I was in the middle of signing up for a newsletter when out of nowhere, a memory popped into my head… and an odd one at that. Let me tell you about it…
Back when hanging out in chat rooms was all the rage – and I used to hang out in quite a few and different ones – I had been making the rounds, visiting each of my subscribed rooms just to see what was going on, to say hi to the folks I knew, and kinda making myself available for any new people who might want to make my acquaintance… and got a private chat request from someone.
It wasn’t all that unusual; in fact, in some rooms, I would get bombarded by private chat requests, so many that I would totally ignore some of them because it bugged me trying to keep track of all the simultaneous conversations even though I learned to chat with up to four people at the same time. I have to say that back then, I found a lot of those conversations interesting, boring at times, and eye-opening at times with how depraved some people could be hiding behind their keyboard and monitor.
Like the guy who requested a private chat with me… and then started asking me questions, some of which I wouldn’t have answered even if we had been face-to-face. My intuition was telling me that something wasn’t right about this conversation because he started asking me about sexual experiences with folks who aren’t legally allowed to have sex and my intuition was telling me, “This is a police officer you’re talking to.”
The conversation was rather persistent; he kept asking questions, I kept telling him that if the person wasn’t legal, I wasn’t trying to do anything with them. The the tone of the questions changed, in the tone of “If you could do it, what would you do?” Yeah, I’m definitely talking to a cop and I have no real idea how I knew that although, at that time, I knew that some police departments had decided to sneak into chat rooms to see who they could bust for drugs, illegal sex, stuff like that, like the one chat I had with the “girl” asking me if I knew where they could get bootleg CDs and who they could get them from.
I wasn’t biting on the questions and wasn’t saying much about the supposed things they were into. One part of my brain wanted me to close the chat window and block the guy while the other part – the curious part, of course, wanted to see how this was going to play out and if the LEO on the other end was as good as he probably thought, especially when he suggested that the two of us could meet up somewhere and go trolling for jailbait.
Uh-uh – I wasn’t born yesterday; that suggestion really had the sirens going off in my head but since I hadn’t said anything incriminating – not that I would have once my brain went on yellow alert – I actually found the attempt to entrap me rather funny as the guy regaled me with all the stuff he supposedly was doing. I finally got bored with it all and typed, “Don’t you have anything better to do, officer?”
The chat box went silent for a couple of minutes – that confirmed my initial suspicions and now I was just waiting for the denial to start; I was sure he was checking with his superiors to find out what he was supposed to say and, sure enough, the denials were coming hard and heavy and in a tone that, at least to me, were rehearsed and too well-structured for ‘regular’ people to offer up.
“Come on, officer, do you really think I’d be that stupid to buy into something that I know would land me in jail for a lot of years?” I asked, wanting to bring this to a close and to let him know that instead of busting me for something, he got busted.
The box was silent again for a few seconds before this reply came: “We were hoping that you would be.”
Uh-huh, I just bet your were. Sure, there were rumors going around in a lot of chat rooms that the police were hanging out and that a few people had gotten busted after having been fooled by this ploy… and I had just found out that it wasn’t a rumor. The cop actually thanked me for my cooperation and vanished into the ether, probably to go find someone he could bullshit into confessing to some crime.
Oh, and I almost forgot – this happened in one of the approved and clean chat rooms where flirting was allowed but you couldn’t even curse, you know, you couldn’t type “fuck” because the software would issue you a warning for vulgarity and if you kept it up, you’d get booted.
I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why this popped into my head or why signing up for a newsletter triggered the memory since the two things aren’t even close to being related to each other. What I do remember was that little episode convinced me to not accept any more private chats from people I didn’t know and, eventually, I stopped hanging out in chat rooms because word was quickly spreading around that the police and/or the FBI had been busting a lot of people; not that I was doing anything illegal but where once upon a time the chat rooms were a place where you could say whatever was on your mind without fear of reproach, one quickly found out that using your imagination in some things could get you a visit from the FBI or some other police department.
Not too long after this experience, MSN started shutting down chat rooms of all kinds; their adult-themed rooms got shut down first, of course; I was quite upset when they sent me an email saying that the group I was in for bi guys was going away – I liked that group, had gotten to know many of the members of the group, and was like a counselor to a lot of the new bi guys and was often the person they turned to when there were questions that no one else had the answers to.
Ah, man… it’s just so damned funny how one’s mind works! I’m tickled that I could remember this event, given that I am a bit brain-damaged; I now have to figure out why this showed up and why it was triggered by an unrelated thing. I’ll think about it for a few, it’ll give me a headache, and I’ll give up trying to figure out how my brain works because, obviously, it does whatever it feels like doing and when I least expect it to…