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back in the day

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I have grown rather fond of old school fanfic sites with their glitzy, primitive graphics or barren design, with their twinkling stars background and empty image frames. I have even grown rather fond of the authors either using their actual names or names that have that sorta Marysuish fantasy fiction lilt; Everly Ravenwynde or Maje Falconbroode, Lyllythe K Angelwyng and Jennifer Kenobi. Those are not actual nom de fics, but they are bloody similar.

And I've ended up taking an interest in the fandoms that have either fallen out of favor or stubbornly persisted. Often they are TV shows I have never seen. Alias Smith and Jones, The Man From UNCLE, The Professionals, Blake's 7. I'll eventually track down episodes online and check them out, sometimes wishing I could see what the fan authors saw or still see. Why this particular show and not that one? What is it that kept them tuning in, made them find Jim and Blair so compelling? Sometimes I can't fathom what garnered such passion and devotion, sometimes I can though it doesn't do much for me.

What wows me is the effort and the love, the surrendering to a mysterious impulse: learn HTML and erect a blinking shrine to the gay subtext of Space: 1999. It reminds me of Richard Dreyfuss building a to-scale sculpture of the Devil's Tower in his living room. In that mad creative outburst, I can't help but see him as heroic and correct, allowing himself to be caught in the maw of something that could easily seem so irrational. There's something undeniable there; a gleeful departure from the relentless drumbeat of the ordinary, a departure from seeking approval and fitting in nicely, from behaving oneself, complying with the every day machinations that make grown ups so invisible, so stingy in their push for the pragmatic, the sensible.

By day home-maker, sales rep, waitress, history professor, cashier at Earring Tree or Sunglass Hut. By night, Raven Blackthorne: secret internet author of F Troop erotica.

They are like superheroes. Minus the pretentious brooding and eruptions of fisticuffs, advanced weaponry. I look for the little hit counter and think how that ever escalating number egged them on.

It's a lovely feeling to allow oneself to be swept away by something that seems quite mad. Mad because of its uniqueness or its gilded conceits, its rebelliousness and vulnerability. We are discouraged so often as adults from doing creative things that don't revolve around commerce. We are discouraged from being fanciful or lusty for its own sake. These ladies primly stepped off cliffs, turned their backs on all that. Even if in secret. Being swept away is being swept away.