Fishies in the Same Pond

One of the curious aspects of managing this community is that I don't really get to be a part of it. Partly, that's a function of the fact that the management is so time-consuming now, I don't have time to hang out in comments as much as I used to. And, partly, it's the big boots principle—the same thing that makes conversations among coworkers, or students, or siblings come to a halt, or change tone, when the boss, their teacher, a parent comes into the room. I can't be just another Shaker, and that's okay—although sometimes it makes me feel a little sad.

But I can't be too doleful when I've had the chance to meet in person so many amazing Shakers, many of whom have become dear friends.

This past weekend, I had the great pleasure of meeting Shaker GoldFishy, who is one of the oldest (as in longest-term) Shakers. He has been around since at least 2005, and we have probably been saying how fun it would be to meet one day since at least 2006.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Two months ago, GoldFishy's oft-mentioned partner, The Captain, contacted me and asked if I would be part of GoldFishy's 40th birthday surprise. The Captain was going to surprise him with a trip to Chicago, with the last two days spent with us at Shakes Manor, if that was all right with me.

I was, naturally, totally thrilled with the prospect of finally getting to meet GoldFishy (and The Captain, whom I'd heard so much about)—so, before I even had time to contemplate the horrendo possibility that, if I failed to live up to his expectations, I could actually ruin his entire birthday, lol, I agreed!

And I'm so glad that I did.

We spent an absolutely splendid almost-two days nattering endlessly about dogs, home improvements, falling in love, Michele Bachmann, and other Very Important Subjects, eating our faces off at Iain's and my favorite restaurant and favorite local pizza parlor, and playing Apples to Apples, which I'm pretty sure The Captain won by a country mile. Because he is hilarious.

Go Team Blue! [Photo by The Captain.]

Shakers, these are the three things you need to know about GoldFishy: 1. He is literally one of the nicest people on the planet, and he uses "golly" and "jeepers" non-ironically, and that is as totally fucking darn adorable as it sounds. 2. He gives great hugs. 3. If you happen to be five-foot-four and thus exactly one foot shorter than he is, he will very graciously bend down for a picture so you don't look like you were born in Moria.

Oh, and Dudley also wanted me to share that he is a world-class cuddler.

Once upon a time, my friend Lance Mannion—who I also met through blogging many years ago and finally met in person awhile back—wrote a pair of posts about human connection and its being one of the great mysteries of the universe. He mentioned a friend whom he met online, which has this peculiar but wonderful way of connecting people. "Before it happened to me," says Mannion, "even for a long time after, I'd have said it was impossible to become real friends with someone you never touched." I was once as dubious as he was about the ability to forge friendships via the internet, also before it happened to me—before I fell for Iain over the series of tubes, loved him before I'd even seen his picture; before I made friends in this space who became my friends in what those steadfastly dubious about the ability to forge connections in cyberspace still tend to call "the real world."

But happen it does, this connection-making between strangers on the internet, sometimes in ways more intimate or meaningful or easy than a chance meeting in "the real world" might have allowed.

I think GoldFishy and I would have been friends no matter how we met; it isn't at all difficult to imagine being coworkers giving each other the side-eye during insufferable meetings, or spending the entirety of a party thrown by a mutual friend tucked into a corner discussing politics. But we met at Shakesville, where I have met and made friends with so many other people whose friendships are invaluable to me, too.

All of this is a long way of saying I am grateful for this space, and all the fishies who inhabit it.

Thank you for visiting, GoldFishy. Thank you for arranging it, Captain.

See you soon.

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