August 17, 2001
If It's August 17th ...


It's August 17th again, and we all know what that means, don't we?
Innocent New *FootNotes* Reader: "No. What does it mean?"

Weary Longtime *FootNotes* Reader: "It means she's gonna start yammering on and on about flipping that stoopid coin again. Let's go read Funny the World instead."

That's right. Every year on this date -- regular as rain, sure as shooting, predictable as Princess Di on the cover of People Magazine even though (as far as I know) she hasn't stopped being dead -- I take a moment to stop and ponder the changes that have taken place in my life since August 17th, 1995 ... and I acknowledge the forces that brought me to where I am today, and the impact that cyber has had not only on me, but on so many of the people I love ... and I reflect on how significantly my heart and head have evolved in the years since I flipped that coin (AOL vs. Prodigy) and went online for the very first time.

And I force YOU to stop and reflect on this stuff with me, whether you like it or not.

This year, however, I believe that the occasion holds even greater significance than usual. This year, more than any of the other *cyber birthdays* I've celebrated since I first signed on to AOL six years ago tonight, there is something new and unique to report. This year things have changed. And no, I'm not talking about the fact that I've recently married somebody I met in an AOL chat room. That's old news. I'm talking about the fact that for the very first time since I first began celebrating these stoopid "AOL anniversaries" ...

... I don't even HAVE AOL on my computer anymore.

David and I ceremoniously flushed AOL (and its maddeningly multi-tentacled "dial-up adaptors" and "proprietary propogators" and "parallel flange indicators") from our poor decrepit PC last month, after a botched 6.0 installation nearly wiped out our hard drive (and every other electrical appliance within a ten mile radius). It was just one of a bazillion AOL-related near-catastrophes we'd experienced in recent months, and we were sick of it. So we unplugged ourselves from AOL. We just haven't gotten around to plugging ourselves back in yet.

We're in no hurry.

Why should we be? We've discovered there are an infinite number of ways to accomplish the things we need to accomplish online -- e-mail, instant messaging, search engines, message boards, True Type font downloads -- and that all of this stuff can be handled from beyond the confines of AOL. (About the only thing I can't do outside of AOL, in fact, is create a faux screen name and spy on my fifteen-year-old son in the *Fudk The Terms of Service!* chat room.) Of course, I'd like to point out that I've been saying for years that "AOL is not the Internet." Going without AOL for the past five weeks has simply given me a chance to prove my point to The Other 50% of the Population.

So how could any of this possibly be considered 'significant,' you ask? It's only AOL, forcryingoutloud. What the hell does it matter?

Well ... think of it this way. Say that you met your husband-to-be in a nightclub. But not just any nightclub: I'm talking about your favorite nightclub in the world ... a place where you both loved to hang out and drink and dance and talk to your friends and relax after a long day of answering telephones (her) and selling newspaper ads (him). The two of you shared your first public conversation there ... and, later, your first private slow-dance. You watched each other fall in and out of love with other people. You watched each other get drunk and throw up on stuff. Eventually, you watched each other get sober. Your love was born and grew and flowered there. For the two of you, that nightclub is filled with friends and memories, personal dysfunction and personal growth, hilarity and history.

And then say the place burns down.

Even though the two of you had eventually stopped hanging out there, quite as much -- especially once you'd became an *item,* and you discovered that there were lots more interesting things to do with your evenings, like sex and laundry and Must-See TV ...

... and even though you know that your marriage/your bank account/your health/your hard drive are probably better off without you spending all your free time there, every single night ...

... you still feel a *pang* whenever you drive past the burned-out remains of what was once your favorite place on earth. Especially when you drive past it on your anniversary.

And that's sort of how we feel about AOL.

Will we ever go back? Yes, probably ... if we ever again have the time/the inclination/the computer power for it. If they rebuilt the nightclub, after all, you'd probably want to go to the grand re-opening, wouldn't you? Just to see if any of your old friends are still hanging out there, and to catch up on all the latest gossip (She had him arrested?!?), and to show off the wedding photos. You'd probably order a couple of iced teas and an onion blossom. You'd probably stay and listen to the band for a while. You might even dance the Macarena, just for old times' sake.

You just wouldn't write your phone number on the bathroom wall anymore.

And you probably wouldn't stay until closing every night.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

p.s. it's here! it's here! our certified marriage certificate! i wasn't expecting it for WEEKS, yet, but it arrived in yesterday's mail. stay tuned for thrilling reports of name-change negotiations, crabby DMV robots and fabulous new *footnotes: a cyber journal* personal checks!

p.p.s. weekend plans: still being negotiated. (see: certified marriage certificate arriving by mail yesterday.) *he* wants to get on our bikes and ride ride ride. *she* wants her new california state i.d. (reflecting her groovy new married name/groovy new CHEEKBONES). we'll see who wins.

p.p.p.s. hi mom?

one year ago: secraterri version 5.0

throw a rock