The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

1 April 2006

A voice from the past

Her name was Brittney, she was fourteen years old, and the last time I saw her was at a user-group meeting in the middle 1980s.

Not that I ever forgot the sassy little blonde. For one thing, she was a sassy little blonde, a subspecies that tends to stick in the mind, or at least in my mind anyway; for another, she had already climbed to a level of cynicism that it took me until almost seventeen to reach.

Which doesn't explain how we met in the first place, but this does: I was a somewhere-above-minor player on the local bulletin-board stage, and she was an avid reader and poster (and, briefly, assistant sysop) who seemed to be quite often in sync with my perceived world-weariness, and though obviously she wasn't old enough to be truly world-weary — I was thirtysomething and I don't think I was — we had enough in common to justify occasional social contacts offline. In the company of others in the context of user gatherings and such, I hasten to add, lest you suspect something else might have been going on.

As usual with ad hoc communities of this sort, people drifted in and out all the time, and when she disappeared, rumors flew that she had irritated the parental units once too often and had been packed off to a boarding school / a convent / the French Foreign Legion [choose one]. I put in a perfunctory query or two, but not wishing to appear as though I had some prurient interest in the young lady, I didn't pursue matters much.

That would have been the end of the story, except that last month, she dropped me a line from just across town; she'd been reading this here bloggage, thought the style, such as it is, seemed vaguely familiar, and eventually she put two and two together and came up with me. We traded incredulous emails, and finally decided to meet on neutral territory.

And that was today. My memory for faces is none too good, but I spotted her from forty feet away: she's a little taller, maybe, but I'm pleased to report that "sassy" and "blonde" remain intact. Of course, she's spoken for: her better half reminds me somewhat of me, on those days when I'm more amiable than irascible. But what impressed me most, I think, is the fact that she's made the transition from young wisenheimer to, well, somewhat less young wisenheimer, without losing any of the qualities that made her interesting in the first place, and I'm happy to count her in that section of the world where "readers" and "friends" intersect.

Incidentally, "Brittney" wasn't her real name, nor was she fourteen at the time. Then again, I'm hardly in a position to complain about people putting out disinformation.

Posted at 2:00 PM to Blogorrhea