October 26, 2000
I Know What You're Thinking

 


 
I've decided to write a book.

Or maybe the book has finally decided to write me. I'm not sure which.

Either way, a little voice is telling me that the time has come to knuckle down and (as the fortune cookie taped to my computer monitor says) "Do the thing that scares you." Which in this case means strapping my adorable unfocused butt into a chair ... unplugging myself from the Gallery of Regrettable Food website for a few hours every night and every weekend, for the next little while ... clearing my mind as much as possible of all distractions and doubts and demons ...

... and finally writing the damn book.

I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking, Yeah, right. She's going to write a book? Will that be before or after she stops griping about her job and actually starts faxing that stoopid résumé again? Before or after she has that much-ballyhooed boob reduction surgery? Before or after she loses 25 lbs., practices her piano for thirty minutes every day, updates her archives, answers last year's Christmas e-mail and gets that boyfriend of hers to propose?

Before or after pigs learn to fly?

And of course you're absolutely right. I do have a tendency to announce *Big Changes,* here on the website, and then to not follow through on them. Or to not follow through on them as swiftly and as satisfyingly as they do, say, on TV sitcoms. In my own defense, however, I would like to point out that this isn't a TV sitcom. It's my life. And life doesn't move all that swiftly or satisfyingly, a lot of the time. It's a series of stops and starts and obvious plot devices and audience reaction shots and cliffhangers and stunt casting and overblown commercial breaks advertising upcoming attractions ... and sometimes it takes longer than 28.4 minutes to reach story denouement. Sometimes it takes forty-two-and-a-half years, in fact.

But anyway. The book. Here's the basic storyline, as it is currently percolating in the tiny brew-basket of my brain:

On her sixteenth wedding anniversary, a troubled woman leaves her husband and her three children to run off with a man she has known online for less than a month. When the new relationship ends in disaster a few months later, the woman is faced with The Big Decision: does she return to her family and attempt to make amends ... or does she remain on her own and fix herself from the inside-out? Along the way she learns valuable lessons about life, love, HTML, talking birds, vomiting into little metal wastebaskets ... and taking responsibility for her life and her mistakes and her happiness.

I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking, Jesus H. Christ on an Aaron Spelling Production, Secra ... this is totally NOT-believable!!

For one thing, no woman in her right mind would run off with a man she's known online for less than a month. (Not without seeing at least ONE .jpg of him without that 49'ers cap, anyway.) And even if she did run off with the guy, she certainly wouldn't run off on her wedding anniversary, forcryingoutloud. That's just too wrong-headed to be believable. And if the online guy turned out to be such a Limbaugh-Loving, Chumbawamba-Hating, Wheat-Grass-Growing, Cranky-Young-Republican Turned Cranky-OLD-Republican, and the relationship was such a wide-awake-nightmare, and she was so wildly unhappy, why didn't she just turn around and go back to her family? Why did she stay in Oregon, of all godforsaken places?? Why didn't she go back to TicTac and live in her sister's basement for a while, and get her Paxil prescription renewed, and borrow money from her mom, and start divorce proceedings like a normal person? The whole thing is just a big bunch of unbelievable, sentimental, made-for-Lifetime hooey ... and we don't buy it.

That's what you're thinking. And you're probably right.

So how about this one, then? This would be nonfiction ... a series of interviews and essays and stuff, sort of like "The Beatles Anthology" ... except with plenty of revolting middle-aged cyber-sex thrown in, just for fun:

A group of Baby Boomers  --  most of them brand-new to computers in general, and to the cyber world in particular  --  stumble into an AOL chat room in the mid-1990's, where they form a lasting bond of friendship and loyalty that endures through years of profound change, both online and off. Years of pairing off and splitting up and pairing off again ... years of cliques and backstabbing and innuendo ... years of shifting alliances, and private rooms, and cyber surprise parties, and annoying e-mail strings, and phony .gif exchanges, and trashy group novels, and long-distance phone conversations, and IRL get-togethers.

Along the way, some of them lose interest and cancel their AOL account and disappear forever into the ether. Some of them are forced at gunpoint by furious betrayed spouses to cancel their AOL accounts, and they too disappear forever into the ether (until they miraculously reincarnate under a new screen name.) Some of them move on to the Internet. Some of them die. Some of them fly great distances to have sex with each other. Some of them move in together. Some of them get married.

Some of them get married and then get unmarried.

But all of them remember the experience with a sort of wistful "Those were the days" nostalgia, and all of them are willing -- eager, even -- to talk about how the online world changed their lives, and how it decimated their bank account every month until AOL finally went flat-rate, and how it was a much bigger experience than they could possibly have imagined when they wandered into the Baby Boomer Chat Room and typed "Hi! What does 'LOL' mean?" for the first time.

(They would be willing to "talk" about it as long as I PAY them, anyway. And as long as I promise to change their screen names. Right, Ozarkwalk?)

I know what you're thinking.

You're thinking, The bad news here is that in order to write that one, Secra, you would have to actually go back and contact a lot of people you haven't talked to in three or four years. (Some of whom would probably say, "When ya gonna finish the CAR BOOK, Secra?")  And not everybody would be thrilled to hear from you. In some cases it's best to just let sleeping CaveDogs lie.

And once again ... you're totally correct. So here's one last idea for the evening:

Two good-looking, creative, intelligent, totally full-of-themselves alcoholic cyber addicts strike up an online friendlationship.

He lives in California, she lives in TicTac. Both are married, both have kids ... neither of them is interested in cyber romance: at least, not with each other. Mainly they're just interested in talking about music and pop culture and interesting ways to tweak one's AOL profile without getting TOS'd.

This goes on for a number of years. When his marriage blows up, she sends him an e-mail saying 'I'm sorry to hear about your marriage blowing up. Are you OK?' When HER marriage blows up, he sends her an e-mail saying 'I'm sorry to hear about your marriage blowing up. Are you OK?' When he checks himself into rehab and sobers up, she sends him an e-mail saying 'Congratulations. I'm proud of you.' When she decides it's time to dump out the last bottle of Mountain Chablis, he sends her an e-mail saying 'Congratulations. I'm proud of you.' When she's been sober for a month or so he sends her an e-mail saying 'Why don't you fly down to California and visit? I'll take you sightseeing.'

She sends him back an e-mail saying 'That sounds delightful. I will of course sleep on the sofa.'

When they wake up the morning after she has flown down for her platonic visit, he rolls over in bed, wraps an arm around her naked waist and says 'I don't want you to gooooo.' They are then faced with The Big Decision: does she stay? Or does she go? Along the way they learn valuable lessons about life, love, ants in the bathtub, adorable kitchen appliances with little animal faces on them ... and taking responsibility for their life and their mistakes and their happiness.

Yeah ... I know what you're thinking. I'm thinking the same thing.

This writing-a-book stuff might be lots harder than I expected ... unless I can come up with a believable story line.

P.S. Tune in tomorrow to read all about
Ю僱êrvØ¡ & Secra's fabulous lunch
with Ozarktalk and OldeRocker!
[names will be changed to protect the innocent, of course]


one year ago: alameda autumn

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