Tuesday, December 2, 2014

If I Should Die Before I Post...

I was at a party one night and we were all drinking like hell because that was what we did. And you know, every once in a while you’ll get into a decent conversation with someone and you’ll like them for not taking it over, or being too weird about their own opinion, or dismissing yours, and it’ll be sort of a nice walk through the woods and not a race and not some twenty mile march. So this guy’s name was Carl, and he was friends with the people who owned the house and he told me he had to leave because he was going fishing the next day, and then he paused and said, “Hey, come go fishing with me tomorrow!” and I nearly said yes, even though I don’t fish.

The next day rolls around and I thought to myself, you could start fishing again, and it was nice to think I had made a friend. A few hours later a woman called me to tell me Carl had been killed on the way home. He fell asleep at the wheel at slammed into a tree.

You know, I regret not telling Carl I would go fishing with him. A few hours after he and I sat down in a room full of drinking people he was dead but I still remember how he tried to explain to me how he thought the fish were going to be biting the next day. I thought his theory was unsound, unfounded, more superstitious than anything else, but the man had a way of believing without trying to drag anyone else along with him. I can’t remember a word he said, but he was just a decent sort of guy. I’m sorry he’s dead. That’s all that needs to be said.

Yesterday one of the people who rose to the occasion and donated to Lucas’ operation was nearly in a bad wreck. We’ve stayed in contact, via email, text, photos, and that sort of thing, and she sent me great coffee for my birthday. But she realized, and I do now, that the internet has some flaws as far as communication; if she had been killed how in the hell would I ever know it? We don’t any mutual friends. Would there be any real way for me to find out what happened or how it happened? We’re decided to tell someone, “Hey, if I die, email this person for me” and I hope it goes a lot more carefully than just that, but still, you know what I mean, don’t you?

My life insurance is going to cover the mutts very well and have a lot left over. I’ve made provisions for them. But what about you? There are people I have never met, may never meet, who I have never spoken to on the phone and might not ever speak to in my life, whose lives I’m grown attached to in various ways.

I’ve watched children grow up here, I’m watched parents die, I’ve seen new homes and new pets. People I know have gotten married. People I know have gotten divorced. I’ve met some people live and in person and actually became, uh, intimate, with some of the women I’ve met online. Long distance relationships very rarely work but the success rate for good old fashioned marriage is about 50-50. Besides, there is always something terrible erotic about meeting someone you have no idea who they might be! Unless they’re a fifteen hundred pounds rabid grizzly. Then it’s no fun.

But suppose you wake up tomorrow and your favorite FB person hasn’t posted a photo of her cat sleeping on her head, again. Or some guy hasn’t said a word about the snow, or someone you send a FB happy birthday to just isn’t responding. Yeah, this is the internet and you might discover that the 32 year old mother of two from Cleveland Ohio was a fourteen year old High School guy who loved to write weird things. But what if someone you care about online is actually very much dead in real life? I mean, really, really care about?

There are those people who will tell you, after that first pang of fear, when someone you’ve known for a while online, isn’t answering private messages, or texts, or even pokes, that you cannot care about those who you’ve never met. But you know this person. There hasn’t been a thank god for coffee post in two days, doesn’t that strike you as very odd? But then you notice that other people are trying to get some sort of response and then there’s this trading of messages about someone who knows this person in real life and…

All of a sudden you wonder if you should go to the funeral. “Hi! My name is Mike Firesmith and I traded online conversations with your sons for a few years and I am going to miss his sense of humor and the fact that he loved his cat.”

You know, I think a lot of people would understand that.

I would. I do.

So here’s what I’m going to be asking some of you for in the near future. I want a real time someone who know if you’re alive or dead on a regular basis. I want someone I can send an email to and they can email me back and say, “Yep she’s just totally pissed at you. That’s why she isn’t speaking to you anymore” and that makes a lot more sense than death, really, when it comes to me and women.

The difficult thing here is I’m not sure who to offer you in return. My life is so compartmentalized and I have so many names I’m pretty sure they’ll have to have more than one fire just to cremate us all. But I’ll see what I can do. I just realized there are people who have never met me who know me a lot better than some people who have known me all my life.

I’m not sure what to think about that.

Take Care,



  1. I think about this quite a bit. Not just in this aspect but also in my work life. I am a check out chick (cashier) and I have watched my regulars become grandparents, survive relationships, childbirth, cancer, tragedy. One man I got to know so well I knew when he had not eaten properly (elderly single man) and was heading for a diabetic event. I would make him sit down and eat something while I scanned his shopping so I knew he would be safe getting home. Most of these interactions happened with out any knowledge of their family. No one knew there was a cashier worrying about there Mum/Dad/Grandparent. No one would think to come and tell me if something had happened.
    The connections we make have no rhyme or reason. I know I get through my days with as much help from my 'real people' as i do from the virtual friends I carry with me each day. Some times more. I know how I feel about that. I feel like I have a world full of support. I have people on at least three continents that choose to care about me. That is very comforting thing.
    You are important to me.

    1. That comment was the most awesome thing that has ever been written here, Bitsy.

    2. Why is there no Like button here?

    3. We had a regular over at B&P who just disappeared suddenly. We started worrying about her when she hadn't commented in a while. We knew her pretty well but didn't know very much about her outside life except the few things she shared over time. I had her email address and emailed her but never got a reply. After a little detective work by me and other readers we discovered she had died.
      I'm sure if something happened to me my daughter or friends and family would let the B&P community know.
      It is something to think about.

  2. When I die there will be so many people who owe me money dancing in the streets it may make the national news.

    Spending much time online, hell, even a message board moderator for years and years, the 32 year old mother of two who was a high school guy, popped up fairly often. Some were that extreme, but usually it was a smaller discrepancy like embellishments to what they felt was a boring life, or not wanting to admit (even to themselves?) they failed at a goal they wanted pretty badly.

    Some people freak out when they discover someone they had been interacting with wasn’t what they thought. I often wondered if the freakers had taken what the thought they knew, and proceeded to fill in the blanks from their imagination, to make this internet spectre a whole person, a trophy friend.

    I always felt if I enjoyed them as they presented themselves, I’d continue to enjoy them as long as they stayed in character. Let’s face it, the people you work with or interact with on a regular basis, are all acting, presenting to the world who they wish to be. Unless you become close friends and get your lives intertwined you won’t know they’re making soap from orphan children in their cellar.

    1. Bruce, I wonder if the higher expectations of the internet, as far as who people are, comes from some people only being able to be real here. They never have to see the people they like so they are more apt to just be who they really are and expect others to do the same. But people are people and they are usually the same wherever you go.