Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The World Wide Web and Marriage Proposals

October 25, 2011 – The World Wide Web and Marriage Proposals
My niece eating a giraffe
The internet has shrunk the world down. I imagine it like a giant piece of tin foil that’s gotten wadded up into this pea sized ball. Which I then hold in my hand and move around so that the light makes funny reflections on the bare walls. I’m easily entertained, as my dad would say. But all crazy imaginings aside, the internet pulls us all together, cuts down distances like trees, spans the years and creates fodder for endless trouble. Now with ease I can use the powers of the World Wide Web to talk with my friend in Sweden, video-chat with my friend in China, watch my five month old niece eat the edge of her play area blanket in Texas (or a giraffe), call my mom several times a week, listen to my sister tell me about the hardships she faces living on a boat, check in with my grandmother and read her pages of my new story while she keeps watch over my grandfather as he’s healing up from a nasty bacteria, and of course stalk nearly all my friends and acquaintances on a variety of social networking sites. All this I can do from the comfort of my own apartment in Lima. It’s great. It’s the passive-observer’s dream come true.

Every now and then, though, the tin foil world uncrumples just a tad and an unexpected someone from my past digs their way out of the pea sized ball core and finds me.

This isn’t a bad thing per se.
There’s the catching up of the years, the sudden spark of reconnecting, the gentle fading into oblivion again, or the continuation of something lost that now is found thanks to the thrilling reach of Cyberspace.
It just depends on who they are and what kind of bond there was, and is still, between us.
On Sunday I get a friend request from a man I knew before I moved from Texas to Colorado, before I moved from Colorado to Peru. I can’t pinpoint exactly how long it’s been since I’ve spoken with him —but I estimate it at roughly twelve or thirteen years. That’s a pretty long time. 
Over the decade(s) I morphed into more of me. I lived my life. The time passed.
A few years ago a mutual friend told me the man and his wife had gotten a divorce and that he’d started spending more time with my friend’s family. I felt bad for his heartache and then put him out of my mind.

So, all that to say, when I get online and see his friend request Sunday afternoon I accept. Then I turn off my computer and go for a walk. I toil away as I do and eventually come back to check my email, spy on some friends, and see what has happened out there in the world while I was unconnected.
To my surprise, on my page from him-- there for all the World Wide Web to see--are the words: Will you marry me?

My first thought is, “He doesn’t know about direct messaging.”

My second thought is, “Oh my god.”

My third thought gets interrupted by the other post on my page in which he says he knows this is sudden but that he means it.

I pick my jaw up off the floor, slam my computer shut and go to the kitchen to cut vegetables.

Then I call my mom.

“What is it about you that attracts older men?” she asks me.

Which isn’t exactly the response I was looking for. My sister has said that it’s because we’re old souls. Whatever that means.

Now I’m not against marriage. I just have my own ideas about it. Which, by the way (so far), don’t include online proposals. Even the crazy guy I met in the bar in Cuzco who would have gotten on a plane the next day with me (or so he said) told me that face to face. I know I’ve said I’m looking for a certain kind of crazy, but this ain’t it. I think I should feel flattered, I should feel…

But what screams out in my head is, You don’t know me. What are you thinking? What are all you men thinking?

With those two postings and one he actually sends to my inbox, this man breaks apart my theory regarding how the South American and North American men are different. I thought it was only the South American men who utilized the three questions:

      1.       Are you single?
     2.       How old are you?
      3.       Will you marry me?

This man already knew one and two (or could have gotten the answers off my social networking site personal information page if he'd forgotten) and so all he had to ask was the third.

The moral of the story is… I’m completely flabbergasted (oh, and also, I said no).

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