Thursday, November 3, 2005

Now, this post is literally true.

Just in case anyone is starting to question my sanity....

Once upon a time, no more than a year before the advent of AOL itself, there was an online service called Prodigy.  As I recall, it mostly consisted of text-only message boards and email to other Prodigy members (for $.25 each!).  The only way to write text offline and upload it, or to copy text from P* (as it was abbreviated) into a file was with a pair of third party utilities.  At least, that was true with Prodigy for Macintosh at the time.  I doubt that the DOS version was any better.

In those days, I spent most of my P* time on the Quantum Leap and Hitchhiker's Guide message boards.  Because there were always "newbies" asking questions, and because messages typically aged off the boards after a week or less, I developed a set of Quantum Leap posts that I would upload weekly as a public service.  Most of these were FAQ answers to questions about the show's premise, characters and fictional continuity.  Others were about the real world aspects of the show, most notably the actors.

One of these weekly postings was information about the fan club, Project Quantum Leap.  Among the items members would receive for their $12 (the cost at the time) was a customized membership card that doubled as a "pass" to the "real" Project Quantum Leap in New Mexico.  Some of our listings put the word "pass" in quotes, and didn't use the word "real" at all.  Others had the word "real" in quotes.  In either case, the quotes were there as a nod and a wink, saying, in effect, "Yes, we know this stuff isn't real, but let's have some fun with it."

[As an aside here:  once when I was on my way to or from a Quantum Leap convention, I happened to be wearing my pass as an ID badge during a long layover at some airport or other.  I had added a photo, laminated it, and attached a clip.  It looked so authentic that someone who worked security at that airport assumed I was an airline or airport employee, and told me I didn't have to go through the metal detector.  I told him to take a closer  look at the badge!]

Well, anyway.  The point is that PQL (the club) offered this fun pass thingy to the imaginary Project, and this fact was frequently mentioned on the Prodigy Quantum Leap message boards.  Many of our members entered into the spirit of the thing, and really seemed to enjoy choosing a department and title for their passes.

Imagine my surprise when a guy turned up on P* one night, claiming that he read somewhere that there was a real, literal Project Quantum Leap, a secret government installation hidden away in New Mexico somewhere, possibly to conduct time travel experiments.  I could not imagine how this kid (probably a young adult) had glommed onto this obviously false information, and actually believed it! 

But when the time came to post the club info again, I saw that I was the source of the kid's misinformation.  The notice I had posted had indeed mentioned "a custom pass to the 'real' Project Quantum Leap in New Mexico."  I then had to explain to the guy, and even work to convince him, that there was no real Project Quantum Leap.


Years later, I took a pilgrimage to New Mexico, and photographed Quantum Leap-related landmarks.  I was able to "prove" that if Project Quantum Leap existed, which it didn't, it would be near the Trinity site, not near Los Alamos.  This finally settled an old controversy among Quantum Leap continuity buffs.

I wonder what the literalist kid on P* would have thought of that!



deabvt said...

That`s funny!

plittle said...

I've had similar experiences. It is amazing what some people will believe.

ryanagi said...

I knew I should have joined P*. Maybe I would have met you sooner. LOL