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The year was 1999, and it all started with The Matrix.

I love all things sci-fi and sci-fi fantasy, so when I saw the trailer for The Matrix I knew I had to see it on the day of release. I know some people don’t get it, but for me it blew my mind. Not just the concept but the filming techniques were just incredible.

I loved it so much I went to see it again the very next day. And again the day after that. Yes not only am I sci-fi geek but I love the movie theatre experience too. I became obsessed with the film and started looking on the internet to find more about it.

This is when the internet wasn’t like it is today. I didn’t even have an email address at this point.

I found a random forum type of things that was all to do with The Matrix, except it wasn’t what a forum is now, it was mainly a string of comments in one long thread using things like ICQ for private messaging. This is how I met Ben.

Ben, not his real name, was a medical student from Boston and we connected over our love of The Matrix. I had never done this internet connection thing before and I found it quite exciting as we exchanged messages about the film, and then onto other sic-fi things and then life in general.

I felt there was an attraction between us, even though we never spoke of it and even though I had never seen him or a photograph. Like I said, this was early internet days. I had only just signed up for an email account so that I could use the forum so I had no idea of how to take a photo and add it to an email to send, and I never even thought to ask if he could send me one.

Anyway, we chatted and then he mentioned he was thinking of visiting the UK. At the time I was living in London sharing a flat with my friend and so I invited him to stay with us for a week. He could sleep on the sofa bed and I could show him around London in between my auditions and part-time job.

It was a sealed deal. I went to Gatwick to pick him up and was nervous about meeting him for the first time, especially since I had no idea what he looked like. Luckily he found me after we connected via our mobiles – which was another technology I had only just acquired – and to say I was disappointed was an understatement. He was a nice guy, a bit short (I’m pretty tall at 5’9”) and not bad looking but there was NO chemistry there whatsoever. I knew it immediately.

It wasn’t an issue though as I felt we still had a friendship that was worth nurturing. So we welcomed him into out home. Nothing untoward happened, in fact the whole visit was quite unremarkable except the fact that he had really big hairy feet that were not dissimilar to a hobbits. They were also a bit smelly – as were his boots.

I showed around London, I also had to take him to Birmingham when I got an audition for a play at the rep theatre. It was such a strange experience having a random stranger come to live with you for a week. As I said, he was nice and I think he enjoyed his stay, but I believe we were both a bit disappointed that nothing came of it – not that we ever spoke about it. We also never spoke again after he left. We had a few exchanges on the forum, but he floated away out of my life just as randomly as he had entered.

Sometimes I believe there is a reason for people entering your life, but in this case it was just a strange, unusual encounter that has given me fodder for a story on my blog. I haven’t really though of Ben much since we parted ways, it was just one of those random connections. I’m sure everyone has encounters like this but now, when I look back, I am very grateful that he wasn’t some weirdo or crazy stalker. I was fortunate he was a nice guy. So, thank goodness for nice guys – I think this world needs more of them.


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