Funny like the guy turned out to be Chinese.

I had a little reminiscent email convo with an old college friend this morning. Oh, the good times we had. Laughing at things. And people. Coining words like, "Hiiiiii." And, "Eeeeeeee!" And also calling everything "mini."

And then that one time we both met the same guy on the internet and he turned out to be Chinese.

So, I was 18, right? And at 18, and in the year 2000, America Online was, like, THE thing. You could chat, you could meet people, you could stalk people's profiles and find out who, like yourself, would be a new freshman at the university you'd be attending in the fall. This long before the AIM craze. The MySpace crap. Facebook. On America Online everything was happy. Nobody posted slutty pictures of themselves. In fact, nobody posted pictures at all.

So the summer before my freshmen year, I came across a boy named Matt on America Online. Matt, the soccer player. Ooooh. We chatted online. Found out we'd have no classes together and lived in separate dorms. But, boy, was I excited. I met a boy! And before long, I made a girl friend, too. And she and I WOULD have a class together.

When she and I finally met, in an expository writing class, we laughed about the way we met. On the internet. WEIRD. Who DOES that? (Or so we thought). And suddenly we had something else in common. We both met a boy on America Online named Matt. Same screenname. Same soccer player. Oooh, have you met him?, I asked, excitedly. She hadn't. He was mysterious.

And so we were thrilled. We continued to chat with him online, neither of us meeting him, despite the fact we were then on the same campus. But we knew he was on the soccer team, so we scoured for information. One day, we found what we were looking for.

It was a copy of the campus newspaper. In it, an article, and accompanying photo, about a recent soccer match. We scanned the photo's cutline for details. Oh! A Matt! There's a Matt in the photo! It's OUR Matt! Look! Wait. Oh, God.


Not only is he Chinese, he's SHORT. And, is that acne? And, oh my word, NO. No, this is NOT happening. Our Matt plays soccer. And he's supposed to be tall. With nice hair and white teeth. He's supposed to be the All-American boy! (And I promise we're not racist. We were boy-crazy 18-year-olds. Duh.).

This could not be. There was a mistake. In fact, there had to be TWO Matt's on the soccer team, and this happened to be the Chinese Matt. Because, Matt? Chinese? I've never met a Chinese Matt. Who's short with acne and plays soccer. Whimper.

Our dreams were crushed.

We no longer chatted with Matt online. In fact, I avoided him. No, I do not want to meet you!, I wanted to say. You were supposed to be the All-American soccer boy! And you have ACNE!

Oh, the drama of 18-year-old college life.

As she and I further investigated, we found his name in the campus directory. His middle name, we then discovered, was Jong. Matthew JONG. The perfect giveaway to his identity. Why did no one tell us this? Why?

And then we laughed about it. For seven years. And we're still laughing.

And as an aside, I'll have you know that, eventually, we did meet Matthew Jong, our Chinese Soccer Player, and become casual friends. And he was funny. And I actually shared an algebra class with him. Granted, we never told him about the horror of learning his true identity, but still. It's a damn funny story.