The epic romantic or confessional letters of novels past were replaced by telephone calls in the early 20th century, emails in the 1990s, and texting in the 2000s. These days, pretty much every novel that takes place in modern day Western civilization includes a series of text conversations, and I’ve been crafting a few of these exchanges for a brand new writing project.
Text exchanges, both fictional and real, are rife with complications. Sarcasm doesn’t always translate well even with the aid of an winky emoji, and the most heartfelt declaration can come across as mean-spirited or dismissive. Often times, we are forced to read between the lines, to (mis)interpret at will and hope we understand the other person’s true intentions.
I had a questionable text exchange of my own about two weeks ago. I was hiking with my dog in one of my favorite spots, Redwood Regional Park, when my phone buzzed four times in about thirty seconds. I generally avoid technology when I’m trying to enjoy the woods, but the rapid fire texts made me wonder if there was an emergency.
The first two texts were from two different friends, coincidentally checking in at the same time. The next two texts were from a phone number I didn’t recognize. I will refrain from comment and simply share the transcript as is:
Hello this thing on?
Mic check mic check
Who is this?
Actually it’s Obi Wan
You and I went out on a couple dates back in the year of our lord 2012
Actually Christmas 2011
That was a while back
I’m not drunk btw
Bored, I assume
I ran across your profile in LinkedIn and remembered “oh yeah, she was really cool.”
I liked you too. Of course you totally blew me off, so…
Yeah I know and I’m sorry about that. I ended up dating a girl who ended up physically abusing me so I chose poorly.
I didn’t mean to catch you off guard, just wanted to say hi.
Um. That’s not good.
She had anger issues.
So…How are you? If this is weird you can say hey this is weird and I’ll quiet down. I remember you taught me to always make eye contact when you toast someone. Still do it to this day.
Sure it’s a little weird.
Perhaps random is a better word
Much better word
Not to be presumptive but for the record I do have a boyfriend
Ha oh yeah I’ve got a girlfriend and a daughter.
I’ve been off of the booze for a couple of years and I’m just trying to rewire a bit
Congratulations on your family.
And once again, he disappeared into the ether. Sorta makes you nostalgic for the days of the handwritten letter. I’m pretty sure that letter would have never made it to the post office.