September 21st, 2006

Well Met

The bravest thing I did this past weekend was meet an Internetian.

“But,” you say, “you’re always meeting Internetians!”

True enough, but this was different. Most of the Internetians (and, yes, I’m going to keep using that word until it passes into the vernacular!) I’ve met are people I’ve had extended Internet contact with for long periods of time and most of the time I’m meeting them in groups of two or more. The group dynamic makes it less likely that I’ll be required to say something and can stick to my tried-and-true method of wisecracking on what the other people say.

I’ve been reading the Cynical Tyrant’s blog for a few years now. You can find a link to her blog over there on the right-hand side of mine, and I’ve quoted her and linked to her on a few occasions. It’s rare that you’ll read a blog written by someone you don’t know, but a friend introduced me to her site and I enjoyed her writing right off the bat and have been a faithful reader ever since.

We’ve had occasion to converse via email and as my trip to Dallas got solidified and drew closer, she gave advice on neat things to see while in the area. It struck me that another neat thing to do would be to meet her for lunch. I worked up the nerve to ask her if she’d be willing to meet, figuring for sure she would naturally be frightened off by the random Internetian invite. I figure I’ve gone 34 years without ever going to Dallas, it might be another 34 years before I do so again, so I carped the heck out of the diem.

Surprisingly (to both of us, I think), she agreed. Perhaps she wondered what sort of person reads another person’s blog for so long, or perhaps she wondered why someone from another state might be a Cowboys fan. Maybe she’d never seen a real live Hoosier outside of captivity. The world may never know.

We met for lunch at Cafe Brazil, a coffeehouse-sorta place that serves breakfast all the time – perfect for a breakfast lover such as myself. It’s one of her favorite places to eat. She had an omelet, I had French toast with walnuts and a really great time.

Nervousness is a funny thing. We’re never sure when it’s going to show up or what form it’s going to take. Me, I babble on incessantly. I overtalk and overshare. Other people get hiccups or shake or rip apart straw wrappers or tap their foot. And everybody gets nervous about something: tests, meeting new people, singing in front of others, being subjected to questioning by lawyers – no one’s completely immune. Getting nervous about meeting another person is one of those things we should be able to conquer, though, I think. After all, the other person is just like us, what with the being human and all.

But there’s that fear: What if I make a faux pas? What if I embarrass myself? I mean, I could

  • show up late because I got confused getting around Dallas, even if the map she gave me was straightforward and simple (Yep. Did that.)
  • have a wrinkled shirt as a result of the combination of the seatbelt and humid weather (Check.)
  • ramble on incessantly (What do you think?)
  • talk with food in my mouth on more than one occasion (Oh, help me, did I ever.)

I’ve pretty much gotten to the point where I know I’m going to make mistakes in social settings, I’m going to embarrass myself. It’s best to just be aware it’ll happen and hope the other person(s) doesn’t run off screaming or write letters to the editor of the local newspaper about how awful I was. To her credit, she did neither of these things. (Actually, I can’t be positive about the letters to the editor, as I did not read the Dallas newspaper the following day.)

Take the normal everyday fears and mix in the fact that everyone knows every Internetian ever is a serial killer out for your kidneys and it could be a recipe for a nerve-wracking lunch.

Somehow, we got past all that and had a nice lunch together. I suspect it was the presence of Bob Vila that got us through. Well, that, and the fact that she’s pleasant, smart, witty, and (apparently) longsuffering.

Here’s me with my new friend Teri:

Teri & Mark

The look on my face is because I couldn’t tell when the camera was going off, and it bothered me when I first saw the picture. I’ve since come to realize that, well, I look that way 90% of the time, so at least it’s an accurate representation.

And in case you’re wondering: she left lunch with the exact same number of kidneys she arrived with, no more, no less.

6 Comments on “Well Met”

  1. the obscure says:

    Your pants are nearly the same color as hers.

  2. A person says:

    This was a really well-written entry, Mark ~ & enjoyable to read as well!

  3. BNick says:

    I suspect she brought Bob Vila along for protection.

    I fear for my kidneys the next time you're in Wisconsin.

  4. HorizonPurple says:

    You worry about shirt wrinkles? We must never meet!

  5. the obscure says:

    Bnick swoop! Hey, bud!

  6. wew says:

    You look great, Mark!

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