I was seventeen or so, didn’t have a lot of friends, used the internet a lot. The guy in front of me in line for a midnight movie was in his mid-twenties, was wearing a mauve t-shirt and dad jeans, and I overheard him talking to his friend about an internet project he’d been working on. The project was something I checked daily. I still remember what it was called, and what the site looked like, but can’t remember many details beyond it making its creator seem interesting. It was very important to me at the time, though, in the way that windows into what life as a cool adult might be like are when you’re seventeen, so I spoke up:

“That’s you? That’s cool, I’m a fan.”

“Wait, really?”

“Yeah, it’s great. You’re [his handle], right? It’s cool to meet you.”

The guy moved quickly, but did a poor enough job telegraphing his sucker punch to my stomach that I managed to lean away and only catch the end of it. He and his friend laughed and turned around. Mortified, my friends and I stood in line, looked at the strange violent internet guy’s mauve back, and started talking about something else.

In 1997 Joe Bernardi looked furtively over both his shoulders, then changed a Yahoo search term from "korn" to "porn."