Come Together, Right Now, Over Facebook

Back when I was a member, the Macarthur High School Choir used to put on an annual Renaissance Dinner, wherein all of the choir members would don vaguely archaic dress, drink from flagons, and sing John Rutter Christmas carols and the occasional song in Latin for the enjoyment of the assembled audience (which in retrospect was probably just our parents and other adults who owed them favors). It was one of the highlights of my nerdy year, as I loved the music, the people, the food, and feeling like I was a part of something kind of big and important.

One year, a month or so before the dinner was scheduled, my friend [Alex Nepomuceno->] found a very peculiar instrument somewhere around his house and brought it in to choir one day. It was vaguely mandolin shaped, but had more strings than seemed strictly prudent, and baffled all of us. (Looking back, it might have been a lute, though I still wouldn’t swear to it.) After we had spent several minutes examining it with the same air of intent perplexity we would have shown if it had been a Delorean engine with a blown flux capacitor, [Jonathan Marcus->], another choir member, piped up “Well, can I borrow it?” Alex was willing, so off it went with Jonathan.

A month rolled by. After much memorizing, rehearsing, costume assembling, and trying the patience of Mary Martin, our long-suffering choir director, it was time for the dinner. I was the “King” that year, so sat at the head table, which was set fairly far away from where most of the guests were. As I looked across the room, I saw Jonathan pull out the lute(?) and begin playing it for the visitors! He had, during the intervening month, taken the instrument home, tuned it up, and taught himself to play the blasted thing! I watched, a bit distracted, as he made his way through the tables, finally coming over to where I was sitting. He launched into a minutes-long, intricate, baroque-sounding finger-picked piece that left me flabbergasted.

“Holy monkeys, Jonathan! I can’t believe you figured out how to play that thing. And that piece was absolutely beautiful! Did you write that? What is it?”

Jonathan leaned over, jester’s cap bobbing merrily on his head, and replied in a conspiratorial whisper: “It’s Zeppelin, man!”

Good times, good times.

Thus, you can imagine my delight when, a month ago, I was trolling Facebook and stumbled across Jonathan. I had lost touch with him nearly 20 years ago when I graduated from high school, but still remembered fondly the time that we spent getting into and out of mischief in and outside of choir. So I dropped him an email and, after a fair bit of schedule jockeying, we managed to get together last night for a beer and 2 hours of uninterrupted conversation. He remains delightful company, and I was thoroughly glad to have a chance to catch up.

One of our immediate topics of conversation was “How did we do things before the Internet?” We had relied on it to relocate each other, to organize our meeting, to manage our calendars, and to get maps of the Taco Cabana where we met. Admittedly, we’re probably both more Internet-dependent than the average bear, but not dramatically so. And while I have historically had fairly little use for social networking sites in general, and MySpace in particular (prolonged exposure to which makes people either go blind or wish they had), Facebook has actually become a regular part of my life. It’s generally well thought-out, actually works most of the time, and has some very clever engineering that appeals to my inner web developer.

So, kudos to you, Facebook, Al Gore, and the Intertubes, and thanks for your help getting together with old friends. The next time I get together with any of you, the drinks are on me.