"Be whoever you want to be, do whatever you want to do.” That is what the advertisement said. I figured I’d give it a try; what did I have to lose? I was alone now, my husband left for parts unknown to find himself, my son was grown on his own. I needed to find love; after all there wasn’t much time left I just celebrated my fiftieth birthday. Some friends said they had gone to this site for fun and pleasure and urged me to do the same. It was called Alternate Life and it cost you nothing unless you wanted to own land with a furnished house, buy clothes, all the real trappings of life.
Today I decided was the day to get on-line and try. First they asked for my name and birthday. I was a little nervous about this but the terms and agreement said all information was confidential. Next I had to pick if I was to be male or female, well I have always been female so I thought I should stick with the gender I knew.
Pick an alternate first name: This was strange to name myself. Well I guess I should try something young, exotic, mysterious, sexy, that would be me. Smokey, that sounded sexy-cute, or maybe because the cat jumped on my lap I just named myself after her.
Pick a last name from the list: Not many of them were anything I could even pronounce but I suppose that didn’t matter. Difference, I guess I should have that name after all this was certainly different for me.
Pick a fantasy body: A thumbnail gallery of faces and bodies were presented to choose from; now this was going to be fun how often can you choose how you look.
Sitting with anticipation to start my alternate life I studied the newly created Smokey Difference. She was tall, blond, blue-eyed, a body bigger in some areas and smaller in others, this was totally unlike my real life body. Ready… set… hit enter… loading…done! I had to be crazy, mental breakdown, menopause, something unusual for sure was happening to me. But after all I needed to make a change, needed life to be exciting, new and different.
I spent several days on-line at a spot called Newcomers Training Area. Here it was all about learning basic skills like how to walk and communicate, how to dress, just finding out how to function in this life. It was a beautiful world full of beautiful people all walking around with little bubbles over their heads announcing their name. Real life should be like this, everyone friendly, everyone perfect.
Finally the day came to move on to the “real” alternate world. I picked a place to start where Smokey Difference would officially begin her new life; of course it was a mall. Smokey was the same as all women; she didn’t have a thing to wear. Getting new clothes and a new hairdo, now she was ready to conquer the world.
I couldn’t believe how addicting this could be. There were shops, houses, parks, anything you could think of in the real world it was here and all you had to do was pick the place and with a keystroke, zoom …you where there. I started making friends, female and male. I would communicate everyday with them; I loved this glorified 3D chat room. My life was interesting and fun for a change.
One night I discovered the Romantic Getaway. It was a beautiful mansion with romantic music, ladies in flowing gowns and men in tuxedos. I felt like a girl again standing around in my long ruby red formal gown waiting to be asked to dance by handsome perfect men, all while sitting in my pj’s in front of my laptop. We would talk like anyone on a date, at least what I remembered a date was like. Flirting, talking, having fun in this fantasy persona, and always keeping the real person a secret.
One night Prince Strongheart entered my life. It was a slow night, no one asking me to dance, I felt rather depressed thinking maybe I needed to change my looks a little, longer hair, bigger chest maybe. Then he walked in. Just the name made my real life heart race. He was tall with black hair and the bluest eyes I could imagine on any man real or not. He walked right over to me and asked me to dance, my fingers were shaking over my keyboard wondering if I should do this. What could happen after all I was on my laptop in my living room and who knew where in the world this person was, so I accepted. He was charming, a real prince. He said all the right words I wanted so much to hear in my real life. Talking and dancing, it was three in the morning before I knew it and how I hated to say good night. His cartoon person kissed mine and he wished me sweet dreams saying his would be beautiful, like me. I couldn’t wait until the next night to find him, and I did and each night and morning for the next month after that. Time moves much faster in this alternate life, a day is a week, a week is a month, a month a year. All I knew was I wanted to spend every waking moment with Prince Strongheart, he was the man I was looking for.
Virtual romance, I had heard of it but never thought of participating, and now I no longer knew real from fantasy. Funny how little cartoon people on a screen moving in amorous loving ways can seem so real. But then it was the words, the words being typed on that keyboard the words my ears and heart wanted so much to hear.
We talked a little about us, discovered we lived close to each other, only about twenty-five miles away. We still didn’t know our real names, or what our professions in real life were, but our hearts had merged together. The forbidden words had been exchanged; I love you. Soon this was followed by the big question, should we meet in real life? After a moment of hesitation, a very short moment, I agreed to meet with him, why not I knew him so well we made passionate love every night.
It was all set Friday after work we were to meet at the coffee shop not far from my office. He would be waiting for me in the back booth. I couldn’t miss him he would be holding a single red rose and his face would glow with the love he had for me, so he said. All day my mind was in a fog thinking of him, his black hair his blue eyes the handsome face. I realized this was a little cartoon man I was describing. I had no idea what the real man looked like, but I didn’t care because I was madly, deeply, truly in love. His words, the way we talked through the night, the few things we knew we had in common was what I fell in love with, looks didn’t seem to matter to me now. We knew each other totally, knew our souls, our minds all with no prejudgment regarding looks. We loved each other for the real person; this is what love is about, how could it be wrong.
After work I walked up to the door of the coffee shop; it was ten minutes after five. I took a deep breath, shaking and my heart pounding at a rapid pace I walked into the shop. The scent of coffee and warm cookies caressed my senses as I walked with terrified confidence to the back of the shop. There I spied the beautiful long stemmed red rose peeking around the corner of the back booth. I made my way toward him floating on a cloud of love and anticipation, not scared just feeling safe and warm to finally meet my lover face-to-face. I stopped at the booth that held my heart’s desire and with a slightly sexy smile I looked down at him ready to say all the loving words I had practiced all day.
I stood there in shock hearing myself scream out, “Jason!? Oh no… I think …we have a problem.”
A look of terror washed over his face, his voice shook as he whispered timidly, "Mom?"
Ó 2011 Eileen A Partak