When Gizmonator Met Shlippy
Should we talk about sweet sweet romance?
Amanda: Yes. Let’s talk about how I was your Internet girlfriend who became your IRL wife.
So, what were you up to in the year 2000?
Forrest: I was a student at the Colorado School of Mines.
Everyone else went to Denver at night, but I’d just go back to my room and surf the nascent Internet. How about you?
Amanda: I was in Massachusetts…usually at my parents house on the dial up.
Forrest: We met on diaryland. I made a friend on IRC. She signed up for diaryland and said I should too. Then she said I should follow you. When I joined, you had a bunch of entries up already.
Amanda: I had stumbled upon someone’s online diary randomly and thought it was interesting that someone would catalog their thoughts and feelings and, really, the minutiae of their day in that way. I thought it would be a fun way to trick myself into writing more.
I had just finished working on the website for my college radio show (which horrifyingly, is still online) so I wasn’t excited about building another website from scratch. Which is what brought me to diaryland.
My first diaryland entry was on March 22, 2000. Wow, it’s almost old enough to vote!
Forrest: my diary was really obtuse and pretentious ha ha
Amanda: I didn’t really tell anyone I was doing it and putting things on the Internet felt like much more of a shot in the dark then.
So I was very…forthcoming
Forrest: yeah that’s true
You discussed real situations
Amanda: One day I got a hit counter and soon my diary had been visited 1000 times, which seemed like a huge number at the time.
I started to wonder how discoverable my diary was to, say, my family. So, I fired up…ALTA VISTA
Forrest: ha you Altavista’d yourself
Amanda: but when I searched my diaryland moniker I found…YOU
Forrest: I thought your diary was really good, and I wrote an entry about how your life seemed so exciting.
Then one day, I got an email from you! It was like “hey there, I noticed you wrote about me. You should just talk to me, and stop being so creepy” ha ha ha
Amanda: I actually used to call you my creepy Internet boyfriend
Forrest: I always thought it was funny to be creepy
Which is why the pictures I posted of myself were the worst
Amanda: Back then it was surprisingly hard to get a photo of yourself on the Internet. You had to take the photo with a film camera, get the film developed…
Forrest: You’d have to scan the printed photos
Amanda: So you really went out of your way to look as unattractive as possible
I saw your photos and thought “he’s…not so hot.”
And your writing WAS so obtuse. How did we even wind up together?
Forrest: Remember that diaryland account called “girlboy” where you’d send in a list of what kind of girl or boy you wanted?
Amanda: And we both submitted lists and they were published on the same day!
Forrest: By then we were talking on ICQ every day.
Then you made me send you an audio file so you could hear my voice.
Amanda: Yeah, geez, it was such a pain to call long distance so we didn’t!
I used to buy long distance calling cards from the Christmas Tree Shop. Every time I made a call I had to listen to the “don’t you just love a bargain” jingle. We weren’t quite at that level yet. Where you were worth enduring the jingle.
My friend got a bunch of free webcams and gave me two. I mailed you one in a box that I lined with fur and put some other weird stuff I got at the thrift store in there.
Forrest: I thought it was the most creative thing
Amanda: We started using Netmeeting to see eachother but we didn’t have microphones so it was SILENT!
Forrest: Oh yeah.
We were chatting, but we could only see each other, not hear each other.
And it was a grainy webcam video where you were lit by the glow of the monitor
Amanda: And sometimes the connection wasn’t great and we were just pixelated blobs chatting.
Forrest: It seemed like we talked for so long, but it was only about a year before I traveled to see you.
For my 21st birthday I put together this cross country trip and asked people on the internet if I could crash with them.
I don’t think I told you this, but I knew I wanted to hang out with you and really just wanted you to offer me a place to stay. I just thought you were funny and interesting.
Amanda: I asked my friend Kevin if you could stay on his couch. I still have the email!
I couldn’t have imagined we’d wind up in love. The distance seemed insurmountable, plus you were younger than me. There were all these reasons for me to not think of you in that way even though in hindsight it seems pretty obvious what was going to go down and that it’s what I wanted. I mean I talked to you every day!
Forrest: But of course as soon as you found me in the train station I knew it was serious.
Amanda: I knew it was serious when you jokingly pushed me into the seawall along Derby St.
Forrest: I didn’t know how to flirt with you so I reverted to being a third grader ha ha ha
Amanda: How did your perception of who I was online differ from who I was IRL?
Forrest: I thought you were a little quieter than I expected, since I knew you from you writing about all your adventures.
Amanda: I remember being surprised that you were tall
I was like “oh. This is a large person.”
I didn’t expect that at all because you were always in this little box on the screen.
Forrest: I really didn’t think I’d have a chance with you.
I remember being surprised when you went in for the kiss.
Amanda: Wait, what!? I don’t remember making the first move AT ALL. I thought we both put the moves on each other at the exact same time. I just remember we went from zero to making out on that first night.
Forrest: You were a much better kisser than I was
Amanda: Man, your photos were bad, you weren’t a great kisser…ha ha
Forrest: And I was wearing all Abercrombie and Fitch
Like my whole wardrobe was from there.
Amanda: We really overcame a lot to be together.