Saturday, December 14, 2013


When you flirt over skype, be careful that you turn off the option that shows that you're typing when you're typing something.

If you don't turn that off, the person at the other end knows you're working on something, and if there's a long, long pause and you end up sending something short and sweet, they know you changed your mind.

It means you backspaced. You're a backspacer. "What were you going to say, backspacer?"

Flirting over skype is like an interactive love letter; it's a dialog that falls somewhere between an actual conversation and air mail (for those of you who remember air mail). There's a craft to it, not unlike writing dialog in a story or screenplay. Do you think movie or book characters would be that amazingly sharp, quick,and witty in real life? No, their creator (the author) had the luxury of backspacing.

Wait, this sounds bad. Am I saying that people, conversations, and relationships aren't as good, clever, romantic, or as funny in reality as they are on the screen or in the pages of a book? Absolutely not. I'm saying that there's value in each of these methods of communication.

Love letters are a speech, and are 'heard' by the reader, even if they are read silently. You are your own speechwriter, unless your love interest is named Roxanne, of course.

I'd love to be good at love letters, and every once in a while I try. I won't say 'it's not pretty,' but I will share that it's painful. ...for me. write.

It just doesn't come easy for me. Despite parent and teacher encouragement, letter writing never came easy for me, and I feel bad for my pen pals, who got what amounts to a greeting card in response to their novellas.

Conversations were no better, which long time readers won't be surprised to read. Conversations are right now, and for someone shy (believe me), they can be a miserable experience (trust me). Talk about pressure. Enough pressure that most potential conversations never happened.

I'm a guy who scripts out what could be. In my mind, I play out the scene that should be. It never is. I can count on one hand the number of times I tried to implement a conversation that I'd just scripted in my head. I could never begin to guess the number of times I realized that reality would never stack up to my imagination. ...and I sat back down.

Enter skype

...and it was good.

When I first started skyping with Galya, there was nothing to indicate that the other side was typing; you just waited, and the words appeared when the other party hit <enter>. We typed our conversations, with carefully calculated words back and forth. (This was how I imagined conversations could go!)

Then, one day after a skype upgrade, a little animated pencil made scribbling motions next to the box where her text would soon appear, and things had changed again. I could see when she was typing, and knew to wait (what was taking so long?). She could see me, too, and the pressure was on! I had no choice but to put myself out there, quickly and deliberately, too.

Then, I thought, I would use this to my advantage. Strategic backspacing leaves the other side wondering what was just not said. What the other wanted to say, but didn't. How many unsaid words weren't sent? How many untold "I love yous" were tested out before being replaced with "good nights?" How many many of those secret messages got through to her?

We jokingly called each other out on the backspacing, and we each knew there were unsaid messages removed by that little animated pencil's eraser. I cannot count the unsaid words, but I can count, and do remember, how many times I typed 'I love you' and backspaced, testing the waters, hoping she knew.

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