In ABDK, there was one guildie named Brad who held my interest for a long time. I don’t remember his character’s name, but I do remember his sweet, gentle voice and him saying, “Hey, beautiful” every time I logged onto Vent. Since I was still in shape in undergrad, thanks to the Karate Club and waiting tables, I wasn’t afraid of letting other gamers see what I looked like. If I’d known the person long enough, I’d direct them to my Facebook page, which would swiftly be followed by a “you’re hot” in game. Sometimes it was “your hot” and my eyelid would twitch as my interest in one individual or another would take a nosedive. I know not everyone else is a writer but when someone hasn’t mastered basic grammar we’re all taught in elementary school, it’s a huge turnoff for me.
I loved Brad’s voice and how well he treated me. He wouldn’t return the favor of showing a picture of himself. He admitting to being overweight and wanting to drop fifty pounds first. I appreciated his honesty and he and I chatted for hours every week, if not for at least a little bit every day.
All this chatting with online friends was another reason it was easy to get addicted to WoW. Since people play all over the globe, not everyone would be in the same time zone. On top of that, people had day jobs or class schedules to work around, so I logged on as much as I could to converse as long as possible.
If I remember right, Brad worked as a security guard at a prison, but don’t quote me on that. I do recall that he was from the southern half of the United States—at least that’s where he was while I knew him, since he lacked a southern accent. I believe it was either Texas or Louisiana.
Anyway, he and I shared many a deep conversation. About what, I don’t remember any more. I can only recall feeling a sense of ease and contentment in his online company. And since we were spending so much time together, Moonraine (before she told me off) would jokingly say that Brad and I would be hers and Grellikins’ pool boy and pool girl.
Pool boy was another thing I had to have explained to me.
Brad and I spent many a month chatting together in WoW, and I shared the latest draft of a fantasy book I had written when I was eighteen. Although it had some things in dire need of fixing, he loved the book and gave me lots of helpful input on how to fix some of the weaker parts. Sharing my writing was a scary thing at that stage in my life, but Brad made me feel safe, and for that I’m thankful.
Despite how well things were going between us, I managed to ruin our friendship with one tactless comment. Brad stopped playing WoW at some point but months later emailed me to see how I was doing. Persistent me asked if I could finally see a picture of him and he happily obliged. He explained over Vent that he’d shaved his head completely and that his friends and family told him the clean-shaven look worked really well for him. He said he still hadn’t lost all the weight he wanted to but he was feeling more comfortable with his appearance. That didn’t dampen my eagerness to finally see the real person sitting at some distant computer.
I opened the .jpeg and there sat a tough-looking husky man with a shiny cranium, looking so much like Jason Hawes from a show called Ghost Hunters. I stared at the picture in confusion. He looked nothing like I’d envisioned. I told him as much, then tactlessly added, “Your voice and appearance don’t match.”
“What do you mean?”
I probably missed the hint of horror in his voice at that moment as I blundered forward. “You have such a nice, gentle voice but you look like such a tough guy in that picture.” His voice needed to be at least an octave lower to match that build. The voice he had sounded like something that belonged to a Prince Charming, with a swoon-worthy smile to top it off.
“But you’re right. The clean-shaven look works really well for you. What did it look like before?”
I think by that point I got the cliché “I gotta go” line. I don’t remember how the conversation wrapped itself up, but I’ve never heard from Brad again and I can’t bring myself to send him an email.
I’ve been asked many a time, “How the heck are you still single?”
Stuff like that, my dear. Stuff like that. Just like many a man claims he doesn’t know how to talk to girls, I didn’t know how to talk to guys.