Our wedding invitations, sent out in early 2001, were very formal, with the exception of a website address at the very bottom. It was a concession that I insisted on, even though wedding websites were not yet the norm.
I wrote all the HTML by hand in Notepad and then uploaded it to my server. It had links to online registries, photos of the engagement, frequently asked questions that demonstrated my particularly absurd sense of humor, and descriptions for each of us.
Most of Amy’s family had not met me, and most of my family had never met her. We decided to have brief introductions that could act as mini-biographies, except, being geeks of the highest caliber, we couldn’t leave it at that. Instead, we each opted to write the other’s biography in the voice of our favorite authors. I wrote Amy’s description as if it were out of a Sherlock Holmes story, and she wrote mine as if it came from the mind of Anne Rice. And now I’m sharing them here, written back in the optimistic year of 2001 . . . well, you know, before that whole terrorist attack thing happened the month before we got married:
The Amy Conundrum, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle:
To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name. In his eyes she encompasses the quintessential factors known to man, or in such a case, to woman: motivation, discipline, beauty and grace. And thus, when I look at the three massive volumes which contain our work for the past several years, I confess that it is very difficult for me, out of such a wealth of material, to select the cases which are most interesting in themselves and at the same time conducive to a display of those peculiar powers for which my friend was famous. Out of all of these cases, on the whole I am of the opinion that none of them unite so many singular points of interest as that which I have titled the Amy Conundrum.
As the hansom rolled to a stop, I nudged Holmes awake, as he had been sleeping very soundly. “Eh?” he asked, “Ah, we have arrived home. Quickly, Watson, to a warm fire and an even warmer brandy!” We absconded from the hansom and as it rolled away, I realized that this was not, in fact, 22B Baker Street. In fact, peering through the pouring rain, I could not discern our location at all, and I was a fellow well acquainted with the dark corners and alleyways of dear old London.
“Holmes, we . . ” I began, but Holmes cut me off with a motion as he bounded up the steps of the closest apartment to us. He knocked on the door, waited for a moment, then with a flourish, opened the door wide and entered. I quickly followed, glad to have a respite, however brief, from the downpour.
There was no resident around and no servant to announce us. “Whoever do you think lives here?” I pondered aloud “And, speaking of here, where are we?”
Holmes looked at me and took a deep breath. Upon his exhalation, I was well aware that I was once again to be a witness to one of the most spectacular occurrences in the world – the infallible deductive ability of Sherlock Holmes. “This apartment is inhabited by a young lady in her mid 20s who wears glasses, is blonde, and stands at about 5’10”, originally from Nashville, Tennessee, then spending time in Denver, Colorado, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master’s degree in Accounting from University of Denver. She then moved to Saint Louis, Missouri, where she is pursuing a juris doctorate from Washington University School of Law. She is a CPA, and she plans to move to Los Angeles, California, in the spring, to work for the international firm of Deloitte and Touche, LLP. She owns three ferrets. Two are sables and one is an albino. And this apartment is not in London, but in Saint Louis, where she currently resides. Oh, and her name is Amy Youngblood.”
“My God, man,” I exclaimed, “However did you know that?”
With a pitying glance, Holmes said, “My dear Watson, if you could only substitute a greater attention to detail for your amazement and persistence, you would discover that it merely an obvious recitation of the clues around us. For example, from this one picture on the wall, we can determine several facts. First, the height that the picture is hanged against the wall tells us an approximation of her height. Second, there is a long blonde hair stuck in the corner of the frame, which, combined with the faint scent of perfume that is evident in the air, tells us this is a blonde woman. Finally, the photo itself, with a picture of a tall, blonde woman in her 20s wearing glasses receiving two diplomas from a University of Denver graduation fills in some of the blanks.”
“Well, yes, I see that now,” I said, “but how did you know what her studies were in and that she is a Certified Public Accountant?”
“Ah, well that was obvious as one glances at the bookcase against the wall. The number of accounting and tax related textbooks tells us that she would have received at least an initial degree in Accounting, and the CPA study book tells us that she has a Master’s, since it is a requirement to obtain the CPA.”
“But, Holmes,” I protested, “Maybe she studied for the CPA but gave up and never received either a Master’s or her CPA.”
Holmes countered, “I would agree if I were blind. However, a man gifted with sight can tell that this apartment does not belong to a quitter. Its cleanliness and arrangement tells a story of a determined and motivated woman. She would not have given up; therefore, she has a Master’s and a CPA.”
Begrudgingly, I said “Well, I can see these deductions. How did you know that she was born in Nashville, Tennessee and she is currently in Saint Louis attending law school?”
“As you know, Watson,” Holmes said bemusedly, “I can name thirty-four thousand decorating styles that all relate to certain areas of the world. The style of decorating in this apartment is very diverse, but its underlying style is an older style from the Southeast United States, and with my expertise, it is a small feat to pinpoint that is from Nashville, Tennessee. There are also styles from Oklahoma and Denver, Colorado, along with a slight Chinese influence.” He sat with a flourish, removed his sodden hat, and lit his pipe. After a few puffs, he turned and continued. “There is a letter on the table to your right. It is from the American Bar Association and is addressed to our resident here, Amy Youngblood, in Saint Louis, Missouri. Obviously, she is a law student, and since she went to the best college for accounting, it is apparent that she would not waste her time with any of the unmentionably poor law schools in this area, other than the exceptional Washington University.” He arched an eyebrow in my direction and said, “And before you protest further, Watson, I knew that she had three ferrets due to the small hairs evident on the carpet. It is obvious that the brown hairs are different lengths and thicknesses and therefore belong to two different animals. Similarly, the white hair belongs to yet a third animal. From my extensive knowledge of animal hairs and their origins, I knew they were ferrets, from the polecat family.”
“And your knowledge of her future plans?” I inquired.
“It was a simple step to infer that if she would choose the best law school in the vicinity, she would similarly join up with the superior accounting firm and move to the highest point of activity for achievement.”
“Once again, Holmes, you have awed me; however, upon your explanation, it seems as plain as the glasses on my face.” I stated. “Do you know how it is that we managed to come to Saint Louis, Missouri in the United States in the 21st century when our original location was in London a hundred years earlier?”
“Of course,” said Holmes with a smirk, “It is elementary, my dear . . . “
The Morbidity of Curiosity about Adam, by Anne Rice
I am the Avitable. Do you know me? I am that comic face in the crowd that makes others laugh, that cosmic smirk that draws attention to the idiosyncrasies, idiocy, absurdity of school, law, and life. I am that dashing, well-groomed six foot tall man with the brown hair, the beard, the penetrating eyes. Others are drawn to me, yet they know not why. Perhaps it is because I speak Japanese or clothe myself as a law student so they can never discover the real me.
But, of course, there is no real me. There is no Adam Heath Avitable from Ormond Beach, Florida. There is no son of Robyn and Jimmy Avitable, no graduate of Washington and Lee University in Virginia, no Washington University law student. No, there are none of these things – only me, a shadow of humans, a webmaster. My identity, if one could call it that, must, of necessity, remain elusive. Who, they may ask, dared to tell jokes in class and respond to professors’ inquiries with sharp wit and a twinkle in his eye? Who, many contemplate, would tempt the fickle hand of fate by completing exams in half the allotted time, leaving the rest of the students to their exercise in futility? Who, everyone demands to know. Alas, I can only answer with a smile.
For inscrutability is life itself, allowing me to skillfully weave my web, enticing those who dare to enter, auction, at their own peril. I may freely prowl the internet in search of my prey, some sad and loathsome creature unable to master the power of html, some hungry beast yearning for those things which only I can give, in exchange for their soul, or ten dollars. Ah, this is my domain, and I can truly be the lurking embodiment of that which envelops the lonely core of my existence, as the French say, the entre preneur.
Whatever may have come after that doesn’t matter. At that point, we were young, happy, and, most importantly, completely unashamed of our absolute nerdiness.