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FALLING INTO DISGRACELAND

FALLING INTO DISGRACELAND

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The other day I realized that we are, once and for all, firmly implanted I the digital age. And it happened near a toilet, which I hate. I’ve always thought of graffiti as basic human expression. Sort of arty, but accessible to even the least talented of stick figure draw-ers, the lowest common denominator for expression of feelings, whether it’s a “So-and-So is here” convulsion against mortality or an “I love Johnnie” declaration. But there I was, in the women’s restroom at Huey’s downtown (quite possibly the Memphis mecca for graffiti artists), when I saw it: someone’s email address scrawled on the wall. If memory serves, it was just floating there by itself. Without “For a good time, e-mail:” or “Abortion is Murder.” Nope, there was no topic to discuss, nothing to do, but if you wanted to email this person (and say what? “I saw your email address on the bathroom at Huey’s and I really wanted to meet you?”), you could. I wish I could remember the exact e-mail address. Not that I would publish it, but I might write that person and ask what the story was. I’m also under the impression that the person who that address belonged to was probably pretty cool. Because I thought the handle was cool. (It’s interesting the monikers we pick for ourselves now that we’re in a position to pick them. From every kid who has ever been dubbed with a horrible name to people who want their names to reflect who they are (iluvdgs@doglovers.com), email addresses have become as telling as answering machine messages. You have a tone of voice you use for work voice mail (johndoe@work.com) and one you use at home (mntnbiker@whatever.com). And to me, at least, so far the real world and the internet have been kept in their completely different spheres. One’s on the computer, shoved in the corner, the other’s out and about (or vice versa). I’ve never had an online romance so that may explain it. My friend did have one, once, but we ridiculed her into dumping him. In the end, he turned out to be married. But I digress.) The sad part of this digital thing -- and you’re welcome to call me old fashioned -- is that along with spored letters, it might end the postal service. And I love the postal service. Not the uniforms, of course, or the bills, but everything else. I love getting mail: packets of Easter candy from my mom in April, invitations with calligraphied names, hand-written and hand-decorated letters from my artsy friends, burned cds from my sister (hint, hint). Whenever I receive any of those things, it totally makes my I don’t think that the postal service is going to go completely kaput, of course (my Easter candy has to get through), but in keeping with my anthrax obsession, I am concerned with the state of the letter. How it seems to be disappearing as fast as the Pony Express to be replaced by an electronic voice that says “You’ve Got Mail.” Don’t get me wrong, I love e-mail. Love the way people can send me entire pieces of writing from salon.com with the click of a button. But I also love knowing my friends’ handwritings, whether their h’s slope to the left or if their s’s curl up like snakes in the grass. I love being able to hold something that someone I love held, whether they’re 200 miles away or 2000. I don’t really care whether they use ;) or not. But e-mail is quick. E-mail is convenient. E-mail addresses can be written on the bathroom wall. Yes, it’s a brave new world indeed. Maybe I should start having people call me by my handle. Then again, maybe I’ll just stick with Mary.

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