« The Actors Voice, 7/16/07 | Main | "Toe thumb! Toe thumb! Toe thumb!" »

July 18, 2007


Okay, so... I meant to post a blog entry about 7/13 on 7/13, but I was kind of busy. Forgive the five-day delay, wouldja? Thanks.

So, on 7/13/01, Keith Johnson and Bonnie Gillespie met in person for the first time.

We had been flirting online for three months or more, by then.

< insert random geeky joke about online romances here >

We actually didn't meet through an online dating service, despite the fact that that's where everyone's mind seems to go, when we say, "We met online in April, 2001."

No. We met on a Yahoo Group.

Not a singles group.

I had been writing for an online humor magazine for a few months (you might recall my snarky column "Don't Get Me Started," in which I bitched about whatever was on my mind each week or so) and Keith had been single for a few months. He met the psycho editor of our 'zine in a gaming forum elsewhere and was invited into our world. (Basically, it went like this: "You've got a sick, twisted sense of humor. You should meet our writers and fans." And he did.)

So, one of the things that happened in our group email exchanges (all in front of the masses, as this was no more than a message board, to me--and you can see how I still do that stuff today to stay in touch with my readers) was that he mentioned wanting to explore "this acting thing."

I told him how to avoid scams, gave him some tips, blah blah blah (same basic stuffs I did for anyone looking to get into this crazy biz, back then when I had time), and we started emailing "off-group."


That's where it gets personal. ;)

Well, Keith had been dumped and downsized and had all sorts of free time to email these 24-page romantic sonnets and I swooned as any good southern gal would. ;) Bonus points for proper grammar and spelling, yo. ;)

And we flirted like mad. Because, why not?!? He was in Michigan, for cryin' out loud. I'd never even BEEN to the Midwest except to maybe change planes. What could possibly happen?

Well... I'll tell ya... here's what happened.

We fell in love. Yes. Online. And if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. We fell for each other emotionally, mentally, and spiritually (through emails and phone calls--and yes, he had the advantage, seeing my photo running with my column), and that meant the only way we didn't KNOW we dug each other was physically, and dangit that's the easiest one to figure out. You see each other in person and either you're hot for one another or you're not.


July 2001, I proposed a meeting. Keith was going to travel to SLC for a geeky computer thing and I, as a freelance employee of The Sundance Institute, could easily make a business trip out of the weekend as well. So, why not? Let's meet on neutral ground.

Neither of us wanted a relationship. He was still healing from a broken marriage. My mother had just passed away and I was rebuilding myself. It was a total rebound recipe.

But we decided... what the fuck. Let's do it.

July 13, 2001, I landed in SLC. This was pre-9/11, so I could meander through the airport for the three hours before Keith's plane landed. I walked past the lovely view of snow-capped mountains, saying to myself (or to Mom), "Sheesh! Can you believe I'm here?!?" and then I felt my mom say, "Yeah. Of course. I sent you here."

I had a posse of girls back in LA ready to execute extraction plans if he turned out to be a psycho. (Yeah, I had done a complete background search on him and his ex... and there were details most folks would be uncomfortable having available ready for the extraction plans, should I say the code word when I called in from the road. My girls said they felt like Charlie's Angels--and I loved that. Folks say, "Oh, that's so smart of you to head out having done so much research on someone!" And I say, "Hey, my mom didn't raise any dummies. Well... yeah, she did, but those are my brothers." Heh heh.)

Point is, I was doing something totally stupid (potentially), but I wasn't going into anything without a plan in place. (I'm all about the "what ifs.")

So, my heart is leaping out of my chest. I've just flown to another state to meet some random guy I've been flirting with online for a few months. OF COURSE, he's the last one to get off the plane. And he's in Dockers pulled up way too high and he's carrying three Microsoft manuals under his arms.

I'm in love.

It's him. I know it. Yeah. This is it.

Holy fuck. I'm looking at my future and here it is. Geekalicious.

So, he and I walk through the terminal holding hands and smiling at each other like we both have too many teeth.

He heads to the rental car counter and I head for the pay phone to make my first of the planned phone calls to "my angels." I say, "Oh my GOD. It's him." And Faith says, "What? He's crazy? He has an axe? Are you okay? Say the word!" And I say, "No, cousin. It's fine. I'm in love."

And we show up to our hotel room--YES, we had reserved two rooms in case we didn't click--and there's three white roses and a bottle of champagne.

Now, I don't know how much you know about Salt Lake City, but having a bottle of champagne in a hotel room is a pretty fucking pimp move, for that location. Bonus points for Keith, for damn sure!

Anyway, it was a lovely Friday the 13th, that July 2001.

And after that, I traveled to Michigan (McChicken) to meet Keith's son and spend a week in his world (at which point I established that there is not enough vodka on the planet for me to live outside a major city--I used to think that I'd grown up in a small town, AKA Atlanta, and then I realized that there are places in this country where I could *never* live simply because it is NOT important to me that butter is on sale at the Meier or that "scrapbooking" is a verb). I prepped Keith to audition for a play at the community theatre in Grand Rapids, and he booked the role and... well... the rest is a story for around October-ish.

Suffice it to say that July 13th is a pretty cool anniversary in my life.

It's when my decision to give a guy a chance lasted more than a few months (seriously--I've run every amazing guy in my life away in a really short period of time) and when a guy decided to give up a decade of one lifestyle to choose another that seems to be working pretty dang okay.

Yeah, it's easy to say he's got the good end of the deal, but y'know what? I'm grateful for Keith a whole dang lot. Yeah, he's a man-child, but what man isn't? I'm impossible to live with and fully expected to run him off within weeks.

Six years. So far, so good.

Posted by bonnie at July 18, 2007 4:43 AM


Sweet story...Sounds like a made-for-tv movie...

Posted by: drc at July 18, 2007 5:06 PM

Sweet. I comment because a story like this demands a gazillion validations.

On the other hand...it looks like you got the only one that matters.

Posted by: Maria at July 18, 2007 5:31 PM

Awwwwwwww...that's so cute, it's like kitties sleeping on a fluffy blankie. In the sun. Curled up around each other, making sleepy faces.

Posted by: communicatrix at July 18, 2007 6:31 PM

That is incredibly sweet.:-)

Posted by: Cole Matson at July 19, 2007 9:56 PM

I'll post here again. I love this story. I know what you mean about theres not enough vodka to live any place other than a big city.LOL

When I go home to Minnesota to see the family. I'm ready to bail ass after a week.

Posted by: Mary Carlisle at July 20, 2007 10:07 AM

I love this story. Love it!

And I will give you major points for this comment: "Hey, my mom didn't raise any dummies. Well... yeah, she did, but those are my brothers." I can so relate!

But for the love of God quit making fun of scrapbooking. It's not that bad! I swear! Some of us old farts enjoy it.

Posted by: Barb at July 23, 2007 5:17 PM