|CHAPTER FOUR: GETTING ACQUAINTED WITH THE REGULARS
While continuing to have fun on the headline boards, I eventually discovered the “index” section on Yahoo, which listed all the older stories no longer on the main page. These were stories which could be months, even years old, and were still kept active depending on how many people posted on them and brought them to the top of the list in whatever category they were in, be it health, community, top stories, local, lifestyle and the like.
On one of those older stories I became acquainted with a guy named EXMRX (or something like that). I called him Exie for short. He was a young, married father of two small children, and smoked pot occasionally to unwind. So did his wife. I and another poster, Marcus_Brutus03, spent a good amount of time with Exie. Marcus was one of the few people on Yahoo who was against marijuana, although we definitely had different styles of talking to people about it, he being much more blunt and insulting. He’d call them dumb*sses and losers, and was against legalization, whereas I tried to focus on genuinely trying to help people figure out why they smoked pot in the first place. I always figured that once we got to the root of that problem, the whole legal issue was obsolete.
Marcus did come up with a lot of good arguments, quoting studies and facts from anti-drug sites and publications. On one older pot board in November, a guy named mortar_and_pestile talked about how people have always used mind-altering substances, noting that South American Indians have chewed cocoa leaves for millennia. A 40-year-old man, Mortar said that “natural highs are insufficient” and that “a good meal and a little love has never been enough.” I told Mortar that it was pretty sad that other cultures feel the need to get high or stoned, and that just because they do doesn’t make it right. “And what do you mean, ‘a good meal and a little love has never been enough?’ It always has for me! I have NEVER felt the need to get high or stoned,” I said. I ask him about his hobbies, trying to help him figure out a way to enjoy life without using drugs.
Marcus told Mortar that South American Indians used cocoa leaves and such primarily for rituals and vision seeking. “It was spiritual for them. I doubt its spiritual for you or all the other potheads,” he said. Marcus also backed me up about how casual smokers keep the whole illegal drug trade going. “Casual smokers (1-2 times/month) provide more business than addicted pot smokers because of their sheer numbers,” he said. He went on to cite a study which said young people who use marijuana are four times more likely to engage in violence and three times more likely than non-users to consider suicide (violence against themselves). “The drug trade is inherently violent, whether the drug is marijuana, heroin, cocaine, or any other illicit drug. Users contribute to the economic lure of breaking the law and place themselves in dangerous situations,” he said.
Coner13, a 40-year-old woman with a professional job in the legal field, said she had been smoking pot for almost 20 years. “It’s less harmful than cigarettes or alcohol,” she said, urging me to “get educated” and read how marijuana became illegal, so that I would “become enlightened.” I told her I already knew why pot became illegal, and that if you got busted, it wouldn’t help to tell the judge that because they’ve heard it all before and don’t care. Besides, I added, even if it were legal, most parents would still raise their kids to stay away from drugs. She then told me, “People like you are the reason the illegal drug trade exists. You are far more responsible for the crime and deaths involved in drug use than I ever will be. If you support the status quo war on drugs, you are IMO responsible for the resulting crime.”
“I am in no way responsible for the resulting crime,” I replied. “You are the one going out and purchasing this illegal drug, lighting it afire, smoking it, and getting stoned.”
As with Mortar, I asked Coner about her hobbies. But I got nowhere. She and the others accused me of being a “sheep” and only doing what the government tells me to do. They said I need to learn to make my own decisions in life. I argued that I am anything but a sheep, that I do make my own decisions and have never had the slightest urge to get “high”. Then Coner said I was “misguided” and that she felt “truly sorry for me”. She and the other pot smokers began calling me a troll—probably all they could come up with since they couldn’t argue with me.
My conversations with Exie were much more civilized, however. He and I got along pretty well, never really becoming irritated or upset. Many times I dropped my mother mode spiel and got very serious, sincerely trying to help the person, finding out why they smoked pot and what made them tick. That’s what I did with Exie. I got him to tell me about his hobbies and interests, his family, his background. He seemed like a well-rounded person. He was a nice guy and I told him so. He even talked about having me over for dinner sometime to meet the family, adding that he of course would not offer me marijuana.
Exie was one of the few people I felt I made a “dent” with. While he never did concede that there was anything wrong with occasionally lighting up a joint and getting “high”, he said that from talking to me, he realized that as “a man with responsibilities”, perhaps he should think twice about using this illegal substance, especially since he is a father. I think Exie thought I was a “troll” at first, but as he got to know me, he realized I was a real person and understood where I was coming from. He said that he felt I cared about him as a person and that I really was trying to help him.
A lot of people thought I was a troll (which I think they only said in order to justify their pot-smoking; if I wasn’t real in their eyes, then they did not have to believe the common-sense things I said). I admit my “mother mode” was somewhat of a spiel, but I really did believe in what I was saying, it was not far-fetched at all, and certainly got people’s attention. They needed to hear the things I was saying! Before I spoke, I would try to imagine what my own mother might say if she ever found out I smoked pot. I could just hear it:
“Why Cindy, that’s terrible!” she would probably say with an astonished look on her face. “Didn’t your father and I teach you better than that? You should know better! You are a good girl! You shouldn’t be doing things like that!” She would not have been saying this to be a shrew or hurt me or tell me I was a bad person, but out of love and concern. And that’s what I felt these people needed to hear, that they were too GOOD to be smoking pot!
But I always heard all kinds of excuses. The list was endless. “Everybody smokes pot.” “From the dawn of time people have used mind-altering substances.” “The President of the United States used drugs.” “Carl Sagan smoked pot.” “Doctors, lawyers, teachers and all kinds of good people smoke pot.” “The Beatles smoked pot.”
That last one, about how the Beatles smoked it, always got to me. People would look at my profile and see that I was a Beatles fan, and use that against me. I’d tell them that yes, the Beatles did use drugs, but it was a different time and set of circumstances back then, and they certainly wouldn’t advocate it now. Three of the four Beatles went on to suffer addiction problems, and a couple of their wives even formed a support group for those with substance abuse problems. I saw an interview with Paul in recent years where he said he understands how parents tell their kids to stay away from drugs, that it’s what any good parent should do. His new wife Heather is very anti-marijuana. And what are parents supposed to do, tell their kids it is okay to light up and get “stoned”, because the Beatles smoked pot? And if they got busted, would a judge let them go because the Beatles smoked pot?
In response to those who posted lists of other famous people who smoked or smoke pot, or said how doctors and lawyers do this, I would say that just because so-and-so smokes it “doesn’t mean YOU have to”. I tried to talk to posters one-on-one, just one person at a time, because I knew I could not change the world. That’s how we make change anyway, one person at a time. I tried to show them I cared about them as a person, a single individual. “Aren’t you better than that?” I’d say. “Besides, if you got busted, a judge would not care how many famous people smoked pot. All they would care about is that YOU were doing it, and YOU would be the one to suffer the consequences.”
Schillinfl2 was a pot smoking regular on the main front-page boards who let me “yell” at him and sometimes tease him about his habit; I didn’t change his mind but he understood where I was coming from and didn’t put me down. He told others that I was a good person. “She wouldn’t hurt a fly,” he said once. It must have been near Christmas that someone posed the question of what we wanted for presents. Schillinfl2 listed a number of items. “You forgot the POT,” I snarled. “Nah, I can get that anytime,” he retorted. It was all in good fun.
But really, the only thing I did that might be considered the least bit troll-like was get on women for casually using profanity, which was one of the things I did with a group of ladies I found congregating on the older stories in the index section. I saw a lot of women on the front-page stories using crude words as well. And again, I wasn’t really being a troll, because I truly believed in what I was saying. I was just amazed at how so many of them casually used the a-word or worse, and used LMAO and LMFAO. For the uninformed, these acronyms commonly used to express one’s amusement, stand for “Laughing My *ss Off” and “Laughing My F*cking *Sss Off”, respectively. (I always simply used “Lol”, which stands for “Laughing Out Loud”.)
On the main boards, I often chastised guys who used the t-word for breasts. I’d tell them that it’s so crude and disrespectful toward women. Of course some of them would come back with a post where they repeated that t-word fifty or more times, all in capital letters, just to annoy me. I have a sense of humor and fully expected responses like that. But I was also hoping that my chastising them would at least make them think before using such language. About the only other word I’d yell at the guys for was the c-word, which is probably as low as you can go on the disrespectful scale. For the most part, I’d leave them alone if they used the more benign swear words, because if I typed out a post to every guy who used profanity, I would have worn my fingers to the bone. But when women used crude words, it just seemed so much worse. They were giving off such a bad impression.
Many of the women who congregated on those older stories also put me down for my views on marijuana. And these weren’t young punk teenagers; they were grown women, most with good jobs and families. “How could they put me down?” I thought. “What do I say about marijuana that is so far-fetched? They should be supporting me, not making fun of me!” I can’t remember when I first thought of this name, but I eventually started calling them the “Tough Chicks”. This gang and I developed a long, colorful and intense relationship, which I will expand upon later.
I continued to talk with the regulars on the current boards. As I mentioned, Spartancheerleader, or Dana, was one of the regular female posters there, so we couldn’t help but become acquainted. She was quite bit younger than me, not even 30, and more of a partier, meaning she enjoyed her alcohol. But she had never smoked pot, and usually used “arse” instead of the more crude-form of the a-word. I liked Sparty, as we called her, and I did not classify her as a Tough Chick.
I believe it was in October of 2004 that she and I and some of the others were on a story on the main page, something having to do with Arnold Palmer and golf. Some guy—I can’t remember who—posted something about oral sex, meaning the kind that a woman would perform on a man. I do not want to get too graphic or personal here, mainly because I don’t know who will be reading this. But I must warn that we are entering into what may be classified as the PG rated portion of this story. Any younger or more sensitive viewers may want to leave or prepare themselves.
On the Yahoo boards, virtually anything goes. People don’t think twice about referring to or describing any kind of sexual act imaginable and using terms for oral sex such as “blowjob” or “BJ”. I will try to only use the latter, but there will be times when I will get a little more graphic, just to make a point. Anyway, guys often would post about bj’s, saying crude things and making jokes about it. I had seen these types of posts for months. They all made it sound like every woman does this, and that the only thing that differentiated them was whether or not they “swallowed”.
I thought about the women I knew, and could not imagine them performing this act. My church friends, my non-church friends, the women I volunteered with over the years at school, library and Scout activities, my cousins, my aunts, my grandmothers…No, couldn’t imagine them doing this. Not that I wanted to imagine it. Whether or not they do is none of my business, and something I did not want to think about. I certainly know my own mother would never have even gotten anywhere near that area. I was thinking how it’s one thing for a woman to put her mouth there, but to perform the full-fledged “act to completion” so to speak, was quite another. That is an awful lot to ask of a woman, I thought, and really not what sex is about for a woman. I thought of the covers on romance novels, for instance—not that I read those books, but the pictures usually depict romantic scenes of a couple in a passionate embrace and about to kiss. Not of a woman sucking away on a penis. That was something you’d see in a porn magazine geared toward men. Yet I kept seeing posts about this act all the time, as if every woman was just dying to perform this act and did it regularly. I never said anything for a long time, figuring it was all just a lot of talk. I had tried to take everything in stride, not getting too worked up over anything. But I must have been in a feisty mood that day, so I finally spoke up.
“Where do you find women who do this?” I said. “And what makes you think all women do this?”
Well, I was totally unprepared for the responses that followed. Sparty made it clear that she engaged in this activity, and that everyone she knew did so as well. The guys all said their wives and partners and every woman they had ever met did this. I was mortified. I felt like some kind of freak, a failure. And the others were showing no sympathy.
I stuttered and stammered, trying to defend myself. A poster named Valerie appeared out of nowhere, saying, “Blowjobs? I like to give blowjobs,” and proceeded to talk about how this is something that virtually all women do. Another poster named Jeanie came on and said just about the same things, calling me uptight and making no effort to spare my feelings. At one point Spartan pointed out how if she and everyone she knows and all the others on the board do this, how could I think that most women don’t do it, and wasn’t she (Spartan) in the norm, not me? Again, I was feeling like a freak. I didn’t know what to do. If I didn’t defend myself and try to justify my feelings, I might as well divorce my husband and crawl into a hole and die, right? I had to think of why I was different than the women on Yahoo. I thought of how Sparty was much more of a partier, how she thought nothing of going to bars, how she has told of drunken escapades. She had also mentioned that she lost her virginity at age 16, and not with the man she married, either. This was something she just casually said on the boards. I was not making value judgments, but just thinking that these things she has done and does point to perhaps a different “personality type”, if you will. Someone who is more outgoing and aggressive, and therefore she maybe has “what it takes” to perform this act. So finally I answered her with some comment about how maybe she and I just hung around in different circles and had different types of friends or something.
Well, Vodka Good was there, someone I had been friendly with before, a guy in his late 30’s, married with two small children. He jumped on me and said, “In other words, Spartan is a slut?” I said no, that I was not saying that at all. He told me I owed her an apology. I did apologize, feeling absolutely terrible because I did not mean my comment to come out like that. I said that I liked Spartan very much and did not want to hurt her feelings.
I’m not sure what happened after that; the story had been off the front page for quite a while and there weren’t too many of us left, so we all kind of gravitated to other boards. I was just totally wiped out, ready to forget the whole incident. I was lurking on another board and saw Spartan and Troll-to-Troll talking about me, essentially saying that I was a prude. Troll-to-Troll mentioned my husband, how tough it must be to be married to me. “The poor guy,” he said. I was just astounded. I had been nice to Troll-to-Troll, and considered him an online friend. How could he say that about me, even if he didn’t think I was there to see it? Did he not realize how hurtful this was?
I stepped in. “What do you mean, ‘the poor guy’?” I said. I can’t remember what Troll-to-Troll said in response, if anything. Spartan merely said that they didn’t know much about my husband, and asked what he is like. Well, I was too upset to say anything, and left the boards and went off to cry. I fully expected an email of apology from Troll-to-Troll, but I never received anything. Later, I saw Spartan and pbrown talking about me. “I bet her husband has a huge porn stash!” Spartan said. I just couldn’t believe it. This was coming from Dana, who I had always been nice to? I felt so hurt, I didn’t know what to do.
The subject came up a few more times shortly after that, where I felt forced to defend myself or explain my feelings. For want of better words, I said that performing a bj was just so “aggressive and demonstrative”, and “too much work” for a woman. Well that came off all wrong, too, as if I were some lazy bum comparing it to a chore like vacuuming. I guess I was trying to say that I just did not have it in me to perform such an act, that I was not aggressive enough, and never thought that was an essential part of sex, and that I thought most other women felt the same way. I never even thought about that stuff until I came to the boards! And I couldn’t believe that people would make fun of me for this. The real bullies came out in full force, calling me a frigid, repressed prude and worse. I yelled at people, telling them that I’m not a prude, and that I’m sure there were women who would never even put their mouth on a penis and I would never make fun of them the way they do to me!
I caught pbrown and Sparty talking about me again. Pbrown was saying how he’s never known a woman who didn’t do oral. Again, not making value judgments, I thought about how different pbrown is from me, that he was living with his girlfriend and before that they had had sex while they were still “just friends” (something I cannot imagine), that I was certain they had both slept with other people before that, that he was a former pot-smoker, etc. I don’t know about his girlfriend, whether she smoked pot or not, but obviously she was involved with a man who had done that, and was involved with a man who had slept with other women. This was not like me at all. So the women he had been with were different than me. I had to point out these differences to myself in order to keep from feeling like a freak.
Melony_Shitneck was another bully who made fun of me. I had seen him make nice, decent posts on some serious stories. Yet to me, he thought nothing of saying how his wife performed bj’s and describing some “episodes” for me, trying to make me feel bad. How could he be so mean? But then I thought about what type of woman his wife must be, if she were with a guy like him. “Well I would not marry a man who would make up a profile name like yours, with the sh-word,” I told him. And it’s true. My husband would never use a name like that. He also would not make fun of a woman the way Melony_Shitneck did. I said this in order to differentiate between this guy’s wife and me, to show that she has got to be someone I would not want to be like.
The hurtful comments continued from him and others, but I really tried to not let it get to me too much. I still continued to post on Yahoo with the regulars on the main boards, and the “Tough Chicks” on the older stories. Sometimes I visited a separate lowcarb forum as a respite. But that proved to be just as bad, if not worse, as Yahoo.