attempting to maintain a friendly relationship with *Someone,* her only friend in Oregon  ...

  •  ... spends the night at her old place. She and *Someone* rent a movie and barbecue some chicken and have perfunctory sex. 

  • She comes home the next morning to discover a distraught message on her answering machine.  "I am ....... so hurt," Boy sobs into her machine, voice quavering.  "I .... feel so betrayed."

  •  Girl, at this point, is finally (better late than never?) beginning to comprehend the glaring idiosyncracies in this particular relationship ... e.g., the fact that Girl is now divorced, broke, living 300 miles away from her children and basically starving to death ... whilst Boy is still married, father to six, enjoying a thriving medical practice and planning to take his wife to PARIS for her birthday in two weeks.

  •  Girl writes Boy an e-mail, asking him to give her a time frame. "I don't want to be a Vacation Girlfriend anymore," she says.
  • Boy replies that his situation is "fluid," whatever that means, and promises that he will be talking to a lawyer soon.

  •  The next day Boy removes himself from AOL without warning. Cancels his screen name without a goodbye. Poofs into the cyber ether. He tells a mutual friend (so Girl will certainly hear about it) that he "just can't handle the pain of seeing Girl's name on his Buddy List."

  • Girl calls Boy.  "Say you love me," she begs.  "I love you," he says, crying.  "Say you love me!" she screams.  "I love you," he says, crying.  "SAY YOU LOVE ME!" she shouts.  "I love you," he says, crying.  And then she hangs up the phone.

  • And that, as they say, is that.

  •  Girl goes into total emotional spasms one final time.  At one point, law enforcement personnel are summoned to her Tree House by a concerned friend, just to make sure she hasn't done herself in.  Weeks of angst. Weeks of drinking too much again. Weeks of trying to decide whether life is worth it or not ...

  •  .... until a rainy night in November, when Girl sits here in the Tree House remembering all of this stuff: two years of love and lies and sorrow and laughter and adventure and loss.

  • And then she walks outside into the rain and hauls the Hefty bag full of memorabilia ... broken Mardi Gras necklaces, withered bars of soap, airline stubs, foreign coins, empty bottles of cologne ... upstairs to the dumpster.

The End




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