Many, many years ago, before homes enjoyed broadband service, before weblogs were cool, and instant messaging was all but unheard of, I used to hang out on IRC – the Australian Undernet server on the #singapore channel, to be precise. I made a lot of online friends in those days, much more than the few Neil dubs my ‘online pals’. One, in particular, stands out.
His introduction came by way of a private message, or PM. He wasn’t one of those creeps trying to type with one hand, he was an international student, like me, and very, very shy. He was more than a little infatuated with a girl in his class, and had no idea how to chat her up. For some unknown reason, he came to me for advice.
I gave him advice. Our friendship thus bloomed, and we tended to hang out most weekends. He’s a few years older than me, and despite his relative inexperience with women, treated me like a little sister he had to take care of. Except for that time I got him falling down drunk (his first experience with alcohol, too) and had to drive him home. He saw me through dating one inappropriate guy after another, a keening lust for his flatmate (most worthy stalking material – I wonder what he’s doing now?), semesters with too much partying, and finally, graduation.
As can and usually does happen, he stayed on at university and I went home, so we lost touch. A few years after I last spoke with him, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a telephone call from said friend, looking to meet and catch up. I was really looking forward to seeing him again.
We had a great time reminiscing and embarrassing each other. As it turns out, not only had he managed to date girls with increasing confidence, he’d even got serious with one. He wistfully told me that she was still back in Australia, finishing off her degree. Then he told me he’d been getting horny without her and would I, as a friend, to make him feel better, shag him?