February 13, 2005

The Secret Blogger

As Terry and his friends came closer to graduation and the workforce or grad school, they started blogs so they could keep the endless bull session going wherever they ended up. Friends told other friends, so their clique expanded online, though few of them saw each other face to face anymore. They wrote the things they wanted the others to know, and they kept other things secret.

Then Terry decided that he wanted more: he wanted to go deeper, to write the secret things as well. So he started another blog, a secret blog. On it, he wrote all the things he didn’t let tell his friends. He registered his new blog on various metasites and sent it off into the ether.

He had no readers at first, but little by little people stumbled upon the site, sometimes when randomly searching, other times when phrases he had written turned up on search engine results. He put so much intimate stuff on the site, word spread fast about this unknown person who was laying everything bare at a certain URL. He became a celebrity within a faceless world. It was all there for anyone to read, and yet he felt protected, anonymous.

Exploring his deepest secrets, Terry had come upon one that shocked him: he was in love with Tina, one of his college girl–pals, one of the original clique. He didn’t just like her, the way he’d always thought. Of course he’d always lusted for her a little, but he’d never minded that she was out of reach. Now he lusted for her a lot. More than that, he kept picturing them together doing sentimental things. They were walking along a beach, holding hands and watching their footprints appear side by side. They were leaning over a dinner table, smiling in the candlelight and sharing murmured confidences. They were getting married and having kids and living together for the rest of their lives. Terry had never imagined that kind of thing before. He imagined it nonstop now. And he put it all on his secret blog.

Inevitably a friend of a friend stumbled upon the site and told the friend, and the friend read the site and began wondering. Terry had changed the names, but the details were all familiar. Once you started considering the possibility, in fact, it all became transparent, undeniable: yes, the blogger was Terry and his love was Tina. Soon all the friends were reading the secret blog several times a day.

No one told Terry they knew about his secret site. They never mentioned it on their public blogs. But they all phoned and emailed obsessively about this great local soap opera. What should Terry do about his love for Tina? Was it true love or was he crazy? Should they tell him to confess his love to her? Should they scold him and tell him to leave her alone?

Most of all, should they tell Tina? No, they decided. Too distressing for her. Too embarrassing for all.

The situation stood that way for months, and then Tina herself stumbled upon the secret blog when she was clicking links on a friend’s blogroll. She saw Terry’s declarations of love and wondered, “Who is this passionate guy, and who is he in love with?” She read on, and recognized herself.

She was horrified. But it was compelling reading.

She became one of the audience who hung onto Terry’s secret blog every day, but she was his special reader, the one it was all for.

She didn’t know what to do. She yearned to ask her friends, but it would be agony to bring up the subject. And after reading his secrets, she couldn’t bring herself to betray Terry. She didn’t know that the whole clique already read the secret blog and gossiped constantly about her and Terry. Can one person be drawn toward another because of gossip about them that neither is aware of?

Over the weeks, seeing Terry’s sensitivity and earnestness and eloquence, and knowing how fervently she was loved, she began to love him in return. She too began to imagine whispered laughing confidences over candlelight, and footprints side by side on wet sand, and a wedding with both families weeping with joy, and a house with kids in it.

But how to tell him? She couldn’t just appear as a commenter on his secret blog one day and declare his love requited. She couldn’t stand the thought of all those invisible people reading it, breathing over her shoulder. Call him on the phone? She’d never been very good at talking to boys on the phone. Invite him for a drink and starting talking about anything at all and see whether the subject came up, whether their feelings survived in the physical realm? No, she just knew that would wreck it. One of them would say the wrong thing or make a clumsy gesture and the other would think prematurely, “No, this isn’t the right person after all,” and everything would fall to pieces even though, from a broader view, they really were right for each other.

There was only one thing to do. Tina started her own secret blog. There she wrote about her love for Terry. She changed his name and kept herself anonymous. And without telling anyone about it, she waited.