The Anonymous Medium

Christine logged on to her Trillian instant messenger with a grin of anticipation, fingers crossed in the hopes that he'd still be on. Several months ago, she'd joined a chatroom called Classically Fanatic; an online community for classical music enthusiasts. Most of the posts were insufferably intellectualized discussions of dead, white composers and flaming critiques of various symphonies and conductors. She could picture the grey-haired, goateed, Chablis-sipping participants behind the posts. They were lambasting Matt Haimovitz for adapting Hendrix and Led Zeppelin to the cello. She was in the process of logging out, never to return, when a post appeared under the handle AngelofMusic.

AngelofMusic: You conceited, self-important nitwits! You speak of the music as though it were an

arithmetic problem with only one correct answer- yours. I'm left wondering if any

of you actually hear the music, or if you're too busy waiting to complain about it to

actually notice the beauty of the art.

Nearly every person in the chatroom had proceeded to flame the dissenter, except Christine. She'd been wondering exactly the same thing and admired his fearless defense of innovative musician. This chatroom was not the place for her, but she was intrigued by him. Even his handle attracted her: Angel of Music – it managed to be sweet and arrogant at the same time. She had sent him a single, simple private message,

minorchord: I hear it.

He had responded coolly.

AngelofMusic: Do you. That would make you one of the blessed few.

That evening, they exchanged play lists of favored artists and pieces. She was delighted to find that, though classical music was his favorite, his taste in music was incredibly eclectic. He sent her a list of songs and pieces ranging from arias from Aida to bootlegs of Radiohead. She responded by battering him with samples from Thelonius Monk all the way to Nick Drake's gentle ballads. They both preferred independently produced music, whatever the genre.

AngelofMusic: Overproduction destroys the artistry…

minorchord: It's a sort of musical cheating, don't you think? They've replaced genius with


AngelofMusic: Exactly. If it doesn't meet Clear Channel's money making standards, it's dead.

He was a singer, and claimed mastery over "anything with strings". She shyly revealed that she played cello and flute, but that her secret desire was to learn to sing.

AngelofMusic: Why haven't you?

minorchord: Lessons are too expensive. I'm a barista – it barely pays the light bill. What do you


AngelofMusic: I'm an editor for Music in Review. I work entirely from home.

minorchord: That must be wonderful. I'd love to work in my pajamas.

AngelofMusic: (lol) Yes. I'm very lucky.

From music, their conversations quickly expanded to politics (they were both liberal) to religion (she was indifferently agnostic, he was strongly atheist) to books to every subject under the sun. Christine found herself confiding in this man her closely held hopes and dreams. Evening stretched into night before she ever glanced at the time. He was everything every other man she had ever known (including the one she had just dumped) was not: literate, articulate, witty with a deliciously dry sense of humor. Most importantly, he was entirely obsessed with music. He actually knew music.

After that first incredible night, they met regularly to chat. She'd always been a bit introverted, but he was able to draw her out easily. Amazingly, he never asked her age, or what she looked like; a refreshing change from the typical chatroom experience, which like as not started with, "a/s/l?"

It was not too many days after this first meeting that Christine asked Raoul, her current significant other, to meet her at the coffee shop near her house. She calmly told him that she simply didn't think it was "working out between them." She assured him that there was nothing wrong with him, that she just needed something different from a relationship. He left feeling confused and hurt; by all appearances, she had been perfectly happy with him. She watched him leave, feeling oddly free and only a little sad.

After a week of dragging into work more in need of the product than the customers, Christine was cornered in the kitchen by her coworker and best friend, Meg. The tall, wiry redheaded woman had backed her shorter, rounder friend against the metal sink.

"Ok, Miss Chris. Who is he, and where are you hiding him?"

Christine flushed with guilt. She had not called Meg in days; it was no wonder her friend suspected something.

"There's no man, Meg." She paused. That was not entirely true. "Well, technically there's no man."

"You'd better ease off the cappuccinos there, girl. Either there is or there isn't. And I know you well enough, Christine Marie Daae, too see that there is." Meg crossed her arms, communicating clearly that she was going nowhere until she had an answer.

Of course Meg could tell. The two had been friends since girlhood – they'd been inseparable through better than twenty years worth of boys and broken hearts. Christine sighed and blew a few strands of escaping frizzy hair out of her face. "I'll tell you if you swear not to laugh or lecture."

Meg smirked. "When do I ever lecture?"

Christine held up both her hands, putting one finger down each time she listed a man's name. "After Dave, after Paul, after Greg – though I can't blame you about Greg – after Kevin, after DJ, the other Dave, after Sterling…and most recently, after Raoul."

"Ok! Ok!" Meg made a gesture of surrender. Christine really did have a terrible time with her choice of guys, but no amount of nagging ever seemed to improve her choices. Raoul had seemed like a wonderful guy. He was wealthy, fine as hell, and of course Christine had dumped him, claiming he bored her. "I won't lecture…yet."

"Well, there's this guy I met online…"

Meg's lips disappeared in a thin line as she bit at them in a desperate attempt to keep from delivering a stern lecture on the spot. Christine caught the expression and waggled a finger at her.

"You promised! He hasn't asked me for my name, or my phone number. He hasn't even asked me what I look like. He really doesn't trip off my creep-o-meter at all, Meg. But he knows everything about music – and he can actually spell, unlike some other exes I could name. That's what I mean when I said that there's technically no guy. We just exchange music and chat, and that's it."

Satisfied that her friend wasn't about to elope to Guatamala with some creep, Meg moved out of her way. "Just be careful, will you? People you meet online are famous for not being what they seem."