We were in the locker room, after gym, three or four of us, discussing best-possible screen names to use on AIM, AOL’s then-popular instant messenger service. We were high school freshmen. The year: 1998. So this was the most important conversation in the world.
I suggested the name Thundercock.
Everyone agreed that, yes, this was the best-possible name.
That night, I took a break from my homework and logged onto AOL. I tapped some keys and clicked some buttons, and then something magical happened. Bits of information travelled from the computer in my bedroom through the telephone lines at 56K speed to AOL’s servers, wherever they were. The data was processed and recorded, and a new set of data was sent back to my computer. This data contained a message. The message was:
"You’ve got mail, Thundercock."
I instant-messaged my friends:
Friend: no way!
Emails were sent, too:
I was utilizing the Internet to its fullest potential. However, my fall from grace had already begun.
The next evening I was unable to log onto AOL. Same story the night after.
When I came home from school the following afternoon, my father told me a story.
It started with Dad calling AOL, wondering why we couldn’t check his email. He told me the service rep had some bad news:
"Sir," the rep told him, "Your account has been suspended."
"Suspended?" my dad said. "But why?"
"Sir, someone in your household created a lewd screen name."
"And what was this allegedly ‘lewd’ screen name?" he asked.
"I will not repeat the screen name, sir. But I will spell it for you."
Which is what she did. Letter by letter.
"Was this you?" my father asked me. "Did you do this?"
I denied nothing. Yes, I told him, I was Thundercock.