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SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK


2007 was … an interesting year. Yeah, that’s one way to put it. I could fill an entire column with a list of things that went horribly wrong – I could fill a column just with things that went wrong with my car, let alone everything else. (But I’m not going to say 2008 couldn’t be worse, because that would be like saying the Federal deficit couldn’t get any bigger.) I put enough money into my car to buy a horse with, and it’s still in the air whether I’d have been better off investing in a pony and a scoop shovel.

The one good thing that happened to me was that I landed a girlfriend. You may collectively gasp now. Yes, I found a woman who has come to know me very well, and yet who has not given me the “just friends” speech. No, she’s not blind, nor has she received a recent head injury -- why do you ask?

After all these years I’ve come to realize that staying in your hometown has the drawback that everyone knew you as a punk kid, and also remembers every foolish thing you ever did. The trick is to find women who’ve never heard of the younger, more foolish, nerd me. Then all they have to deal with is the older, a little less foolish, nerd me.

Showing only the good side of my life worked so well that Emily wanted to come visit. For instance, I described Indiana in glowing terms of wondrous beauty. In other words, I described Indiana after winter, but before heat wave. That’s about a month’s worth.

I met her through a writer’s group on the internet, and we spent much time talking about writing before proceeding on to other things, such as the fact that I’m a male, and she’s a female. Part of the problem is that my internet name is Ozma, which is a fictional girl’s name.

Long story.

I wanted to stress how we met as writers, because for some reason finding a woman on the internet seems a bit less … questionable, when the meeting doesn’t take place on a web site with the words “cupid” or “match” in the title. There was no internet entry saying “Hi, I’m Mark: I’m 6’3, 190 pounds of muscle. I’m a 25 year old chief executive of a music company who enjoys romantic comedies, long walks on the beach, and taking it slow.” Nor was there an enclosed picture of some over muscled beach boy stolen from the self-same internet.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve signed up on those dating sites before. However, I never did see the point of portraying yourself dishonestly on places like that. Suppose you do hit it off, and eventually your dream girl wants to meet you? What do you say when she finds out your weight, hair color, height, face, and entire personality are the opposite of what you said? “Um … I’ve been sick.”

My profile says: “I’m a rural Midwestern nerd raised on Star Trek and comic books, working an underpaid civil servant job while I’ve spent the last 30 years failing to get a toehold in my dream job. I’m perpetually broke, my car’s falling apart, and I have two more or less adult children, which makes me old, poor, broken down and dull. I’m kind of plain looking, with thinning, limp hair, a big nose, glasses, and too much chocolate around the waist. Take a chance on me.”

I never did get a lot of hits. Don’t know why.

Anyway, Emily never saw that – she first knew me as a fanfiction writer, someone who wrote a few tales about Buffy the Vampire Slayer characters (instead of inventing my own stories, like I’m supposed to be doing). I know what you’re thinking, but let me point out that I was failing as a fiction writer decades before I got involved in fanfiction.

So she already knew I was a nerd and a writer – and dull, because most writers are dull no matter how exciting their stories are. Yet she accepted me anyway. As a result, I literally had her head examined, but the CAT scans came out normal.

When you meet someone, and communicate for half a year before moving on to romantic interests, it can make for odd connections; for instance, she’s substantially younger than I am, something that just doesn’t seem to matter if the emotional connection comes before the physical attraction. There’s also a maturity difference: she’s a bit more mature than I am. Okay, a lot. And a lot smarter, although her taste in men is questionable.

Now, the car thing and the girlfriend thing are connected, because she lived in Missouri, not far from the famous New Madrid fault line. I drove down to see her in October and, much to my surprise, there was no earthquake. I was surprised; it’s been that kind of a year.

On that trip I took my daughter’s car, but when I went down again in December I brought my own car. Actually, it brought me. But just barely. The details were covered in another column, because there are a lot of details.

Anyway, I drove 9 ½ hours in a clunker of a car, then came back the very next day, cruising around Indianapolis in a snow squall. Almost 20 hours of driving in a two day period.

I’m crazy, or I’m in love.

It’s hard to tell the difference, of course; both lead to odd behavior, elevated vital signs, altered mental status, and general silliness. Either of those conditions could lead a guy to drop what he’s doing, clear his schedule, and drive across three states in the dead of winter in a car that was built during the first Clinton administration. So … was it worth it?

Well, I brought her back with me. What does that tell you?

Comments

( 40 comments — Leave a comment )
frimfram
Feb. 7th, 2008 01:17 pm (UTC)
I don't think I've squee'd for you guys yet. SQUEE! ♥
ozma914
Feb. 8th, 2008 05:10 am (UTC)
Yay for squee's!
spikereader
Feb. 7th, 2008 02:55 pm (UTC)
Aw, what a lovely column. I'm glad you're getting along so well in RL after the virtual connection.
ozma914
Feb. 8th, 2008 05:10 am (UTC)
So am I! :-) It's not a guarantee, after all.
gillo
Feb. 7th, 2008 02:58 pm (UTC)
There's so much self-deprecation here you could almost be British! You are so
very
not dull. And this is a lovely and touching as well as funny account. I'll join frimfram in the squee.
ozma914
Feb. 8th, 2008 05:14 am (UTC)
Self-deprecation? Why, that's simply my columnist persona! Although really, I don't feel I'm so terribly exciting in person ... just the same, I'll take all the squees I can get!
lmzjewel
Feb. 7th, 2008 04:03 pm (UTC)
I’m crazy, or I’m in love.

It’s hard to tell the difference, of course; both lead to odd behavior, elevated vital signs, altered mental status, and general silliness. Either of those conditions could lead a guy to drop what he’s doing, clear his schedule, and drive across three states in the dead of winter in a car that was built during the first Clinton administration. So … was it worth it?

Well, I brought her back with me. What does that tell you?

Oh! I love this! Congratulations to both of you. (Squees) And this column is definately a good one. (:

I thoroughly understand the whole feeling like you're crazy when you're in love. The first time I kissed my husband (actually everytime I kiss him) I got (get) this kind of high, head buzzy feeling and I really like his scent and how good he tastes when I'm kissing him. It was so weird cause I've kissed a couple of guys before him and with the exception of my first kiss (and he was a friend of mine not a romantic interest and that was just weird cause it was like I wasn't interested in him that way but that was kinda nice.) I never got exicited over the way they tasted or their scent. With him it was like selective sensory memory overload or something, and I was thinking about it at work and at the most inappropriate times and it was just really ruining my concentration. At the time I really was feeling like I must be crazy or something. And another thing is that when I'm talking to people at first I feel a little insecure and nervous, like I'm going to say something stupid or something and with him I never felt that way. I mean from the first time I met him talking to him was just really easy, relaxing, and comforting for me. And at first, it was almost kind of disconcerting for me afterwards cause I wasn't used to feeling that way. Now I just bask in it and go with it, but when I first met him I felt like, what is it with him?

ozma914
Feb. 8th, 2008 05:16 am (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it, and thanks!

I like your description very much; I think it fits very well into the "crazy in love" category. :-)
(Deleted comment)
ozma914
Feb. 8th, 2008 05:16 am (UTC)
Freud was a pretty smart cookie, wasn't he? :-)
(Deleted comment)
ozma914
Feb. 8th, 2008 05:17 am (UTC)
Thanks!
(Deleted comment)
strangexgirl
Feb. 7th, 2008 11:10 pm (UTC)
*exaggerated wink*
(no subject) - ozma914 - Feb. 8th, 2008 05:17 am (UTC) - Expand
spikendru
Feb. 7th, 2008 07:31 pm (UTC)
What an absolutely perfect column for Valentine's Day! And, see, the good ones do eventually find each other, as you guys and Wombat and Speakr are proof positive.

Have a great V-day, sweetie!
ozma914
Feb. 8th, 2008 05:30 am (UTC)
I'd actually completed the column a few weeks ago, but I held it back when I realized it would be good for Valentine's Day. I hope you have a good one, too!
curiouswombat
Feb. 7th, 2008 08:21 pm (UTC)
Yay for Memily! As we in fanfic say...

One of the best things about meeting people through fanfic or anything similar is that age and gender are not the first thing you know about someone - it is what sort of person they are that comes first.
pfeifferpack
Feb. 7th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)
So true! I really think the Internet will eventually alter the whole way society works. People are friends, real friends and may never meet face to face (but would NEVER have even been aware of the other without the net), marriages will be made this way too....good ones based on shared interests and friendship. I don't mean those "find a mate" sites although I do know one lady who met and married her dream man that way. Things like our LJ or yahoo boards and the like where you go there to meet people with similar interests be it gardening, travel, dogs, or even a wonderful TV show.....it's going to change the world!

YAY Mark and Emily, long may they love.

Kathleen
(no subject) - ozma914 - Feb. 8th, 2008 05:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strangexgirl - Feb. 7th, 2008 11:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - curiouswombat - Feb. 7th, 2008 11:28 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strangexgirl - Feb. 7th, 2008 11:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ozma914 - Feb. 8th, 2008 05:36 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ozma914 - Feb. 8th, 2008 05:37 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strangexgirl - Feb. 8th, 2008 06:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ozma914 - Feb. 8th, 2008 05:35 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ozma914 - Feb. 8th, 2008 05:31 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - strangexgirl - Feb. 8th, 2008 06:34 am (UTC) - Expand
the doc says it's my mamily glad, acting up. - ozma914 - Feb. 8th, 2008 08:00 am (UTC) - Expand
pfeifferpack
Feb. 7th, 2008 08:25 pm (UTC)
Awwwww love is wonderful and looks good on you! Your columns are always good but your love story just makes me smile.

Kathleen
ozma914
Feb. 8th, 2008 05:38 am (UTC)
Thanks -- I hope to continue entertaining you with both!
kazzy_cee
Feb. 7th, 2008 09:08 pm (UTC)
Aaaaaw - Valentine day column!! Heee! Great you've bonded over fanfic, and found each other in RL :D
ozma914
Feb. 8th, 2008 05:38 am (UTC)
:-) I can only think of one other Valentine column I've ever written -- and it had a *way* different tone!
strangexgirl
Feb. 7th, 2008 11:12 pm (UTC)
Aw.. everyone is so supportive. ^^
ozma914
Feb. 8th, 2008 05:43 am (UTC)
It's great to have friends, isn't it? *holds you tight*
(no subject) - strangexgirl - Feb. 8th, 2008 06:35 am (UTC) - Expand
enigmaticblues
Feb. 7th, 2008 11:53 pm (UTC)
That is really an adorable story.
ozma914
Feb. 8th, 2008 05:44 am (UTC)
You can't make stuff like that up. Well, actually you can, but not this time! :-)
boy_named_susie
Feb. 10th, 2008 03:22 am (UTC)
Awww, lovely column.
ozma914
Feb. 12th, 2008 06:36 am (UTC)
Thanks!
( 40 comments — Leave a comment )

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