January 1998 -- Robin lives in Massachusetts, adjusting to life alone after being divorced by his wife of 15 years who returned to Australia a year ago.  Robin's son Brenton visits from Australia, and they spend most of December together, exploring Boston, visiting London (UK), enjoying Christmas lunch in the Windows restaurant at the top of the World Trade Center... 

Then Brenton returns to Australia to attend a New Year's Eve party with his friends.  Robin returns to the virtual world of friends on his personality type list (INTJ).


January 1998 -- Vicky Jo recently moved into a new 3-bedroom townhouse in Hollywood but has not finished unpacking, what with the turmoil of Christmas and the pressure of working at Disney as a computer consultant.  Her passion for personality type led her to attend an APT (Association for Psychological Type) chapter meeting late in 1997 with a view to becoming active, only to witness the death throes of its disintegration.  When it disbanded, she arranged for a "startup kit" to be sent to her so that she might revitalize the APT in Los Angeles.  The kit arrives -- what to do next?


Like Robin, Vicky Jo belongs to an online personality type list (INFJ) which she knows is frequented by persons knowledgeable about the workings of professional bodies such as the APT.  On January 2, she posts a query to the list:

I've been toying with the idea of starting an L.A. Chapter of A.P.T.  I simply have no idea what to do at the meetings.  Are any other subscribers here who are members of APT?  Do you attend meetings?  How often do they meet, and what do you do??

If I knew I had at least one year's "agenda" to rely on, I'd probably be more inclined to start something.  (I know So. Cal APT [now defunct I think]) has a mailing list with 6,000 L.A. names on it.  And some of them are surely INFJ!)

Help me out if you can.

Vicky Jo

Nobody on her list has first-hand experience, but one person says she thinks someone on a different list may be of help.  She forwards Vicky Jo's plea to the INTJ list.

Robin rises to the bait, responding with typical bluntness:

Go to to find the names of local contacts.


Vicky Jo is taken aback by this unhelpful response, but maintains dignified politeness:

The closest "local contact" is in Orange County, and the Southern Cal chapter is now defunct.  The last I attended their meetings, they had dropped to quarterly meetings to try to survive, but didn't.  I don't know if this is typical.  I'd like to hear others' APT experiences.


Vicky Jo

 Robin leaks a tad more information:

I was Secretary of the South Australian Region of the Australian Association for Psychological Type, which had a regional membership of about 80, with monthly attendance of about 20.  Nationally, there were about 500 members (out of a total Australian population of 19 million).

I'm now a member of the Boston Area Chapter of the APT, and it's very active.  The monthly meetings I've attended have been well patronised, and they get excellent guest speakers.


This opens the way for a dialogue -- Vicky Jo wants to know more:

D'you know if they pay their speakers, and does everyone pay for each meeting with a speaker?

I don't know why Type is so "active" on the East Coast and practically non-existent on the West it seems like.

Or maybe I just don't hang with the right folks.  :-O

Vicky Jo

The floodgates open!  Robin responds: wrote:

> D'you know if they pay their speakers, and does everyone pay
> for each meeting with a speaker?

They charge $7 per session for non-members; $5 per session for members.  This covers room hire and some stipend for the speaker.  Usually, the speakers are authors who often have their own books for sale at the event, so it's sort of a marketing event for them.

Sometimes they do all-day Saturday seminars, usually charging $35-$70 depending on the caliber of the presenter.  I went to one by Alan Brownsword recently which was mainly covering T-F differences.  It cost me $45 and was excellent.

> I don't know why Type is so "active" on the East Coast and
> practically non- existent on the West it seems like.

Dunno about that -- there has been some speculation that New England seems to attract Introverted iNtuitives, who also seem to be attracted to MBTI.

> Or maybe I just don't hang with the right folks.  :-O

Very possible!


After this, it's smooth sailing:

Robin, this was VERY informative, thanks.

> Usually, the speakers are authors who often have their
> own books for sale at the event, so it's sort of a
> marketing event for them.

This makes sense -- although in LA they're usually trying to get on talk shows.  :-O

Are there really enough Type books and authors to make this happen regularly??

> I went to one by Alan Brownsword recently which was mainly
> covering T-F differences.  It cost me $45 and was excellent.

Moan, sigh, wring hands.  :-(   <jealous>

Vicky Jo

Now, it's worth pointing out that Vicky Jo has assumed that Robin is female since this spelling of the name is commonly used for girls in the U.S., whereas "Robin" with an "i" is always the male spelling in England and Australia.  So the conversation continues -- pleasant chatter related to APT and personality type topics.  But there comes a turning point!


Since Robin travels so much with his job, he capitalizes on that opportunity by meeting in person the people he encounters online whenever he is sent to their home town.  Thus an email to Vicky Jo contains this postscript:

PS: I'll be in LA in a couple of weeks -- interested in dinner one evening?  Check out my web site for my itinerary.

Robin's "itinerary" displays a week-by-week slate of visits planned to different cities.  Vicky Jo requires more detail:

Your schedule is rather imprecise -- it only lists what day you hit town.  I suppose I was looking for an "itinerary" I would need to work around........??

Vicky Jo

Robin provides additional data:

I'll be arriving in LA Sunday, Jan 24, departing Friday evening, Jan 29.  I'll be working every day from 9-5, but will have evenings free Sunday-Thursday.


Vicky Jo plays hard to get!

Of those choices, I hate to say that I think Sunday night is the only one that holds any possibility since I am busy every other evening (really).

Vicky Jo

Robin enthusiastically responds:

I'm arriving at 5:30pm into LA, which means I should be checked in and cleaned up by about 7:30pm.  How does 8pm sound for dinner?

Where should we meet?


Vicky Jo gets nervous:

Yer not an "internet creep" are you?


Vicky Jo

Robin takes her seriously:

I don't think so -- I presume you've seen my web page.  But if you're at all worried, post a query to the list asking for feedback from the people I've met IRL.


(Robin has met several people from his INTJ list who he knows are also on the INFJ list and therefore known to Vicky Jo.)  She thinks he may be over-reacting:

Oh, I was already assured that yer wonderful.  I was pulling your leg.  If I was truly concerned, I wouldn't do this.  I shoulda reassured you earlier.

Vicky Jo

Oh, and by now she has been to Robin's website and discovered he's really a man.  

Whilst navigating the site, she stumbles across a photograph captioned, "Brenton in bed in our hotel room in London."  The picture features an attractive young man lying in bed naked from the waist up.  Vicky Jo speculates about the ramifications of this, and draws a number of erroneous conclusions!

Then the dinner meeting transpires as planned, with Vicky Jo bringing along a friend (Robbie), a young man who is trying to work out his personality type and hopes Robin can help.  So when Robin meets Vicky Jo and is introduced to her "friend" Robbie, he too leaps to an inaccurate assumption.

The evening progresses amicably until Vicky Jo blurts out the question on her mind, "So... is Brenton your son or your gay lover?"  Following a coughing fit, Robin reassures her that Brenton is indeed his son from his first marriage, and makes a mental note to add the clause "my son" to every occurrence of Brenton's name on his website, even changing the London caption later that very evening!  But several days lapse before Robin learns that Robbie is not Vicky Jo's boyfriend...

After getting home that night, Vicky Jo drops Robin a line and signs off with:

PS: I had a LOVELY evening, and only regret that it was so short.

During his week in L.A., Robin also meets separately with another friend of Vicky Jo's -- his contact list in California is growing rapidly!  Meanwhile, Robin begins to enjoy communicating with Vicky Jo.  In a subsequent email, he waxes poetic:

Swooping along the rain-drenched freeways of Los Angeles, on my way from Santa Monica to Universal City -- Handel's Fireworks Suite blaring from the car stereo; me singing lustily along with it: "La la la la la-la-la-la laaa" etc.  Feeling a slight buzz from the tequila and the chili I had for dinner -- thinking that life is good...

To be continued...

VJ counters with:

Inching along a rain-drenched roadway, feeling trapped in a funnel with scared snails in front of me gingerly testing the weather with each tenuous lurch.

Trips that used to take minutes now expand into hours as dismal raindrops plop on the windshield, rinsing away the grime of the city -- even as filthy exhaust from the cars in front of me engage in mortal battle to make their marks visible again.  Hungrily scarfing chocolates stashed in my coat pocket, I grimace with the realization that a rushed microwave dinner is still hours off -- and furrowing my brow to concentrate my frustration on the skittish snails before me who are making me LATE.

...To be continued.

Robin replies with a famous Oscar Wilde quote:

Two men looked through prison bars
One saw mud; the other, stars...

The conversation turns frisky when Vicky Jo replies:

TOUCHE!!       Yowsa!

Contrasts, contradictions, and paradoxes.  Gotta love 'em.

Vicky Jo, "glass half-empty chip on her shoulder tonight," LOL!

And so it goes -- friendly banter, shared experiences and attitudes, but all superficial, until...


In February, Robin sends the following to his new group of friends in L.A.:

It appears that I'll be returning to LA the first week in March.  This is yet to be confirmed, but we could tentatively plan a dinner for March 4...


Discussion ensues as to the best date to meet.  Meanwhile, Vicky Jo is sacked from Disney and posts the following:

My Tuesday sucks.  My Wednesday sucks.  My Thursday sucks.

Beyond that -- I'm unemployed and have all the time in the world.  :-{

Vicky Jo

A date and venue is settled, and Robin dines with Vicky Jo and three of her friends on the appointed evening.  A great time is had by all, and Robin becomes intrigued with Vicky Jo, but treads warily.  In one exchange:

Robin writes:

Hmm -- I'd be VERY interested to see YOUR J-P Subscales...   :-)

Vicky Jo responds:

That's the most unusual pick-up line I've ever heard...  :-P

Robin asks:

Did it work?

Vicky Jo:

Can't you tell?

Since she is now unemployed, Robin asks Vicky Jo if she would consider moving out of L.A. for work if need be.  She responds by comparing Robin to the character "Starbuck" in the movie "Rainmaker," who tries to entice innocent Lizzie away from her hometown with empty promises.  A series of bantering emails follow but remain light-hearted.

Phone numbers are exchanged, and they begin to carry on long phone conversations, learning more about each other.  Robin gets friendly as can be, but he remains circumspect.


Robin is sent to Australia for three weeks, running training courses in Sydney and visiting family and friends in Adelaide.  His return flight from Sydney to Boston features a stopover in Los Angeles of 4 hours on a Saturday afternoon, so he contacts Vicky Jo and asks if she would be able to meet for a hasty early dinner.  She passes the word to her L.A. friends, and one of them agrees to pick up Robin from the airport and drive him to a nearby restaurant.

The dinner is fun, with Vicky Jo and several of her friends in attendance.  Robin initially seats himself next to Vicky Jo, but she moves, blaming a cold breeze from an overhead air-conditioning vent.  Robin wonders if this is a deliberate snub (not knowing how much VJ hates drafts)!

After much frivolity and delicious food, Robin is returned to the airport and flies away again.  Subsequent emails and phone calls with Vicky Jo become more frequent and personal, but there's still no inkling of interest from either party.


After several weeks of email correspondence, Robin decides he's interested in Vicky Jo and makes his move!  But, in typical geek fashion, he sends an email that says, in effect, "I think we have a lot in common and I'd like to get to know you better.  What do you say?"  Vicky Jo is horrified by this suggestion, both the intent and the cold, emotionless delivery!  She relays this to her friends, saying: "Can you BELIEVE what Robin said??!!?!"  Her friends respond with comments like, "We think it's a good idea -- you DO have a lot in common and you're very well-suited."  Vicky Jo is taken aback!

Meanwhile, Robin seeks advice from one of Vicky Jo's friends and acts upon that advice by sending her a bunch of red roses.  This has the desired effect, in that Vicky Jo is "blown away" (her words).  She decides to take Robin seriously, but is wary, having been burnt in previous relationships.  As it happens, Robin is also cautious and wants to know more about Vicky Jo before committing to anything serious.

Thus ensues a series of emails and phone calls, with each party quizzing the other about opinions, attitudes, habits, expectations, etc.  Some of these questions are of major importance to any relationship ("Do you want children?"; "Do you have any diseases?") and some are trivial ("Do you prefer wood or glass coffee tables?).

This process continues over many weeks, with each learning more about the other than most couples do in years of courting!  The result of this is a sense of comfort and understanding that provides the basis for the next step.  However, Vicky Jo is still reticent to make any kind of commitment because she has never spent any time alone with Robin!

Obviously, it's time for a bona fide DATE!