I could only take so much of the bullies on the old stories, but I usually had fun with the regulars on the main boards. Any rifts I tried to put behind me, figuring that they may have been caused by misunderstandings from not knowing each other well enough. Dana (Spartancheerleader) turned 30 in March, and we all wished her a happy birthday. She talked about a party at her house, and we joked that we were all going to it and how there would be various activities, including mud wrestling. I found a photo online of two women mud wrestling—it actually looked like it could be Dana and me—and posted it the day after the party. That got laughs. Two_Dogs had fun teasing her about her age, usually adding another year or two to annoy her further. It was all in good fun, though, and those two were a riot, trading barbs about each other’s home states, Iowa and Wisconsin. He’d also tease her about how “Dana is a man’s name.” Two Dogs delighted in “putting Dana in her place” and would order her to bring him a Snapple—now! Cluckie-the-Chicken and pbrown interjected plenty of humorous comments, Grahamcracker1966 (Larry) shocked me with tales of his escapades with groupies and young girlfriends, and crude but loveable Max_Rain_Beer often smashed his balls with a hammer.

Edna Bambrick still reported unruly posters and sometimes fell to pieces when the insults became too much (“I am crying because of you people”). Cindybin2005 still teased me and tried to ruin my good name, posting things about Jesus sending pot smokers to hell and other such nonsense. These statements would get people riled up, and I’d have a hard time convincing them that it was a troll. Many times they gave up trying to figure out who was real and who wasn’t. Sometimes I gave up myself, and just sat back and watched the chaos unfold. The regulars knew my ID’s, of course, but the newbies and lots of other people still did not. One time people were talking about how horrible Cindybin is. “I feel sorry for her,” said one woman. Well, she had to have been talking about Cindybin2005. Even so, I felt bad. I didn’t want people getting me mixed up with imposters. The same guy behind Cindybin2005 trolled Dana as well, and she would get really mad sometimes.

I’m not certain when Petewhodammit joined all this debauchery, but he was easy to talk to and hit it off with the other regulars. If I checked my email late at night and saw him or Two_Dogs on a board, I’d snap, “Get to bed!” and they would respond with a quip or strike up conversation. Although Pete and I did have a rocky start; for a long time he thought I wasn’t real, or that I was a man, and said some pretty crude things to me. I’d get mad and ask him, “What do I say that is so far-fetched that you’d think I can’t be real???”

Pete was the first to admit he is a very cynical person, and I could understand why. There were a lot of people on those boards who weren’t real, especially when it came to guys posing as women (more about that later). Jennytsisfun was in a category all her or his own, however. The “ts” in her name stands for transsexual, which this person freely admitted they were. I had no problem with that, but I didn’t think she was honest about who she really was. In her profile, she had used pictures of many different women, claiming them all to be her. She would lead men on, trying to get them to talk sexy to her, coyly accepting their compliments and leaving her email address. She would make troll posts asserting things like how men had a good reason to cheat if their partner did not stay home and attend to housework and womanly duties. Dana and I saw right through her. But even though Pete thought I was a man, he seemed convinced that Jenny was real, a real transsexual, that is. I kept trying to tell him that I had known her longer, and saw all the photos she used. “They can’t all be her,” I’d say. “She may be a transsexual, but I don’t think she’s honest about who she really is.”

Cluckie-the-Chicken was definitely a man, and did not mince words when it came to women. Disrespectful as it was, I couldn’t help but laugh at his “Exact Procedure Normal Men Use to Read Posts”:

1. Look at the ID and guess if it is a chick.
2. Open the post.
3. Quickly determine how much reading is involved.
4. Open profile and search for pic.
5. If no pic, just bail out of entire post no matter how on/off target it might be—no response unless there is a quick way to insult her.
6. If her ID has “cat”, “kitty”, “feline”, “goddess”, “princess” or anything remotely to do with cats just bail out of entire post because SHE IS FAT and I GUARANTEE there is no pic of a woman (most likely it will be a cat). Just move on.
7. If there is a pic but it is something stupid (like a pic of a cat), just bail out of entire post no matter how on/off target it might be unless there is a quick way to insult her.
8. If there is a pic and there is ANY type of female-likeness, determine whether to
   a. Make a cheesy online pickup line/ say “nice fake pic”
   b. Comment on her “looks” or lack thereof
   c. Respond to her post (if it is less than 3 lines) in hopes that she will send naked pics.

“Have a good day!” he concluded.

Bluelightenron listed some of the more common topics trolls often posted about, in his thread entitled “Welcome to the Yahoo Message Boards!” You kind of had to be familiar with the boards in order to understand some of the references, but his post gave one an idea of what went on and how trolls might get people riled up.

“If you’re new to the Message Boards, relax and take a look around the place,” he wrote. “You’ll find plenty do here. Various threads are often started about a myriad of topics, including:

Roger Moore’s health
Sodomizing corpses
Cindybin’s feminist viewpoints
Red State/Blue State wars
The Iraq War
The Vietnam War
The Peloponneisan War
Which Spartanchearleader is legit?
Oh, and also the topic of the article.

“When posting to the message boards,” he added, “you’ll want to be heard, so TYPE IN ALL CAPS when forming your subject line, but refrain from all caps when typing your message otherwise you will be perceived as retarded.”

“Many common abbreviations have come into use on the boards, but my personal favorite is fvck, otherwise known as “fivvick”. You can fivvick someone as often as you want and the parental filter somehow ignores it. The word fivvick originated from Roman times when the letter “u” hadn’t been invented yet but the letter “v” already had been. No one’s sure why “v” came before “u”, but fortunately if you fivvick someone everyone will know what you mean.

So enjoy the boards! If you have any other questions, be sure to ask any obeseloads member.”

“Obeseloads” referred to one of the longtime trolls, uobeseloads (and various derivatives). I used to get annoyed when he’d appear on every weight-related story with long rants, referring to American women as “farm animals” or worse, but I soon realized he was a master troll and just took everything he said in stride. Lots of people laughed and/or joined in with the insults, and they had every right to do so. Uobeseloads may have been mean, but I supported his right to speak his mind, even if it was all an act (which I’m not sure it was!).

In fact, on March 19 I posted a response to judeanslingshot against her petition for moderating the boards. A major headline at that time involved a Florida girl who had been murdered, and the trolls were out in full force, describing unimaginable acts against children. Many people were shocked and yelling at the posters, threatening to report them to the FBI. Those in favor of the petition hoped it would rid Yahoo of all the perverts. 

“I do not agree with this petition at all,” I wrote. “I know there are obscene messages on these boards, but they should NOT be moderated. If everyone reported every person who they thought was crazy or offensive, or who they disagreed with, we would ALL be reported every day, including ME! I have been banned from several moderated boards for nicely stating my opinions on such matters as how women should not pose for pornography, or that people should not smoke pot, etc. I was always nice, never cutting anyone down, never using bad language, while other people were mean and cruel and insulting toward me. Yet who got banned from these sites? Me. For having morals and being nice. On these Yahoo boards, I can say anything I want, including giving my opinions on moral issues, etc. I can yell at people for using offensive language like calling blacks the n-word, or yell at guys for using offensive language toward women. And nobody can ban me. We can all say what we want, and that is a GOOD thing.

“Yes, there are perverts on these boards. But I would say virtually all the people posting these remarks about young children are doing it for shock value only, and would NEVER say these things in real life. Just don’t worry about it! If you don’t want to see these posts, don’t come to these boards!”

I’m sure my post got lost in the shuffle, but it did get a few recs. And as far as I know, there still are no plans to make Yahoo boards moderated.

I became acquainted with more and more people on the older stories, including Kristclear, a young mother of a little daughter. She was friends with the Tough Chicks, but I had seen her on other stories as well, and one time she even emailed me to tell me of a troll who had doctored up my profile picture by putting my face on a porn body. She said she would be very upset if someone did that to her, adding that she still wasn’t even sure if I was real or a troll, but that she just wanted to warn me. I thanked her and told her that I knew of the picture and knew the guy who made that imposter ID (Cindybin2006) but that he was okay, just had kind of a unique sense of humor. I said I didn’t mind because it was so obviously fake-looking. What I minded more, I said, were the profiles that really did look real, where people might think it was me and get the wrong impression. I assured Kris that I was a real person, and thanked her again for her concern.

On the boards, I got on Kris for using crude language and acronyms, as I did with others. This was really getting to be a pet peeve, after seeing so many women who thought nothing of casually using the a-word and worse. The phrases abounded. “She’s got a stick up her *ss”. “Some lame-*ss senator from Pennsylvania…” “I don’t give a rat’s *ss about such-and-such…” “I just about laughed my *ss off!”

I thought about how in real life, I might be at a Tupperware party where there is laughter, or I might be chatting with a friend who is laughing, but they don’t say, “Oh Cindy, I’m laughing my f*cking *ss off!” On the Yahoo boards, however, this is what I saw. It’s what would stand out, these women posting some comment and then adding, “LMFAO!” or using bad language. It was right there on my computer screen, and I could not miss it. If heard a woman in real life use such language, I doubt I would have the guts to say anything. I rarely heard these words in real life—I think I heard one friend use the sh-word once or twice in the 20 plus years I’ve known her, and a couple of the women I worked with in years past used some language, but I did not say anything to them. And I honestly don’t remember any of my male co-workers swearing. If they did, they didn’t do it in front of me. 

But the rules were different on the Internet. When Kris used bad language, I’d say, “You are a mother! You should not be talking like that! It is so crude and unladylike!” Not that she spoke this way in front of her daughter, but it was just the fact that she used this language at all that bothered me. I admit that by speaking up like this, in many cases I was “asking for it”. But I would not purposely try to hurt someone. I wouldn’t pick on a mousy wimp who easily got their feelings hurt (like me). But I figured any woman gutsy enough to casually use such language could certainly take a few comments from little Cindybin.

On the main boards as well, it seemed like every time I opened a post by a woman, I’d see some crude word or acronym. I would ask, “Do you know what LMFAO means?” attempting to make them realize just how they were coming across. More often than not I’d get a response like, “Yes, it means laughing my f*cking *ss off, bitch! Now go f*ck yourself!” Or they’d call me uptight and a prude. It just saddened me that these women could talk this way. I shuddered to think the type of guy I might have attracted in my dating years had I casually used such words.

One time the subject of one-night stands came up on one of the older stories, and Kris said some things about her sexual past, noting that she had engaged in a one-night stand or stands in her dating years. I of course could not imagine doing such a thing, and supposed that her value system had changed since she married and become a mother. I said I know that people are different, and tried talking to her one-on-one, saying that I was surprised she did that but I was sure she felt differently now, and that it was alright as long as she repented and realized it was wrong. I said this in all sincerity, really thinking she’d understand where I was coming from.

Imagine my surprise when I received her reply, beginning with “LMFAO!” Kris firmly stated that she did not “repent” of her one-night stand or stands, and that she would have “NO PROBLEM” doing it again if she were not married. I was just appalled. How could she feel that way? She was a mother, raising a little daughter, and this was her value system when it came to sex?

I responded with one of the most heartfelt posts I had ever composed, really trying to appeal to her sense of morality, asking if this was how she wanted her daughter to think of sex when she grew up. “Look at that sweet little girl,” I said. “Do you really want her to sleep with some man who she will never see again, who will never care about her? Is this what you want for your little darling?” I went on and on about how wrong this is, that I was very, very concerned she had this view. My post even received one recommendation, from whom I don’t know. And I also don’t know if Kris even saw my post; she didn’t say anything if she did. But I still think back to that, how surprised I was at her response.

More and more people joined the gang on the older stories, posting on the “bully boards” as I called them. Robert_not_Bobby, a divorced father in his 30’s, was fairly nice to me, although he just couldn’t grasp the fact that I had never smoked pot, and that I didn’t drink alcohol, coffee or tea. “I have never met anyone like you,” he told me. He smoked pot occasionally and did not think anything of it. As did Owner_Androidsdungeon, also a father. Owner could be quite mean to me and I was afraid of him. He said he smoked to alleviate jaw pain which he had suffered since high school. I was sympathetic and tried to be nice to him, but it didn’t help much. As with Angela, I tried to explain to him that I did not have a problem with medical marijuana, and that his situation was much different than what I was addressing about how parents teaching their kids to stay away from drugs.

I had taken a break from reading Funnychick’s posts, but peaked now and then and saw that she was still the same. Suddenly it dawned on me: I wondered if she smoked pot. We had never discussed that before, but she did hang around with all the Tough Chicks who either smoked or thought nothing was wrong with it and who made fun of me. That was certainly a sign. So one day I asked her. It took awhile to get a straight answer from her, but I did find out that she had used marijuana several times in her adult years, and even had a bag of it out in the garage. She said she and her husband smoked it a few times, and she “never felt so relaxed.” She didn’t think there was a thing wrong with it, even though she was a married mother of three.

Arrrggghhh! So that explained it, I thought. No wonder she acted the way she did with me. And here I had been so upset because I thought I was dealing with someone who shared my views and the views of most people I knew. But she and I were quite different, I realized. I of course chastised her, telling her exactly what I thought about her marijuana usage. And then, because she still upset me so much, I went back to ignoring her. Until the end of March, that is, when I caught her making one of her most insulting posts yet.

Chapter 10
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