“OK, cool, how about #006600 HTML#006600   RGB 0 102 0?”
It’s probably the weirdest sentence I’ve ever written. It all started, more or less, in a yearbook. Then caught fire in an AOL chat room.
Remember what it was like to be 12 or 13? To want very badly to be like everyone else, so you wouldn’t get ridiculed or left alone, so you might taste whatever beatific calm everyone else had, while you sat squirming, too tall or fat or short or in any case not wearing Z. Cavariccis.
Then one day I discovered, or was made to understand, that I had something. That I could write. Yearbook time, pass yours over to me, and I—weird dude, too tall, huge, glasses—filled a page with wild rambling scenes and images and dialog and maybe I’d even draw something. Everyone wanted me.
Then school was out. 1992. Our first computer, a Compaq. AOL sent us a CD—or floppy? Pretty soon I lived in the chatrooms. Didn’t matter which one. I wanted the rush: To transcend my body and dazzle with some other piece of me.
I racked up a 300-hour bill one month. My parents pulled the plug.
But nothing was ever same. It’s the color of the modem light. Green means go.
Nathan Deuel is the author of Friday Was the Bomb: Five Years in the Middle East, and has written for The New York Times Magazine, GQ, Harper’s, and the New Republic, among others.