The Black Hole

Posted April 8th, 2012 by June O'Hara and filed in My Favorites

Do you ever get shop-vacced into an abyss where anything is possible, nothing ever happens, and time has no meaning? I do. It started twelve minutes after I got my first computer.

I am a woman of indefatigable online searches. In the throes of an episode, I drop out of society, disappearing for days on end. I forget to eat, pay bills, go to work. Eyes fixed on the computer screen, I click and scroll madly, a sheen of sweat above my lip. I’m in a universe apart.

I’m like the Unabomber, only cuter.

I’ve spent untold hours researching actors who hated working with William Shatner; streamlined more of my life energy into Ebay than there will ever be call to admit. But nothing can parallel my frenzied searches for Greg Smithson.

My senior year of college, God slated Greg to be mine. We were to join souls, have earth-moving sex, and be engaged within six months. But God failed to notify Greg of the fact. Despite accompanying me to my sorority formal, he fell prey to the devices of one Cheryl Kraninsky, who, recognizing his drunkenness, nabbed him alighting from the bathroom at our local pub one Saturday night.

Cheryl Kraninsky had a pale, freckled face, a piercing voice, and a compulsion to demonstrate her geniality through frequent, extreme winks of the eye. “Hi, Greggie!” she’d yell to Greg across the quad, smiling hugely. Then, inevitably, she’d raise an eyebrow, open her mouth, and squeeze her right eyelids together for three to five seconds.

Bile rose in my throat every time.

There were so many reasons to dislike Cheryl. She claimed too much space on the dance floor. She cracked her gum constantly, and her ass had a funny shape. Most egregious, she managed to secure Greg Smithson’s affections. Horrified, I looked on as they kissed before parting ways between classes, visions of Greg’s and my future fading to a dismal, featureless gray.

Promptly after graduation, Greg and Cheryl got married.

I don’t believe that someone can “steal” a person from someone else. Except in this case. Cheryl hoodwinked Greg into taking up the wrong life. Despite my bitter loss, I’ve pressed on. All I’ve asked is the chance to stalk the happy Smithsons. But even in this age of Facebook, my prayers have gone unanswered.

I’ve Googled Greg Smithson countless times, explored every nook and cranny on Facebook, and strong-armed my boyfriend, an ex-reporter, to employ his top-secret means of violating people’s privacy. To no avail. Greg Smithsons, grains of sand forming an endless beach, are hidden in plain sight. Searches for Cheryl Kraninsky and Cheryl Smithson have yielded nothing, as have those for her sister, whose name I managed to procure.

Here are the Facebook pictures of Cheryl and Greg that I long to see: Cheryl, winking into the camera, Greg cringing with distaste. Greg posed next to his daughter, who’s the spitting image of me. The family dog lunging, teeth bared, at Cheryl, Greg doing nothing to intervene. Greg gazing wistfully into the distance, reliving our romantic moments at my sorority formal. (These are captured in pictures lovingly arranged in my college photo album, which I mooned over just last night. That Greg’s blood alcohol level was approaching 3.4, I find irrelevant.)

I’ll probably still be falling into the Greg Smithson black hole when I’m eighty.

In my fantasies, he’ll still be falling into his own, in desperate pursuit of me.

The Beet Green Incident | The Little Yellow Bus

49 Responses to “The Black Hole”

  1. June, your blog is so funny! I think we all (by “we” I mean women) search for old crushes on FB, you were just brave enough to admit it!!! Great story and very funny – I found you through She Writes!
    Take care,
    Lisa Weinstein

  2. June O'Hara says:

    Lisa, you made my day! Thanks, and I hope I see you again!

  3. I have to admit, I do not stalk anyone from my past. I think because I don’t want to relive it. Not that I didn’t have happy moments; I did. But because there are some things about my past I’d rather not conjure. I want to be happy in the present, so leaving the past where it is serves to help with this. Though, if someone ELSE provides dirt on others from my past, you best believe I’m listening!

  4. June O'Hara says:

    Interesting, Laura, that your desire for peace outweighs your curiosity. Clearly, you’re more balanced than I am. It does make me feel better to know you’ll listen to the dirt, though!

    It’s good to see you!

  5. Babs says:

    I have never found anyone I have searched for. I have tried searching for my ex-husband, who I was still friendly with but lost touch. I’ve tried searching for many friends of that time, but nothing. Maybe my past is supposed to stay in the past.

  6. June O'Hara says:

    Maybe, Babs. Still, where searching is concerned, I’m glad to know I’m not totally alone!

  7. Anyone who says that they’ve never done this is an out and out liar! I think when we do it, though, at least for me, is when I’m either super ass bored or not incredibly engaged in my present. OR it’s just human nature to be curious. Great post.

  8. June O'Hara says:

    TGM, I think it’s a combination of being bored, avoiding responsibilities, etc, AND curiosity. That’s what makes it so lethal. I thought everyone did this, too!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Cheryl P. says:

    I am more than a little hesitant to weigh in on this one …as the whole “Cheryl” thing might freak you out. Just to be clear, I have never been married to a Bob or a Lewis. Although you must admit, it would have made my placing a comment here wayyyy more interesting.

    As for the stalking old flames go, let’s just go with the probability that they are divorced and Cheryl served him his nuts on a plate in the form of a really unfair property split. This is a safe assumption with about a 50/50 odds of being accurate. Any woman that winks like that, probably had some “ho” tendencies that don’t make for good long term relationships.

    As I know where and how my old boyfriends are, I will say that no one ever lives up to the imaginings of a girl in her late teens or early twenties.

  10. June O'Hara says:

    Oh, Cheryl, it would have been so funny if you tried to pull my leg! It wouldn’t have worked, though, because Cheryl wasn’t her real name. But his name really was Bob Lewis.

    I love your theory on what happened to them! Thanks for such a great comment.

  11. Nikky44 says:

    At the moment, I wouldn’t stalk anyone, and don’t feel interested at all in doing so. When a relationship ends, we might have tendency to stalk the person, but once we let go, it’s over…

    • June O'Hara says:

      I don’t think it’s a matter of being over it, Nikky. I’m just a nosey-body and get curious.

      How are you surviving your 30 days?

  12. I have tried to find some old friends and indeed old flames, but my world is small and I already know and am connected with most of them…:)

  13. June O'Hara says:

    That’s a beautiful thing, Jodi.

  14. I’ll share my story, and it may be a comfort to you! It’s how I learned that there is a God.

    Back in school, I was in love with Tommy. It was a hopeless infatuation, and he had zero interest in me. Zero. I lived with a broken heart for years, longing for him to love me in return.

    About ten years after graduation, I returned to my hometown for a visit, and I saw him. There he was, looking just like…Santa Claus. He had gained a LOT of weight and had a big beard and red nose. Apparently he also liked his beer way too much. I couldn’t stop laughing and I said, “Thank you, God, for saving me from myself.”

  15. June O'Hara says:

    I love it, Nadine. In not liking you, he did you a favor!

  16. Ben Ellard says:

    So YOU’RE the June Bob was calling for just before he died!

  17. June O'Hara says:

    With his very last breath, I hope, Ben. His very last breath.

  18. Scrollwork says:

    I’m with Cheryl: “…no one ever lives up to the imaginings of a girl in her late teens or early twenties.” Facebook brought the college crushes out of the woodwork, seeking to friend me. Ewww. What was I thinking?

    Loved the Facebook album you conjured up. Wonder who would’ve taken and posted such pics, since they’re both in them. Glad you didn’t let that minor glitch get in your way!

  19. June O'Hara says:

    I let no minor glitch derail me, Scroll. Yet conversely, every minor glitch derails me.

    How funny that you’ve been the stalkee! I want to hear more!

  20. Ah, yes. The one that got away. I, too, had a Bob Lewis — a couple of them, in fact. And a couple of those “Cheryl” types, too. It usually takes a pretty high blood/alcohol content for me to stalk them though. Fortunately, these days I usually pass out first.

  21. June O'Hara says:

    The Bob’s and Cheryl’s of this life, Jayne…they’re responsible for all our bad behavior!

  22. Whom from your past would you love to stalk?

    No one. They are in my past for a reason!

  23. June O'Hara says:

    You go, Meleah!

  24. MikeWJ says:

    You and I have similar Internet habits, June. And so, a tip: Figure out what high school he attended. Then friend that high school on Facebook, and ask his classmates where he is.

    After years of searching — name changes are a bitch — I got my answer in seconds, and talked to my Lisa within 24 hours.

  25. June O'Hara says:

    I should have known you’d be the one to crack the code, Mike. If only I’d asked you in the beginning…

  26. Nancy L. says:

    I’ve found most of my old flames, but I haven’t found the people who bullied me! I’m thinking they are probably in jail or dead. Seriously, they both have unusual names and I would have thought I could find them if I stalked enough on fb or google. But no, nary a whisper of either!

  27. June O'Hara says:

    Nancy, I get updates on my bullies from every now and again. I assume they’ve grown up and are more human now, but I see no call to bond with them via the Internet.

    Maybe I can hunt your bullies and you my old flames.

    Thanks for the comment!

  28. Oh gosh, I had a Greg Smithson, too, only I did hook up with him 20 years later, and it wasn’t good! I’ve just about given up the search for another old boyfriend from college…I wondered if he died or something? Absolutely no trace of him on the internet.

    • June O'Hara says:

      Doesn’t it make you nuts, Helena? Wondering what happened to people and not being able to find them? But, I’m thinking, if he did indeed die, there must be a way to track him through that.

      I’m not well.

      Thanks for the comment!

  29. Mulled Vine says:

    Heh-heh. It sounds like Greg got off lightly, Missy OCD! 😉

    My writing has become a black hole, starting out as light-hearted, attention-seeking behaviour, the expression of a little talent that some say I have, but now being the desperate yearning to be greater, every pulling, but never sated …

    Anyway, I did write something about black holes that you might like:

    • June O'Hara says:

      I so understand about the writing, Mr. Mulled. We must talk. I’m eager to read your black hole discovered!

      You are such an interesting, funny, bright person. You’re a pleasure. Just thought I’d tell you. :)

  30. Never give up, June. My uncle, then a widower, wound up in the same nursing home as an old high school sweetheart he hadn’t seen in over 60 years. So it’s never too late to have your Greg Smithson all to yourself.

    • June O'Hara says:

      That’s hysterical, Nada-profound! Unbelievable. Maybe I’ll end up living next to Greg in a retirement community. Which, at the rate I’m aging, could be next week. :)

  31. Hello June,

    This is a great short story. I know how hard it can be to write a concise piece which feels well-rounded and complete, but as far as I can tell you pulled it off. I particularly enjoyed your descriptions of surfing the web. It can be like a different universe when you’re on it.

    Perhaps you can build on it a bit more, exploring the new world of social media and how it can effect lives (and perhaps, seeing as how you use the word ‘stalk’, how it can lead people to commit crimes through being able to tackle their pasts).

    Sorry about the analysis, but I am thinking like a commercial thriller writer here!


    • June O'Hara says:

      Oh my God, Robert, what a wonderful comment. I’m smiling ear to ear. You’re so right about trying to write a concise piece. That’s one of my greatest challenges. I want to develop most of my posts, but have to resist.

      I love the thought of exploring the world of social media. I might do that soon. Thanks for the idea, and I’m thrilled that you stopped by!

  32. Dan Bonser says:

    Awesomely written. Love the feeling and flow of the work, it really feels like someone is talking directly to you.

    As far as other comments, you will never forget your first love, never. They will linger in your mind forever, and tragically you are normally never your first love’s first love, so it never seems to work out with anyone. Luckily, there’s a more important ‘love of your life’ to find out there, that even though they will not make you forget about the first love, they will eclipse the first love in every way.

  33. June O'Hara says:

    Thank you, Dan! How true it is, our true loves are rarely our first. I love your line, they will eclipse the first love in every way. Would you consider blogging it?

    Thank you so much for stopping by and for your comment!

  34. Big D says:

    I can truthfully say that I’ve never had any interest in looking up old flames.
    There’s a few people I lost touch with that I’d maybe like to speak to again but after all this time it would, I suspect, be weird and creepy.
    Anyway, good story.

    • June O'Hara says:

      Big D, weird and creepy? Interesting. Although if I think about it, there are a couple people I’d feel similarly about if we reconnected.

      Thanks for the comment!

  35. I say leave hell alone. They didn’t see you, and now none of us want to see them, men and women alike. The moment has passed.

    Women may reminisce on the old days but if those men had to come back into your life right now, they would be toothless, broke, hairless, brainless and all overly-abused. Do you really want to pick up the pieces of someone who didn’t look at you twice? Naa, so leave hell alone.

    Really good post :)

    • June O'Hara says:

      Rum Punch, you’re absolutely right. But the search calls my name — mostly because it drives me nuts that I can’t find him, and I’m so compulsive.

  36. Lauren says:

    Happy Silly Sunday! I must have missed this one. I never pegged you for a cyber stalker. Hah! Actually, a bad cyber stalker.

  37. June O'Hara says:

    Hey Lauren! I may be a bad cyber stalker, but I embrace it with pride.

    Hope all’s well and thanks so much for all your help!

  38. loribelle says:

    I, too, searched for a long-lost person online. He was not a crush but a dear friend. When I married, my husband was horribly jealous of him (even though they were friendly for a while). We slowly drifted apart because of the difficulty of staying in touch and dealing with my husband’s nasty (and unfounded) accusations.

    Fast forward 20+ years to my new life as a divorced woman. A couple years after striking out on my own, I decided to try to find my friend and see if we still had anything to talk about; at the very least I wanted to apologize to him for allowing my husband to kill our friendship. I was like you, surprised when I couldn’t find him on facebook. I knew his hometown and searched there as well as the city where we had all lived; I looked for a phone number, a business, an address, ANYTHING. I looked for days, but found nothing.

    Eventually I ended up searching the newspaper from his hometown, and I got a hit. It was his father’s obituary. I knew it wouldn’t tell me how to contact him, but maybe it would list the city of his residence! When I got to the sentence with his name in it, I had to read it numerous times. It could not be true! It was not possible! “John Smith was preceded in death by his son Jeff Smith.”

    All these years later I mourn my lost friend who can never, ever be found. Not on the internet nor anywhere else. My heart is broken.


    I so love your story, June! Thanks to Amy Ferris for sharing it. I hope one day you run across this guy, and that whatever happens at that point makes you smile.

    • June O'Hara says:

      What a sad story, Loribelle. I’m sorry your search ended that way.

      I’m thrilled that you like the post. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

  39. Indigo Roth says:

    Hey June! This is a great piece, and I found myself nodding in various places. We all have one, I guess; like a poor angler’s tale, there’s always The One That Got Away. I had a few, it’s true. In fact, they ALL got away, goddammit! *stomps off sulking* Indigo x

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