Friday, May 17, 2013

So… who is this "Chocolate Lady" of whom you speak?

I'm sure by now you'll have realized that I am "The Chocolate Lady." This particular nickname was actually not self-dubbed. (Over the years, people have called me many things. I sincerely hope that most - if not all - have been long forgotten.) For those of you interested, here is the long version of how I obtained this auspicious handle.

Way back in the mid-90s, my (then) employers decided I should be the first person they would give a home internet hook up. I had already had internet access on my work computer, and found I took to it very quickly. I already knew it was a valuable tool. But with it at home, maybe I could find something there that would help me become the famous, published poet I always wanted to be. (Yeah, sure… as if!)

Back then, they had what was called newsgroups. These were bulletin board sites where people could discuss whatever interested them. Even then, there were tens of thousands to choose from, on any topic one could imagine - for amateurs, professionals and even the kinky of all kinds. I quickly discovered that most of the poetry groups were filled with people posting their poems for critique. That the majority of the commentary on what I considered to be Hallmark rejects was particularly inane and undeservedly complimentary made me soon discontinue my participation. Aside from some cooking and baking groups, which in retrospect, informed me of almost nothing I didn't already know, I was becoming uninterested in the platform.

And then I found the group misc.writing. This was a group that totally discouraged posting of the contributors work - hurray! They were more about the "art and craft" of writing. They discussed many things like etiquette for submitting our work for publication, resources where writers can find markets, elements of writing such as character development and more. They also talked about many things that had nothing to do with writing. These could be anything from politics to pets. It was a virtual refuge for writers who wanted to get some advice as well as just take a break from writing (or whatever they were doing).

I should also mention that relationships grew up between the various posters. As the members of the group and their personalities came through, they were also made into characters that appeared in fantastical stories set in our own fictional Misc.Writing.Ville (yes, I was 'there', I did that, and I still have the T-Shirt). Many members felt real connections with others in the group and set up real-life meetings. These we dubbed "wrevels," because they were where writers got together to revel in each others' company. There were even romances that bloomed through the group, two of which (that I know of) lead to marriages. It was more of a community than a message board, and I took to it.

However, soon after getting involved, I noticed that some of the "off-topic" threads could get pretty heated. These disturbed me and for some reason, I decided I would attempt to defuse the situations. I did this by veering the conversation onto a topic in which I had a great deal of love and no small amount of expertise - chocolate. It wasn't long before I would interject chocolate into any conversation. This would often shut the thread down altogether, or make it go so far off on a tangent that it never succeeded in returning to the subject again. Not long after this, someone included me in one of the 'Ville's stories as "The Chocolate Lady." Flattered and pleased, I took this handle on as my online persona, and I have kept it ever since.

And so you have it - the full story of how I became known as The Chocolate Lady. But let's make one thing crystal clear - I am a gourmet of chocolate; not an addict!

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