Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Meeting another Wiktionarian

I can't really say how I pictured Allan before I met him tonight, but it's safe to say that wasn't it. It's impossible to tell from bits of text online how somebody looks, and it's kind of fun that way, I think. I get to peek inside heads before ever seeing people's faces look like. I have a vague notion of how some of my online friends look from various blurry photos we've exchanged, but most of us would never know each other on the street, by name or by face. It's a rare treat to get close enough to shake hands.

Before tonight, Allan was a nickname on Wiktionary, a relative newcomer to the project, but a good contributor, and a participant in the IRC channel there. I had mentioned my recent travels to Portland, and he asked for advice on what to see in that area. It turns out that he and his girlfriend were also coming through my area of California, so we arranged to meet for dinner this evening. They are visiting from London, driving a rented convertible down the coast, enjoying the weather, the scenery, and so on. I hope they have found some of my advice useful.

Suffice it to say, they are delightful people. I first heard his voice only two days ago, and his accent is different enough at times that I have to work at understanding him. His girlfriend is a bit easier for me to understand. As we talked on the phone, I learned that neither of them had ever had root beer. Apparently, it's quite unusual overseas.

They did get a chance to try my bike, pictured a couple of posts down. "Very Californian," I think, was what Allan said. When people first try the recumbent, they teeter for a few moments before they learn the balance. It's also a bit tricky to ride in a dress, but his girlfriend took a spin anyway. With the feet forward, there's nowhere for the skirt to go but up.

We ate Thai food. I remembered the wrong restaurant, but it was delicious, nonetheless. They have been to Thailand fairly lately and were comparing notes with the Thai waitress. All three of us ate too much. American portions, not surprisingly, are larger than British portions.

When we were done with dinner, we came back to my house for root beer floats. They both tasted a bit of plain root beer before I added ice cream. They both claim, at least, that they liked the results, though Allan commented that it tasted like "mouthwash". They threatened me with Marmite, but thankfully, they weren't carrying any with them.

It was, in my opinion, much too brief a visit, but I am glad we could meet for as long as we did. We all learned a little about each other, personally and culturally, one more online friend seems a little more real now.


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