Dearest Rachel –
I would like to think that I wouldn’t have to explain the concept of the rickroll to anyone on the internet. Anyone who’s been out here any length of time has probably been conned into clicking a link that took them to Mr. Astley’s music video, and those who haven’t, really just need to ‘lurk moar,’ as the alleged Rules of the Internet put it. For those unfamiliar with the concept – particularly if you’ve tried desperately to erase the memory from your cranial circuitry – here’s a brief history of the phenomenon, complete with an acknowledgement that it couldn’t have happened to a nicer artist, as Mr. Astley has taken his unexpected renaissance in stride, even to the point of rickrolling the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade just a couple years ago.
Of course, when a meme goes so viral that it reaches that level of mainstream attention, it’s pretty much dead to the denizens of the internet that we considered ourselves to be. The closest thing we could take humor from at this point was the Rickroll Paradox, postulated in just the last year or two that claims one could cause a disruption in the fabric of space-time by asking Rick Astley for a copy of the Pixar movie “Up.” The resulting conundrum of his either having to give you “Up” or let you down would cause universal chaos, not unlike dividing by zero or strapping buttered toast to a cat’s back and dropping it (causing it to spin in midair, as the cat must land on its feet, but the toast must land buttered side down).
But I’m not really writing you to talk more about the phenomenon of rickrolling as practiced on the internet, although there is something to say about it. It is, after all, a perfect illustration of the classic ‘bait-and-switch’ sales technique, where you the consumer are offered a deal that seems too good to be true… and which, naturally, proves to be just that. What you get is not what you were promised – or what you thought you were promised.
When I refer to being rickrolled in real life, though, I’m talking about the series of promises Mr. Astley makes to – presumably – his girl throughout the course of the song. It’s not the first song to make such promises by any stretch of the imagination, nor has it been the last, but it is the most (in?)famous, so I’m using it as an example.
On actually going over the lyrics, I’d have to admit they don’t even make the most outlandish of promises. Basically, Rick’s insisting that, now that he’s committed to making this relationship work, he’s not going to cheat on her. That’s a perfectly fair thing to claim, and really, it’s the sort of thing one ought to expect from one’s life partner.
But that’s the thing… there’s a point in a relationship where these sorts of claims are valid, even expected; indeed, one would be considered a cad (or a tramp) if one didn’t stay true to one’s love.
That’s not where we are at this point, though.
By ‘we,’ I mean this girl I’m talking with from the dating app. And I’m going to refer to her as a girl, since she’s younger than me; I still assume that’s considered complimentary to consider her youthful, even (or especially) in her forties. Also because I mentioned her ‘real’ name in a previous post under the assumption that I wasn’t likely to hear back from her after she took down her profile (to say nothing of the fact that her location kept changing on said profile).
But it so happens that I’m back in contact with her, having given her my email address and she’s chatting me up through Google Hangouts. I’ve got no problem with any of that – it’s really essentially the same process as text messaging, just using a different app (and bypassing the cell phone connection) – but I’m seeing certain lines from her to this effect. Stuff like asking me what I consider to be a romantic gesture (which was a difficult question to answer, as your aversion to surprises has left me grossly out of practice in that arena) and listing a few thoughts of her own, with the implication that she’d do these things were we actually together.
And as much as I want to think the best of her, my guard keeps going up with each time I find myself dealing with an imposter. Naruko, for her part, has stopped communicating with me since I sent her the link to the Doctors Without Borders webpage about scams done in their name; I suppose it would be too much to have expected a response along the lines of, “all right, you got me, I’ll shut up now.” The possibility that this too is going to turn out to be just another hoax keeps me from getting all that enthusiastic about conversing with her – I actually find myself getting mildly annoyed when the phone makes the distinctive “thrum” noise indicating a new message in Google Chat if I’ve settled in to watch a video or two (or three or four) with Daniel.
And the occasional pet name – ‘dear,’ ‘sweetie,’ and ‘handsome’ (seriously?), just to name a few – just gets me that much more worried. Is she setting me up – or, what may be worse, if she does happen to be real, is she setting herself up? I’ve warned her, I’m no knight in shining armor, and I don’t want her to think otherwise about me. Because this whole thing about expectations can be taken both ways. She’s mentioned obliquely about having suffered a heartbreak in the past; suppose I’m not her Mister Right, either? I’m not about to promise more to her than I know I can deliver, and I won’t really know what that might be until we’re somehow interacting face-to-face.
The crazy thing is, that might come sooner than I might expect – assuming I’m willing to allow it. She’s asked for my phone number; not to text me, mind you, like a number of others have (after all, we’re already texting, for all intents and purposes), but to actually call and talk to me. You’d think I’d jump at this chance; this certainly sounds like someone who’s real, rather than some overseas scammer. But for whatever reason, I just can’t seem to bring myself to pull the trigger and send it to her; I’m afraid of disappointing and being disappointed just too much at this point.
Wish I knew what steps to take next. I don’t really want to get rickrolled, after all.
Wish me luck, honey, and a little bit of wisdom. I think I’m going to need both of them.