Friday, January 18, 2013

The 'Other' Inbox

Years ago, when I was the kind of person who would pick up and move to Colorado with my beau of one month- in part, to benefit from altitude training, but mostly to give everyone something vaguely novel to talk about- I started appreciating how quotable kids are. My beau’s five year old was telling me that her birthday was January 6. Of course, I responded, ‘Oh, you’re a Capricorn.’ She said defiantly, ‘No I’m not, I’m a Catholic.’ Not long ago, while wasting time on Facebook I thought of that line, and like a good aunt, wanted to share it with the woman Shay had become. I found her instantly, and sent a message sharing the anecdote. I never heard back, and after several moments of believing everything we do in life is a complete waste of time, I forgot the incident altogether. Fast forward to a few weeks ago: Cupid’s bow found me and directed me to put all of my efforts into arranging a match for my friend Naomi. This task was made infinitely more challenging by the demographic of her pool of potential suitors. Single people from New York City have zero tolerance for – anything, really. So something as innocuous as displaying a vulnerable smile on a first date can be an instant deal-breaker. I felt ready for the challenge. Hadn’t I already conquered more treacherous waters? Had I not soldiered through completing sixty four reading assessments for our entire second grade class at my school the previous month? I can now recite ‘Edwin’s Haircut’ and ‘All About Koalas’ in my sleep; Ms. Jackson named me the ‘Running Records Queen’ after seeing me assessing in the hallway outside her classroom for two weeks straight. ‘A Shidduch for Naomi’; It could end up a new Fountas and Pinnell leveled reading title – help even out the cultural chasm in public school literacy. OK, so I plunge into my new assignment, and start to mine my pool of eligibles. It’s quite small, and sadly includes some men that are not in fact bonafide acquaintances- but no matter- I think intuition plays a big role in this art anyway (I’m hoping for Naomi’s sake that this is true.) So bachelor #1 takes a little convincing that Naomi a) Exists b) Has most of her teeth c)Can navigate the subway system without the assistance of a map. In other words, he wouldn’t agree to consideration of the match until offered the prerequisite Facebook link. So I complied, and didn’t blame him one bit for this seemingly superficial allowance. I think people instinctively feel suspicious of motives and/or quality of subjects in these types of situations. But Bachelor #1 seemed pleased with my offering, and bit the bullet and sent a message via Facebook to Naomi. But she never got it. And Bachelor #1 was very sensitive, and felt Naomi snubbed him since too much time had passed without him receiving a response from her. So he thanked me, and went about his merry way. And Naomi was puzzled, since she never received a message from Bachelor #1. And Naomi is a Virgo, and will toil until her fingers fall off to get to the bottom of an unsolved email mystery. And that is how she discovered the inconspicuous link in her Facebook inbox to a special group of overlooked emails marked ‘other’; which roughly translates to email from people who are not official members of Facebook. And, voilĂ  ! Mystery solved, there was Bachelor #1’s message, right next to Bacheleor #2’s, and fifteen junk email messages that would have little affect on her future happiness. For you eternal romantics out there, stay tuned for the ending of that story- for those still wanting to know what happened with the Capricorn Catholic- I excitedly (after much tutoring from a now savvy Naomi) found my own Facebook ‘other’ box- and found a very odd assortment of 18 potentially life-changing messages, which had been awaiting my reply for up to two years. I will share one: a German foreign-exchange student from my junior year in high school wanted to know if I remembered her. I vaguely remembered a pleasant if fleeting friendship in which two teenage girls shared a common angst during walks by the millstream in Woodstock, trying to work through the bad behavior of the grown-ups associated with them. One day she revealed that her adopted American mother was very critical of her, and made mean personal comments about her. I quietly listened, feeling very empathetic. She then shared that her mother was just crazy, and she had things to say about me as well. Alarmed, I asked cautiously what she had said. My friend told me her mother was driving one day and saw me walking to town talking to myself. In my defense, I performed in a lot of community theatre in those days, so could easily have been rehearsing my lines. But knowing me, I was too self-conscious to risk a passing yenta mistaking me for a person who talked to themselves; so I was more likely singing to myself, but doing it discreetly so that no outsiders would pass judgment. Those critics! Those critics!! May they all be banished to the other box and left unanswered and unheard. I do like the idea of the ‘other’ box though. An alternate destiny in---The Twilight Zone.

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