It begins on a typical Thursday afternoon. You’re sitting at your desk, staring blankly in the direction of your computer screen. “I don’t want to do any work,” your brains tells you. You nod in agreement.
Unfortunately, the situation is getting desperate. This late into the summer, you’ve already seen all the internet has to offer. You can’t talk to your coworkers because, well… you can’t talk to your coworkers (Trust me, you’re better off this way. signed, unexplained-narrator-telling-you-about your-own-life). You can’t even listen to music, as you finished your iTaco for lunch (and accidently lost half your music collection in the process) over an hour ago. In desperation, you turn to the thing that has helped you out of countless tough spots and dire situations in the past. From helping with homework to finding your way in an unfamiliar town to teaching you to love again after your heart was broken back in the 8th grade, it has always been there for you. You turn, of course, to Google (and, more specifically, to gmail chat).
Scanning your contacts list with increasing dismay, you realize that none of your friends are online. In fact, the only person who is online is that weird kid from your math class the year before. You don’t know much about him, because he only ever talked to ask for help on whatever assignment you had for the day. And even those conversations were brief because, more often than not, you were asleep or ignoring the work completely in some other way. Just as you move to close the browser in disgust and actually do your work, you notice his status change.
“this computer doesn’t even have JAVA?!??!?!?!?!”
The interrobangs catch your eye and the sheer ridiculousness of the question hooks you in. He seems to be lost in his own world of strange priorities (Java on the computers) and stranger expectations (Java on the computers). His gmail status, you soon realize, is a window into this world, and you, voyeur that you are, can’t resist peeking in.
Over the next few days, you share in his experiences. You laugh as he celebrates beating what you assume is some computer game (“OH MY GOD, I BEAT 5X5!!!!” he raves). You gasp in concern as he defies his mentor and stands up for his principles (“screw it, I’m right. my mentor’s wrong,” he declares, steeling himself for the clash of wills ahead, “x.x”) and then chuckle as he learns the hard way to trust in experience (“x.x”). You sit puzzled as he boldly speaks his mind (declaring “The bathroom smells like popcorn; it smells delicious”). You’re shocked as, one, day, the tone of the status changes dramatically. “Waldman…” he warns ominously and a million questions race through your head. Who is Waldman? What could he have done to evoke such ire? Okay… two questions race through your head. But they’re big questions. Slightly worried for your little friend, you realize that you can’t really do anything but wait.
Luckily, things are back to normal by the next day. He frantically scrambles to do his work (“OMG, where’s the integral sign in Matlab!?!??”). Evidently he’s found it by the end of the day, though, because he has time to ponder politics. As he wonders “Why is Obama so popular?” you can tell he has no idea who Obama is. You imagine him wonder to himself “Obama… Obama… why does that sound so familiar… was he in my Spanish class last year?” The next day brings another shock with a gmail status of “gay, so gay.” Who is he calling gay? Could it be Waldman? What is going on between those two? But again, you are forced to wait and worry.
The next few days find the subject of your study uncharacteristically happy, full of Disney songs and similar lyrics such as “Oh baby, baby this is not a lie Let’s stop this tonight.” You wonder for the thousandth time whether he realizes that anyone could read his gmail status, but just smile and continue with your day.
And then, one day, the pieces finally start to fit together. The morning starts with “Waldman, omg I’m gonna get you.” You spend the better part of the morning puzzling over this not-so-new development. You finally get your answer that afternoon, when his status changes to “SO GAY SO GAY SO GAY.” You gasp in epiphany as you realize that he’s not insulting anyone, or directing that at anyone else. All this time, he’s been talking about himself, revealing his inner thoughts and feelings. You realize that all along, he hasn’t been angry at Waldman. Those seemingly ominous status messages are not the angry warnings of a spited coworker, rather they tell a tale of a young man declaring his love to the world. Your heart aches as you discover that you’ve come to understand this strange boy, watching his trials and tribulations, his soaring victories and crushing defeats. A single tear rolls down your cheek for the love that you now know can never be.