Tribute to Unicorn

September 24, 2000

I have only had a computer for a couple of years, so I am relatively new to the whole internet experience. One of my first software purchases was a game called “Starship Titanic” which was created by Douglas Adams. The website for the game, www.starshiptitanic.com, had a forum where gamers could go for tips and hints. One of the folks I met on the SST forum was a lady known only as Unicorn.

Over the past two years, I have been privileged to count Unicorn among my friends, even though our friendship was only based in cyberspace, and communication only took place via ICQ or the SST forum.

Although she claimed to be 5005 years old, she was in fact much younger– about ten years my senior. She was very private. I never learned her real name, and it was a year before I even found out her real age. She chose not to meet her on-line acquaintances in person, although I think I almost had her talked into visiting my wife and me for the purpose of helping us with some interior decorating.

Unicorn had a flair for interior decorating. She shared a few before and after pictures of some of the rooms in her house with me, and the difference was astounding. I want to share some of these pictures, but out of respect for her privacy I choose not to. I had intended to feature some of them in a regular section on this website, and was going to ask for her permission after finishing and uploading some of my own projects. It just goes to show that when you plan on doing something “tomorrow”, “tomorrow” may never come.

But what attracted me, and perhaps her other “on-line” friends, to Unicorn the most was her razor-sharp wit. She was an extremely clever woman, and once she got going in a thread, it was difficult to keep up with her. She also had a corny sense of humour, and some of her puns were the groan-out-loud variety. But she was always amusing and entertaining. Her threads were often peppered with literary references. Whether schooled or self-taught, she was a very well-read and intelligent woman.

When I got this website off the ground, Unicorn was the first person to sign up for the mailing list. She told me that she knew a good thing when she saw it. I don’t know if that is true of my humble venture into the internet, but it shows the kind of support that Unicorn would give her friends.

The Internet is a strange place. Much is said about the negative and not enough is said about the positive. You hear more about the cyber-cheating that happens in chat rooms than you hear about the genuine friendships that can be established on-line. My wife and I got the phone call on September 23. It was a Saturday morning. The caller was another internet “buddy” who we had the pleasure of meeting in person a year ago. She had learned of Unicorn’s passing the night before, and was fighting off tears when she gave us the terrible news. And as the initial shock wore off, I felt a lump in my own throat. Our only interaction may have been through keystrokes on a computer, but that made her no less a friend than she would have been if she lived right next door.

Whenever someone passes from this life to the next, we lament the loss of the future as well as regret some of the missed opportunities in the past. The shoulda’s get us down. There were occasions when I didn’t chat with her when she was on-line, assuming that there would always be a “next time” when we could catch up. I guess that that is the message here. It’s the old cliché– to treat each moment as if it is the last and to cherish whatever time you have with friends, because tomorrow does not always come.

And at the risk of repeating another cliché, even though Unicorn is gone, we are richer for having known her. But for me, my tiny little corner of cyber-space will always have a huge hole….

–Thumb & Hammer (AKA “Jabberwock”)