21 February 2002
If they take me away now with terminal RSI, it'll be worth it. A long recuperation period and thick supporting bandages on my wrists - fine. I've had my fun. But then, I'm still having it. Just another seven months and then I'll be ready to have the keyboard prised from my grip.
I had my meal bought for me at the meet on Tuesday. Hannah (DisLecxic) offered me her spare room, rent free "until things get sorted out". When conversation about the recent Women's Rights threads on the board became heated, glances were made in my direction and the topic was swiftly changed. Nev (Trent Brockman) walked me back to my tube stop.
It was so fucking funny. I swear.
I found the board in a general bored work afternoon of skimming the web. The search for Harry Potter slash had proved fruitful but frustrating; most of those involved seemed to be preadolescents intent on making Ron and Harry "make out" in the dormitories. Through a random link on one of these sites I got taken through to the MessageBoard.
I didn't contribute for a few days. I read previous threads instead and tried to get a grip on the feel of the place. I was impressed; conversation was intelligent, topical and witty (and after "Darke Gryffindor, virtually fucking Shakespeare). What eventually swung it for me was the minimal use of smilies. I signed up as "Greer" and jumped in.
Everyone's personalities came through slowly. Trent Brockman didn't say much in serious debates but was very sharp and self-deprecating conversation threads. DisLecxic posted in Cinema, and flirted with any males who were good with words. I soon carved out a niche as intelligent, with a sharp line in feminist theory, and a good listener. After a month I had assumed the role of a glamorous, intense big sister who could soothe heated misunderstood debates, and who was essential to the resolution of any conversation in the Angst arena. I went to my first meet seven weeks after I'd signed up.
It was fun - seeing the faces behind the words. Interesting to find that the members who I'd got on well with online irritated the hell out of me in the pub, and that some of the members that I got on well with were those that I'd never paid much attention to before. And yet - when I logged on the next day the dynamics had shifted. I couldn't banter in the same way with the fiction suits now that I'd seen them, getting quickly drunk and talking programming. The thrill was gone; I was bored. So I created "X james".
X james debuted a day after that meet. He was rude and funny and suave; the type who would have flirted outrageously with his girlfriend's mother (and possibly her father) if he'd existed. Within a fortnight he'd transformed the board. His remarks were pertinent, always gave the impression that he was only commenting inbetween saving the world and making sweet loving to his latest nubile filly. He was possibly bisexual - his comments about the loveliness of Jude Law were frequent. If I had an English degree, I'd cringe to say that all of the straight/bi girls and gay/bi boys on the board wanted to shag him, and everyone else wanted to be him. A few weeks after his conception, X james started dating Greer.
Leave the metaphysical questions aside - it was easier than you'd think. Comments dropped in the Relation/Ship area, snippits of information about films we'd seen. An online conversation can be checked and rechecked and cross-referenced until it bleeds. Even I was surprised how quickly other board members noted the added frisson of innuendo between Greer and X james, and realised that they'd been to the same concerts together, and that they knew what the other was wearing. I gave him a false email address to bulk up his reality, although I didn't need to bother. The beauty - the fucking beauty of it all - was that it didn't matter that the other board members never met him. They'd met me; I was Greer; Greer was dating X james - therefore he existed. You see?
The relationship went swimmingly for seven months. At meets I'd be smily and glowing and apologising that Jay (X james's reality suit) couldn't be there - he was working so hard. X james's acerbic bite evened softened a little in the Angst threads, and the other board members delighted in seeing him slip up and call Greer pet names. The board moderator completely missed the fact that Greer and X james were posting from the same IP address. Photos of one of my Canadian cousins gave him a face ("Blonder than I'd thought, I was thinking dark, brooding" - Hannah). But still - more needed to be done.
X james started sending flirtatious emails to Hannah ("She says you thought I was dark; I could be dark for you") which she, lying slut, responded to! Greer's postings to Queer Theory became increased and her time in Angst decreased. Hannah initiated all-night sessions of IM cybersex with X james on the nights she knew I'd be at work, and my God, they were filthy. I became adept at quickly logging in and out of my suits. The RSI twinges started.
I soon realised that I was extracting myself out of Greer and treating her and X james as sock puppets. The exhaustion of playing three roles kicked in and I would turn up to meets pale and shadowed. I couldn't make excuses for Jay not being there with me. Hannah would buy me drinks in sympathy and, after a few pints, make unsubtle comments about "exploring her gender space" with me. I was almost tempted to fuck her to find out what X james was missing out on but didn't. God knows how long the break-up period could have lasted, but a week's holiday took me, Greer and X james off to Tenerife with some university friends.
When I/we came back I killed X james. After a week of brutal exchanges in every arena of the Board (which, charmingly, led to many of the posters coming to my/Greer's defence), he and Greer vanished. Greer returned slowly, making no comments on anything other than recent cinema releases, and the best way to relieve stress. She responded briefly to personal emails, letting out in pieces that she and X james had split. And that she was pregnant. X james told Hannah that he was headed for the Netherlands for a while to find "personal headspace".
Last Tuesday was the first time I'd seen all the board members together since the split. Like I said, they were at my feet, and that's where I think they're going to stay for the very foreseeable future. That shag on the beach with the bartender in the Canaries will definitely give flesh to X james's progeny. I may let Hannah adopt her.