A couple days ago, I had to go through my old address book to find, well, an address. And by “address book” I mean an actual, bound book, not the thing on my phone or the list attached to my email. I don’t look at my little address book very often, but when I do, I take a little trip down memory lane. I’ve had the book since my high school days, but the entries of contact information of old college friends are probably the most notable, because around 1995/1996, I started recording people’s email addresses. Email, it was this new thing back then. During my sophomore year, everyone at my school was introduced to “the internet” and everyone got a shiny new email address – four letters, four numbers, followed by the @ouruniversity.edu. To say this new email thing was a hit was an understatement. We had to have special meetings on how to use email and what to use it for; but once all that was said and done, everyone, including myself, was all about email. We used it and abused it.
So one of the ancient email addresses I had recorded in my lil ol’ book was for a boy I’m going to refer to as “Jake.”
Cue flashback and foreshadowing music: You made me promises, promises…
Jake and I were friends. And that friendship, on my end anyway, eventually turned into a crush. A sappy, little girl, puppy dog crush. It was bad. And the worst parts of it were that I crushed (1) over email and (2) because of a 3DO.
We came to know each other through our school’s theatre department. He was an actor, I was on the wardrobe crew. Jake was cute and cordial. He was also charming, drove a sweet sports car, and was very popular with the ladies. I knew he had a girlfriend or two, and was into tall blondes (not me), which is a little funny because he was almost as short as me. (Short, but not Too Short.) We were a good working team as far as actor and dresser went, and I kept my crush to myself mostly. I didn’t see Jake every day. He was not in my classes, and only place we really saw each other, if not during a show, was in the costume shop, which he visited only occasionally. But with this new school-wide email setup, we sometime exchanged friendly emails; but so did everyone else as they tried to feel their way around the new electronic communication waters.
So imagine my surprise when one day I get an email from him asking if I want to come over to his house to play, Gex on his 3DO. It’s a fun game, he says, and he thinks I’d enjoy it.
Well holy crap. I…just…I was incredibly flattered and really nervous. Did I mention my penchant for video games in a conversation with him?? I must have. But, oh my god, he wants to spend non-school time with me, just me! And Gex, but me! I consulted my dearest friends, roommates, just about anyone who would listen. I printed out copies of the message to see if people read it the same way I did. Is he for real? Is this sincere? What if I say yes and he says no? Does he really like me, or does he just like me? What if this, what if that…? Seriously, I pretty much brought the matter to committee, y’know, like girls do.
Plus, Gex! Man, did I want to play this game. The 3DO was released in the same time span as the Super Nintendo; and according to all the television commercials, the super cool, CD-having Panasonic 3DO had games that Nintendo didn’t, like Gex. A cool little side-scroller that involved Gex the Gecko and his adventures in the “Media Dimension.” Gex was a sparky little guy, almost 007-like in mannerisms, voiced by Dana Gould – one of my favorite comedians at the time – and the game looked like a whole lotta fun. None of my on-campus friends had a 3DO and we did not have one at home. So an offer to play the system plus this game could come from Hitler, and I probably would have said yes. But it came from Jake! (girly happy sigh)
After several days of heated discussions and debates with friends, I wrote back to Jake with a decided “yes.” But I knew he lived off campus in a nearby town, and I told him that I didn’t have a car. If we wanted to meet somewhere after classes one day, he could pick me up. A few more nervous days went by and he responded with a “sure, let me get back to you.”
My heart fluttered and my brain filled with happy thoughts of what might be. I quickly forced any other boys out of my purview because Jake and I were it. We were gonna be spectacular!
And, I was a moron. Only I was too blinded by visions of the awesomeness-yet-to-be to notice.
That “let me get back to you” email hovered for a long time in my inbox with no further response. But I remained stupidly hopeful. It was nearing summer vacation and I had a job starting shortly after finals. And I thought, well, maybe Jake has a summer job too, maybe he’s getting ready for finals and all and is just really busy. Surely he’d let me know something soon. As sure as the suns sets and the moon rises! (oh sigh sigh, longingly looks out window into starry night)
Well, I didn’t see him before I went away to my job, which wasn’t really “away” but was at a theatre in a town near my college. This little town, coincidentally, was close to Jake’s hometown. I had invited several of my friends to visit me while I was “away,” and, still a cock-eyed optimist, I took a chance on Jake. I emailed him and invited him to come see a show. No pressure, and no mention of the 3DO. To my delight, he actually emailed me back the same day with a positive response, “How about this weekend?” Yes, yes, oh heavens yes you delicious thing you, my mind whirled! “Yeah, that’s cool with me” my stupid self wrote.
…….and the weekend came…….and went.
He was a no-show.
Still, that stupid hope-against-hope part of my brain tightly clung onto the notion that maybe, just maybe, he’d still come to visit sometime. Maybe he was busy. Maybe he’d forgotten. Maybe he was sick. More likely though, I was a dumbass.
Sure enough, a couple days after that weekend, he emailed me, apologetically, with a story of a family emergency. He wanted to come but just couldn’t make it. To make up for that, he invited me over again for that lost and promised session of Gex. Someone really should have shot me in the head before I cheerfully responded, “Of course!” Ah, but I had an ace up my sleeve this time – a car. “Send me your address,” I said, “and I’ll come over.”
He never emailed me back that summer.
I probably could have found him the phone book and gone to his house with a few punches for his stupid face and stupid 3DO, but I didn’t. My optimistic facade had been worn away by his unresponsiveness. Screw him and his 3DO. That was that, my crush was done and I had work to do.
Fast forward through the rest summer to the start of my junior year. I know Jake and I are bound to cross paths – he’s already been cast in the upcoming winter play and I’m still working wardrobe – so I figure whatever happens, happens. We ran into each other not long after classes has started, and once again, only face-to-face this time, he apologies for not being able to get together over the summer. I curl a little with the “oh, it’s okay cutie,” we can still be friends and I’m still open to some 3DO time if it ever works out. And then…he asked me out on a date. A band was playing at school that night – did I want to join him for that and dinner?
I paused. WHAT?? Screw him, remember? All those jerky email promises…!, my mind stammered.
“Um, sure,” I said.
The date? Meh. The band was…probably okay, I don’t really remember. I do recall that we pretty much just sat there trying to make small talk at random intervals. He didn’t mention the 3DO once. I got bored trying to engage him and he remained antsy and uncomfortable. We left early, and he told me that maybe it was best that we skip dinner and call it a night. Fine with me. I felt a little dejected, but was nonetheless relieved. Jake and I, we didn’t have much chance as a couple. Our actor-dresser relationship was all well and good, but that elevated to girlfriend-boyfriend status was definitely not meant to be.
I never got to use a 3DO or play Gex. I heard it was a lot of fun though.