Computer Geeks

“Oh my goodness I feel twelve again.”  Dawn and I were seated at her computer, which was wedged into the corner of her tiny bedroom in the apartment.

Behind us, her CD player was cranking out the Rick Springfield tunes for inspiration.  We were humming along with our mutual favorite, “Living In Oz” as we scanned photos out of my old tourbooks from the 1980s.  We chuckled as we shared our mutual remembrances of saving our lunch money to buy the posters and the shiny tourbooks and finally the tickets to the concerts we’d attended.

“Remember the shrine you had built with all of his albums and tape cassettes balanced up on your dresser around your boom box?”

“Remember playing ‘Don’t Talk To Strangers’ on your parents’ turntable and me trying to record it on a tape cassette since I didn’t want to buy another copy of the LP I already had?”

“Remember when we called Major Way Management and hung up on Susie Whatsername?”

One by one we retold the stories as we scanned photo after photo of Rick Springfield from the memorabilia that I still had stored in a plastic tub under my bed.  I might be twenty five years old, I might be gearing up to teach my third year in an urban school, I might be engaged and a parent of a six year old, but I felt fourteen again as we laid out the structure of the new Rick Springfield Fan Club Website, which we dubbed “Still Crazy For Rick”.  This was, of course,  a take on one of his song titles.

Back in my teen years, Rick’s music had reached out to me as a refuge against my raging brother’s moods and my insecurity about my divorced family.  It had helped give me something else to focus on as I waited for my father to call, or worried about my mother’s unemployment, or recovered from my brother’s latest angst.  There were times when I truly felt rescued by my obsession, when it allowed me to move beyond things that might have pushed me further into a spiral of depression and self loathing.

I’d always shared my fandom with Dawn, who had eagerly joined in as an escape from her own not so easy life.  But as we entered high school and didn’t ever get anywhere close to meeting Rick, real life started to look better and our fandom started to fade.  Coupled with Rick’s retreat from public life, we’d climbed up and over the rock of obsession.

Meeting up with the other fans at the Springfield Connection had brought back all that I had loved about being a Rick Springfield fan.  Not just the music, and frankness of it, but also the glimpses into who the man was behind the music.  The women had all brought more recent views into where he was currently; recent videotaped appearances showed me that he was still an admirable family man, still trying to make a living acting and singing.   I loved hearing how he’d seemingly grown up over the years I hadn’t been paying attention.

But just as much as the view into who Rick had become, I loved the camaraderie of the women whom we had befriended.  I loved that they didn’t think it was strange that I was still curious about this man who had, unknowingly, played such a role in my teen years.  Most of them had the exact same experience.    It was a relief to find that all of the things that had felt so isolating to me as a teen were repeated over and over again all over the country with other people.  I wasn’t as strange or as abnormal as I’d thought.

“I think we’re ready to upload,” Dawn said.  We’d been using Netscape Navigator, a web browser with a mode that allowed you to build web pages.   Fortunately for us, who really had had no clue how to build a website when we had agreed to do this, we’d been able to figure it out quickly.  Dawn had purchased a hosting plan that cost us $30 a month, which we split.   We downloaded a free piece of software that would allow us to transfer the files from her computer to the server somewhere in New Jersey, which would display them at a ridiculously long URL:  .  It hadn’t occured to us to create any sort of special URL; the only other RS site out in cyberspace had an equally personalized and longish URL based on the user that had purchased their web space.

Dawn hit “Transfer” on the FTP (file transfer protocol) program and we started seeing the files slowly go from her computer to the server.  “This is amazing,” I said.  “I can’t believe that you can just scan a few things, rent some space out there in the World Wide Web, and then poof!  Anyone in the world can see your stuff.  Anyone!”

She looked at me, her eyes wide.  “Do you think he’ll ever see it?”

I shrugged, trying to not betray that I’d thought the very same thing.  Hoped for it, actually.  How amazing would it be to finally make a connection with Rick Actual Springfield after all this time?  “I dunno.  But it’s exciting just the same to think he might.”

Her daughter and my son came bounding into the room at that point.  “Can we have a snack?”  They chimed together.

Dawn and I returned to the real world, letting the computer slowly upload our work, creating a tiny place on the Web that hadn’t existed before.


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