ou know the sounds well.

The click of the modem as it opens the outside line.
The number of times that I catch someone in midconversation
with the strong click of the modem picking up the line is countless.

The computer dials out its programmed number and, typically without ringing, the other end picks up.


I'm in! Boy, was I in.

I received my first modem when I was eight or nine. I've forgotten exactly when. In less than six months, I was a regular pro at it. I would call a local BBS and peruse their contact lists for other BBSs in the area to call. I would comb their file directories for new programs to download and play with. I would play online games, trying to climb the ranks of geekdom by conquering the most territory or raking in the most cash. After I had felt comfortable enough, I started checking out the bulletin boards to interact with my fellow geeks.

I was one of a handful of females using modems at the time. It didn't take long before I became one of the designated females on BBSs. No one was convinced that I was nine: everyone thought I was using my age as an excuse to avoid getting hit on.

And I got hit on.

This was my teacher. This black box that sat on my desk that I poured hours of my free time into. It taught me all the naughty words that little girls aren't supposed to say. It spoke to me of those hidden places -- of the pleasure and pain that they can bring. I was forced to be female. I was like Hester Prynne. I could have masked myself in a male name and male identity, but that wouldn't be me. Anyway, I'm bad at impersonations.

In a world where I only wanted to be one of the guys, I became the epitome of femininity.

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