In the absence of anything physical to build upon with this guy, all I had were his words, and even from the first e-mail there was an immediate sense of comfort and ease. There was that hint of recognition of yourself in someone else. With only his words to go by, Internet--I fell for a guy who writes exactly like me.
Take this exchange that happened after I realized I had made a critical and embarrassing error in my depiction of the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid:
Oh my god, I just realized I said "Robert Newman" before. It was going to keep me up all night worrying about it unless I got it off my chest. I feel a little better now.
For the record, I'm not the kind of guy who's going to judge somebody for not saying exactly the right thing. If I know what you mean, it's all good. I'm personally a little dyslexic. I still remember the time I was in the library and spent way too long looking for The Wrath of Grapes. So I googled Robert Newman. And now I totally think you watch Guiding Light. Which is awesome.
For the record, I'm a General Hospital girl. Also for the record, while a Robert Redford/Paul Newman hybrid would be all kinds of awesome, I'm for Paul Newman, all the way.-R
[Then, after a conversation on the French poet, Rimbaud, in which he mentioned the poetry inherent in the language:]
So after I wrote you, Robert Newman called me. He tried to explain that describing a poet's words as having a certain poetry was just dumb. He thought I probably meant to say they were especially lyrical or something.
I told him to fuck off.
I said, "Fuck off, Robert Newman. Go worry about your niece who's carrying your father-in-law's love child and leave me alone." He then looked stunned for his close up as dramatic music ended the scene.
I mean, how do you not fall for a guy who would write something like that? Then there was this, after I asked him what his favorite Halloween costume as a kid had been:
My favorite costumes probably date back to elementary school. Teen Wolf, Ewok, Alf. But Alf was horrible to trick or treat in. I went with a friend of mine and I couldn't grab anything with my hands. People would ask to take pictures of me because I was so awesome, but I couldn't grab my own candy out of their bowls. My friend had to do it. Thinking back I can still smell the plastic of the Alf mask, looking through the little holes, watching him grab me a box of raisins (RAISINS!) and put it in my trick-or-treat bag. I was actually really mad that out of a basket of candy bars he got me raisins.
I learned a lot about life that Halloween. People wanting to take your picture isn't worth missing out on a candy bar.
But I got back at him. I convinced him that the best dessert at the school cafeteria was something called 'barf on a stick'. And so one day he had money for ice cream and went up to the cafeteria lady and asked her for barf, on a stick. It was FUCKING. EPIC.
Now, I don't usually laugh out loud at e-mails, but... Sigh. I click back to his pictures on his Myspace profile, and I see a happy guy with twinkling eyes and a big, infectious smile, or sometimes a mysterious grin, only the corners of his mouth turning up, like he's holding onto a secret, and it's the best kind. He was younger then, sure, but one of the pictures only dates back a couple years. That was him a couple years ago; I can deal with that. But I don't know where that guy is anymore. I looked, but I didn't see him. I looked for his eyes but they were hidden behind thick glasses, too long hair, a baseball hat. His smile was covered by a scraggly, unkempt beard, and the rest of him hidden behind baggy clothes and extra weight. Is he still there, under all that? How do I find him?
I can't tell him this and I can't ask him to change, and I know I have absolutely no say in the matter, but it really is such a damn shame.