My cousin, a librarian whose social calendar is filled by drinking in a bar with her latest boyfriend, dropped by to see me because he was “at a training session” out of town.
She wanted to go to a bar.
I mean it is impossible. I don’t drink. I can’t drink. I take meds that preclude drinking. Meds that could kill me if I drink. Meds that people take to commit suicide. I am liberal with my meds, and have always sympathized with House, but overdosing on drugs and alcohol is a “no.” Thank God for relief from pain, but why don’t they invent a pill that allows one to drink?
The last time I had a beer was 1993, the day I rode the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls.
At Thanksgiving and Christmas we drink sparkling non-alcoholic wine. It is really terrible.
“But don’t you have something to drink?” she asked despairingly.
I offered her a drink of green tea.
“Don’t you have anything to smoke?”
“Are you kidding?”
“Isn’t marijuana legal?”
“I haven’t any idea, but I don’t smoke it.”
She turned on her phone. Who you gonna call? I listen to my messages later, much later.
I understand cyber-addictions. But not phones.
The only thing that worked for her when not drinking was a little cyberstalking. She started talking about Twitter, and showed me her boyfriend’s tweets. He didn’t answer her tweet, and that upset her. She’s cyberdrunk@cyberdrunk, or something like that. He’s cheatonyourmate@cheatonyourmate, or something.
Maybe he’s in a meeting.
Then she cyberstalked some authors.
Did you know that Gail Godwin has a new book coming out this spring? That Amy Tan has a new book coming out this fall? That Ann Hood is giving a reading in Massachusetts? That Brett Easton Ellis is gay? That Karen Thompson Walker is not on Twitter? That Peter Stothard has a new book out this summer? That Jennifer Weiner has a giveaway? That Penguin Books has a giveaway? That…?
We waited for more tweets.
Then she found a picture of her boyfriend with “some whore Lancome clerk” somewhere, possibly at Facebook.
“How does he know some whore Lancome clerk? Don’t let it bother you.”
I do understand this kind of cyber-addiction. Cyber-life blurs with real life. I used to get very bored when I started to write the same articles on the same subjects again and again, and I was online while I wrote. I still check my email too often.
But I don’t like real life to interfere with my cyber-life. I have cried over old friends after googling them and discovering they are dead. I have repeatedly googled my old friend, Linda, hoping if I do it often enough the obituary will be a fake and she will be alive.
Linda is survived by her mother. That struck me as tragic. Did she ever marry? Was she gay? What happened? Why didn’t she write the damned book?
I thought about writing to her mother, but in the end one doesn’t.
For me, finding Linda’s obituary was the equivalent of my cousin’s finding that picture.
At my age the old friends die all the time. Worse than finding out on-line is when it is announced in the annual Christmas letter, sent by the widowed spouse.
This to me is a kind of shocking account. I love its candour and am glad to be reminded that this kind of stalking and use of cyberspace is an everyday use. I cannot conceive of calling this kind of activity meaningful in any sense of the word. You might as well go out on the street and pick up bits of garbage for all that the woman understands of what’s she’s picking up. When I defend cyberspace life, I mean a replication of meaningful life (insofar as we are able to) in our local habitats in cyberspace, not this.
Funny I had a real and cyberspace friend named Linda who died last year. She was on my listserv, WWTTA, and participated in group reads. She really posted about what we were reading. I met her once in the flesh — at a party given by another member on this member’s birthday. We spent several happy hours in one another’s physical presence and also road the subway together back to Times Square. Then we returned to our writing friendship in cyberspace. Over the years we talked of our children, shared experience of dating, husbands, and present lives. Then she seemed to vanish or drop out of cyberspace for a while and then I was told she had died. I did see she had a bad case of emphysema. Had she lived in my physical neighborhood I would have known she died when she did. I did feel bad that literally weeks had gone by of her illness, and I learnt of her death a couple of weeks later. But I would never have known her but for cyberspace.
When I defend cyberspace that’s the sort of thing I’m defending.
SilveSeason, the annual Christmas letter WOULD be ghastly. One expects only good news in those letters. There must be some kind of etiquette–black-framed cards? Or is that in 19th-century novels? I usually miss the obituaries and have to be informed over the phone.
Ellen, I do love cyberspace, and certainly I rely on cyber-friends. WWTTA is an excellent way to meet and talk to interesting people, and I admire you for the high level of discourse you bring to this and other groups. I don’t want you to think I oppose cyberspace.
I suppose I’m exaggerating when I call this “cyberstalking,” but it is very sad. Katha Pollitt (I think) wrote a funny article for The New Yorker about cyberstalking her ex-husband. But it is painful when you see a desperate person doing this She might have been better off drinking; I don’t know.
I am so sorry to hear about YOUR Linda. It is devastating when a friend, cyber or otherwise, dies.
I can’t do the alcohol either, but it doesn’t bother me because I didn’t like it in the first place. What does bother me is that I can’t eat chocolate. I would kill for a mug of hot chocolate, especially if it was topped with mountains of whipped cream.
Chocolate IS so much better! I’m very sorry you can’t have it.