We were both starving, and made the bad mistake of drinking pear cider instead of eating. That's probably why Charlie wound up running down the street to buy two slices of extra-thin-crust cheese pizza, which she carried back to the bar open-faced in the rain. Munching on semi-soggy, steaming triangles, we waited for our friends to arrive. Nobody was there yet, but my phone kept lighting up with SMSs.
"I'm eating dinner down the street," Jesse messaged.
"Oh, are you at Sunflower?" I messaged back, naming his favorite restaurant in the area.
"No," he wrote back. Typical Jesse - always interpreting questions as if he were a computer. A human might have said, "No, I'm at Pakwan." Jesse, however, prefers binary minimalism. It gets even worse if you try an "or" statement on him. "Do you want sushi or veggie Chinese?" I might ask. "Yes," he'll reply. Just as the SMSing was petering out, Lorena and Gregor arrived in the flesh. I think they'd gotten my e-mail about the movie, or maybe they saw Charlie's message on Tribe.net.
At least we weren't using Dodgeball. The night before, Jackson had SMSed me after leaving the boring event where I'd been congratulating him on stealing somebody's unattended glass of wine. "Going to another bar with some nerds we picked up via Dodgeball," he wrote. Dodgeball is a privacy-defying technology (of course Google recently bought it) that lets you send out "check in" signals from your cell phone that message a list of friends when you go somewhere. If any of them are in the area, they can stop by. Or your cell phone can alert you if you enter an area where some of your friends are hanging out. It also works with friends of friends, so you have an excuse to talk to semirandom strangers, viz: "Hi, you're a Dodgeball friend of my friend Jackson. Want to talk about blogs?"
Who needs surveillance when you can just broadcast your location to tons of strangers all the time? Lucky for me, I'll never be tempted to use Dodgeball, as it only allows people who pick "male" or "female" on the sign-up form to use the service. If you leave that section blank, a helpful red banner informs you, "You need to tell whether you're a boy or girl!" Apparently you can't be located in social or geographical space unless you pick a gender. Fucking twits. Who the hell wants to alert all those "friends of friends of friends" that there's a girl nearby whom they can hit on drunkenly?
But I was actually going somewhere before that little rant. Lorena and Gregor had arrived without the aid of mobile gender-identification technologies, and we were about to see the world's greatest movie ever: The Calamari Wrestler, a stirring tale about a Japanese wrestler who becomes a squid, conquers the pro wrestling scene, and recaptures the heart of his true love. I first heard about this cinematic gem from Joanne, a special-effects artist who knows more than any human being should about the private parts on the alien-human hybrid in Alien: Resurrection.
When she sent me a URL for the movie from the "(Yet) Another Hole in the Head" film fest site, I knew I had to get as many people as possible to experience the glory of the seafood-man known in Japanese as Ika Resuraa.
Chris wasn't convinced until I spent all day haranguing him on an e-mail list that's known as Waffles for perfectly logical reasons that I'm not going to share. But he eventually joined us. While we were in line outside the theater, more of our friends showed up - and all of them had been drawn there without any phone calls (or creepy Dodgeball!). It was the power of electronic text alone that brought our crew out. And you could tell. Jesse was showing Gregor his new cell phone, which runs SSH and Java. Then Charlie and I saw the cute boys from social software company Mosuki and proceeded to tell any of them who would listen all about the thrilling new Doctor Who series (showing only on BitTorrent in the States).
During the movie, as I cheered Ika and booed the evil "squilla" crustacean wrestler, I happily realized that I knew and liked almost every person in my row and the two rows in front of me. It was one of those "technology brings us all together" moments that make me think of the twee voice-overs on that TV show Gray's Anatomy, where the main character ends each episode with a fake-profound realization like "Everybody laughs, but everybody also cries. That's what makes us people."
Thankfully I'm a nerd, not a TV character. If I had a voice-over for that perfect evening, it would say, "Whether you're a human or a squid, you can be a hero."