We always tell our kids not to talk to strangers and to be especially weary of those we do not know on the internet, but how much of that advice do we follow for ourselves?
Last summer when rockets flew into populated Israeli cities, I became an active voice in support of Israel in the comments sections of multiple news articles. At these sites, a handsome young man often had my back in these wars of words. Upon one of these word volleys, I noticed a particular rat becoming overly
offensive; however, my partner at war developed a pleasant conversation involving the sharing of experiences as a soldier. Then came the message along with a Facebook friend request stating how he wanted to tell me something about this man and to please accept the friend request so he could private message me. I was curious as to what he had to say about him, but it turned out not be be anything I hadn't already figured out. Now, when it comes to Facebook, I have a rule. I usually will only friend people I know personally. I've broken my rule a few times, mostly with authors, a few times with fellow bloggers, and of course to the woman who I've never met personally, but she's cool because we hail from the same planet. And then, meet Manny. Not the best speller sometimes, yet on other occasions he'd do just fine, thank you very much. I guess it depended on how much fun he was having at a particular moment. He was a good contrast to my perfectionistic self, who secretly corrects everyone's grammar and spelling. His laid back attitude was refreshing. I'm very much a type A personality, but Manny didn't appear to stress. Also, he was vocally active for causes I agreed with. I loved reading his political statements and arguments with people who didn't share our view. As my FB friend, he was always quick to like my posts or add kind words. He
not only donated to my daughter's dance marathon, but he also reposted the link on his page and asked others to do the same. However, through all this, there certainly was something strange about dear Manny. He always posted old pictures as he'd regularly replace his profile pictures with other eighty style photographs. Cute Bon Jovi hat. He also had some photos posted with young girls with their feathered hair, a tell-tail eighties giveaway. Noticing the age of these photos, I once asked him to post something recent. I figured he'd gained weight or not aged well and was holding onto this youthful appearance. He never responded to my question, so I did some research. I found two people by his name in Miami--a father and his 54 year old son. I figured he was the 54 year-old posting his young photos. After all, there was nothing terribly old about the writing of this stranger.
Then came the day when I finally posted a pretty good, new profile picture. I received seventy-three likes, which is probably a new record for one of my pictures. Even my husband, who doesn't usually notice Facebook liked it, but no "Like" from Manny. Strange. So, I visited his site where I saw the following message: "Rest in peace mi tio" Not knowing what a "mi tio" was, I sent a confused message to another stranger who confirmed that Manny had indeed died suddenly. After asking, "How? When?" I received no answer. Let's face it, I'm bummed about my friend's death. It's amazing how we can feel connected to strangers on the internet. You gotta love one who seeks out friends on the internet while keeping his mind alive with great conversation. As for his "soul mate", he'd only say, it was "complicated." I don't know who she is but pray she finds comfort at this difficult time. Rest in Peace, Manny. I will miss you, and thanks for all of the chuckles. God love ya!