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I experienced incredible memory recall the night that Corey, Steven, and STEPH were here. Me and Corey were ; Then STEPH . .

, , .

That was when they told me I had been talking about “Mike and Craig.” I had forgotten about this for almost 20 years. Mike was the first gay guy I ever talked to, back on AOL/AIM when I was about 12. My friends and I found him because our fascination with screennames (usernames) led us to add random people with interesting names just to talk and see what they were like. AOL screennames were a valuable commodity in those days, with “hackers” going to great lengths to steal and trade interesting ones.

We found Mike when we added the screenname “Mike.” Mike’s boyfriend was named Craig, and he had bleached hair and looked like Eminem. Mike was a hobbyist photographer, and on his website he would post these ridiculous nude pictures together, which I remember looking like a nude version of the kind of family portraits you’d get at K-Mart.

These pictures became a running joke with my small group of friends, and we were always looking for new ways to prank each other with them: often waiting for whichever of us lived in the house we were hanging out in to leave the room (to go to the bathroom or something), during which we’d run to his computer and change his desktop wallpaper to a picture of Mike and Craig. I think this was the beginning of my fascination with weird people, because once I got over the initial shock and disgust of Mike’s perversion, I began to ask him all sorts of questions, as he had a pretty interesting situation, I thought: he had retired early, having made millions in stock options as an early employee of AOL, and had something like six phonelines installed in his house because everyone was still using dial-up at the time, and he was online constantly, and Craig used the phone a lot, and he didn’t ever want to be disconnected.

I asked him what he thought of gay jokes like the ones I’d seen on Saturday Night Live. He said they were funny and that they didn’t bother him. He was tolerant of my questions but not particularly interested in talking, so we lost touch one day.

A few years later I messaged him and asked how he and Craig were, and he said that he hadn’t been with Craig for years.

game not over 'til you win it


fuck the internet, im not on it.
offline — system shock.

get real. no cable.
stay in; im single player.

MIKE AND CRAIG cant get online
they’re stuck on windows 95, and
how they gonna send you pics of their floppy disks no disk drive?
on your PC screenshots of their shit are your desktop
amassed their fortune from AOL stock
6 phonelines —
don’t disconnect
fuck the net i dont wanna be on it
world wide web, man
cant stay off it

nice car. nice teeth. pretty girl in the front seat.
palm trees. dont you dare wish you were me.

Look like shit, feel like shit
and i wanna go home

friday night, showtime.
never leave this room.

anybody else miss 1995?

or maybe it’s just me
got chatroom-culture shock
beige box god im a chronophobic
you dont live in interesting times,
kill yourself for infinite lives,
NO mercy owed; NO mercy given,
game’s not over ’til you win it.

I want your URLs: send me your shit so i can visit it
Three letters: IRL
it only exists if you tune in
Turn on, drop out,
install, log on AOL
get set, sign on,
destroy, you’ve got mail
unpause, reset,
molest, burn in hell
FUCK the internet;
hope it folds