During last year's 30 Days of Blogging, I addressed a question that my friend Sandy asked, which was, "Do you have a yearbook full of crossed out pictures?" It turned out that yes, as a matter of fact, I did. Doesn't everyone? I was thinking about it at this time last year because one of the people with an X on his face had actually spoken to my mom, to ask if I'd ever forgiven him. I reflected on the idea of forgiveness briefly, and decided that no, not only had I not forgiven, but I didn't ever intend to.
Here's the thing: I don't think about those people in my day to day life. This is the luxury of growing older and moving away. I don't see those people at the mall or the grocery store or any of the other places that I go, and I pretty much only take out my yearbooks if someone sends me a Facebook friend request and I can't remember who they are. I don't wake up in the morning thinking about how much I dislike those people, but if something happens to remind me that those people exist, then most of the time I do remember that I dislike them, and for the five minutes it takes me to be distracted by something shiny I am angry and irritated and hateful all over again, but then I move on.
That doesn't mean that I forgive them. Like Natalie Merchant sings in "Seven Years", "I might forget you, but not forgive." I reflected on this last year, and was a little disappointed in myself over not being a better person and not being willing to forgive those people.
It turns out that I haven't really matured any regarding this particular issue in the past year.
How do I know, you ask?
Because that guy who talked to my mom last year contacted me on Facebook about a month ago.
For the purposes of this blog entry, we're just going to call him Mr. X. (Not to be confused with Madame X, Professor X, Malcolm X, or Dr. Double X.) At the beginning of last month, Mr. X poked me on Facebook.
I chose to ignore this.
I have nothing to say to Mr. X, and I'm certainly not going to be spurred into saying something by a Facebook poke. A long letter cataloging a multitude of sins against me, possibly including abject begging for forgiveness and several forms of groveling? That I might respond to. A Facebook poke? There's a short pier somewhere waiting for you to take a long walk.
A few days of silence went by. No further pokes, and no need for me to give this any further thought. Then Mr. X went to a photo of me on a mutual friend's page, and "liked" it.
Clearly, Mr. X wanted my attention. I began to respond, then removed all of the profanity, then made sure that it still carried a tone of hostility that would deter further contact.
I'm going to assume that you sent that poke on Sunday by accident.
Actually, I assume that you're a moron, but I'm trying not to open with insults.
Mr. X responded: Just saying Hi Joel.... It's been 21 yrs.... A lot has changed in 21 yrs..., Hope all is well...
A lot has changed in 21 years, you say? You know what hasn't changed? I still think you're a horrible person, and you still aren't apologizing. I decided immediately that this was enough dialogue for me.
Feel free to say hi in another 21 years or so, and have a nice day.
There's some traffic outside, and no one playing in it. Go work on that.
I'd like to point out that I haven't sworn and haven't insulted anyone, and that I still haven't been apologized to. Mr. X responded with a "thumbs up" graphic, and wrote: Lol! Am I gonna see you at class reunion?
At this point I wondered if I hadn't been clear, somehow. Was I not being hostile enough? Was my open rudeness coming across as humor? I'd always thought Mr. X had a kind of dumb cunning, but was it possible that he was just dumb?
Before I could answer his question, he wrote again: My kids say hi..... Thought you might wanna say hi at the reunion.....
And then he sent me pictures of his four children.
What, exactly, are those pictures supposed to tell me? Do you imagine that I'm going to think you're a changed person just because you forgot to put on a rubber four times? And what on earth would I say to them when I saw them at the reunion? "Hi. In high school your daddy was a total asshole piece of shit, and I sincerely prayed a number of times that Jesus would run him over with a school bus and set him on fire in the street. What grade are you in?" All of a sudden we're in that scene in Kill Bill when The Bride explains to Copperhead that, "You and I have unfinished business. And not a goddamned thing you've done in the subsequent four years including getting knocked up is going to change that," except in that scene Copperhead actually apologized more than once and I have yet to see the word "sorry" appear on my screen.
Once again, I bit back my urge to swear, and actually struggled to find a nice way to say "Fuck the fuck off":
I won't be at the reunion. I already see and talk to the people that I would want to.
I'm sure you feel that you're a nice person now, and you might even actually be, but you're not a person that I want to know.
That is the nicest I could have possibly been. Romy and Michele said worse things to Christy Masters than I typed right there. I showed a tremendous amount of restraint, and I lied. I don't believe that you might actually be a nice person now. I don't believe that you'd ever have any idea of how to even pretend to be a nice person. I'm willing to bet that you're so far from being a nice person that the light from "nice person" will never reach you in our lifetime. I find it more believable that you're still a bully and still an asshole, especially since you still haven't managed to apologize and you somehow think that 21 years without talking balances out 5 years of verbal and physical harassment. And the reunion? You think I'm going to the reunion to voluntarily spend time with people like you when I spent eighth to twelfth grade counting down the time until I never had to speak to you again? Someone would have to drive up to my house with a dumptruck full of money and a handful of Clark bars to get me to that reunion, and then there better be an open bar and a lot of fried cheese.
Mr. X finally seemed to understand that I didn't feel like chatting: Truthfully you still wouldnt want to know me.... and i am a nice respectful person...Just saying Hi Joel..... Take care, hope all is well.....
All was well until you started poking me.
And you still haven't apologized.
And I'm still mad about it.
I talked to my mom about this after it happened, since she apparently still sometimes encounters and speaks to Mr. X. My mom wants me to be a better person, and understands that I also want myself to be a better person, so she tried to offer some different perspectives.
"Maybe he's changed. Or maybe he's really sick. You know, thinking about his life and stuff. Maybe he's in a twelve step program."
Maybe he is.
But I realized, in thinking about this, that I don't care. I don't care what his reason is, or what his circumstances are now, because I still remember what his circumstances were then, when he had the upper hand. Every day, he made a conscious choice to make my life worse. Every day, for five years. Every day, he had a choice to be nice, or even to be neutral, and he decided to be hurtful instead. Every day, and even though those days were 21 years ago, I still remember them when people remind me. Every day he had something I wanted: to be left alone.
Now I have something he wants.
Now I have the upper hand.
And I'm no better than he was.