When Mike Met Sam

I'm loath to admit this, but we met online. There's a stigma attached to relationships that "began" over the internet, and honestly, I tend to agree. There are exceptions however, and I'd like to think we're one of the many.

I probably wouldn't have met Mike if I had decided to buy a compact car. In mid-2002, I traded my five year-old Chevy Cavalier for a 2003 F-150. It was a 5.4 liter, V-8, 4x4, and brand new. I was tired of my Cavalier, as well as the Dodge Neon before it, may she rest in piece. So there I was with this big ass truck and no one to drive through puddles with. As a side note, I had just moved to New Jersey from my last assignment in Georgia after being stationed there for almost 7 years. My only local friends were my fellow Army recruiters and the bartenders and old guys at the nearby pub. A very nice maintenance man in my apartment complex suggested an online truck club that had local chapters. He had been a member for some time and enjoyed the people who participated, so why not give it a shot? I believed I logged on for the first time in January 2003 with very low expectations. I was looking for inspiration for modifications to the truck and perhaps a local car show.

Within a month or two I found myself checking in every day to say hi, tell jokes, etc. Being a new truck owner, I was pretty shy in the "real" forums. I didn't realize it then, but one of the moderators had greeted me the first week I was a member and would eventually play a much larger part in my life. Skip ahead to April, where I had my first opportunity to "meet" my new friends. A popular Spring car show/swap meet was coming up and our chapter was planning a big get together to hang out, drink beers, buy some crap, and stare at other people's trucks and cars. In the spirit of expanding my social circle I decided to go for the afternoon. I met Mike for the first time that day, and I'd be lying if I said it was remarkable moment of stars and butterflies. He was a nice guy from Long Island, pretty cute and had a very nice truck, but I had just gotten out of a debacle of a relationship and wanted no part in anything resembling male/female relations. Not that he hit on me. At all. I met a few dozen people that day and went on my way. At this point, I had a new friend named Mike. No phone number, no last name, no flirting, no problem. I could have cared less. I wouldn't have known the difference until a few weeks later when we happened to hang out again.

to be continued...