Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A friend is a friend is a friend. -OR- "I sure think the Internet is swell."

How bout that?

You go to a someplace where you’ve never been, wondering if you’ll run into a someone that you haven’t seen for a good while. You sit back, you relax, you grab your extravagantly sized coffee cup, and you allow your mind to wander. You’re waiting. But not really. You don’t expect the person to show up, you just think it would be nice if they did. The person in question is a friend. Not the closest of friends. An acquaintance. But one who’s read your words and spoken kindly to your face. That friend? Never there.

But someone else…

The internet is a mysterious beast. It’s vast and unrelenting pathways send packets of information at an incredible clip towards nearly anywhere that anyone might conceive, its series of tubes (teehee!) giving us a hither-for unheard of chance to speak to those whom previously we would never have spoken.


But the once we set the enjoyment of porn aside, this interbot becomes something hard to comprehend. Because out there, there are people. Everywhere. Living, breathing, smelling, enjoying, dancing, idling, poo-gassing, dieing, dyeing, joying, and once again, living. They’re out there. Trying to do things. Trying to think of things. Trying to talk to no one in particular, just to people -- in the grandest sense -- through the unstable ether. It can happen. Every once and awhile, you find someone via the internet. And hey, ho, why not -- you talk to them.

I can recall a time. I was in that place, that place that was green and beautiful or icy and fine, where friends of mine turned angry and I myself turned sad. I was talking to someone. Someone who I’d stumbled across in a manner that I cannot for the life of me recall, someone who wrote in a brashly interesting manner. And this someone just so happened to be a fan of books by Haruki Murakami. Yes.

She and I, we talked. Not very much. A few idle mails left hanging in their boxes, a lazy eye or two scanning each others respective pages, and perhaps even an AIM conversation or two. But no, it wasn’t a friendship. We talked frankly about certain things, and just plain didn’t bother with others. She recommended I go to Siberia, when that chance came up for me (the origin of that story is one that I won‘t relay today). But for a moment, there was something. Nothing of consequence, not even remotely. But something.

The interweb has garnered a certain amount of criticism in recent years, months, days, by groups of people who harbor the fear that these collections of wires and lights , lights which shine in our faces and chime at us with messages; that these boxes of siliconey chips serve only to alienate, not to connect. That they prevent people from meeting people. That they compress us down into some minute form, focusing us into balls of pure loneliness that eventually will fade away. Kiyoshi Kurosawa wrote a good movie about this. Wes Craven did not. But whether or not the original version of “Pulse,” is better than the remake (it is), the point is that the issue is out there. People are concerned.

But is that something to be concerned about?

Today I was sitting in a coffee-shop. One that had been recommended, but that I had never been in. Idly glancing around, looking for someone who was not going to arrive. And yes, someone else arrived. Someone who I had never met in person, and whom I had never planned to meet. Someone with whom I first spoken with while living in a different state. Someone who I’d never expected to see in the City of Angels, the place where dreams come to die.

It’s been a long time now, since we’ve last spoken.

That person was done with me. And quite frankly, I was sure that I was done with them. But there they were, plain as day. Sitting and talking to a group of friends, at least one of which I’d also had a little bit of contact with. They gave me not a glance.

And I spoke not a word.

I saw these people, talking and laughing like high-school kids despite their being in college; enjoying their company with a smile and a nod, not caring about the tall fellow on the couch who was writing a chapter which featured the word “extravabonanza.” They seemed happy.

The person who prayed towards Palahniuk, bowed down before Bukowski; the person who always wrote about the weird and the brooding. She seemed happy, letting her laughter echo throughout the square feet of the establishment. And I spoke not a word.

I merely sat there, the Voice of Fate cackling and doling out obscenities into my ear, like an old man who’d guzzled too much rye. Watching a person laugh, who I had only known to be somber. Wondering which side of her was real.


Should I have said something? Probably not. The situation was meaningless. It meant nothing, just like so many others before it. Just another series of coincidences that swing down and shatter in your face like a chandelier in a Western.

But it made me wonder. It made me wonder. It made me think about that aforementioned issue, the issue brought up by that movie I keep bringing up, about how the communities of ether are damaging the communities of flesh and blood. It made me wonder what it meant.

I was walking to my car.
It was a darkened street in a somewhat affluent neighborhood. And on this path, I came across an old woman standing in front of her house, noodling with some wire attached to her front gate. She was scared of me.

She was. She looked up, and her eyes shrunk behind her glasses, her shoulders bunching together in order to gain some semblance of stability. She was afraid of me, that much was clear. So I walked up to this woman and asked her what time it was.

She said “WHAT?”

I repeated my question, and she repeated her statement. Back and forth, back and forth, the sort of situation that would elevate to broad slapstick or a snappy comeback in a world where sitcoms came true. As it was, she eventually told me the time. And when she did, she let forth a short laugh. The laugh was affectionate and full, resonating through me with a kind sense of peace. It was the sweetest thing I’d heard in a good while.

So there it is.
It’s not a issue of technology. It’s an issue of temperament. It’s a question of us seeing past the surface that we don’t understand, and realizing that people are separate merely because of themselves. Fear and anxiety, confusion and loss. Things that we know, and things that we don’t, problems that exist above and beyond friendship as a whole. And yes, it may be said that we express things differently, in this world that binary built. But it’s still us, in some way shape or form. Because creepy ol’ bastards are still being creepy, even if (especially if) they’re pretending to be 15 year old blonde girls.

Because as it turns out:
The person you were actually waiting for doesn’t even know who you are; and one of the few people who actually respects you has never heard your voice.
Friends are made.
Friends are lost.

And the only way you keep tabs on one of your best friends is through her activities in the Silicon Valley. And it’s the same towards you, resulting in a sheepishly sweet call at one in the morn, with a voice asking if she’d missed your birthday. As it turned out, she hadn't. But she was still doing what a friend would do.

It’s still just us, when all is said and done.
For better or for same.

Unless it’s a Spambot.


Anonymous jade said...

Thank you. This is beautiful. A reminder that a human is a human is a human no matter wherehow we are -- and connecting can be not-connecting -- and anywhere there is a world-of-two the heart is speaking

3:09 PM  
Blogger Your friend, the fool said...

It's odd, how difficult compliments are. I never know what to say in return.

Is that wrong?

5:09 AM  

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