As I sat back and wrote my December 1st entry into Triumphs & Tribulations XXII on Wednesday evening, I thought back on past Decembers and how I was always in anticipation of the Christmas holiday. I suppose you can say part of me was feeling burnout and I just needed to escape and regroup. That wasn’t the case, however, in December 2000. According to the 1st of 2 entries I wrote on December 1st in Triumphs & Tribulations I, I just wanted to get to 3:35pm on December 14th as fast as I could. A couple of days earlier, I got rejected by Miss Sophomore after a classmate/mutual friend no doubt revealed to her the clue of the secret admirer letter I slipped into her backpack. As one of the most socially invisible people in the school, being rejected by one of the most popular people in the school was like a doomsday scenario for people in my position. All of a sudden, I became known for the failed attempt…the whole “ahhh, you were the one who wrote that letter” ribbing from others and all. It was a lot of attention and if you’ve read the story of me winning Airman of the Year, you know how uncomfortable I am with attention. The 16-year-old version of myself just wanted to curl up into a roly poly and reset in January. But I had to get through the last 2 weeks of the semester in which I would have to sit behind Miss Sophomore in Geometry 10 5 times before the final bell on December 14th. Coming up with a way to navigate that brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the Ask Jeeves search engine.
How I first came across this moment? I first came across Ask Jeeves about a month earlier. I was still somewhat breaking in my first-ever personal computer—the Compaq Presario 1200. In the wee hours of Saturday mornings, after my closing shifts at Domino’s Pizza, I would sneak and use the America Online promotional CDs to get on the Internet at home. In those days, I had a thirst for information and according to a promo I saw a few months earlier, Ask Jeeves was the place to go. So I typed in Ask.com into the URL bar and that’s how Ask Jeeves happened into my world.
What it meant to me then? Back then, in the Fall of 2000, I searched for a lot of stuff on Ask Jeeves. From sports stuff to geometry explanations to how to save $100 and more, I sought out Jeeves for answers. The information that the searches turned up was fascinating. Some of it is written in Volumes I and II of Triumphs & Tribulations. I felt a little bit smarter by having Ask Jeeves at my disposal…like the time I went into “smart ass know-it-all” mode on a chapter from Lord of the Flies in Mrs. Hughes’s AP English 10 class much to the chagrin of my classmates. Of course, if it was good enough to help me in my studies, I thought it was maybe good enough to help me get out of a crisis. I remember putting “How do I make myself invisible at school?” into the search bar. The answers were very limited but they all had similar themes: just stop talking. That advice from Ask Jeeves is somewhat responsible for the emergence of my very controversial lone wolf persona that dominated my final days at Parker High.
What it means to me now? I just searched for Ask Jeeves on Google. Yes, I know it’s kinda ironic. The search query produced a result where you can actually still ask Jeeves a question. It’s not the same though. It doesn’t have the sizzle of what it was in 2000 and 2001 when I used it heavily. I eventually moved on to GoTo.com in the Fall of 2001 in a move inspired partly because of my Go.com email address. My Ask Jeeves days were done. Today, I still have a thirst for information. I just use Google to quench it. The search engine game has definitely evolved since the Fall of 2000 but in the annals of history, at least at The Book of Juan, Ask Jeeves will always have a place. It was the first search engine I ever used.