Down The Wire
Growing up in the UK, I was at a huge disadvantage. Not just in terms of dentistry, but in internet connection.
Back in the bright, optimistic days of the year 2000, those of us on a windswept island off the coast of Europe were condemned to slow dial-up internet.
And not the dial-up internet you had in the States. Oh no. For you see, local calls in the UK are not free and never have been.
During the day, local calls were charged at 6p (eight whole cents!) per minute. And even in off-peak hours like evenings and weekends, you’d pay a penny a minute to surf the cyberweb.
For those of us who were thoroughly addicted to the internet at a tender age, hacking the planet got expensive fast.
One day, my father burst into my room, thundering with rage. He’d just received a bill from British Telecom for £290. Considering his normal phone bill was just £45. this came as a great shock to him.
It was also a shock to me. Although I knew I’d been spending a lot of time online, I didn’t realize quite how much. And it all came down to my internet girlfriend.
Every evening we’d chat on ICQ, whiling away the hours as my father’s phone bill soared. While £290 might not seem much money as a man in his 30s in 2021, it seemed a monumental sum to a 13 year old, 21 years ago.
Frankly, I understood his rage. This was more money than they’d ever spent on any Christmas or Birthday gift for me. More money than I’d ever held in my hand or seen in person. More money than the cash bonanza from my First Holy Communion, even!
There was only one solution. TO BAN ME FROM THE INTERNET - FOREVER!!!
The easiest way was for my father to destroy the cable connecting the modem to the phone line. He chopped the cable in half with a pair of scissors right in front of my eyes.
I looked more distressed than I was…because I knew something he didn’t know. I had a spare cable…although it was 6 weeks before I had the guts to use it.
Still…absence makes the heart grow fonder, and my internet girlfriend and I were reunited before too long. When the next phone bill came? I intercepted it and threw it away, safe in the knowledge that the figure would be deducted from my father’s bank account in surreptitiously small monthly installments.
The things we do for love…