Wednesday, June 27, 2007
There are a lot of crazy people online, they say. I have no doubt that this is true. There're a lot of crazy people period. Scary, dangerous, predatory people looking to take advantage of others sexually, financially or emotionally.
And then there are the everyday people, the neighborly kind, people you wouldn't have met if it were not for the Internet.
Being a member of the Internet Writing Workshop has put me in touch with so many wonderful people who come together with a shared interest: writing.
I know some of these people better than I know my neighbors. These writing friends are my neighbors in the true sense of neighborliness; they're there to help, share experiences, and encourage. They live all over the world, but are more accessible than the family next door.
Today I got to meet two Internet Writing Workshop friends: Bob Sanchez,
a former Massachusetts resident who escaped upon retirement to sunny Las Cruces, Mexico, and Carter Jefferson, who's lived all over but settled in Boston years ago and seems to have thrived.
I've known these guys for a couple of years through the stories they've written, and the chit-chat that gets exchanged in this group. I've critiqued their submissions, and they've done the same for me. We share bits and pieces about our lives--their wives, my husband, my job, and their former jobs--like colleagues do in the workplace.
Bob emailed to say he, his wife, and two cats were making the 2500-mile journey by car to Massachusetts for a vacation. When he suggested setting up a meeting with Carter and myself it never crossed my mind to heed the Internet danger warnings. No need. No doubt in my mind about these guys.
We met for lunch at Chili's in Hingham--a midpoint between Carter in Boston and the Cape, where Bob was staying with his wife and two feline companions--and talked so long before ordering that the waitress granted us a grace period and let us be until we flagged her down for drinks. We drank diet coke (Bob) and iced tea (Carter and me), still talking. Eventually we flagged the waitress who was keeping an eye on us from a distance, and ordered lunch--guiltless broiled salmon (me) and Margarita chicken (Bob and Carter).
When Carter admitted to being a slob and tucked his napkin into his collar, Bob and I did the same--just some teasing among friends. I let my napkin remain on my lap when it fell off halfway through the meal, and noticed Bob did the same. Carter's napkin hung in to the end, and to his credit, not a single drip of spicy beans and corn had missed his mouth.
By the time we finished, we were thoroughly chilled from the air-conditioned restaurant, a good thing because we knew the wicked New England heat and humidity would assault us when we stepped outside. It did. But before climbing into air conditioned cars, we stood a moment longer, sweating in the heat, taking pictures. Images of a good time preserved digitally in a camera's memory as well as our own.
Then we were off to our separate lives, miles and miles apart. But we'll meet again, and often, online for sure. How nice to have faces and voices to go with the real people I already knew.
If you like to laugh, check out Bob's book. I don't know which is more intriguing, the plot or the characters, but it makes for a fast paced read that takes you cross country from Lowell, Massachusetts to Arizona.
It's called "When Pigs Fly."