Internet Killed the Pen Pal Star

Blogfather TrioI like to think the two guys I met last weekend are more than glorified pen pals. I admit, though, that the scenario sounds eerily similar: get to know a far-flung person through the written word, eventually meet, then return to respective homes and pick right back up with the writing.

Repeat last three steps as needed.

I’ve had only one pen pal in my life, and she was a Japanese girl named Mayumi. I never made it to Japan, but based on what I knew of her I’m sure she has made a trip to the United States. Whatever the case, we never met and I haven’t heard from her since 1991. I wonder how her budgies are doing.

I can’t help assuming that the Internet has pretty much killed off the traditional pen pal. If it is not extinct, then it surely is on the endangered list. Humans’ insatiable and growing desire for immediate feedback has relegated pen pals to online discussion forums and blog comment areas with international participants. Not to mention free IP telephony (Skype), mobile phones and texting.

More than all that, I’m here to start a series of posts covering my first meeting with my two closest online friends. I can’t imagine getting to know two people over a two-year span this well through mere letter writing. Listed alphabetically, they are Moksha Gren and Simon. Trust me, the three of us wouldn’t be able to sustain the effort of writing and mailing traditional letters for nearly as long as we’ve stayed in touch online.

After about 10 months of planning and waiting, we finally met. Frankly, I doubt pen pals ever have had a better time over a four-day weekend that didn’t include sex nor any distant hope of it.

Not even with the drunken butterfly girl.

Nope, we were perfectly faithful, loyal blogfathers who never so much as entered a Hooters. In fact, we rarely went a half hour without mentioning our families, and those moments were for forays into geekery too deep for even our wives to feign interest.

Simon and NorahSimon and I arrived separately at the airport between 9:30 and 10 a.m. Friday morning. My trip — a 1.5-hour jaunt from Dallas Love Field to Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, paled next to Simon’s laborious trek from Alberta, Canada, with a three-hour layover in Toronto. That’s not to mention his work-related driving trip prior to that.

The Canadian insisted several times that he was fine after about 30 hours without sleep, but even meeting him for the first time we suspected we weren’t getting the full Simon. We both had spoken with him on the phone, and although glassy eyes don’t come across the lines, we would have noticed the slurred speech.

Whose Foos are YouseMoksha, our gracious (if bumbling) and giddy host along with his wife Moonshot and their daughter Norah, admitted early on that his plans for us didn’t start until 7 p.m. that night. We somehow kept from twiddling our thumbs and picking our noses as we watched the clock tick and the pigs fly.

We ate at a well-loved local microbrewery and then proceeded to one of many memorable firsts for that weekend.

The next installment must wait. I just arrived home late Monday night and my wife’s belated Mother’s Day kept me quite busy. As much as our wives all said it was fine for us to be away for that special day, we will not even entertain the same conflict for future meetings.

(Continued)


Comments

Internet Killed the Pen Pal Star — 14 Comments

  1. I recently met a blogfriend for the first time. It’s a crazy, awesome experience, isn’t it?

    I’d agree with you for the most part on the penpal thing, but there’s still the ability to exchange letters with soldiers. While a lot of them have internet access, just as many don’t. And somehow, they all seem to appreciate a written card anyway.

    If you wanted to do something like that, http://www.adoptaussoldier.org/ is a good organization to find one. That one also signs you up to send care packages, too, though, so if you just wanted to just send letters I could hook you up with some different linkage.

    :)

  2. Wow… already I’m anticipating the next post about this, and I know you guys had a great time.
    I wish I could have been there *S*

  3. “…I doubt pen pals ever have had a better time…that didn’t include sex nor any distant hope of it.”

    Gee, Mark, that’s not what you told me. :O

  4. Bumbling, eh? Ok…maybe a little.

    And though it was an oversight on my part to have nothing planned for those first few hours, I count them as time well spent. I can’t speak for you guys, but I was spent most of that time thinking, “Holy crap, Mark and Simon are in my house. They actually exist as more than words on a screen.”

    Besides, it was the only time you got to meet the full Gren clan before the ladies fled northward to escape the overwelming geekery. I mean…it just wouldn’t have been the same weekend had it not started off with Simon terrorizing poor Norah with the pop-up Rancor.

    Can’t wait to see what we did next!

  5. Sis B – Thanks for passing that information along to everybody!

    Dave – It truly was the most fun I’ve had (with my clothes on) in decades.

    Alvis – Sshhhh!

    Moksha – Of course, you know I was kidding about the “bumbling” part. The thrill of the meeting itself sustained me just fine. I tried to very subtly slip in this comment at the end of the sentence suggesting that we were bored: “as we watched the clock tick and the pigs fly.” Because, as we all know now, the clocks in your house do not tick and pigs do not fly.

    As for the rest of your comment… no spoilers, man!

  6. “Because, as we all know now, the clocks in your house do not tick” :) They are a sad lot, aren’t they? Double doomed by my own procrastination and my wife’s refusal to have competing metronomes within earshot of her piano. But hey…right twice a day is better than I manage some days.

  7. Moksha, I was wondering of you were going to stand for him calling you “bumbling.” Pretty darn disrespectful, I must say. But considering how much he has raved about what an incredible time he had (& all of the incredible places you guys went & incredible things you did), I guess it’s safe to say he didn’t mean it that way. But I’d still kick his ass next time you see him. I’m just sayin’.

  8. You gave Shannon a belated mother’s day??? How awfully sweet of you… You must be a fabulous husband :oP.
    Glad you guys had a great weekend. Can’t wait to meet you in person myself. I wonder if we have enough room for the wives and children as well…..

  9. Shan – I’ve been accurately called much worse than bumbling…by your husband even. Besides, there’s something sorta lovable about the image of the “bumbling host.” Puts me in such good company as the “absent-minded professor.”

  10. The similarity in your outfits on that first photo makes me think you three are indeed of kindred nature.

    The photo including both the Simian Farmer and Norah Lu on the Regular Life blog is getting me confused, though, like when characters from a tv show visit another series. Is there a spin-off coming our way?

    I would expect Moksha to be a fun party planner and thus the perfect host for your GT (collecting cool points here), never mind location – and so far the retelling seems to concur with this impression. Glad you guys had a good experience.

  11. I felt only a little guilty for terrorizing Norah Lu with the Rancor since she DID back off a bit when I roared with perhaps more realism than intended. But not very much guilt.

    It was fun seeing how much drunker the Drunken Butterfly Girl had gotten by the time we saw her in the second beer tent. Mind you, I think that Moksha and I were as well. But that’s all in good fun. And I have the commemorative glass as a reminder.

    To toot my own horn a bit, it was more like 40 hours up straight by the time I got to bed Friday night. That zombie card game could have had me as a character; I was feeling pretty bad by the end of it all. Any slurring for the rest of the weekend I’ll blame on the beer or the scotch.

  12. No time to answer everybody right now, but I had to say that you needn’t worry, Simon. I’ve already written your precious 40 hours in the next installment. Oh, and the butterfly girl, too. Stop the spoilers, all ye who were there!

  13. Thanks for the “precious” comment Mark. That made me feel special!

    (But not in a short but sort of way.)

  14. Or short bus, either (I hope).

    Man, I’m sorry I had to miss out on the magic. I console myself with the knowledge that I’ve met Mark in the past (though he showed up early for a LAN party and I was still helping with kids so on the whole, the first hour was pretty boring).

    Still, Simon and Moksha… cool! We need to have a BurgerCon in Texas sometime (you know, because I live here).

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