I hope no one will mind that I'm writing this now. I have been thinking about it since Nov. 3 when I first read of Cronan's passing.
Steve C. mentioned in an aside that Cronan gave me a hard time. He did indeed. We had our share of heated arguments. Cronan was an unrepentant Voyager-hater. Threads with names like "Kirk, Picard, Sisko, and that Bitch" did not endear him to me. I had to argue for weeks to get him to acknowledge that it was not appropriate to refer to a female captain as a "bitch" even if he thought she was a bad captain.
But that was not all there was to Cronan. There were always flashes of good-natured humor along with the scathing wit. We (and not a few others) had a lot of fun with a thread on the men of Star Trek vs the women of Star Trek. Some of his posts, while still full of his animus toward Voyager, were so brilliantly funny that you'd laugh in spite of yourself. He said his grandma could defeat the Borg "with a sharp stick in the eye." It's hard to stay angry with a person who makes you laugh.
One time a leading poster in the group -- someone deservedly respected by pretty much everybody, including me -- made a long, erudite, and well-written post basically telling Cronan he would think differently when he grew up. Despite its eloquence, I thought it was an unfair argument, so I responded, and turned all the arguments back at the poster (whom I still respect). As the smoke settled, there was a little post by one of Cronan's friends saying something like "Too bad you can't get her to go after David." Cronan's response was priceless: "Amarna is like a nuclear weapon. You don't want to use her too close to home."
He first emailed me after I commented favorably on one of his posts. I put "Great post" or something like that at the end, and he tentatively emailed me asking if I was serious or if he was missing some sarcasm on my part. I said I was serious, and that I thought that at times he could be a comic genius.
He was drawn to the outlandish, the outrageous. It sometimes seemed that he was more alive than everybody else, that he needed to be bigger and louder and more shocking, that this was his way of discovering the world and himself. But right alongside those traits he had a boyish ebullience, you might even say sweetness. Several times he emailed me to say he loved me. Ridiculous, yes. But charming. I'd smile and shake my head in disbelief at the same time. Anything to shock you. Anything to tweak you.
Cronan's energy was prodigious. Sometimes it seemed that he was everywhere at once in the newsgroup, like a mythic soldier single-handedly trying to scale a mountain and take an unassailable fortress. The kid had guts. He was brash; he was irrepressible. And yes, he was annoying. But you rooted for him anyway. You watched him, and hoped and fretted a bit about how he would "turn out" in the end. Kind of reminds me of Torres on Voyager. She thought none of her professors liked her or saw any potential in her; but in fact most of them did. Same with Cronan. On a few occasions I exchanged email with other posters about Cronan. Sometimes they'd want me to go easier on him. Other times they'd say I should demand the best from him because he had so much raw talent.
Another time, there was an off-topic discussion in which we both participated, and I ended up making a post that seemed to clear things up and pretty much ended the thread. Cronan emailed me about it and his email showed that he had made a certain favorable but incorrect inference about me. I explained how he was mistaken and so gave him personal information that I would normally not consider putting on the Internet. I asked him to keep this "between ourselves." I knew he would and he did. He had his own integrity. You could see it in his posts. No fear. No backing away. No weasel-wording. What you see is what you get.
I stopped hearing from him some time ago, after he migrated out of the Voyager group, although I did receive one email. I'm not sure when because I have a new computer and can't access my old email. It was surely a year ago. He just emailed me saying he wanted to be my friend. I knew that he was stirring up several newsgroups at the time and so I put it in the same category as his "I love you" emails. But I thought about it for a long time. Was he serious? Didn't he know I was already his friend? In the end, I decided that if he was serious, I'd hear from him again. I didn't. From time to time comments about him would spill over into the Voyager group, and I'd be both glad and chagrined. Glad to know that he was still lighting up the net with his wit and humor, chagrined that he was still intent on making people angry. But you know, I don't think he ever would have been Cronan without his irreverence.
Then I read the post about his death. Naturally my mind went back immediately to the email I had not answered. I figured out fairly quickly that that was probably before he was sick. But it still felt awful. It now seems idiotically obvious that I should have answered. I don't think it would have mattered for Cronan, because he had many good friends. But for me, it matters. I don't have any friends like Cronan. He was unique.
Return to Online Tribute to Cronan Thompson.