I was bored the other day, as I am most days, and was doing my usual dicking-around-on-the-internet routine. DeviantArt was full of softcore porno "art photos," and poorly drawn Undertale fan-art, Youtube was full of people bitching about fair-use and how unjust the world is, and I didn't feel like trying to sift through a bunch of Reddit posts in hopes of finding something I hadn't seen yet.
People sometimes say it's fun to Google your name and see what comes up, and I've done that before and I don't remember anything interesting popping up. But I somehow got the idea to Google my most commonly used Username and see what came up that way. Nothing. Just accounts that would have led me back to DeviantArt, Youtube, and Reddit.
I decided to give DA another shot, at least until I had gotten tired of looking at Sonic the Hedgehog "Original-Characters (DO NOT STEAL)." At about the fourth page of images, I saw an ad banner for a Kodak digital camera, which struck me for some reason, as I felt like I hadn't even heard about Kodak in a long time. I usually thought of Canon, or Nikon as being the top brands for digital cameras. "Kodak?" I thought to myself. "I haven't thought about them since Bill Cosby was hawking their film when I was a kid."
For whatever reason, I got this little tickle in the back of my brain, the familiar sensation of a forgotten memory returning.
"Jell-o Pudding Spirit-Bomb"
That's what popped into my head. What. The. Fuck... For several minutes I had no idea what it was, what the significance could have been, or why I would even think of that, let alone "remember" it. I mean, the Jell-o thing, sure, Bill Cosby was the spokesman for them as well as Kodak, but how the hell would that tie-in with a Dragonball Z reference? Sometimes my brain scares me a bit.
Probably because of how odd and random the thought was, I pushed it out of my head, and chalked it up to some forgotten memory or, just my mind short circuiting. For a couple days I didn't even think of it. However, a week or so later (I think) I was watching CNN or something, one of the channels with the scrolling bar at the bottom that shows headlines and stuff. One piece of information I caught scrolling by was about the Bill Cosby rape case, or hearing, or accusation... whatever it is. Anyway, the point is that seeing something about Bill Cosby triggered another random thought to occur.
"Super-Saiyan 4 Bill Cosby"
...Okay. So I pretty much had no idea what the connection was with Dragonball and Bill Cosby, but I was a little alarmed at the ease with which these strange phrases were materializing in my head. I mean, yeah I used to watch Dragonball Z when I was younger, and everyone jokes about Bill Cosby and Jell-o. But what's the significance of the two together? Fuck if I know. But I couldn't help but feel like there was an answer, and that it was on the tip of my tongue.
It wasn't until the space of another few days had passed that something hit me. I recalled a time in school, at lunch I think, when I was talking with a friend of mine about Dragonball cartoons. One of us was arguing that Super-Saiyan level 4 was stupid and not canon to the original series (you know, typical teenage nerd shit). My friend said something like "No, there is Super Saiyan 4 cause... be... before--" But I didn't hear the rest of what he said, due to my sudden outburst of laughter. "Did you just say Super Saiyan 4 Cosby?!" I shouted. We had laughed about that for far longer than anyone ought to. It became a sort of in-joke. I think I even used it as a chat name, and as an e-mail address briefly. SSJ4c0sby@rocketmail.com (Yes, Rocketmail. I am that old).
How did I forget that? We had joked and drawn pictures of that for the rest of the school year. It's like it was just gone from my memory without a trace until some random innocuous internet ad triggered it. Strange business.
So what does this inane nonsense have to do with anything? I'm getting to that...
I decided that I would do another Google search, this time for SSJ4c0sby to see if I ever did anything with it. If I forgot it even existed, who know what I might have done with it? It actually took me a few searches to remember that I had used a zero for the "O" in Cosby, but when I did, I finally hit a couple of results. A few broken links to old forums that had died or been assimilated, not surprising considering the posts would have been made like, 15 years ago.
A few pages in, I hit a site that was available in a cached format. Some kind of Xanga or LiveJournal knockoff, or precursor. Either way, it's long dead now. Luckily, a few posts remained on the SSJ4c0sby account. I always love seeing ancient internet stuff, like old Geocities and Angelfire pages that have sat unattended for years. It reminds me of a time when things seemed simpler.
At any rate, my teenage self had made a few sporadic blogs, some running for a few weeks, others only containing one or two entries. I'd like to say that reading them was the proverbial trip-down-memory-lane, but to be honest, I barely remembered any of the shit I was writing about. Posts about Dragonball Z and Sailor Moon (don't laugh, back then you took whatever anime you could get), random accounts of happenings from school, that kind of stuff. I didn't really remember any of it.
I paged through the posts that were there, working my way from the latest to the earliest, wondering how I survived being so boring as a teenager, trying to imagine what all the missing images were, and where all the dead links would have led to. I got to a fairly early post referencing something... strange. My younger self kept referring to how it hurt to type much due to the pain from having lost two of his fingers recently. I read farther back, and discovered that shortly before the blog was created, the boy writing it, I, had lost my left pinkie and ring fingers in an ATV riding accident. That I rolled my quad, had been knocked unconscious, and didn't remember anything else until I was home with my hand stitched and bandaged.
I have never ridden an ATV. Of that I am certain. And, even stranger, I didn't lose my fingers in an accident of any kind. I was, in fact, born with some congenital birth defects which required my needing several surgeries in my infancy. As a result, among other things, I am missing my right index finger, and all but my thumb on my left hand. So why would I have made up some story about losing a couple fingers in an ATV wreck? I didn't remember much of the blog, so I suppose I was maybe just making shit up? I really don't know.
I went through and read all the blog entries again. Nothing else was really strange about them. I assume they ended where they did because my family moved. We moved house a lot when I was growing up. I didn't remember stopping the blog, but then, I didn't remember starting it either.
Toward the end of the blog, there were some entries about some character I had drawn and was going to "make comics" about. That probably meant, doodling in a notebook. Again this was nothing of which I have any recollection, but I guess one wouldn't necessarily remember something like that from over a decade ago. Below a few broken image thumbnails was typed "KRANIATHAN - @ Power Level - 96,000" -- Wow... I really was a nerd.
On a whim, I decided that since I had found an interesting, albeit confusing, thread by searching one old name, I might as well try another. I did a search for KRANIATHAN, just to see if I had gone any further with the concept. I hit on one forum post (a dead anime forum) with people listing their original characters and such. The post referencing KRANIATHAN was made 14 years ago by a user named Darsh684. The 684 stood out to me, as I was born in June of 1984, along with probably two million other living humans, so that's not such a stretch.
I did a Google search on "Darsh" though, and it triggered another lost memory. Continuing in my descent into teenage nerdhood, I had happened accross a Japanese OVA called "Bastard!!" and fell in love with it. It was an anime that had magic, heavy metal music references, a smarmy-asshole protagonist, sword-fighting, and tits. Everything I could have hoped for. The main character (after his magical transformation... it's... it's not as gay as it sounds), was named Dark Schneider, and was sometimes called "Darsh."
How had I forgotten about that? Of course I would have used something from Bastard!! as a username. Is my memory really that spotty? I clicked to view Darsh684's profile, and got a somewhat broken, barebones html page. There was some interesting information on it though, interesting, and confounding. Darsh684 identified himself as a 17 year old living in Tennessee. All bets were off, that was definitely my profile. It continued to list some shit I used to like and dislike (Though I obviously didn't remember much from that time of my life, I was pleased to see that I still hated Creed then just as much as ever), as well as a brief personal description. This was what bugged me a bit.
"17 y/o male artist, 5'8" 175, white, br/eye, br/hair, goatee. Missing left eye and most of left hand from childhood automobile accident. Figured I'd get that out of the way ahead of time..." And it just went on from there describing ordinary stuff like you would find on any personal profile. No pictures (I don't typically like to be photographed since I'm kind of uncomfortable with the way I look).
Aside from the obvious incomplete and incorrect information about my appearance that I had for some reason typed up, the last line of the profile really struck me. It read "just picked up my first skateboard, I'm gonna try my hand at that!" I have never, ever skateboarded. I am certain of that, beyond a doubt.
Among the various dead links on the page was a link to another forum that vaguely jogged some memories. My younger, dishonest self had provided a link to a music board for discussion about the band Life of Agony. I kind of remember listening to LoA when I was younger. I think so anyway. That link was still active, though the discussion board was full of closed threads. I checked my profile there, I had apparently adopted the handle "HanzGroobr" on that particular site. The profile was inactive for a few years, then started getting some use when the LoA album "Broken Valley" was released in 2005.
"I must have forgotten I signed up for this forum years ago. When I went to make an account, I was already registered with this name (HanzGroobr). 21 and already going senile xD"
So I guess my memory was already pretty shoddy that point. The profile didn't have much information on it, but what it did have really shocked me. It was a photograph of me. A photograph of me sitting at bar stool in some dingy little club, flanked on either side by the guys from Life of Agony. I was sat there looking ecstatic as they made goofy faces around me. There was a caption along with the photo, it read; "Holy shit, got to chill with the dudes from LoA in Philly! I'm the crip in the center in case you couldn't tell. Being a gimp does have its benefits x3"
Though I'd been following this strange trail for a while now, actually seeing a photo of myself really made this whole thing real to me. I've ever been to Philadelphia, yet there I was in a rock club. I never really got too into Life of Agony (It's too whiny), yet there I was geeking out with the band. I don't remember a fucking second of it. And the biggest thing, the thing that freaks me the fuck out, is that in the photo, I've got one foot up on the rung of the bar stool, while my left leg is dangling off the cushion, a stump, gone from the knee down. There's a pair of crutches behind me in the photo. Apparently so I could still get around upright.
Remember I mentioned about the surgeries and the congenital birth defects? I don't have either of my feet. I've never had them as far as I can remember. They both got infected after a surgery when I was a baby. I had them both removed within 6 months of one another. At least, that's what I've been told my whole life. Now I'm looking at a picture of myself with a right foot I've never fucking had.
Is my memory fucked up? Am I going insane? Have I been insane? Why do I think I remember looking the way I do now for my entire life? Come to think of it, a lot of my memories are kind of fuzzy, especially the farther back I try to recall. All those old profiles, talking about the ATV accident, losing my eye and some fingers in a car accident... both incidents that couldn't have happened. I've always been missing fingers and feet and an eye. I'm sure of it. I think I am. Fuck. I don't even know.
Maybe I was telling the truth in all those profiles. Or maybe I thought I was telling the truth. Why did the story change every few years? Why do I now know... why do I now think that I've been like this from birth? Jesus, has this happened before? How many times? Is this the first time I've stumbled across this shit? I don't really remember any of my friends from school. Everyone I know I've met in the past few years. I can't even call anyone to do any fact checking... not that I really would. If even I think I'm nuts, what would other people think?
So I'm putting this out here because... I don't even know why. Maybe in hopes that it will somehow validate my existence, or my memories (lack thereof). Maybe this is just one more message in a bottle I'll be sending, reading it a few years the road. I wonder what will even be left of me then.