Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Time-Sucking Has Begun

For the past few years, my friends have been urging me to join Facebook and I've never thought anything about it. Then at the AWP conference in Chicago, it seems that EVERYBODY and their grandmas are on Facebook and it seemed like the ideal way to stay in touch with all the people I only get to see once a year. 

I was warned that it would be a total Time-Suck, but I thought that I would be able to keep my distance. 

The thing about Facebook is that it's perfect for people like me who like to snoop. It's totally intoxicating because I can look up when people have gotten married and what they registered for on Amazon. Even though I haven't seen someone in twenty years, I know what sheets they're sleeping on. And they are very expensive. 

I am a master internet sleuth, except when it comes to finding out an old cast member of Sex and the City. 

The strangest thing was looking up the kids I went to elementary school with. There was this one girl who was really nice to me and I found out that she was a cancer survivor. That made me sad, but happy that she beat cancer. The ones I wanted to see old and fat were the mean kids who were so racist and made my life miserable. 

When I was in middle school, there was a kid named Jason who was just about the most awful person ever created. There was one year when he sat in front of me in class and I don't know how on earth that happened because we were always arranged in alphabetical order. In gym class, he would always try to get on the opposite team so that he could slam that big red bouncy ball off my head during dodge ball. In this day and age, that school would have been fending off lawsuits for letting boys play dodgeball against the girls. 

Every time I'd walk into class and take my seat, Jason would wave his hands over his nose and say, "Wheew! Something SMELLS in here!" He would then proceed to announce this again and again in class until our teacher, Miss Battaglia stepped in. 

If you thought that she stepped in to help me out, you are SO wrong, Internet. The teachers were often just as, if not meaner, than the students, so she would roll her eyes and say, "If she stinks so much, then move to the other side of the room!" 

Sometimes she would forcibly take him and move him to a seat closer to her, which was what she wanted all along because she liked him. 

Miss Battaglia was never nice to me, but I used to excuse her because she used to tell us all the time that her mother had died that year and that she lived alone with her father. I actually felt bad for her and tried to feel magnanimous. I pictured her sitting home alone with her father, knowing that she may always be a spinster. Because, let's face it, men usually want ladies who are decent and kind people.  

Jason used to cut the bottom of this gym T-shirts so that you could see his abs. I mean, this was in the seventh grade, so you can imagine how ridiculous that looked. 

When the show Everybody Hates Chris came on  the air, I could commiserate. My life in elementary school was kind of like that, but more verbal abuse than physical (except for Dorian, who used to kick me in the girl's bathroom) and without any comedic bits. I bet if you talked to Chris Rock's old schoolmates, they would be completely shocked that anyone thought that they were racist at all.  

The thing is, I understand where all those kids came from. They were raised in a very homogenous town and they felt that they were being pushed out of their slice of the American pie. These kids didn't grow up like I did--going down to Greenwich Village on weekends and hanging out with my parents' transvestite friends. If anything, cross-dressers teach you to be a more open-minded person.  

Once, I saw a Dennis Miller interview where he talked about how an old bully of his approached him after a show. He ended up telling the guy's wife what an asshole he used to be. 

I can kind of imagine that if Jason's kids ever approached me at a book signing in the future (after I win my Pulitzer, of course)--I would have to say:

"I don't know what kind of man this guy turned out to be, but when I knew him in grade school, he was a real jerk." 

I just hope he's nicer now. 

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