Monday, October 31, 2005

Around the office, I've got a reputation as the guy to go to with weird questions. Was the fax machine really invented before the telephone? Yes. Is that one story about the guy in the place just an urban legend? Probably. Back in the heady dot-com days, my ex-boss would bring me a press release to see what I could find out about all the various names in it.

That was back in the day, of course, when Sergei Brin was an undergrad, and Google wasn't even a dream. Google makes it all so much easier, now, not to mention expanding every day the scope of what you can find out. Which is why, from time to time, I pull a name out of the ether and see what I can find out in five minutes.

There are certain constraining factors, though. The Jim Smith I went to high school with is forever ungoogleable, I'm afraid. And Otik Zefas is no challenge whatsoever. Today's target, [redacted], was ideal, though, because her name was neither unique nor too common, requiring a certain amount of skill to extract her biography from the various other [redacted]s out there.

The rules of the game don't require any particular relationship with the target, but in this case the young lady is question is sort of an ex. I say "sort of" because we never actually dated, but, being teenagers, we devoted more energy to 'not dating' than I've put into many of my actual romantic relationships since. So it's only natural that when we finally fell apart, we did so with a nastiness far exceeding the venom that got spewed in my real break-ups. Well, all but one. The low point might have been her telling me that it would never work between us because she was "champagne and polo", while I was "beer and bowling". Scratch that. The low point was actually the letter I wrote back to her after that, which makes me feel like a shit whenever I think about it, which is why I've artfully removed it from my memory, in order to maintain my hard-won sense of superiority.

So you can imagine my feelings as I found that, after college, she actually found work in her chosen profession, one which is both competitive and high-profile. And that, after a series of job changes, she's fairly close to the top of her field. And that she runs marathons. The marathon thing told me she lived in New York, and Google told me it's on the upper-west side. Huh. Champagne and polo, indeed.

But an intuition told me there was more. She was a voluminous writer as a young woman, and I know personally that that's a harder habit to kick than crack. A blog, perhaps? What I needed was an email address. A woman with her level of success has got to be on the speed-dial of her alma mater. Bingo. They list possible mentors with some basic contact info, and now I have her email address. Googling that only brings up a couple of pages, two of which are currently 404. But the url contains the text string "fanfic". I must know more! To the Wayback Machine!

Turns out that she wrote herself some General Hospital fan fiction. Tee-hee.

Phew. Hard-won sense of superiority intact.

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