In praise of Nicole, or How I Am an Asshole

Before I started blogging, I never had friendships with people I had never met. Wait -- actually, when I was ten or so I had a penpal. She lived in Italy. Her name was Giuliana and she had two cats named Felix and Pip, and that's pretty much all I can remember about her. Now there are many people in many parts of the world who I consider friends.

Online friendships are weird. Or maybe what I mean is it's weird that they aren't more weird. I guess it's possible that I'm being catfished in one or more of these relationships, but in general, every time I've met someone after knowing them online, there have been no surprises - they have been exactly like they represented themselves on their blogs, or on Twitter, and in our emails. The first time I went to World Trivia Night to meet Lynn, my husband was keen to load me up with purse-sized weapons and pepper spray. I knew I was going to meet someone who was smart, funny, a great mother and super competitive, and if we didn't win she was going to be very annoyed. All of those things were true. Marilyn and I met briefly in Toronto to see if we really wanted to room together at BlogHer, but I really didn't need to - I knew that as long as she was okay with me taking up eighty-five percent of the bathroom counter space we would be golden. And Kim? Sister of my heart/ sobbed together at Les Mis/ hung out with my family at Christmas/ we go out to buy rock salt and both completely forget to buy the rock salt KIM? I believe my point been made.

Then sometimes shit happens. Someone says something. Someone takes something the wrong way. Granted, tone can be hard to read in digital communication. Things go a little weird. Then I think, maybe I was wrong. Maybe online friendships ARE different. And then I remember all the times in my in-person friendships that someone said something, and someone took something the wrong way, and sometimes we had to clarify and make amends IN EMAIL, and things were weird for a while and then went back to normal. And I reaffirm my original conviction.

Have you met Nicole? Nicole is my friend.  I'm going to meet her in person, next fall at Blissdom. And who will I be meeting? A bendy, beautiful, cheerful, sweet, gracious, generous fantastic mother and cook and writer and friend. She kept doing Friday Follows on Twitter long after most people had let it lapse - and not those ridiculous "follow these fifteen people" ones, but individual ones, with song lyrics. Once she put up a link to one of my posts that was far in the past, because she said it always made her laugh - she did that JUST BECAUSE. I bitch about stuff constantly - Nicole hardly ever bitches about stuff, even though she has to go pick up her kids at lunch AND dismissal in the freezing cold all winter and she had to stop eating cheese and she has a really mean butterdish.

And yesterday the Facebook prompt for her post began with something like "old people having sex - gross", and this pushed a bit of a button for me. The button where I get all defensive about people who think it's disgusting when there's any reference to people who aren't young and thin and airbrushed having sex. Why am I such an ardent proponent of wrinkly nooky? I'm not, although I think it's silly when people get grossed out by it - we're all going to get old, God willing, and if we like sex now, we'll probably still like sex then. I was really disappointed at my husband's icked-out reaction to this calendar, which was funny and tasteful and for charity.

But let's be honest. It's not really about the old people. It's about the fact that I'm fat, and Nicole's thin, and of all the stuff I could be more understandably jealous of her about - that she can get up at five in the morning to do yoga while I still feel like throwing up when I get up at seven-thirty, that she gets paid by the Yummy Mummy Club for blogging - I'm probably the most jealous of her for being thin. Because I am, deep down, a bit of a nasty, petty whore. And that one little phrase touched off this ridiculous chain of envy and other stuff - I think I had just seen another one of those designers on Zulily where they say "plus-sized" at the beginning, and then they make sure they include "plus-sized" in every single description of every plus-sized dress and blouse and skirt, as if they're terrified that some skinny woman might accidentally miss the "size 16" label and end up actually suffocating in fabric when she tries to put it on. And I read the post but I wasn't really reading it. I was missing the part where she was being cute and funny and not mean and judgey, and the part where the prompt for the post ACTUALLY said "Old people getting it on. Ew? Or kind of cute" and the post was leaning towards 'kind of cute'. And I had it all mixed up with "oh, she thinks old people having sex is disgusting, she probably thinks fat people having sex is disgusting too", even though Nicole has never EVER said anything mean about fat people. When I say yoga makes me feel huge and inflexible, she says it's the wrong yoga class - she doesn't say "then try not going to Burger King first, you ridiculous manatee".

It's not that my comment was horrible or even angry. But it was a bit reproachful. And then I realized that I was being an asshole and that dumbass comment had a load of baggage on it that Nicole really didn't deserve. Which I sort of explained. And her last tweet to me had xoxo in it. Which I think is the other part of online friendships - where sometimes you are a bit of an asshole, and your friend forgives you.


Nicole said…
You're not an asshole. I'm so happy to have you in my life! I can't wait for Blissdom; thank god neither of us need to drive there: a) so we can have margaritas, and b) we would be hopelessly lost. xoxo
Lynn said…
I always stumble over how to describe people I know through blogging, but have never met in real life. I call them my friend, but I feel like someone is going to cross examine me, and it'll come out that I have never actually met them, and then J'ACCUSE!, I'll be caught out.

It's a strange time we live in, but yes, people I know from blogging ARE my friends. And friends can handle a little bump from time to time :).
StephLove said…
Blog-friend is what I usually say. As in, "You know Allison, my blog-friend? She just wrote...."
Nicole. is. so. sweet. She really is. I've met her in person twice and she is such a delight. Even more unhappy that I'm not going to Blissdom this year. Boo hoo for me.
amyboughner said…
Your husband thought Lynn was a threat? Of all the sweet people online.
Ms. G said…
I always feel a little creepy using a pseudonym and I'm so appreciative of the people who take me at no-face value. It would be lovely to meet some of them. I also have gone so far paranoid that when a blogger I liked suddenly went private I thought, "Was it something I said?" Because I always worry about accidentally annoying someone and you know, it's all about me : )
All that said, when my oldest was feeling down the other day, I mentioned what my "blog friend Allison" had commented concerning her in my last post and she was very tickled.
Shan said…
Online friendships are weird, but the very best kind of weird. I've had the opportunity to meet a couple of online friends in the flesh and you expect it's going to be weird, but it's not which is weird in a whole other way. Also it's extremely awesome! And yes, every one I've met in person has been exactly how they come across online.

Hey, we all have our things, our moments, our bugaboos, but that's the great thing about friends, they love you anyway. You're not an asshole.

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