The first time ever I saw his face …
Ah, I always loved that song, although I admit I’ve always wished it was someone else talking about me. The first time ever I saw his face, it was on a computer screen. A search I was doing had gone very wrong; I knew, beyond any doubt, that the picture I was searching for was out there, and in desperation, I plunked in the two keywords, all by themselves, that were the core terms of the search.
As Google whirred away and the results page started to load, I stretched and used the tips of my fingers to knead my stiff neck. Yeah, I spent too long on the computer. So sue me. As the screen stopped dropping images in their places, I glanced at it – and stopped. Oh my gosh. The first picture in the search results was not particularly remarkable for its composition or style. It wasn’t even in color. But the subject – oh, the subject.
It was a man about my age, with what looked like black or dark brown hair and black or dark brown eyes. Just a guy, I suppose. But that’s like saying a Rolls Royce has four wheels and moves. Kinda like a little red wagon. Don’t sass me, girl. If you didn’t see a little red wagon at the museum I know you’ve seen a picture. Now where was I? Oh, yes.
I’ve never seen eyes as beautiful as that on someone who wasn’t a celebrity. I can’t describe them, exactly, or tell you what it was about them that made my heart melt. The only thing I remember thinking was that they were kind eyes, with humor. You had the feeling he was sharing a joke with the photographer, was resigned about having his picture taken.
And his smile! Oh, this is America, we all get the dentist treatment growing up in a way that some other countries don’t. But it was more than perfect dental work; I can’t describe how it hit me any than I can his eyes. Taken as a whole, he was a remarkably good-looking man. One look and I was done for. I never believed in love at first sight – until then.
That was a long time ago. There used to be a computer system called Facebook. For a while, people thought it would take over the digital world. But like Compuserve and GEnie and a lot of other web/communication systems that had their day and passed, so did Facebook. I “met” him there, and for a time, we were friends, as it was defined in those days. But that passed, too. After the Great Viral Attack of 2021, when Facebook was wiped out (along with a lot of other things), we lost touch. I always regretted that. I tried hard to cleanse my memory and go on with my life. Your grandfather never knew, and I’m glad. He never understood computers, or how people could meet online and connect in the most innocent of ways, and it would have hurt him. I would have been sorry if I had caused him pain.
I know, I could build one of those holograms you kids are all so hot about. I have the picture, and I even have a video I downloaded from YouTube – another site that went away eventually. I saved our chats and messages, too. But it wouldn’t be the same.
Strange as it would sound, even though he was never really more than virtual to me, all the new technology would somehow make him more imaginary, not less. I’d rather have that first memory of him, of seeing his face, and remember the connection we did have.
Now get your padscreen over here and set up the board. Your gramma’s going to kick your butt in 3D Tetris!