I was thinking on the way home of doing a post on my neurotic apprehensions in meeting our 49£ers in the real world, but have decided to open it up to my first memories of the pre-virtual encounters too. My chronology falls thus:
Circa 1993, Chicago Pizza Pie factory, St. Stephen's Green on the right as you go in, was with my school friend on her graduation night and was introduced to her friend and boyfriend. I misheard the introductions, as SL's name sounded like the female version of his name, and so I didn't know who was who between him and MW. A few cocktails later and that was sorted.
Circa 1994, I confess, I know that I know Goldenbeers this long but don't have a distinct early memery so I'll go for a much later one, circa 2/3 years ago bumping into him in Centra on Exchequer Street and having a lovely passing chat.
Late 1990s-ish, was at a party in MW/SL's and Mossie was there but probably didn't realise the attention she was getting as the new in-law potential. She was Chieftan's "friend", special friend if you will. She was very pretty, interesting and confident.
Early 2000s, another party, night of the famed chocolate dress that was worn only once yet still hangs in my wardrobe, talking shite in the kitchen with a few people, including Conformist No. 2; another person I was hearing many things about. But it was in Toast, a year or two later that I first remember nice conversations with said No. 2.
January 2008, standing outside the old Beweley's on Grafton St in the rain with MW; waiting for another friend to come out from the toilet; expectations of a viewing of Midge's new man and I was fulfilled. Plasmonic was nothing like I expected, but pleasant and polite.
Things now move into the post-virtual world and turn strange...
Late Jan, Jo's in Starbucks for her husband's gig. I'm in town so I head over, late, ring Midge, she says 'wait there & I'll ring Jo to see if she's there'. I panic and run out of the cafe. The shame is too much. She's left already. Thank God.
Early February, plans to meet SL for lunch on a Sunday; at the last minute SL drops that he's bringing Tib along. I'm not ready for these real world meetings. Conversation flowed from sport to work to telly to blog life, but I was mortified the whole time, in a giggly way.
Less than a week later, SL does it to me again, this time with Shan and Idiot, telling me how they're dying to meet me. Panic. Mortification. I think I might have tried to hide behind GB. Idiot approaches first on his way to the toilet; he looks like a young & happy Ryan Tubridy; he passes and the embarrassment is short-lived. Later I meet Shan & he shows me the internet on his phone and I relax into the real world.
Two weeks later and I'm lost in a dark alley somewhere in Bray. I ring Midge along the way for support - she gives it. I enter the house at the end of the lane & meet Jo & Ash. Jo is friendly and motherly and Ash is very quiet (deceptively). It's still a bit surreal but I'm getting a bit more used to it, made easier by having Shan & Idiot as court jesters on the night.
Blog awards night, unaware of the caffeine hell that awaited, I enter the fray of a million virtual people. Not easy. My addiction to society is the only thing that has me there. I get sitting momentarily beside Atreus. He seems very staid and modest, in an admirable sort of way.
A few months later and I'm back where I started, feeling self conscious and ashamed and wanting to hide from non-existent possible attention. It passes and I get to know Daz in a real world way. He's smiley and pretty and dresses too well to be straight, but then I remember he's loved-up in a hetero way. The night goes on and we're NBF, in a house-fire way. But then I'm outed and the world of things I had to say dry up and I'm intimidated and embarrassed and ashamed.
There's only more to come with Ails, Voodoo, Dolly and the unknown future others. If I survive that long.