I have this really, really long commute which, I know, is nothing next to you urban commuters. But for us out here in Nowhere, driving an hour to your job is a really, really long way. I like it though; it gives me time to gear up for and wind down from my job.
I enjoy the time: I listen to NPR or to my faux iPod, and sometimes I just listen to the quiet and let my mind wander. And today on my way home I was thinking about this:
Long ago in a land about 50 miles up the road, I discovered the Internets. It was an expensive discovery...$2.99/hour for AOL dial-up, plus long distance charges to Carbondale to connect. But my crappy overpriced AOL connection brought a whole community of lesbians into my life, which was something I would never have experienced in Alto Pass, IL, pop. 350, of whom at least 250 were over 80 years old.
My snazzy AOL dial-up connection was instrumental in the wooing of my first live-in girlfriend. We were grad students together at SIU and she would come over to do research on my computer...oh, and make out. Eventually we were able to dispense with the $2.99/hr-plus-long-distance-charges-to-Carbondale dating, move in together, and get on with the making out in earnest. That saved me a fortune.
Anyway, when I first realized that the Internet was lousy with lesbians it was an epiphany. Coming out had been hard for me, a single mommy in a small town with no other gay people that I knew of. Lesbian chat rooms and lesbian message boards made me swoon with the realization that I was a part of a larger community. I made a lot of online friends and a few real live friends. I met some people, I slept with a few of them (but not all, in spite of what you've heard), and I enjoyed being part of this group of smart, funny, supportive women.
That was back in the 1990s, when PCs weren't yet in every home and before every idiot with a cell phone could send pictures of their genitalia whizzing around the earth at a gazillion megafucks an hour. Back then, computers were mostly still in the hands of people who could spell with real words.
By the beginning of the 21st century, however, computers were in every home, and the chat rooms and message boards began to fill up with, well...morons. People devoted to proving Godwin's Law:
Godwin's Law "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."
Chat rooms and message boards were still places where nice people and interesting conversations could be found, but they were increasingly home to trolls and nutbags.
In the beginning, before I even knew Lori, Webbie was Lori's own personal Internet stalker. I was vaguely aware of her and her story...she had apparently had some sort of medical mishap that had caused her some brain damage and left her physically crippled and a little crazy, with very poor impulse control. Because the denizens of the AOL message boards were an incestuous community, everyone knew someone who knew someone in real life. Thus, I got the lowdown on Webbie. She was a Texan named was Lisa Tr**sd*ll, who had once been an attractive, athletic young woman before some sort of brain injury had left her partially paralyzed and more than a little crazy. I'd seen her crazy in action; she had a pattern of attaching herself to the smartest people on every message board and hounding them with nastiness and paranoid accusations until they threw up their hands, left AOL, and created private message boards elsewhere. That was bad for AOL, but good for the rest of us. Those refugees created communities filled with wonderful, disparate groups whose only common trait was that they'd been stalked by Webbie. Over time the origins of the groups faded, and they just became groups of friends.
I was not very involved in online groups at that point. During that period of my life I was raising small children, moving around the country with my military girlfriend, and going to school for my Med Tech degree. I was still reading the message boards, but not very frequently. After my breakup with the military girlfriend I had a chance meeting with Lori which ultimately blossomed into what we affectionately call The Love That Won't Shut Up.
In addition to discovering the woman who was to become my life partner and best friend, I also acquired her stalker. Now the deranged Texan proved her ability to multitask by stalking us both. She trolled, she flamed, she stealthed, and she made us the center of her universe. For. Years. Wither we goest, so goeth Webbie. Everywhere. Message boards, chat rooms, blogs...you name it and she was there with us, with bells on.
Finally, even we, the tireless Kwevs, gave up. After 12 years on AOL message boards, we threw in the towel, deleted AOL from our computers and rode off into the sunset to our other (private) communities. I thought our Webbie years were finally behind us.
Until now. She's ba-a-a-c-k.
So all that history was just to bring me to this one point:
Why? What in the world could we possibly have that draws her to us after all these years?
Youth and beauty? Not so much anymore.
Wealth? Not hardly.
Lively banter? Maybe...that's pretty much what we do best. And it's free, so that's a plus. But really...I don't delude myself by thinking a clever turn of phrase can't be found elsewhere. Perhaps even in Texas.
So today on my way home, I was thinking about the phenomenon that is Webbie and her incredible stamina. She has toted around her festering dungheap of irrational nonspecific hatred for more than a decade. The object of her obsession has changed more than a dozen times in the last 12 years, but the intensity of her wrathful focus has never wavered. And oddly, perversely, I have to sort of admire that. Say what you will about Webbie, she's not a quitter.
So, Webbie...this is my tribute to you. You may be crazy, but I've grown accustomed to your particular techniques in exercising it, and like a cross between a rottweiler and a chihuahua, your slobbering full-throated growls and incessent shrill yapping have become the background music to our history together. You are our Kodak commercial: you're the Times of Our Lives.
And oddly, I feel a pang of nostalgia. I've missed you.
P.S. We're on Facebook. Friend me, okay?