On July 14th, 2009, I was eighteen years old, and at 10:43 PM I engaged in an AOL Instant Messenger chat with my good friend from high school, Noah M. A year had passed since graduation—I had just completed my gap year in Israel volunteering, learning Hebrew, and generally futzing around the Levant; Noah had finished his first year as a prospective premed at U Chicago. We shot the shit for half an hour, broaching topics like literature, mole people, and spermatic fluid. Something compelled me to archive this discussion in my young laptop’s hard drive.

On April 24th, 2012, I am twenty-one years old, and at 11:33 AM I stumble across a .doc transcription of an old AIM conversation. Thirty-three months have passed since we typed the words that are now again before me—I am a junior at Princeton majoring in history, writing for the Nass, and generally futzing around Prospect Avenue; Noah is about to graduate with a degree in psychology and looking for work as a community organizer. I ask him in a text if it’s okay to publish our old correspondence. He inquires what we wrote about. I tell him it involved a lot of semen. He responds with a hearty “hahahahaha.”

Why did I record our chat? Was I enamored by our literary precocity? Was I tickled by our libidinous repartee? If I reread my archived Gchats from today thirty-three months from now, would I be just as disgusted by my pretension, or as remorseful for my dick jokes? Would I be just as disappointed by my failures? In the past three years, Wikileaks, iPad, and Abbottabad have entered the cultural consciousness, with all of the technological and geopolitical ramifications that each implies. I’ve experienced pleasures, suffered agonies, and contemplated mysteries that at age eighteen I could never have even imagined. But have I become more mature, or more adult, or more enlightened? Will I ever know if I do?

Reproduced below, in full, unedited authenticity, is a relic of my twenty-first century youth. BRB.

AIM IM with lbk••••• 7/14/09 10:43 PM

RA: yo

NM: hey baby

how are you?

RA: xxxcellent

you in town?

NM: I will be in a week

RA: im counting down the days

im x-ing off my calendar

with semen

little semen x’s on the days as they pass

NM: I think i just came


i did

a little semen o

on the inside of my underpants

RA: semen tic tac toe?

NM: to the death!

i’ve been readng pere goriot

its tantasticorama

RA: watch out for that vautrin

NM: the redheaded beast

if id read that book

like half a year ago

i could have avoided so much trouble

RA: ah you naive idealistic creature

dont you know you must kill and steal and sex your way to the top

NM: alas! it is the dream of youth to seek success in virtue!

I cling to my innocence to forestall the rushing waterfall of cynical society

hey do you want to learn how to fence and shoot


RA: um maybe

im more interested in hand to hand

i want to do a mrtial art in college

NM: i tried out this mixed martial arts group

it was pretty cool

i got to punch things

and kick them

RA: sweet

yeah i figure itd be great to show a would-be rapist whats what

you know, those rapists always be after my beautiful nubile body

NM: you could learn the majestic art of rev-rape

(reverse rape)

i want to frame that quote

RA: Oh?

haha go for it

i had a sick dinner today

herring in cream and borscht

i felt so russian

shtetl thug

im reading absurdistan

NM: thug life

thug wife

thug’s are freif

(just mangle the prnunication)

(ill try to do better next time)

whats it about?

RA: rich russian who went to college in america and is totally immersed in western culture goes home to visit his crime oligarch father who he finds out has whacked an oklahoma businessman thus disqualifying him from getting an american visa and effectively imprisoning him in the out of touch cold murderous and kleptocratic East

NM: sound chauvanist

RA: ?

NM: you know

western chauvnism

RA: ah

NM: the west is the best!

RA: well its from that perspective

sort of

NM: not that russia is your cream and parsely either

though their military band is top notch

RA: yeah i mean its critical of everyone but definitely rooting for the land of opportunity

its written by a russian immigrant

who is also a side character in the story

kind of like slaughterhouse five in concept

NM: oh cool


RA: i mean just that part though

its nothing like slaughterhouse five

NM: in czse you thought you might want to take physics in college


RA: its all zany and over the top

dont think i do but continue

NM: i am informing you that I m seriously conisdering a physics induced heroine binge

RA: yikes

NM: or physics inspired at the very least

(not really)

(I dont have heroine)

but my head does hurt

and Im totally fucked for this test

RA: get someone to take it for you while you treat the duchess to a matinee

noah de rastignac

NM: how I miss the countryside

and my two sisters who need dowries

I wonder what Irne or liana would do if I gave them 200,000 francs

RA: only one way to find out…

NM: Ill need to unearth some suitor first

11:11 PM

RA: like underground

like a mole woman

NM: sort of

cute and cuddly

I like petite

RA: ah like a mole rat woman

excellent choice

NM: My campaugns always end in conquest

the minx is question is always charmed by my overwhelming manliness

RA: that reminds me im gonna go mark off my semen calendar

ill ttyl

NM: and human-ness in this case

i got to piss


lbk••••• has gone offline.

Some life updates: I unwittingly reused the phrase “nubile body” again in an essay just last week (Spring Preening, The Anguish Issue, NW 34.6) and presumably in many, many other instances throughout the intervening years since the chat. I never attempted to study any martial art, hand-to-hand or otherwise, in my time here at college. I still cite Pere Goriot as one of my favorite books and spoke about at length during a precept last year despite its hazy position in my memory, having never reread a single word from the text since finishing it in my senior year of high school.

But my head does hurt. I got to piss. I’ll TTYL.