There was a time early in my "Epinions career" that I told myself that if I ever wrote this story this particular tale it would be the last one I would ever do on Epinions. After all, it started with Epinions so its only fitting that it should end with it.
Of course that was then and this is now. What I plan to do now isnt exactly what I planned to do then. But thats understandable because Im a different person now than I was back then. So when then and now amalgamate into one, what is the result? Im still trying to figure it out myself.
When you think of "Americas Playground", whats the first place that comes to mind? Did you say Las Vegas? PFFT!!! Wrong! Americas Playground, for the sake of this story, is Epinions.
I started out in this arena and have played to my hearts content since July 2000 pretending to be a writer. And the catch? I actually got paid for it! So what if I was making pennies
literally. Just watching the cents roll in was more exciting than sex (okay, bad analogy but you get the point).
During my tenure I met an assortment of thespians and artisans to oddities and circus freaks. One of them happened to go by the name of Dannyzmom. On the surface it would seem that all she wrote about was childrens accessories and toys. However, to the trained eye, it was really coded messages on where and how she was going to sell her stash of contraband goodies. That whole business about being a SAHM was a front. There is no boy named Danny at all.
Being a novice at this time I tried sucking up to Dannyzmom to get on her WOT (if you ever read her profile, you would know how hard it is to get onto her WOT). It was there that I saw something that captured my eye
a name that would change my life forever.
"Masquerade! Hide Your Face So The World Will Never Find You!"
In a nutshell, this is exactly what Epinions is all about. Informing the consumers and writing reviews about various products is just a smokescreen. Epinions is secretly a dating service, the ultimate place for debauchery and flirtations to occur. I know this from firsthand experience. Creating a pseudonym on the internet is supposed to protect you from others discovering your real identity. Its the internets version of wearing a condom. Alas, it also doesnt work all the time. I say this because one has penetrated through my version of The Great Wall of China and peered deeply into my soul.
Damn you, Bijou.
Hiding behind these masks allowed us to feel less inhibited about ourselves. Elvisdo. Bijou. These identities became familiar in the realms of Epinions (okay, delusions of grandeur again). What became even more fascinating was the notion that one pseudonym wasnt enough anymore. All of a sudden more identities were born from these masks. Do any of these ring a bell? The Dark Mistress. The Grim One. The Schoolmarm. The Demon Prince Acthul. Yeah, we are pretty screwed up. But its funny how the emergence of other identities revealed more about ourselves than we realized.
The banter was furious and the flirtations were always taken up another notch every time we left a comment on each others reviews. In fact others have stated that the comments were far more interesting than the review itself (I dont know if I should take that as a compliment or an insult). We lived to entertain the masses.
As a result, we started to peel away the many masks that we wore.
"Silently The Senses, Abandon Their Defenses."
Call it foolishness, call it instinct, or whatever it may be, Bijou and I continued to be fascinated with one another as indicated by the various e-mails between the two of us. We were both very contradictory in nature: reveal as much as you can by keeping your guard up. Can you think of a bigger challenge other than the fact that we live 3000 miles away in different countries?
I honestly dont know why we continued to reach each other through cyberspace considering it was almost futile. The key word, however, is almost. Our heads were logically telling us one thing (cut it loose while its still early) but our hearts were doing a complete 180-degree turn.
Days went by, then weeks followed by months. We were still flirtatiously dancing around each other on the issue of our feelings. Im sure there wasnt a day in the first few months when she wasnt thinking, "What the hell am I doing?" I was at the same crossroads myself. I had no intention of getting involved in another online relationship. I didnt want it, I didnt need it, but there I was like a junkie savoring the experience.
Bijou became my drug.
I couldnt kick this habit, and it dramatically changed when I took a bold step on her birthday (read the long version here: http://www.epinions.com/content_111146798724).
From that moment on I knew it was going to be very hard to go backwards.
"Past The Point Of No Return."
The e-mails continued (you should see the compilation of the all the letters I saved from day one
over 600 pages worth of reading). The phone calls began (Im not even going to insult your intelligence on the cost of long-distance phoning). This happened for the first 10 months. We really took our time in getting to know each other very well. It came to a point that only one thing was left for us to do for this relationship to progress:
We had to meet each other face-to-face for the first time.
In a normal situation, people actually meet each other first before determining if they want to get to know the other person a lot more. This is called dating. Dating is hard. Dating can be tiresome. Dating can be nerve-wracking. Bijou and I did it backwards. We actually got to know each other so well that now it was time to see if we could actually stand each other in the flesh.
Obviously we could since I have managed to make many trips since that first encounter. The years have gone by and this woman becomes more beautiful and continues to fascinate me. I never get tired of her (I know it sounds so sickeningly sweet
need a vomit bag?). The more I am with her, the more I know I need to be with her.
So, in the end, there was only one logical solution.
"Say Youll Share With Me One Love, One Lifetime"
Question: What do you get when you combine The Phantom of the Opera, New York City, and Valentines Day all into one?
Answer: A heck of tale to tell your grandkids.
A trip into New York City to see The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway makes for a wonderful birthday present. It would have been even better if it was her birthday. I was only a few months too late. Oh well, you know what they say "Better late than dead".
The Phantom of the Opera is her favourite story having read the original version in French. She had also wanted to see this musical since it first came out (which is a testament to her since she loathes musicals) but never had the opportunity in all those years. But more importantly she never found the right person to go with whom would actually "get it", not until she read a review I did on The Phantom (go here
We had always talked about going to New York City and seeing the play but never had the time whenever I graced the East Coast with my presence. That was going to change especially with the plan I started to devise. One thing about me, and she has learned this many times over, I always have a plan.
My machinations started in the Spring of 2003 for a memorable birthday event in November. You see, her birthday and The Phantom was just smoke and mirrors for my true intention
her hand in marriage. But as the day was rapidly approaching fast I knew it wasnt going to happen when I planned it. There were too many outside obstacles that delayed the event. I said delayed because I did have a backup plan.
Enter Valentines Day.
Yes, its cliched. Yes, its corny. But it was perfect. It gave me a reason to go see The Phantom with her. "Happy Valentines Day, baby!" Once again, smoke and mirrors were in effect. What made matters even better was her entire family was in on the whole secret.
One would expect that I would be nervous and paranoid about popping the question to her. That wasnt the case. I was nervous for other reasons. I had a basic plan for the day but it wasnt completely finalized. I still had to figure out how and when I was going to ask her.
The musical was fantastic and (she will kill me for mentioning this) she cried several times throughout the entire production. I would like to think it was because she was there with me, but I have a funny feeling that it was because she wanted to kill the six teenage girls who sat behind us and talked throughout the entire thing. This isnt school, girls!
We took the train back home. Along the way I figured out where to propose to her. The only place that had any special meaning at all
I suggested that we go out for Japanese dinner but stop by at home to freshen up first. She took the bait. As she was preparing to go out, I was preparing to pop the question. Dim the lights, light some candles, create the atmosphere
and all under the pretense of Valentines Day.
When she emerged I said I had a few things for her. The first was a box of chocolates imported from Canada (her favourite). The second was a musical ornament of The Phantom to mark the special day we had.
"Oh, I have one more thing for you," I said to her as I pulled out a small box.
Her eyes started to bug out when she realized what it was. Cue to waterworks and hyperventilation. I asked her to be my wife. I dont think it registered to her at all because she made me ask her three times. THREE TIMES!!
"Okay, ask me again."
"Are you really asking me?"
As I always say to her, "Good Lord, woman!" Come to think of it, I dont even recall her saying "Yes" (she actually did say it through the sobbing and tears), but she wears the ring like it belongs on her finger.
I told Bijou a while ago that getting engaged was the easiest part of this whole deal, and now she understands what I was talking about. The preparations to planning this wedding have already taken a life of its own. Now I can see why people want to elope all the time.
And to think this all happened because we both decided one day to venture onto a site called Epinions.
I guess this won't be my last Epinions after all.