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).
VICKY JO'S BACKGROUND
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:
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:
Vicky Jo is taken aback by this unhelpful response, but maintains dignified politeness:
Robin leaks a tad more information:
This opens the way for a dialogue -- Vicky Jo wants to know more:
The floodgates open! Robin responds:
After this, it's smooth sailing:
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:
Robin's "itinerary" displays a week-by-week slate of visits planned to different cities. Vicky Jo requires more detail:
Robin provides additional data:
Vicky Jo plays hard to get!
Robin enthusiastically responds:
Vicky Jo gets nervous:
Robin takes her seriously:
(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, 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:
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:
VJ counters with:
Robin replies with a famous Oscar Wilde quote:
The conversation turns frisky when Vicky Jo replies:
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.:
Discussion ensues as to the best date to meet. Meanwhile, Vicky Jo is sacked from Disney and posts the following:
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:
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.
THINGS GET SERIOUS
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!