Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Old Friends I'd Never Met

My dogs are spoiled.  I knew it had gotten bad when my son was disappointed because the leftover McNuggets that he had been eyeing, ever since I'd stashed them in the refrigerator, became the dogs' special treat.  Apparently he'd had plans for my leftover lunch which did not include sharing them with Teena, Woody, or Indy.  I definitely do not plan on telling him that they also got some of the pasta from the leftovers of Monday night's dinner at Bahama Breeze.

Just one more comment from the Osama bin Laden story - my Cousin Gary, an extremely witty man, also known in some circles as The Wizard of Oz, had this posted on his Facebook page:  "Gary likes And That's how the USA outdoes a Royal Wedding."  And here I thought I was being cynical!

Okay, one more comment, this time posted by my friend Pattie in Boston:

And now, Mr. President, if you could do something about gas prices, I might even vote for you in the next election.

Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein has written quite a bit about time travel, and in more than one of his novels, suggests that a whole new language is needed to adequately express where and, more importantly, when someone is, without perpetrating a temporal paradox.  Because most of his characters find themselves "looped" - traveling within their own timelines - this is no easy task.  Heinlein is, of course, the author of the absolutely bizarre short story "__All You Zombies__", in which the protagonist turns out to be his own mother and father.

While this post is not about anything quite so headache-inducing, it is about old friends I'd never met.  Call it a cyberspace paradox.  I'm certain that any number of you who spend any amount of time online have had the same experience.

Which is what led to a wonderful evening with Nissy, Mrs. Nissy, Bushwacker, Old Jedi, and Mrs. Jedi.  And of course, Brkexpat, the Bear, and Mr. Brkexpat.

What's that, you say?  Why yes, now that you mention it, we were all incognito!

About 12, maybe 13 years ago, I discovered the public discussion forums over at the Orlando Sentinel.  In order to post online, I needed a screen nick, and at that moment "brkexpat" was born.  I think it was probably my husband who reminded me that I already had a nickname of many years, The Bear (another blog post, I promise), and so I became officially brkexpat, the Bear.  What fun to have real-time discussions with perfect strangers!  We only knew each other by our screen nicks ... after years went by, we got to know more about each other.  What part of the country we lived in.  How many people in our family.  Special interests.  Political opinions.   

Sometimes we fought, bitterly.  I was actually sued by a professional gadfly for posting that he was antisemitic - which he was - which he claimed had killed his political aspirations.  To cut a very long story short, he didn't win and I didn't lose.  After that I was a lot more careful about personal information, as I didn't need any more process servers knocking at my door.  In time, the Sentinel board became very restrictive, and almost all of us moved over to Delphi to check out their forums, and in some cases, open our own.  I've had several forums there over the years, but I've closed them all - no interest in herding cats anymore.  Political discussions, very explosive.  But one person who has done it for a long time, and done it well, is the gentleman who calls himself the Nisseman - Nissy for short.  I'm not sure why Nissy was on a Florida site, but when we all left the Sentinel for Delphi, he came right along.  Nissy and I were two of the posters who battled quite a bit over matters that mattered to each of us, but somehow, as nasty as we got back then, we still maintained a soft spot for each other. 

Some of the people I met early on.  Can't explain how or why, but we just knew the other was trustworthy.  Oh, we didn't take stupid chances - always met in public places, and for me, first time, always with my husband around.  He's a much better judge of character than I am.  So there was Onyx and Mark in person, and Geema and Cubby on the phone.  During one of our trips to D.C., Mark took us on the most wonderful tour.  Seeing it from a local's viewpoint was a gift.  Onyx and I still meet for drinks occasionally and to catch up on the most interesting gossip ever.  Further deponent sayeth naught. 

Most of the folks I've never met, usually because of distance.  I have online friends of many year's vintage and they live all over the U.S. and Canada.  This group, though, was mostly local, except for Nissy, who was living my idea of the perfect path to a great retirement.  Driving cross country from California, heading north and south and then north again, only to head down towards his final U.S. destination in southern Florida.  Visiting friends and family and seeing sights they hadn't seen before ... before they moved to Norway.  Yeah, Norway.  Isn't that cool?  (No, really.)  And southern Florida isn't the last stop before Norway; there is a 15 day trans-Atlantic cruise which, if I remember correctly, ends in the Netherlands, and then there are a few more stops before reaching the most northern tip of Denmark (Home of Hamlet, for you Shakespearephiles) to catch the ferry to Norway.  What a wonderful way to wrap up things here in the States and start a new life.

The other two gentlemen are local, Central Floridians like myself.  One I had met before, the big sweet guy known as Old Jedi.  I know his real name, and occasionally remember to use it, but mostly, he's Jedi.  And Bushwacker, another sweet guy, ex-military who was also a military brat, living and moving all over the U.S., every two years.  He loved it.  Those of us who had spouses brought them with us, and I would have liked to catch a glimpse of their faces when three grown men greeted me with open arms, shouting out, "it's Miss Bear!  I have to give Miss Bear a hug!  I can't believe I am finally meeting the Bear!"  (I'm guessing here that The Bear is a lot easier to pronounce than brkexpat.  No problem, I answer to both names.)  We had a great dinner at Bahama Breeze, talked each other's ears off, and took a lot of pictures.  Mine are not so great because of the lighting, but you get the idea:

A little bad lighting, and we are so incognito ...

I can't believe how lucky I was to meet each of them.  I have more old friends I've never met, like the other members of The Nice Girls - great gals with names like Muppetmel, Lisa Saprano, and Derb ... and two ladies named Jenny and Judy.  One day, we are all going to make it to the Charleston Tea Plantation and spend quality time together.  I promise to blog about it.

Too tired to cook, and too many leftovers to need to do so ... all in good time, young grasshoppers.  Peach bread is still on the brain, now just have to get it on the tongue.

Speaking of food, this was the first time we'd gone to Bahama Breeze, and I was favorably impressed.  For starters, Mrs. Jedi ordered the crab, shrimp, mango and avocado stack.  It was visually gorgeous, and she reported it delicious. Jedi ordered Bahamian Seafood Chowder, and since he was sitting next to me, I was able to enjoy the aroma, almost as much as he enjoyed the soup.  For the main dish, I ordered Calypso Shrimp Linguine.  This chef knew how to use spice to enhance, rather than to cause physical and emotional harm.  It was delicious, so much so that I ate more than I normally would.  There were still leftovers, which Cory shkoffed up Tuesday night.  Rob had a wood grilled ahi tuna dish.  I didn't catch what everyone else had - I know Nissy ordered tilapia and Bushwacker order a steak - but everyone was a clean plate ranger and that's a good sign.  The staff is excellent and they have complimentary valet parking which is a real convenience. 

Last, but by no means least, HAPPY BIRTHDAY SWEETHEART!

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