there have been a number of facebook friends i’ve met this year whom i have only known online. there will be plenty more. scrabble buddies, fans of my grandfather fritz leiber, friends of friends, friends of the now secondarily deceased and deactivated william clark. but in the case of f2fb friends #215vince vierra and #216 mary panek, i didn’t even know how we became friends.
so i went to edison park on the northwest side of chicago prepared for awkward and quite possibly dangerous. so i created my safetguards–i told murphy (my friend who drives) to drop me off and to remember where i was and to text me in an hour and a half to make sure i was okay. i also brought a chaperone who prefers not to be identified.
i knew this about vince and mary. vince is an inventor and has been part of energylords.com. he also sells poker games to bars, so i don’t think i’ll ever work up the courage to play a game with him. mary panek is a survivor of a brutal attack several years ago at her workplace–just this past july, she had a section of her vertebrae replaced with steel. she and he are, well, in facebook language–in a relationship.
vince and i have only two mutual friends, one being mary and the other a newscaster steve sanders from wgn. i once called steve “sweetpea” on camera. . . . http://www.wgntv.com/news/middaynews/wgntv-midday-fix-arlynn-leiber-presser,0,6926695.story . . . argh. steve is f2fb friend #19 and lives down the street from me. but steve never mentioned having a friend vince. on the other hand, being a newscaster makes you very popular. steve sanders has 4225 friends. he could be forgiven for not necessarily being in touch with every friend.
i wasn’t quite sure what vince would look like. and mary’s profile picture looked suspiciously like kate winslet. as i would later find out, even though mary has a resemblance to kate, the picture mary uses on her profile page IS actually kate winslet.
the duo came into the restaurant a few minutes after i did, and somehow, it felt like we were old buddies. we shared a pizza, some stories, and quite a bit of laughter. it felt like a blind date, but one that was set up by facebook and which didn’t have the specter of worrying about where this relationship is going. i am so happy to call vince and mary my “more than facebook” friends–they are exactly the reason for my new year’s resolution!