Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Perils of "Talking" via Facebook

My junior year of college, I studied abroad in Italy for a semester. It was one of my favorite college experiences, but I knew that I was going to miss my friends back home. About a week before I left, my good friends, Karissa and Angie, threw me a “Come Back to Texas” going away party, where I proceeded to have about three too many cheap tequila shots. At around 1:30 AM, I sat down on the couch next to an acquaintance with whom I had recently reconnected.

Sidebar: I had just taken a course on Russian History: The Beginning of Time to 1917, which concluded with a twelve-page research paper on the following historical event.
I’m not entirely sure how this particular topic of conversation came up, but upon sitting down next to Luke, I decided that it would be a good time to give an impromptu lecture on Boris Godunov and the Time of Troubles. It’s actually too bad that these guys weren’t there to record it, because I’m sure it was hilarious.

Forty-five minutes later, Luke, bless his heart, was still sitting there next to me, listening as I emphatically recounted Boris’ tragic end and playing endless games of Thumb War with me (I do remember that he didn’t really get the concept of the “thumb” part of the game, and kept trying to use his pointer finger).

He was cute. And polite (hello, he suffered through forty-five minutes of Russian history!). And single, which was an improvement on my past crushes. But I was getting on a plane to Rome the next weekend. What to do?

Thank God and Mark Zuckerberg for Facebook. Almost immediately, Luke and I began chatting online, and the more we talked, the more I liked him. Plus, I had a sneaking suspicion that he liked me too. I sent him amusing tales of my travels, such as the time my friends and I were accosted in the train station in Perugia by a certifiably insane Brit wearing a denim habit who railed against who he believed was the embodiment of all that is evil in this world, George W. Bush; he sent me Dots. After three months of AIM and Facebook messaging and one phone call via Skype, I felt like we were pretty much a done deal as soon as I was back stateside.

He even surprised me at the airport when I got home, which was sweet, though it would have been sweeter if I wasn’t freaking out about the MIP I had almost gotten for the two one-ounce bottles of Limoncello I had in my suitcase, and the fact that I had been traveling for close to twelve hours and had no makeup on and a bad case of plane hair.

Finally, after close to four months of build up, Luke and I were in the same country and could go out on our official first date. What follows is the reason for my reluctance to ever try online dating.

For a couple of people who never ran out of things to talk about over the internet, hanging out in-person and alone for the first time seemed to leave both of us speechless. I attempted to drown out the deafening din of crickets by forgoing eating my dinner in favor of chattering on and on about whatever I could think of: the d├ęcor, the douchey customs officer who was clearly out to get me (two one-ounce bottles of Limoncello—clearly, I was trying to start an illegal aperitif-smuggling ring), my failed attempts at getting a publishing internship for the summer.

The self-conscious silence followed us to the park where we took a walk, and back to his house, where we watched a mini-marathon of “The Office” with his roommate. I was getting kind of chilly in my short-sleeved shirt, so I asked Luke if he had a sweatshirt I could borrow. He returned a few minutes later with a long-sleeved thermal and a small orange pill in his palm, which he offered to me.

Him: Here you go.
Me (eying the tablet with suspicion): What is that?
Him: It’s vitamin C. It’s good for you! Take it.

Sidebar: For those of you who are a smidge concerned at this point, I knew Luke to be a bit of a health-nut, in addition to being a truly stand-up guy, so there is no need to fear that the capsule contained anything other than ascorbic acid.

Me (in my head): Vitamin C? What, do I look like I have scurvy?!

Hmm. Maybe that was why he was keeping our physical contact to a minimum…

It wasn’t long after this that Luke’s friend, Mark, called him up.

Mark: Hey, man! What are you up to?
Luke: Not much.
Me (in my head): Ain’t that the truth…
Luke: What are you doing?
Mark: I just got a new car! Want to check it out?
Luke: Sure, man, that sounds awesome! Come on over!
Me (still in my head): Seriously? Does this mean the “date” portion of the evening is over?

And so two became three.
Mark hung out for a bit, and then in an attempt to reclaim Luke’s attention and salvage the evening, I began to yawn hugely and ask if Luke could take me home, thinking that we could at least have some more alone time during the car ride.

Luke: Oh, yeah, sorry. Let’s go. Hey, Mark, do you want to drive?
Me: !!
Mark: Sweet! I’ll go clear-off the backseat.

During the drive home, Mark in the driver’s seat, Luke riding shotgun, I texted my roommates from the backseat to let them know that all three of us would be arriving shortly. I won’t lie, my messages contained a few choice expletives. You know what they say about the best-laid plans…

I don’t remember specifics of the rest of the night, though we probably played Cranium at some point. I can tell you that Luke and I never kissed, though there was some tentative hand-holding. Alas, Luke and I were never meant to be. I spent the rest of the summer in Oklahoma, and our daily conversations dwindled down to a text here and there. By the end of summer, I had heard through the grapevine that Luke was seeing someone else.

So, my dear readers, let this be a lesson to you. Tequila and Russian history make for a quirky and entertaining combination and Facebook has a knack for disguising awkward silences as thoughtful pauses in conversation. Please FB responsibly.


  1. Oh WOW this is my favorite by far.

  2. I remember your FB discussions on the hide-a-bed at Harolyn's apt in Moscow!!! I always wondered what happend with that guy....

  3. That episode was definitely worthy of a post. And no, you don't have scurvy. Wow.

  4. oh, good times...i remember that evening well...

  5. So so true. See following Urban Dictionary reference for further proof:

    facebook wit:
    The intellegent humor that nearly everyone seems to gain when they have a half an hour to contemplate a witty response. It is usually a bad comparison to a person's actually conversational skills since they can sit and contemplate the response for as long as they need.

    (Facebook wit conversation)

    Susie (7:12): So... supposedly the world is ending on Saturday...
    Dan: (7:32): Hell yeah! (pun totally intended ;)
    Susie (7:34): You think you'll still be here after the rapture?
    Dan: (8:01): Oh, I'm throwing a rapture party! Devil juice and Satan cakes, with the Antichrist spinning!
    Susie: (8:04): ROFL!

    (Real conversation)

    Susie (7:12): So... supposedly the world is ending on Saturday...
    Dan (7:13): Oh, wow, that's really interesting...
    (Crickets chirping)