I was thinking about old friends I haven't seen or heard from in a long time (for reasons that may become obvious if I ever get round to posting the extremely long friends-only entry that's been brewing awhile), and I thought about my friend Pete. He used to be a "baby shark diver" in Thailand, and I first met him when he was in the UK after the tourist season was over one year. Then he went to Germany to do a veterinary course and I've seen him sporadically since. That led me onto the topic of people who overuse the phrase "lol" (as Pete would always end his emails "LoL".). I wonder how many of the people who use "lol" as punctuation realise it's short for "laughing out loud"? Worse than LOL all over the place is "LOLOL" - what does that mean? "Laughing out loud out loud"?
Out loud." ?
Back in my day, we had variants of "lol" for when something was amusing enough to warrant it. There was "rotfl" - "rolls on the floor laughing" and "fohcl" - "falls off his/her chair laughing". Back then, hatter used to use neuter gender all the time online. He wasn't making a big genderqueer statement or anything, it was just that it was amusing to deliberately refuse to give out gender information to idiots who were trolling for net.sex. Not many people had met him in real life, and those who had thought it was amusing to continue the joke. Also, at the time, he was using an account with username "buxmjp", which when fingered would give out a real name of "Mary Jane Petersen", and coincidentally looked rather like "buxom"! So he would always write "foicl" - "falls off its chair laughing".
hatter's gender neutral status was something of a joke amongst hardcore talker spods in 1995. However, later that year, it verged scarily into real life. He was accompanying narenek/Stuart to a function, and Stuart was spotted by one of his cow-orkers. Now, Stuart is straight, and Marcus is definitely male. But Stuart's cow-orker promptly congratulated him on "having pulled"! Somehow, when viewed from behind, Marcus's long hair was enough to confuse him. Oh dear.