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The Black Hole

An amusing, obsessive woman lapses into the black hole of the Internet for vast chunks of time.

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Do you ever get shop-vacced into an abyss where anything is possible, nothing ever happens, and time has no meaning? I do. It started twelve minutes after I got my first computer.

I am a woman of indefatigable online searches. In the throes of an episode, I drop out of society, disappearing for days on end. I forget to eat, pay bills, go to work. Eyes fixed on the computer screen, I click and scroll madly, a sheen of sweat above my lip. I'm in a universe apart.

I feel like the Unabomber, only cuter.

I've spent untold hours researching actors who hated working with William Shatner; streamlined more of my life energy into Ebay than there will ever be call to admit. But nothing can parallel my frenzied searches for Greg Smithson.

My senior year of college, God slated Greg to be mine. We were to join souls, have earth-moving sex, and be engaged within six months. But God failed to notify Greg of the fact. Despite accompanying me to my sorority formal, Greg fell prey to the devices of one Cheryl Kraninsky, who, recognizing his drunkenness, nabbed him alighting from the bathroom at our local pub one Saturday night.

Cheryl Kraninsky had a pale, freckled face, a loud voice, and a compulsion to demonstrate her geniality through frequent, extreme winks of the eye. "Hi, Greggie!" she'd yell to Greg across the quad, smiling hugely. Then, inevitably, she'd raise an eyebrow, open her mouth, and squeeze her right eyelids together for three to five seconds. Bile rose in my throat every time.

There were so many reasons to dislike Cheryl. She claimed too much space on the dance floor. She cracked her gum constantly, and her ass had a funny shape. Most egregious, she managed to secure Greg Smithson's affections. Horrified, I looked on as they kissed before parting ways between classes, visions of Greg's and my future fading to a dismal, featureless gray.

Promptly after graduation, Greg and Cheryl got married.

I don't believe that someone can "steal" a person from someone else. Except in this case. Cheryl hoodwinked Greg into taking up the wrong life, thus robbing me of his eternal devotion. Despite my bitter loss, I've soldiered on. All I've asked is the chance to stalk the happy Smithsons.' But even in this age of Facebook, my prayers have gone unanswered.

I've Googled Greg Smithson countless times, explored every nook and cranny on Facebook, and strong-armed my boyfriend, an ex-reporter, to employ his top-secret means of violating people's privacy. To no avail. Greg Smithsons, grains of sand forming an endless beach, are hidden in plain sight. Searches for Cheryl Kraninsky and Cheryl Smithson have yielded nothing, as have those for her sister, whose name I managed to procure.

Here are the Facebook pictures of Cheryl and Greg that I long to see: Cheryl, winking into the camera, Greg cringing with distaste. Greg posed next to his daughter, who's the spitting image of me. The family dog lunging, teeth bared, at Cheryl, Greg doing nothing to intervene. Greg gazing wistfully into the distance, reliving our romantic moments at my sorority formal. (Many of these are captured in pictures lovingly arranged in my college photo album, which I mooned over just last night. That Greg's blood alcohol level was approaching 3.4 in those moments, I find irrelevant.)

I'll probably still be falling into the Greg Smithson black hole when I'm eighty.

In my fantasies, he'll still be falling into his own, in desperate pursuit of me.

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