On July 14th, 2009, I was eighteen years old, and at 10:43 PM I engaged in an AOL Instant Messenger chat with my good friend from high school, Noah M. A year had passed since graduation—I had just completed my gap year in Israel volunteering, learning Hebrew, and generally futzing around the Levant; Noah had finished his first year as a prospective premed at U Chicago. We shot the shit for half an hour, broaching topics like literature, mole people, and spermatic fluid. Something compelled me to archive this discussion in my young laptop’s hard drive.
On April 24th, 2012, I am twenty-one years old, and at 11:33 AM I stumble across a .doc transcription of an old AIM conversation. Thirty-three months have passed since we typed the words that are now again before me—I am a junior at Princeton majoring in history, writing for the Nass, and generally futzing around Prospect Avenue; Noah is about to graduate with a degree in psychology and looking for work as a community organizer. I ask him in a text if it’s okay to publish our old correspondence. He inquires what we wrote about. I tell him it involved a lot of semen. He responds with a hearty “hahahahaha.”
Why did I record our chat? Was I enamored by our literary precocity? Was I tickled by our libidinous repartee? If I reread my archived Gchats from today thirty-three months from now, would I be just as disgusted by my pretension, or as remorseful for my dick jokes? Would I be just as disappointed by my failures? In the past three years, Wikileaks, iPad, and Abbottabad have entered the cultural consciousness, with all of the technological and geopolitical ramifications that each implies. I’ve experienced pleasures, suffered agonies, and contemplated mysteries that at age eighteen I could never have even imagined. But have I become more mature, or more adult, or more enlightened? Will I ever know if I do?
Reproduced below, in full, unedited authenticity, is a relic of my twenty-first century youth. BRB.
AIM IM with lbk••••• 7/14/09 10:43 PM
NM: hey baby
how are you?
you in town?
NM: I will be in a week
RA: im counting down the days
im x-ing off my calendar
little semen x’s on the days as they pass
NM: I think i just came
a little semen o
on the inside of my underpants
RA: semen tic tac toe?
NM: to the death!
i’ve been readng pere goriot
RA: watch out for that vautrin
NM: the redheaded beast
if id read that book
like half a year ago
i could have avoided so much trouble
RA: ah you naive idealistic creature
dont you know you must kill and steal and sex your way to the top
NM: alas! it is the dream of youth to seek success in virtue!
I cling to my innocence to forestall the rushing waterfall of cynical society
hey do you want to learn how to fence and shoot
RA: um maybe
im more interested in hand to hand
i want to do a mrtial art in college
NM: i tried out this mixed martial arts group
it was pretty cool
i got to punch things
and kick them
yeah i figure itd be great to show a would-be rapist whats what
you know, those rapists always be after my beautiful nubile body
NM: you could learn the majestic art of rev-rape
i want to frame that quote
haha go for it
i had a sick dinner today
herring in cream and borscht
i felt so russian
im reading absurdistan
NM: thug life
thug’s are freif
(just mangle the prnunication)
(ill try to do better next time)
whats it about?
RA: rich russian who went to college in america and is totally immersed in western culture goes home to visit his crime oligarch father who he finds out has whacked an oklahoma businessman thus disqualifying him from getting an american visa and effectively imprisoning him in the out of touch cold murderous and kleptocratic East
NM: sound chauvanist
NM: you know
NM: the west is the best!
RA: well its from that perspective
NM: not that russia is your cream and parsely either
though their military band is top notch
RA: yeah i mean its critical of everyone but definitely rooting for the land of opportunity
its written by a russian immigrant
who is also a side character in the story
kind of like slaughterhouse five in concept
NM: oh cool
RA: i mean just that part though
its nothing like slaughterhouse five
NM: in czse you thought you might want to take physics in college
RA: its all zany and over the top
dont think i do but continue
NM: i am informing you that I m seriously conisdering a physics induced heroine binge
NM: or physics inspired at the very least
(I dont have heroine)
but my head does hurt
and Im totally fucked for this test
RA: get someone to take it for you while you treat the duchess to a matinee
noah de rastignac
NM: how I miss the countryside
and my two sisters who need dowries
I wonder what Irne or liana would do if I gave them 200,000 francs
RA: only one way to find out…
NM: Ill need to unearth some suitor first
RA: like underground
like a mole woman
NM: sort of
cute and cuddly
I like petite
RA: ah like a mole rat woman
NM: My campaugns always end in conquest
the minx is question is always charmed by my overwhelming manliness
RA: that reminds me im gonna go mark off my semen calendar
NM: and human-ness in this case
i got to piss
lbk••••• has gone offline.
Some life updates: I unwittingly reused the phrase “nubile body” again in an essay just last week (Spring Preening, The Anguish Issue, NW 34.6) and presumably in many, many other instances throughout the intervening years since the chat. I never attempted to study any martial art, hand-to-hand or otherwise, in my time here at college. I still cite Pere Goriot as one of my favorite books and spoke about at length during a precept last year despite its hazy position in my memory, having never reread a single word from the text since finishing it in my senior year of high school.
But my head does hurt. I got to piss. I’ll TTYL.