Here’s the setup: I seldom venture into Facebook Land, where dangerous highways aren’t clearly marked, but occasionally my email throws me a FB name from my past. I clicked on three-years-younger Ned’s, just to say hello with this congenial …
Via Facebook, which still confounds me, I reached out and touched someone I’ve not seen in 40 years. He touched me back with a kick to the groin. This fellow — let’s call him “Ned,” since he sounds obsessively image-conscious — evidently isn’t my biggest fan.
Here’s the setup: I seldom venture into Facebook Land, where dangerous highways aren’t clearly marked, but occasionally my email throws me a FB name from my past. I clicked on three-years-younger Ned’s, just to say hello with this congenial greeting: “Remember me, from your brother Dave’s class? We were buds, and I mentioned his name recently in my humor column way out here in Wyoming…”
I gave him the Tribune web address and attached my column about how I, his brother and two others once egged our art teacher’s house for insulting my sculpture.
And here in italics is Ned’s startling reply, which you’ll notice if you read between the lines, isn’t a gushing tribute:
“I remember you. You made fun of everyone, was a loser in school, disrupting every class. You have a mental illness and self medicate with alcohol. I read the things you wrote, didn’t seem very humorous, actually, stupid. How is it funny to throw eggs at a teachers house? Your little writing is also far behind the times, Dave has not been athletic director for 20+ years. He retired as the principal, and was head wrestling coach for 30 years where he built a dynasty and incredibly successful. I’d appreciate if you wouldn’t write stupid stuff on my status acting like you achieved something in life. You are not a funny guy or a columnist. You are an unemployed person, submitting stupid writings to the paper that know (sic) one even comments on. This status was about at-risk, abused, troubled youth girls and the ranch I work at. You trolling it shows how immature you are at 60 years old. And that is why I am ticked, it is about the girls, not you!!!”
Ouch! I’m sure you’re thinking, “Perceptive fellow, this Ned,” but not so fast. Let’s examine each purported fact and expose them for the half-truths they are. Sure I disrupted classes; that’s what class clowns do. I could disrupt without a teacher even knowing it, like the time I slid out Gracie Kaufman’s study hall window — then returned minutes later as if I’d been excused to use the bathroom. My classmates enjoyed a stifled laugh, and forgetful, old Ms. Kaufman was none the wiser.
But my disruptions weren’t disrespectful, and teacher often laughed as hard as student. Made fun of everyone? Oh, I imitated and heckled, but never in a hurtful way and always with a recipient capable of throwing it right back. I honed my craft from such masters as Rich Little and Don Rickles.
Loser? I find that label almost derogatory. Hey, when you can make the king laugh, court jesters are rarely considered losers. Mentally ill…self-medicating with alcohol? OK, tell me something I DON’T know. I’ve written repeatedly about my OCD, depression and struggles with alcohol, so this is one drunken fruitcake with warts on full display.
How is it funny to throw eggs at a teacher’s house? Well, duh! Not as an adult, but at 16, it’s pretty darn funny. And had Ned instead read more carefully, he’d have noticed the teacher laughing with us four eggers the following Monday when he lectured us after class.
Ned’s critique of my writing included, “Not very humorous; actually stupid … submitting stupid writings to the paper that know (sic) one even comments on.” Well, that valid criticism is on you, the reader. I can’t do the writing and the commenting, ya know.
As for patently false claims, like “You’re not a funny guy or a columnist.” Well, I can’t prove I’m funny — that’s in the stye of the beholder. But I darn well CAN prove I’m a columnist. I’ve written a weekly column for 20 years and am paid for it. That’s a columnist! Unemployed? I’ve been roofing for 35 years, which is certainly more physically taxing than principal. Sixty? Don’t let your 57-year-old educator brother I graduated with know your math is that poor.
But I was also wrong on a few points. When I was home many years ago and sat reminiscing with Dave in his school office, I now recall he was indeed principal and no longer A.D. I’m not surprised he built a wrestling dynasty, since he once put me in a scissors hold that almost made me cry, for sarcastically mimicking his wrestling moves to the entire class.
But I was most wrong for assuming I posted on Ned’s personal FB page, never dreaming it to be an important site for at-risk young girls. Believe me, if I ever “trolled” a website with girls, they were asking for it!
Hey, there’s enough blame to go around here. I learned a thing or two from this experience, and hopefully Ned did too. It’s not nice to write in a blind rage, making fun of a mentally ill person who self medicates. You could really hurt the loser’s feelings!