« Modern Love

Words With (I Wish We Were More Than) Friends | With Ben Platt

2019-10-23 | 🔗

When he was working in Nevada, Justin Race met a woman he thought was perfect for him. The only problem? They had only ever talked to each other through Words With Friends. Justin's essay is read by Tony-winning actor Ben Platt, who stars in the new show "The Politician" on Netflix.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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Oh, the from the New York Times and W B, you are Boston. This is modern. The stories of love loss and redemption. I'm your host magnetron puberty, the when he was working in Nevada, Justin Race met a woman that he thought was perfect for him. The only problem they'd know first spoken outside of the online game. Words with friends, Justin's S, is read by Tony winning actor Ben Platt, stars in the new show the politician on Netflix, her Okcupid Profile, I mentioned that she was really good at scrabble, so I sent her a message: challenging her to game of words with friends.
loser buys a winner coffee. I wrote you game, she accepted, but told me cough was impossible. She was in China for the school year, teaching English and wouldn't be back until July it was now January. I had moved to Reno from Washington DC six months earlier to take a job at the universe, City of Nevada. In trouble meeting people over those months I had message more than sixty women and heard, From only six. Leading to zero dates, so it seemed cruelly fitting that the first woman I really connected with had moved to China but hey Good words with friends partner can be even harder to find than love. Later that evening, she told me to again at six p m for me money and for her and art
estate half a world between us sitting on my couch. with phone in hand looking for bingos, and hoping to draw an s or a blank play, a move, send a message repeat. We were evenly matched. Barely won our first game, We were playing two games at once and chatting in both two entirely different conversational threads, one serious and the other playful. I kept us up for sixth street where's. That one point I had to slide my couch closer to an outlet, because my battery was at two percent like any good. First date, I didn't want to end. We talked about everything from our childhood pets, harass, mister peepers, indefinite and my dog inky tumor. Fanciful dream of one day running a retirement home for animals, Jerry
Patrick cows and octogenarian pigs, happily leaving out their golden years with nothing whatsoever expected from them. She told me the worst gifts he had ever given a boyfriend was a giant her. She more. I confess that I am more likely to cry during a movie trailer. Then, while watching the actual movie. I told her. I always botched cliches. It's not like. Rocket surgery falling asleep that night happier than I felt in sometime. I wonder if I was being cat The six hours had been too good, the kind of you dream about and then suddenly son is rising ridiculous, flirtatious or serious. whatever the topic it was always easy. tonight was no different and I, as I had to start getting this down on paper. When a game ended, our chat from that game ended with it every four
five minutes or so everything would disappear. How to preserve all of it, proof that such things are possible after a week I told my best friend back east. What was happening. She told me a story about a co worker who had an online relationship with a woman for two years. now they are married, laughed it off and thanked her, but I told her. I had no illusions, we always brutally honest about our future, namely in agreeing there wasn't one. It was and clear that she was coming back to Reno. She would go wherever she managed to land a job. We were a most pleasant attraction for each other, but school would eventually resume for her in we need someone in Reno on the words with friends, word, we were both masters of the endgame but
seem to be any fun game for us in real life. I also knew that it was the baked in distance and the impossibility of a date that had allowed me to fall so deeply in the first place. in person. I am typically so shy in romantic situations that I can make eye contact with someone I've just met with her. I felt free to open myself up entirely to after playing and chatting forty six hours every night. She when me that she was meeting her father in South Korea the coming weekend and would be around to keep up our nightly ritual it strange To miss someone that you've never actually met in the morning, I woke to a message she had sent from the airport waiting out his delay.
This single message meant more to me than the thousands of others we had exchanged. when I took my first business trip as a single man a few years earlier,. I remember wishing that I had someone to text from the airport had internalize the idea that love is having someone who cares about every utterly benign detail of your travel. I made it. I wanted to tap out man. I think I parked in the furthest possible spot. The lion security is insane its spring break or something okay. At my gate morning, Shutting down now about to take off smiley, face All those imagined text with no recipient It's stung even more when my plane touched down several hours later with nobody to tell It arrived safely.
our three days. Apart, didn't stall, anything after she returned We slid right back into our routine of increasingly intimate disclosures. The time each tried to rescue a hurt animal. We came across. Worst thing. I did as a kid that I still feel guilty about growing up in broken homes for stating experience, favorite sex position ever an orgasm She agreed with me that the biggest commitment either of us could ever make would be. Combining our libraries that we probably shouldn't take that step until we had at least two kids I told her. My memory is extremely selective I'll remember. She played the clarinet until sixth grade yet consistently forget her birthday. Without that very day was her birthday
At that point, we had long stopped being surprised at the freakish number of coincidences fittingly and as promised. I don't remember what day that was another night I preemptively apologized and told her not to hate. Me then played you axis, word bingo with the x on a triple letter for two hundred and twenty seven points. She message. Me, a growl and fight In later I went to bed with a smug grin plastered across my face. I took a screenshot of my play. printed. It out and proudly showed my three interns the next day at work. It still hangs in my office today and then as I had long feared, something shifted. Two games at once turned into one hour six hours.
At sessions dwindled to five, then four and three. eventually we played a full game without either of us sending a message I gathered my courage and asked if Said anything wrong, she was quick to assure me. I hadn't. Yes, there were other factors at play. Her teacher break, it ended and she was back at work. that same day. My mother called to tell me that her breast had come back and she was having a mistake to me. three days later, my father ended up in the hospital with a blood clot, a complication from leukemia If there was ever a week when I could have used six hours of nightly companionship, that was it. We stretched it out for another few weeks.
playing a single move per day, accompanied by a single chat. Neither was willing to concede the end. One night I sent her a message thanking her for the last two months, letting her know that. However,. Unorthodox orthodox. It had been. I had loved every minute, I told me she felt exactly the same. One day we started what would be our final game. We each played a move the next day she didn't play nor the day after days passed before words with friends automatically killed the game. At the time I saw her screen name was with the message they timed out. Midsummer is when she was due to return to the states, but- I know if she ever did
I was also my one year anniversary in Reno, yet. My happiest memories here have nothing to do with Nevada, her or the mountains or the university. They are of me sitting on my couch Furiously tapping away on a three inch screen. To a woman on the other side of the world, a woman I know both intimately and not. At all She felt one staring into the eyes of a buffalo up close. I know she would love to see our jeopardy wherever one starts with who. I know she gets mildly, aroused talking about compound miter saws and has a weird thing for hands. And I to sing songs about her cat. but I know what she looks like when she sleeps, I don't know the sound of her voice or the feel of her hair. I don't even know her last name,
That's better plant breeding, just in races, essay words with. Wish we were more than friends will catch up with Justin find out if he ever reconnected with that words with friends partner after this.
I love spelling my boyfriend and I often play spelling bee together by together I mean sitting next to each other playing individually and not cheating. Sometimes, when I open up spelling bee- and I see that you have completed a few words on your own- I feel a little betrayed. Sorry. It may have happened again today. I have one friend who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words that I always get nervous that I sent it to my parents or something like that when my dad was like the first time together and I was out- I think I got it- see it J, a c k, P, o g jack. We hit the jackpot, panicked, yeah, Elrond, nice, I'm same as earth's sky. The digital puzzles editor for the New York Times. You can try spelling bee in all our games at n, one times dot com, slash games when,
and races. Modern love essay was published in two thousand. Sixteen he'd be living in Nevada for a year. I've had a lot of trust. adjusting to the area. It just felt very insulated and very lonely in the piece I mentioned that my parents, each them were experiencing health problems, happy to say my mother got through her breast cancer and she's in complete remission now but My dad, whose cancer came back and it came back very aggressively and very violently. I was able to get back to Pennsylvania to be with him his last few weeks, but that was really hard and that was you know, part of the the ongoing difficulty of being in Reno all the. time so even having someone to talk to on my phone in the evenings halfway across the world was better than nothing at that point after Justin's essay how'd. He decided to reach back out to his words with friends, partner and challenge her to a game. She accepted then
told her he'd written a story about their relationship and he asked her if she was still in China turns If she had gotten back to Reno that summer downside, it was a little disappointed, a little hurt that she hadn't proactively reached out, but I asked her if she wanted to get to and she said that she was seeing somebody, so she politely declined. We finished that game. The words with friends, games. Always that mattered a lot, however awkward. The conversations could be here or there, but neither of us challenged the other to rematch and we just fell out his hatch again. That was in two thousand and sixteen then in two thousand and eighteen Justin left Reno and took a new job at Purdue University in Indiana. Just a few months later, she got in touch with me out of the blue, again challenged me to a game with words as France and thinking my god. It's been two and a half years now my dad's died. I've had just moved to Purdue two months earlier. You know talk about, never
ending up in the same time zone. At the same time, they did start playing the game again and talking, and eventually he asked her a question that had been on his mind. What exactly happened when you got back to Reno back, two thousand and sixteen and she said that no three days after she'd been back, she went to a party, reconnecting reconnected, Larry just hit it off with a guy, and they started dating almost immediately. They were together for two and a half years and when she got back in touch with Justin, they had recently broken up. It's a story of wrong place wrong time, and it's also a story of. I was just in a really bad place, personal life. So as much as I'd like to sit here and be saying, you know she came back and we fell deeply in love and the connection was even more profound in person than it have been through the screen. That's not what happened They are still playing words with friends today. Obviously the excitement
Flirtation the earth staring at your phone and seeing Message me: you know what that sort that was all gone by I'm happy. Now we just have saw a healthy, normal friendship and so far something can be. A few normal, never having met You feel, like I know her pretty well, I also always recognize that there's many ways in which I don't know her and never will, but sometimes that's enough. Sometimes it's more than enough. That's Justin race he's the direct at Purdue University Press and lives in West Lafayette, Indiana more after the break.
I love spelling my boyfriend and I often play spelling bee together by together I mean sitting next to each other playing individually and not cheating. Sometimes when I open up spelling bee- and I see that you have completed a few words on your own, I feel a little betrayed in sorry. It may have happened again today. I have one friend who I will send screenshots from spelling bee of inappropriate words that I always get nervous that I sent it to my parents or something like that when my dad was like the first time together and I was out- I think I got it- see it J, a c k, p o g jack, but we hit the jackpot panicked, yeah, Elrond, nice, I'm same as earth's sky. The digital pulses editor for the New York Times. You can try spelling bee in all our games at n, one times dot, com, slash games.
Daniel Jones, editor of the modern love column for the New York Times, says that Justin's essay speaks to the moment we're living in now online. indication allows. the fall really deep. We are not really in love, but in kind of other infatuation in part, because they're spared awkward, personal interaction where they truly have to be vulnerable You think you're being vulnerable online, but really are totally safe. You now seven thousand miles away, but it's still in a raises that question should, however, like what is connection, and is this a relationship thank you that it is you know it's. It's so reveal when he thinks about his time the time that he spent they're in Nevada. The main thing he remembers from that are not his colleagues or the day.
living there. It's all connected to this electronic toll of this one Half way around the world and there's no denying that that was real, and that meant something but like Lot of real relationships, it had its moment and then passed, and he was Ben Platt on why he connected with this essay As a millennial, if you will, I certainly have a lot of dating experiences and relationships formed via my phone and be apps, and Crazy phenomenon of creating this intimacy, with like no contact and no tone than just chats and games and I've always been very needed. By the way, I can feel right quote to someone forty two, not that men. Sometimes when I do meet them. I feel you to let clothes and I feel like I wish I had remained in the chat, so this as they certainly struck a chord far as building that
Can via something that seems really silly and superficial, but it can be meaningful and make your stomach flip just messages and screamed thanks again to Ben for reading this week's piece, his new who is the politician on Netflix modern love is the production of the New York Times and W B, you are Boston, NPR station, its produced, directed and ed. It Caitlin I'll origin, scoring and sound design by Matt Reed Adler's, our executive producer additional help this week from Ben Brock, Johnson Daniel Jones. The editor of modern love for the New York Times, an adviser to the show the idea. for the modern love. Podcast was conceived by LISA Tobin Special, text, Julia Simon, Anya, Strem, Ian and me Ali at the New York Times, additional music courtesy of a p dot m a magnetron for see you next week.
Transcript generated on 2022-04-15.