Posted by: notdeaddinosaur | August 1, 2010

Nothing Online is Real — Except When it is

Nothing online is real. It’s a lesson I learned the hard way during my internet dating years before meeting DS (online, as it happens). Still, coming up on my 4th blogiversary means having been out there quite awhile and meeting a lot of people.

What does is it actually mean to “meet” someone in cyberspace? All you have to go on are their words; pixels on a screen shining out into your family room, or office, or bedroom, or iPhone. You can presume that they are created by other flesh-and-blood people sitting in their family rooms or offices or bedrooms. See the photos of themselves they may post and their little avatar pictures, and you feel you might recognize them if you bumped into them at a conference. But beyond that, the human imagination fills in the blanks. What’s their laugh like? What makes them laugh? Is it the same things that make you laugh? Read enough of what people write over the years and you can come to feel like they’re old friends, even though you’ve never really met.

But because the people at the other end of the pixels really are live flesh-and-blood beings who take vacations and travel and visit family and go to conferences, it’s possible to make actual plans to get together out here in the Real World. So far, I’m honored to have met four people from the blogosphere in meatspace. Tundra Medicine Dreams came east from Alaska for a conference; we brought her out to the house and cooked for her. Later I went out to Montana with her for another. CrankyProf, the defunct, became a patient and then a friend. Rogue Medic showed up at my first book signing last year. And last night I had dinner with The Blog That Ate Manhattan.

It started with an email exchange: I hope you don’t take offense at this post, let me know if you’re ever in the area; Actually we will be there in two weeks, are you doing anything; Not yet, I’ll pencil you in; Still up for it, how about this restaurant; Sure, what time, here’s my cell; Great, here’s mine, see you then. And then it’s googlemapping and dressing and Yes DS you should probably wear a real shirt but black jeans are fine, we really should be leaving now. And twenty minutes later you’re in a parking lot waiting for a car with New York plates.

There was no anxiety. Even the momentary “Will I know who she is?” was more curiosity than worry. Her car had a bicycle on top, and there she was. She recognized me, too. We laughed, and hugged, then laughed some more, all the way through dinner.

And what a dinner it was. The Persian Grille in Lafayette Hill has a menu featuring incredibly fresh, authentic food. We got appetizers of spinach, grilled eggplant with sauteed onions, and a watercress salad that was amazing. We shared main courses consisting of lamb, veal, and chicken skewers, a veggie plate, and cornish hen in a beautiful orange-colored sauce. And there was no way I was going to resist baklava for desert: almond-based instead of walnut, not as sticky-sweet as the Greek version, with a hint of rosewater and a definite buttery taste to the pastry. Coupled with a glass mug of Persian tea, stirred with a stick of rock candy to sugar it.

The conversation flowed. DS and Mr. TBTAM hit it off great, as did his parents. Because we really were old friends. Now that we were nose-to-nose, I could ask about her kids and show her pictures of mine, rather than carefully referring to them by their blog-names. She could ask how the book was going, and I could find out more about her trip to Cuba. We had enough basic knowledge of each other so it felt like we were catching up, rather than filling in the blanks.

Her face looks different in motion than it does in her picture, which is true of everyone. Her eyes scrunch up when she laughs, which is often. And she’s funny as shit! Irene and I had both read about a terminally ill woman who decided to stop eating and drinking. TBTAM said, “I’d do that, and I’d start wasting away. Then right at the end I’d say, ‘I look fabulous! Let’s go shopping!’ So much for that.”

I signed my book for her and exchanged phone numbers with Irene, then hugged her goodbye with promises to meet again. Because sometimes things online can become real. And that is a wonderful thing.


  1. What happened to CrankyProf? I loved her blog. I miss it so much!

  2. Lucky you!

  3. I’m jealous. I was supposed to meet TBTAM in NYC several years ago but something unexpected came up and she was unable to meet me. I’ve been a long-time reader of hers with an interest in both food and medicine, I think we’d have liked each other. I’ll have to try again next time I get to the City.

  4. Sounds like a fun meet up!

  5. Same question re Cranky. I found her from here, and I miss her !! Please let her know she’s missed.

  6. Ditto on Cranky. I hope she is doing well. She is missed.

  7. Dino –
    How much fun was it meeting you and Mr Dino? Felt like dinner with dear old friends. And it was.

    Let’s do it again – soon!


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