A collection of grievances, memories, occasional musings, and everyday happenings

AOL Instant Messenger

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I.M., A.I.M, or simply, Aim, took over my social life, and took over it fast.  I remember having a miniature debate with my Dad when I was 12 about whether or not I was ready to become a member of this online society.  “But Megan has one!  And so does Meredith, AND Garrett!  AND David!”  My parents were never really up for the whole “everyone else has one so I should too” gig, so my argument didn’t exactly take much of a flight.  Eventually though, I found myself standing behind the black leather computer chair, watching my Dad scroll through AIM instructions.  Picking a screen name for my brand new account was tough, especially since all the girls I knew were using up each and every description word they could find in order for every teenage boy to better know just who he was talking to – Hottiechik24, Sexygurl546, qtCheerbabe7657.  I would throw out names along those lines to my Dad, whose fingers refused to move in any direction on the keyboard until I thought of an appropriate name to go by.  Finally, I landed on sunshinegal2458 – a safe, yet respectfully adorable screen name I could use that would not cause me any real embarrassment among my gal pals.

I don’t remember using AIM all that much during the end of my 6th grade year.  The need to have a screen name was more of just a need to have it than to actually use it.  From 7th grade on, however, AIM proved to be much more influential than I would have ever guessed.  There came a time for me in 8th grade – a pivotal point in the year where I found myself teetering in between my original friend group, and a possible future friend group who successfully showed me on down the road how very right I was to stay with my original crew.  But for a little while, to be 13 and on the brink of popularity was quite the temptation – so much so that I, embarrassingly enough, developed the same AIM lingo as the girls who were constantly dangling 8th grade fame in my face.

AIM lingo?  You mean there was more to it than ‘LOL’ and ‘brb’?

Heavens yes.

In order for one to be deemed AIM worthy, one had to uproot the true use of vowels and mix it all up.  One also had to change the consonants to be different than their originals as well as use the letter ‘Z’ in place of each and every ‘S’ (you know, where it makes sense).  ‘H’s were a must as a way of lengthening words that I guess were too short to be liked by the popular crowd, and if one was daring and cutsie enough, one could attempt to TyPe LiKe SoOoO.  This grammatical logic HAD to be seen in one’s profile – a way of proving true AIM-awesomeness.

So sunshinegal2458 and I dumbed down our proper English, and with the use of a light yellow Bold Georgia font against a periwinkle background, we came up the what seemed to be the “it” profile, describing us as the person and screen name we were:

Hey yall!  MuH nAmE iz Holly!  I’m 13 an LUV liFe!  I lyKe 2 rUn x-cOuNtRy an I luV 2 pLaY volleybalL!  SHOUT OUT 2 ALL MAH VBALL GURLZ!  LYLAS!  Srsly!  LOLZ!   I have muZiC pLaYiN aAaAaAll the tiMe so tHaT gEtZ mEh tHrU sKoOl!  Yuk!  LOL!  I LUV Coke, itZ mAh FAV drink!  So iF u eVa waNNa taLk u sHuld bRiNg mEh 1!  I waNna giVe a sHoUt out 2 mAh gUrl Jennifer 4 aLwaYz beiN sUcH a gOoD friEnD ALL the tiMe!  LYLAS!  BFF4EVA!  sHoUt out 2 Forrest 4 bEiN sO funny aLL the tiMe!  Ur sO aWsum!  sHouT out 2 mAh gUrL Ashley 4 ALWAYZ gettin mAh baCk in vball!  sHouT ouT 2 mah boyz Billy, Will, an Taylor cUz track class wUld be soOoOoO boRing w/o u theRe!  LOL!  IM mEh if u waNNa talk!  TTYL!

It was perfect.

What’s sad about this serious punishment I was putting myself through didn’t even occur to me until someone else pointed it out.  I would occasionally edit my profile (changing some vowels and adding some h’s) and in doing so, would skim over my writing and grimace slightly.  I had an A in English for a reason, and I certainly wasn’t doing it any justice.  But my AIM popularity grew a little every day, so I kept up my AIM façade until finally a guy friend of mine IMed me, all grammatically correct:

WhisperingWarrior: Holly.  Your profile actually makes no sense.

Sunshinegal2458: wut?

WhisperingWarrior: OMG.  No.  It’s ‘what’.  WHAT.

Sunshinegal2458:  Yeah… I know.

WhisperingWarrior: Why are you writing like you’ve never spoken the English language in your entire life?

Sunshinegal2458:  Bc the other girls write like that.

WhisperingWarrior:  They’re dumb.

Sunshinegal2458: They just write like that.

WhisperingWarrior: Yeah I know.  It’s dumb.

Sunshinegal2458: You say dumb too much.

WhisperingWarrior:  Sorry.  I’ll stop if you make your profile something worth reading.

Sunshinegal2458:  Ok.

WhisperingWarrior: THANK YOU.

I behaved after that, mainly because he later became my first boyfriend, but still, he had a point.

I did, however, have one last AIM mishap.

A song titled “Milkshake” by Kelis hit the charts.  It was huge, and everyone knew the words.  I knew the words, and I didn’t even like the song.  Unfortunately for me, I was extremely naïve – a bit of an Amelia Bedelia if you catch my drift.  Instead of looking for the dirty hidden meaning beneath the lines of Pop songs like most kids, I took the lyrics literally, something I wouldn’t especially recommend.

I was looking at my AIM profile one afternoon after school, trying to think of something cool and refreshing to add to my masterpiece of personal description, when it hit me – I knew exactly what to write.  I smiled, proud of myself for thinking up something so new and popular to have written on my profile.  I stretched my fingers and quickly typed under the “About Me” section:

My milkshake brings all the boys 2 the yard!

And that was all my profile said.  Just that statement, and quite the statement it was, only I had no idea what I was actually claiming.  How could I when the music video itself showed Kelis handing out milkshakes to the boys who were standing in her yard??  Such trickery!

Luckily an orchestra pal of mine IMed me close to 3 minutes after I had posted the lyric with, “Do you know what that means?”  Afraid to look foolish, I smirked and wrote back, “Uhhh yah…” He LOLed at me, which I took to be a bad sign and immediately erased my profile, admitting to myself that I knew nothing about Kelis, her milkshakes and why they were bringing all the boys to the yard for any reason other than having a milkshake.

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Author: Holly

Vienna-based American wife/mom/expat.

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