Part 1, Chapter 6
I’m sitting at my desk in the basement physics lab where I worked for the summer, not working on a stripline coil because, seriously, there’s no way that spiral of foil and epoxy and fairy dust actually will impede with the impedance it is supposed to be impeding with. My research advisor believes in magic, is what I’m saying. So, either I’ll fix it this afternoon, or maybe the low-temperature gnomes will come fix the damned thing during lunch. I have more important things to worry about. Like telling my problems to the internet.
Did you think this website was the first time that happened? Look, maybe I keep telling my problems to the internet because it always works.
“I just can’t stand being away from her,” I was typing. “I don’t know what to do.”
The internet is wise. “Go see her,” it urged.
“What?” I responded. “You don’t understand. I have no money and no car. I am at school in Cleveland and she is in Missouri, which, if you haven’t heard, is several million states away. Whatever, internet, I have work to do. You may have failed me for the first time.”
I turned away and started to tinker with the stripline, but the electronic voice of the internet echoed in my brain. “Go see her,” it called, from interconnected nodes far away. I could try to deny it, but the internet is never wrong, and this was no exception. I had to know if the e-mail flirtation was transferable to the real world. I had to know what was the scene with her boyfriend. Plus, she was simply way hotter than anyone who worked in the physics building or lived in my apartment that summer.
Biking home after work, I started to flirt with the idea again. Well, I have friends with cars. Maybe I can con them into going to visit Missouri and, like, driving me there too. That’ll definitely work. I’ll feel them out.
“Hey guys, what do you think about a road trip?” I asked. “Let’s go to Missouri.”
“Missouri? Are you kidding? What kind of crazy tourist-shuttling taxi do you think we are?” Roommate 1 has calculated average car maintenance costs per mile per pound of passengers in excess of himself, and charges us accordingly for rides.
“I’ve got an idea. Let’s take a road trip to the grocery store, get some steaks, grill out and drink beers on the roof of the garage.” Roommate 2 was full of practical ideas.
“Wait, I know who’s in Missouri. He wants to see that crazy girl he writes e-mails to. Justin: she’s imaginary.” Roommate 3 liked to knock me back down to earth.
“No, no. You haven’t seen her. She’s not imaginary, she’s hot. She works at the newspaper.”
“We’ll put a stereo out there and listen to music and grill steaks. I don’t see what’s so complicated here.”
“Wait, when were we going to go to Indianapolis?” I can’t believe I forgot! There was a girl we were all friends with who lived in Indianapolis, and we had decided to go see her this summer. Indianapolis is practically Missouri, right? I mean seriously. They’re pretty much right next door!
“Well, look,” I venture, “Why don’t we just go to Indianapolis and then maybe stop by Missouri, too?”
“Are you kidding? There’s no way I’m going to Missouri. There are no good art museums in Missouri, like, at all. What would I do?”
“I don’t see any good reason to put those miles on my car.”
“We could be having this conversation outside while drinking beer! I can’t believe it, I’m surrounded by insanity. You people are crazy.”
“Yeah, but, Indianapolis is closer to Missouri than I am now. If you guys can get me there, I’ll go the rest of the way on my own. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an e-mail to write.”
I phrased the e-mail this way:
“Hey, listen. I’m going to be in the Missouri area in a few weeks. If I were to swing by your town, would you be interested in grabbing a cup of coffee?”
Which, was not strictly an accurate way of putting it, but define “Missouri area.”
The response came the next day.
“Actually, I’ll be out of town that week.” Oh no. “I’ll be with my parents in our beach house on Lake Michigan.”
Disaster! I was so disappointed. But suddenly my being in Ohio with no money and no car became unimportant. Any doubts I had as to whether a crazy multi-state scheme was a bad idea were swept away. I knew I would sell kidneys to go see her. I would hijack blimps. Here is why:
“Why don’t you stop by the beach house and spend a few days with us up there?”
Wow. That sounds like the most awkward, romantic, sweet, ambiguously improper way to spend a few days. And it definitely does not sound like a date.
You couldn’t keep me away if you tried.