14 Thrillist Staffers Admit Their Embarrassing AIM Screennames
Before Snapchat, iMessage, Gchat, and even "unlimited talk & text," there was AOL Instant Messenger. AIM. Much like the Thrillist staff, the Internet itself was a lot younger when AIM ruled the IMing roost. The crushing grip of cynicism hadn't quite squeezed out all the innocence just yet. We hadn't been trolled hard enough, shamed loudly enough, clowned mercilessly enough by our peers. In this halcyon, long-gone digital spring, we chose our first AIM screennames.
They are a window to our nascent identities. They are also completely embarrassing. And so, to cleanse ourselves of mortification (or maybe just to entertain you/myself), I've demanded that my fellow editorial staffers confess their humiliating first AIM screennames and their origins. These are them.
Staffer: Ben Robinson
"So there was this goalie for my beloved New York Islanders who was supposed to be the next big thing: Eric Fichaud. I also played goalie, and focused all sorts of early teenage sports hero worship on him -- had the jersey, copied his style, everything. His nickname was "Fitch", so I jacked that. At this point I have no idea why he became Spanish; I'm pretty sure he was from Montreal.
As for the 314, me and a buddy wanted to know more about the John 3:16 signs that people hold up at football games. We hit the school library to read the passage in a Bible (despite this being a screen name for the Internet, nobody thought to use it for things other than chat and slow-loading boobs back then -- certainly not Bible research). Somehow we got the numbers wrong, and looked up John 3:14, which reads (this is from memory, I will never forget it): 'And the son of man must be lifted up, just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert.' Our deep analysis inferred that this had something or other to do with rising to the occasion, and it all made perfect sense. Once we realized somewhat quickly that it was wrong, it became a running joke, so, I threw it on there. At least five of my friends had '69' after their names, so I felt pretty highbrow about the whole thing.
Also, Fichaud ended up being terrible, so basically everything about the screen name was fraudulent and wrong."
In retrospect, I think I should've gone with '"babe" instead of "baby" to up my appeal.
Staffer: Dave Infante
"When I was in junior high, I played on several lacrosse teams, including a travel team that was always on the verge of being invited to a big summer tournament in Colorado, but never actually ended up going. Anyway, "chillaxin" was a big thing people at the public school said, and I wanted to IM with girls from the public school because my friend IM'd with a girl at the public school and later made out with her at the community pool. "justlaxin" seemed like a perfect way to accomplish all that -- I'm just this laid-back seventh-grade middee from the local Catholic school who wants to ask you who you "like-like" and maybe mouthkiss later, y'know? I have no idea why I appended three '16s' to the end."
Staffer: Pete Dombrosky
"When I was in junior high/high school, I was obsessed with Ford Mustangs. Not really sure how the infatuation occurred, but I made Mustang models, read Mustang magazines (not understanding a word of "car lingo") and eventually my family bought one and I got to drive it! (Last year my dad sold it to a high school kid, who totaled it. Fucking bullshit.) Also, my nickname in school was Pedro. Also, I liked the number 13 for no legitimate reason (it was cool to have unlucky 13 on teener league uniforms?) Thus, mustangpedro13."
Staffer: Sarah Anderson
"It all started with the first play I ever saw, which was A Chorus Line. I don't know who decided to take me to watch people singing about wet dreams, cross-dressing and the need for fake tits to make it in showbiz, but I owe them a solid for inspiring me to become a STAR. I was a very goal-oriented kid, so I figured I may as well make my aspirations public with a screenname telling the world (or my buddy list) where I was headed.
I think the 'baby' part was just good for alliteration but in retrospect I should've gone with 'babe' to up my appeal when chatting with all the boys I'd soon leave for a dazzling lifestyle. Then I found out I couldn't sing and opted for a more practical career by getting a photography degree. Think of all the money I saved on fake tits!"
I got a new screenname, but used the email address until late 2006.
Staffer: Rachel Freeman
"While it was a serious struggle to choose my best screenname, it’s gotta be this one. This was actually my third screenname, created at the height of my reign as Scene Queen™, sometime around sophomore year of high school. It has zero actual meaning, but it just “felt scene,” you know? Using excessive X’s in general was basically a rite of passage for those donning Hello Kitty hair bows and raccoon-striped extensions, so I had to check off that box. Scenedom was essentially all about being “edgy” while still somehow having a fetish for saying “Rawr means ‘I love you’ in dinosaur,” and somehow I feel like that really explains the whole thing.
Staffer: Wil Fulton
"[It was] the perfect mix of self-affirmation, laced with teenage doubt. Got me laid though. No, it didn't."
Staffer: Jeff Miller
"I loved the Weird Al movie UHF. So I was a UHFr. Don't judge. That movie is amazing." [Editor's note: At press time, Thrillist confirmed that he still uses this screenname.]
"I never read Homer's Iliad in school. I didn't know what it was about. I still can't remember, other than it's about war. I didn't know how to spell the name of the book, clearly, and I guess I didn't bother to consult an encyclopedia. I was definitely one of those pompous kids who thought he knew everything already by 6th grade. Basically, I chose it because I thought ILLYIAD sounded exotic, and that air of mystery would rub off on me somehow. The super sad part is that I used ILLYIAD@aol.com as my email address until something LATE2006, when a friend of mine finally shamed me into getting a gmail address. I obviously instantly registered ILLYIAD at gmail and use it to this day. Just kidding, I'm not still a moron. I registered iliad at gmail, like a goddamn adult. OK, that's a lie too."
Staffer: Lucy Meilus
"I was in fourth grade when AOL became popular. Fourth graders, unfortunately, have no concept of what is and isn't age-appropriate. I'm not entirely sure where the inspiration for this name came from, but I was, at the time, a big collector of those stickers you'd get for a quarter at the supermarket that had poetic sayings like 'Hot Stuff' written on them in a glitter font. There were also those stickers of Bratz doll-like girls in super revealing clothing. These were very fun and cool and cute and definitely meant for fourth graders. Definitely.
"I can't remember what purpose the number '220' served, but I'm sure it was crucial to the screenname. Or maybe SugahQueens1-219 were taken. This is very likely, as SugahQueen is a very cool screenname. It's also highly probable that I thought this was the correct spelling of 'sugar.'"
My best friend and I were like, "We're gonna be SKATER girls now."
Staffer: Brett Williams
It was around 2003 and I was a middle-schooler in the greater Cleveland area, so of course I was all about LeBron James. Only later, when I started taking French, I found out not only did I spell the name differently than LeBron—I was using the feminine article. It was too late to change so I swallowed my pride and kept IMing the ladies on dial-up like a madman."
Staffer: Jeremy Glass
"This was my screen name when I was, surprise, 12 years old. I had a seriously unhealthy obsession with Andy Kaufman at the time and wanted to show the world how I felt. It was more than the "Man on the Moon" movie, I literally thought I was the reincarnation of the guy. I wonder if he's actually dead..."
Staffer: Matt Meltzer
"When I was in High School I tried to prove I was some kind of badass by telling people, 'I'm a Beast, I don't feel pain,' then letting them punch me in the stomach, spray me with pepper spray and generally do stuff to me that Johnny Knoxville later went on to make millions of dollars letting people do to him. So my nickname became 'Beast.' I also had this strange infatuation with Spanish because I thought Miami was, like, the coolest place ever (I later learned it's not) so I decided instead of calling myself 'TheBeast1995', I'd give it a little Latin flair and make myself look like a Cuban tough guy from Miami. In the true spirit of AOL chatrooms, however, I was in fact a white kid from Seattle who played tuba in the marching band."
Staffer: Laura Murray
"I was in the sixth grade when Avril Lavigne reigned as queen. It was at some hazy point after binge watching the music videos for "Complicated" and 'SK8er Boi' on loop that my best friend and I decided 'OK, we're going to be SKATER girls now.' We created similar screenname accounts to commemorate the moment. I quickly decided after eating it falling from my $30 mongoose that the lifestyle was not for me. Regrettably, the screenname served as my identity for many years after."
Staffer: Julie Cerick
"My original screenname was Jucee467, which was a combination of my first and last name with a seductive play on the word 'JUICY.' It made me feel vibrant and alive as a pimply middle-schooler, but it was short-lived. One weird, creepy day, I decided to send the new boy, Chris, a series of Mandy Moore lyrics to let him know that I wanted to be with him. He responded, quite sternly, by telling me that he wanted to lick me from my head to my toes, then move down from the bed to the floor.
"Despite the fact that I had a full-length poster of Tyrese and 50 Cent in my bedroom, I had no idea these were lyrics. I panicked, felt violated, knew Chris was NOT the one for me (~eW~), and for some reason... told my dad? After a series of parent-to-parent phone calls that made me want to drown in a rusty toilet bowl of embarrassment, Dad decided The Internet was not a safe place. And so, AIM was taken away from me, forever. I did this to myself.
"After months and months of feeling completely left out, and of having profile-update withdrawal, I begged my Dad to let me have AIM back. Because it was, like, 2002, no parent knew what AIM actually was. He thought that any man could access me, type some vulgar Luda lyrics to me, and then obviously abduct me. So, I could have AIM back under ONE condition: my new screenname would not give away my gender, so that I was not a target for creepy old men. I failed miserably at convincing him that this was NOT how AIM worked, but I wanted it back so badly that I didn't care what my screenname was. I NEEDED TO PUT THE NEW DIXIE CHICKS LYRICS IN MY PROFILE.
"My dad set up my new screenname one night after school. Hamburger360 was to be my screenname for the next three years. I was terrified to IM any senior boy, any girl from summer camp... anyone, really. So I hid in shame with that screenname and talked to about four people total for three years. Including SmarterChild."
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