BBS Party    

I'm sitting here staring at a computer screen, which isn't really too surprising, since I've been in about that same posture for the last, say, 15 years. My mother bought me a Commodore 64 when I was a wee lad of 6, and that, combined with an IQ test, a private school, and a number of other related factors, helped make me the pale white social retard I am today. Not that if I hadn't got into computers I'd be black, but you know.

Anyway, I forswore the outside world to stay within a room lit by the fascinating pixilated glow of the C64's 16 color monitor, grudgingly doing yardwork to justify my allowance and the occasional game that would come my way. So not many friends were made, and the groundwork was laid for most of my irrational fears and paranoias that way.

In the late 1980's, a number of "online services" began operating, such as Compuserve and Prodigy, and my mom, wanting to get me socially active in whatever way possible, bought a 300 baud modem and a subscription to one that has now been long forgotten, PlayNet. The big selling point was that you could play rudimentary board games online, if you had anybody to play them with. I didn't, and I really can't remeber what we used it for.

This was before email, before anybody but scientists was using the Internet; it was fairly sparsely populated, and we let our subscription lapse, the modem plugged in forlornly to the back of the Commodore's keyboard, gathering dust.

Again, my memory lapses, but if we pick up a year later, with me at the tender age of 10, we find me calling up BBS's on a regular basis. A BBS, for all the pre-teens reading this (keep reading, kids - there's a NAKED LADY later!), stands for Bulletin Board System; it's sort of like a "guestbook" on a web page, or a newsgroup, but hosted by somebody out of their home. So I was a regular on a couple of them, posting under the handle "Atheist" because the idea of disbelief in God was just so bitchin, man. And I was I guess fairly funny and witty for a pre-pubescent, as I was accepted fairly readily.

A couple of the Sysops (short for systems operators...) lived in West Seattle, and in June, one quiet summer,Vex (the handle of this guy) decided to throw a party at his house so everybody could crawl out of their respective warrens of detritus and meet each other...face to face. So I did not ask my mom if I could go, duh, and hopped onmy rad BMX bike that was ridden rarely if at all and started pedaling. I had the street address, but no real idea as to the distance, and I got way too tired less than halfway there. My palsied legs, unused to any physical exertion, buckled underneath me, and I coasted down the hill to 7-11 for a Slurpee.

I stayed offline for a week as the result of a shoddy report card, spending my time brooding, shoplifting, and dreading my return to school.

On Monday, I checked in on the BBS, ready to offer my apologies for not showing up. I read through the new messages.

- Man, all you guys who missed the party missed a great time; there was food, drinks and plenty of surprises. Maybe next time, eh?

- Ha ha! Yeah, it was great; Vex, you're a genius, when Jen took off her top, I thought I was gonna pass out! Is she your actual girlfriend or are you just bullshitting?

- Nah, I just hired her. I wish!

I sat back and rubbed my eyes. Not only had I missed meeting all these people, I had missed what would probably be my only chance to see a real naked lady in person! On reflection, this was probably a good thing.

* I would see a naked lady several years later.