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December 16th, 2008

I am going to an imaginary Christmas party tonight.

Brenda Novak is having a get together on Second Life, and I will be there. For those of you with real lives, Second Life is a… a…

Hell. Frankly, I don’t know what Second Life is. It is a multi-user environment, where you are not technically playing a game so much as creating a new life, and accompanying it, a new set of problems. In real life, I sometimes get distracted and bump into walls. But trying to navigate a virtual person through a virtual environment, I am discovering a whole new world of clumsy.

The first step in joining Second Life is to create an Avatar.

Actually, the first step is breaking it to the kids.

Me: I am joining Second Life.

#1 Son: You are NOT. (Apparently, this is a bigger broaching of the uncool boundary than the time I sang Pour Some Sugar on Me along with the radio while dropping him off at school).

Me: I am too. I am going to a virtual party.

#1: With your imaginary friends.

#2 Son: Are you going to get drunk and virtually embarrass yourself? (He sounds hopeful.)

Me: No. I need to create an avatar. And a name.
(For a first name, I choose ChristineMerrill. Because strangely, although I write full time, I have no imagination.

Second Life gives you a list of last names to choose from.

Me: How does Oompa sound.

#1:Terrible. Why would anyone choose that?

#2: Other people have better names.

Me: I imagine they do.

But all the names on MY list are terrible. Yootz? Skizm? Algoma? What the hell? Algoma is a city in Wisconsin. I am not going to be Algoma.

Me: I am ChristineMerrill Oompa.

I finish completing the login screen, and my character drops onto imaginary island. Sans clothes. My sons are watching.

This is embarrassing for all of us.

#1: I think you’re kind of naked.

Me: No, here come the clothes.

#2: The computer just crashed trying to load your underwear.

Me: Well, that was fun.

Actually, it is totally unfair. My virtual ass is much smaller than my real one. And apparently, if you want a bigger ass, you have to go to a virtual store and buy one. And it may or may not cost real money, depending on how good you are at shopping.

This is even more unfair. I would think, if I wanted virtual me to get fat, all I should have to do is feed her, and leave her inactive for a while. That always works in real life.

So I settle for the first butt I get, and go looking for new clothes. I meet with limited success. There are many places you can go to get free stuff for your Avatar. If you want to look like a Goth slut or a neon-fairy-vampire.

After a couple hours of fiddling, #2 son looks over my shoulder.

#2: You’re a belly dancer?

Me: I can’t help it. I can’t figure out how to take it off.

#2 And why are you bald?

Me: I lost it. All right? I accidentally deleted my hair.

And this is why it is a bad idea to use your real name on Second Life.