Blog Archives

Jackass of the Day VII

Living proof that ignorance is bliss (Facebook)

Living proof that ignorance is bliss (Facebook)

A while back, I started assigning Jackass of the Day awards to people in the news who either did something stupid or said something stupid. And trust me when I tell you that today’s recipient may be more deserving of this title than anyone I have featured here before.

Today’s award winner is none other than Pastor Steven Anderson of Tempe, Arizona’s Faithful Word Baptist Church.

In a sermon delivered late last month, Anderson cited Leviticus 18:22 and offered his final solution for ending HIV/AIDS. He explained that homosexuals are “filled with disease because of the judgment of God,” and things took a more ignorant turn as he continued:

“Anybody who’s a homo or bi—it’s all the same category—sodomite is what the Bible would call them… it was right there in the Bible all along… it’s curable right there… if you executed the homos like God recommends, you wouldn’t have all this AIDS running rampant.”

Basically, Anderson claimed “we [could] have an AIDS-free world by Christmas” if we “executed” all gay people. See for yourself by going HERE.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t “thou shalt not kill” one of the Ten Commandments? And weren’t they supposedly handed down by God and delivered by Moses? I’m no Biblical authority, but I do remember something about this from Sunday school.

Of course, Anderson is the same jackass who once argued for women to remain silent in church. “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection,” he said in a prior sermon. “But I suffer not a woman to teach nor to usurp authority over the man.”

Obviously, this guy has some issues. And he also has an award. Congratulations on being our Jackass of the Day… if not Jackass of the Millennium!

Row Naked

warwick

How could anyone find this offensive? (Warwick Rowing)

Since 2009, the University of Warwick men’s rowing team has produced a naked calendar to raise money for cancer research and support. And in 2013, the women’s rowing team decided to join them, only their experience wasn’t quite as positive.

For whatever reason, the team’s Facebook page started receiving complaints from prudes everywhere, but it never caused any serious problems—until last week, that is.

Because “some people” found the 2014 images of gorgeous, naked women doing rowing-type things offensive—and I have no idea who those people might be, aside from a bunch of buzz kills—Facebook deleted the team’s page last week. However, the page for the naked men’s rowing team was allowed to remain untouched, a fact that upset many female rowers, including calendar organizer Sophie Bell.

“Facebook has unpublished our page a few times since we created it, due to what it deemed ‘inappropriate images,’” Bell said recently.

warwick rowing

Sorry, but this is what I imagine Heaven must look like (Warwick Rowing)

Fellow rower Frankie Salzano also could not understand the ban. “We have worked hard to create a tasteful and artistic calendar in which the girls’ bodies are strategically covered,” she told The Huffington Post. “The photographs we feel are an accurate representation of an athletic female body, something to be celebrated and not shunned, especially because there are Facebook pages that are degrading to the female form.”

I could not agree more, Frankie. And fortunately, Facebook finally came around and lifted the ban last Friday morning. Of course, all of this begs the question:

If Facebook gives my information to third-party vendors, experiments on me and other users without our permission, and then permits “man ass” over young, naked women, why the hell do I still have an account there?

Tombstone Tech

Be sure to take your cell phone or tablet to the cemetery (Star Tribune)

Be sure to take your cell phone or tablet to the cemetery (Star Tribune)

Technology is everywhere and continues to advance at breakneck speed. And now it seems that even death can’t prevent us from “staying connected” online through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Yes, we may all end up as ghosts in the machine someday—and an Alabama-based company known as Memorysquare is already making this happen. Here’s how they describe themselves—and their innovative new service—on their website:

At Memorysquare we believe that the true value of what we do is found in helping pass on to future generations a life once lived. There is great healing that comes in remembering, reflecting and honoring a life. We provide a user-friendly platform that combines memorialization and technology that enables users of mobile devices to connect to this personalized tribute page while visiting the cemetery. Friends and family are able to post comments and even share content on popular social sites.

This is how it works: When you die and your remains are shipped to the cemetery for burial, your tombstone includes a QR code that links to a personalized memorial page—for a small, one-time fee, that is. The current price is $125 for a non-video tribute and $245 if you prefer video be included. Once registration has been completed—most likely by a family member, unless you’re proactive and want to register while you’re still breathing—a memorial site is launched that allows users to post obituaries, photos, videos and other information about the deceased (or soon-to-be deceased, whatever the case may be). Visitors to your grave can then use their mobile devices to read your QR code, link to your memorial site, learn more about your life and even contribute their own remembrances.

Who could influence hackers to use this technology for evil? Could it be... SATAN! (NBC/Getty Images)

Who could influence hackers to use this technology for evil? Could it be… SATAN! (NBC/Getty Images)

Pretty freaky, huh?

As I mentioned, this service is still new, so I have heard very little about their security protocols. I do wonder how something like this might be exploited by hackers, though—especially after falling victim to those Target hackers at Christmastime. QR codes link directly to individuals’ memorial sites, but they still have to be housed somewhere online… and there’s the rub. Hackers work in cyberspace, so I wouldn’t be surprised if someone visited a cemetery, scanned a tombstone QR code and suddenly found themselves at some porn site or worse… at the launch page for the Satanic Temple!

Stranger things have happened…

An Appeal to Readers

Readers are the greatest people in the world (Blogging Tips Today)

Readers are the greatest people in the world (Blogging Tips Today)

In June of 2012, I decided to start a personal blog primarily to force myself to start writing again, but also to see if what I wrote would appeal to anyone besides me. Actually, that may not be accurate since no one is as critical of my work as I am. Nevertheless, I found a great platform—WordPress is awesome—and got the proverbial ball rolling. And I can say without apprehension that blogging has been a positive—and eye-opening—experience in more ways than one.

The WordPress features I enjoy the most are the statistics, especially since I place a lot of importance on measuring and evaluating my own progress. If the statistics collected by WP are to be believed—and I have no reason to think they shouldn’t be—then things have been going pretty well. Here are some highlights:

  • Total views in the last 17 months total more than 204,000 and my average monthly yield is roughly 12,000 views. Of course, some people view multiple posts—or multiple pictures of sexy women, who I frequently include on my blog—so this stat should be accompanied by a grain of salt.
  • I somehow managed to attract nearly 1,300 followers, but a large segment of them come through my Facebook account. However, there are more than 350 people out there who subscribe via email, as well as a few dozen who connect with me through Twitter. I don’t care where they come from because collectively, they’re the best!
  • More than 4,500 comments have been posted by readers and since I reply to all of them—sometimes repeatedly—you can probably double that number to measure my total responses. And I can say this: the weekend that my work appeared on Freshly Pressed was grueling in terms of replying to comments. Granted, they were largely positive, but my hands (and mind) took a beating!
  • There is no clear measurement for the number of unique visitors to my blog, but my daily average jumped from only a handful when I first began to approximately 250-300 visitors today. Some of these are my so-called “frequent flyers,” and I can’t express how much I appreciate their interest and loyalty… love ‘em!
  • Thanks to the pressure I place on myself to post at least one article each day, my net gross of articles is nearly 900 since last year—on average, this amounts to roughly 53 articles each month, although I sometimes post multiple articles within the same day. This doesn’t happen much any more since life tends to be a lot busier these days.
  • Since last June, people in 192 different countries and provinces have viewed my work. In fact, about the only areas on the world map not infected by my “freakiness” are in central Africa and the former Soviet Union bloc—mostly in the nations that end in –stan. Honestly, this is the statistic that impresses me the most, although most of these international folks may be deployed American military personnel. You never know.
You gotta love WordPress! (Eightfold)

You gotta love WordPress! (Eightfold)

I know these statistics may not mean much—and definitely mean more to me than anyone else—but they can work wonders on a person’s ego. Things like total views and comments don’t strike me nearly as much as views from other countries, though. The very thought that people all over the world have viewed my blog—even if they stumbled across it accidentally or visited simply to view those sexy pictures I referenced before—is extremely exciting to me, especially since I come from an international family. Again, these may simply come from U.S. soldiers living abroad, but I have received some comments written in Arabic, Japanese and a host of other languages.

Incidentally, I apologize if one of those comments came from you and I failed to reply. I don’t speak—or read—many languages, but there are tons of translation programs online that could help. The problem is that most of these comments end up in the spam folder and are accidentally deleted in my haste to maintain order within my blog. My unique combination of obsessive-compulsive disorder and attention-deficit disorder demand it, I’m sorry to say.

None of this is being shared to “toot my own horn” or to try to impress any single ladies in the crowd—unless it’s working, in which case this WAS my real intention! Ha ha ha ha!

Seriously, though, here’s why I chose to share these statistics today, especially those related to blog visitors, followers and the countries they represent: I want to give something back to you, dear reader. For this reason, I have a request that some may even consider as a charge to anyone reading this. Thanks in advance to anyone who considers helping me out.

Since readers are the people who inspire me, motivate me and give meaning to my life as a fledgling writer, I would LOVE to get a sense of who they are, where they’re located and what stories they have to share. Of course, I understand how sketchy it can be to share personal information online, so here’s what I’m proposing:

If you are willing to share this information—or even to submit a guest post, which I am totally open to—then please do so by leaving a comment on my blog or sending an email to gnosticbent@outlook.com.

The world of Gnostic Bent  (WordPress & I)

The world of Gnostic Bent (WordPress & I)

However, I do ask that you remove any personal information you feel uncomfortable sharing with me or others first. This includes anyone who sends an email—I promise not to use your address for evil, but feel free to send emails from a dummy account if it makes you feel better. I am all about safety and identity protection. Believe me.

You should also know that getting no response won’t devastate me or propel me into a deep, spiraling depression. The same holds for criticism, all of which I find constructive in some way. Trust me. I’m a big boy, so I can handle it.

There you have it, ladies and gentlemen: a plea for my wonderful readers to share their stories so I can return the favor and share them with “the world according to Gnostic Bent.” And I’m serious about submitting guest posts, too. I truly believe that writers, artists and anyone who dwells in the land of the imagination should stick together and do whatever possible to support one another. So by all means, send me your work and I will do my best to get some eyes on it. You have my word.

Thanks for an amazing 17 months and a life-changing experience, peeps! You ALL kick ass and I hope to see you here again soon!

Parents in Peril

The Fresh Prince had it right... or did he? (Spontaneous Life)

The Fresh Prince had it right… or did he? (Spontaneous Life)

By now, we all realize the dangers our children face. There are active shooters in schools, bullies, drugs, sex predators and countless other threats to our kids’ lives, and it seems as if no one… and no where… is safe anymore.

Unfortunately, contemporary life isn’t all that safe for parents, either, who face unique dangers of their own. Some are self-inflicted, of course, and some even involve their own children. One thing is for certain, though: parents all over the world are in peril.

See for yourself.

Mitchell Simon (WRGT-TV)

Mitchell Simon (WRGT-TV)

Last Wednesday evening, 16-year-old Mitchell Simon of Liberty Township, Ohio—an honor student with no criminal record—posted this status on his Facebook page: “I’m so pissed at everything I’m boutta be wreckless.” A few hours later, he tied his parents’ bedroom door shut, lit a fire outside it, stole his father’s car and took off.

Fortunately, Mitchell’s parents survived the unexpected attack, but they were both very much the worse for wear. Perry Simon, 50, had to jump from the second floor window and broke both of his legs. And Sharon Simon, 56, escaped with the help of deputies and fire crews, but inhaled quite a bit of smoke in the process. They were both transported to a nearby hospital and should fully recover.

Their son, on the other hand, won’t be so lucky. He has been charged with one count of aggravated arson and two counts of attempted murder. Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones is even planning to press for him to be tried as an adult, especially since detailed and premeditated murder plans were recovered from his home—complete with drawings and diagrams, as I understand. If convicted, Mitchell could be going away for a long, long time… or worse, since capital punishment is still legal in Ohio.

Burning down the Simon house (Jennifer Edwards Baker/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

Burning down the Simon house (Jennifer Edwards Baker/The Cincinnati Enquirer)

If you’re noticing a pattern in the media of seemingly well-balanced, innocent teenagers suddenly snapping, that’s because it continues to grow with each passing day. I’m not sure what—or who—is to blame, but something tells me parents aren’t always as guiltless as they seem. Consider this next story from Bogota, Colombia.

Margarita de Jesus Zapata Moreno, 45—a mother of 14 with one hell of a long name—was arrested this week for allegedly prostituting 12 of her daughters and selling their virginity to older men for as little as $160 a pop… pun intended.

Although Zapata denies the accusations, police believe that she started selling each daughter as soon as they turned 12 years old. One of her daughters was even impregnated and gave birth to a baby boy when she was only 14!

It’s pretty sick, if you ask me. And who among us would really be surprised if one of these abused girls suddenly lashed out and started killing people? In the ongoing debate over nature versus nurturewhich focuses on whether we gain our physical and behavioral traits genetically or through our personal life experiences—I tend to lean towards nurture. Yes, there are things we get genetically from our parents and relatives—pattern baldness, down’s syndrome and a host of others—but I still believe the people we become is largely determined by the experiences we have and the lessons we learn from others.

No viva Zapata... ella es mala! (National Police of Colombia/EPA/Landov)

No viva Zapata… ella es mala! (National Police of Colombia/EPA/Landov)

Parents, of course, are at the top of this list—those who are actually involved in their children’s lives, I mean. We all know there are deadbeats all over the place, and when I hear about them, I am reminded of a quote I heard some time ago: “Any fool can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a dad.” The same could apply to parents in general, if you ask me—any fool can be a parent, but it takes a good person to be a mom or a dad.

This seems reasonable, but what happens when the parents are good people, only they aren’t allowed to be with their children?

The Soza family of Miami, Florida has been asking themselves this same question recently. Last week, Ronald Soza took his kids—Cesia, 17, and Ronald Jr., 14—to school and dropped them off as he had so many times before. Only this time when he returned home, he had some unexpected visitors: U.S. Immigration agents.

You see, Ronald is an undocumented immigrant from Nicaragua who has been living with another family—the Sandigos—while he works to support his family. Unfortunately, his wife and the kids’ mother—Marisela—was deported more than five years ago. Ronald will be joining her soon.

Cesia and Ronald Jr. (CNN Mexico)

Cesia and Ronald Jr. (CNN Mexico)

Now two kids who are American citizensboth having been born in this country and doomed to “mixed status” with their parents, who could be deported and taken from them at any moment—are all alone and may face foster care and even separation from one another. For now, at least, they remain with the Sandigo family in Miami. I only hope they can stay there until our government finally addresses immigration issues and finds a realistic solution to situations like theirs.

In 1989—as part of D.J. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince—rapper and actor Will Smith won a Grammy for the single “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” Today—and because of people like Zapata, the virginity peddler—this still rings true, but I can say this: parents are starting to understand a lot more. And given the dangers that await them in the world—even those coming from within their own families—the timing couldn’t be better… and the need could not be greater, either.

A Rock and a Hard Place

 

The natural beauty of Goblin Valley is impossible to deny... (Binh Pham Photography)

The natural beauty of Goblin Valley is impossible to deny… (Binh Pham Photography)

Glenn Taylor and David Hall of Utah are in deep doo-doo.

Last Friday—as these Boy Scout leaders were exploring Goblin Valley State Park with their troops—Taylor decided one particular rock posed a danger to visitors and did something he would soon regret: he leaned into it and pushed it over.

Like most of the rocks at the park, this one was balancing on a stone pedestal formed by millions of years of moving water and blowing dust. Unfortunately, it took Taylor only a few minutes to destroy what it took Mother Nature so long to create. And since defacing anything in a state park is against the law, both Taylor and Hall face charges that could eventually land them in jail.

What is especially ridiculous about this incident is that Hall filmed the whole thing while singing the song “Wiggle It, Just a Little Bit.” Then he posted the video to Facebook, making it especially easy for investigators to identify the culprits.

Hall could even be heard confessing to the crime in the background: “We have now modified Goblin Valley, a new Goblin Valley exists. That’s crazy that it was held up just by that little bit of dirt. Some little kid was about ready to walk down here and die and Glenn saved his life by getting the boulder out of the way. So it’s all about saving lives here at Goblin Valley. Saving lives. That’s what we’re all about.”

... until some crazy bastard comes along and ruins it for the rest of us! (YouTube)

… until some crazy bastard comes along and ruins it for the rest of us! (YouTube)

Although this may be true—which to me seems more like an excuse for bad behavior—the fact is that a “goblin” (rock) has never rolled off its pedestal, at least not in the 22 years since the current deputy director of Utah State Parks and Recreation has been on the job.

In other words, it looks as if Hall’s bullshit excuse will garner little to no sympathy from the authorities. Of course, people around the Internet were quick to chime in and share their opinions. Few comments were more timely and poignant, however, than those coming from someone known only as DrcOffee. I’ll end this article with his final thoughts on the matter:

“This video kinda sums up the human race,” the mysterious commenter wrote. “At the end of the day we are all just like these idiots. Just a bunch of idiots pushing meaningless boulders around for a ‘good’ reason or just for shits and giggles.”

I couldn’t agree more… even though I’m certain to be one of these idiots, too!

Mile-High Matricide

Is this the face of a killer? (Isabella Guzman/Facebook)

“You will pay.”

That was the message sent by 18-year-old Isabella Guzman to her mother—47-year-old Yun-Mi Hoy—through Facebook last Wednesday in Centennial, Colorado. And this just one day after an argument with her mom ended with Isabella spitting in her face and storming out of the house.

No one knew the cause of Isabella’s rebellious behavior—many credited it to the growing pains all teenagers experience—but Hoy was worried. She called the police and told them her daughter “had threatened to harm her,” so officers spoke with Isabella and told her Hoy could throw her out if her bad behavior continued.

Though this seemed to help, Hoy took no chances and reached out to Robert Guzman—her ex-husband and Isabella’s father—who immediately came to speak with his daughter.

“We sat down in the backyard… and I started to talk to her about the respect that people should have for their parents,” Guzman said later. “I thought that I made progress, but obviously it didn’t do nothing.”

What it did—judging from what happened next—was set Isabella off. Apparently all of the lecturing from parents and police lit some kind of fuse deep within the rebellious teen. And when she exploded, there was only one person in her path: her mother.

Ryan Hoy, Isabella’s stepfather, was downstairs Wednesday evening, enjoying some dinner while his wife prepared for a shower upstairs.

Suddenly, he heard some strange thumping sounds coming from above him, followed by the faint sound of his wife calling his name.

Ryan rushed upstairs and could hear the shower running, but when he tried to open the bathroom door, he discovered it was blocked. He tried to nudge it open, but felt something—or someone—pushing back against him. Just before the door closed and locked, he caught a glimpse of the person responsible.

It was Isabella.

Blood started to pool under the bathroom door, so Ryan scrambled for his cell phone and dialed 911. After telling the operator that his wife was being attacked, he rushed back upstairs and heard his wife whisper “Jehovah” just as the bathroom door opened.

Pretty gruesome: Police arrived and found Mrs Hoy already dead, having suffered 78 stab wounds to the neck and face

Police found a gruesome scene (Fox 31 Denver)

Out walked Isabella, covered in blood and with the knife still in hand, arm resting at her side. In complete silence and with a blank stare on her face, the young killer walked past her stepfather, down the stairs and out of the house.

Ryan immediately rushed to his wife and followed the dispatcher’s CPR instructions, but it was too late. Her throat had been slashed and she simply lost too much blood.

An autopsy would later reveal that Hoy had been stabbed 79 times in the face and neck… by her own daughter, no less.

Late Thursday morning, someone noticed a body in a car parked in a garage on South Parker Road. Police investigated and discovered a number of items they believed to be connected to the homicide. A K-9 team was called in and a short time later, Isabella walked out of the garage and right into the hands of the authorities.

She is currently being held in Arapahoe County Jail.

No one knows what drove Isabella Guzman to brutally murder her mother—not even the close family members who knew her best. She had been sent to live with her father for a time at age seven—mostly to give her mom a break from the constant arguing—but Isabella eventually returned.

And what daughter hasn’t argued with her mother, especially during the turbulence of her teenage years?

Of course, rebelling against a parent and hacking them to death in the family bathroom are two very different things. Maybe psychologists and psychiatrists can determine why Isabella chose such a drastic response—a response that effectively ended two lives. And maybe then we can prevent a senseless tragedy like this from ever happening again.

Status Update: Dead

Dislike: Hearing about dead loved ones from FB (courtesy of Kommein)

Imagine that you’re sitting at breakfast, home alone, gnawing on an English muffin, when your phone rings. It’s your brother.

“I’m so sorry,” he tells you, weepy sympathy oozing through the speaker. “I just saw on Facebook where your husband hung himself.”

Shocking, isn’t it? Well that’s exactly what happened to Samantha Starr of Prince George County, Virginia earlier this week.

Her husband Victor was arrested in May after they had a domestic dispute and was sitting in Riverside Regional Jail. The charges against him included arson, grand larceny, breaking and entering, and firearms and drugs charges to boot. And according to his family members, Victor faced a host of “personal demons.”

They haunted him so much that he hung himself in his jail cell a week ago and after only one month of incarceration. Unfortunately, Samantha was not contacted when it happened around 6:15 that fateful Sunday morning. Instead, she learned about it a few hours later from her brother, who first saw it posted on that social media giant, Facebook.

And that’s just wrong.

“I’m outraged,” Samantha said of her treatment by jail officials. “Families need to be contacted before anything is leaked. Whether it’s an inmate or whether it’s a corrections officer. I should have been notified one way or another, without Facebook.”

Alas, there’s the rub, poor Samantha. The phrase without Facebook is losing all meaning because life without it would be unlivable, or so “they” would like you to believe.

The truth is that no, you should not have heard of your husband’s suicide through social media of any kind. And in the world before Facebook, cell phones, tablets and every other electronic gizmo or technological “advance” we find to fill the voids in our lives, this never would have happened. Or if it had, it would have taken a lot more doing.

Someone would have to smuggle out a note from an inmate—perhaps lodged in some uncomfortable orifice—and deliver it to a contact on the outside who would tell his friends, who would then tell their friends, and so on and so forth.

VIctor Starr (PHOTO: Riveride Regional Jail)

Victor Starr (courtesy of Riverside Regional Jail)

In other words, the news of Victor’s suicide would spread like a venereal disease, with each person passing it secretly to the next.

That or some loose-lipped guard would hit the bar after his shift, down one too many Long Island Iced Teas and start blabbing to anyone who listened.

Either way, it would take a miracle for the news to reach everyone but Samantha Starr. And by the time it finally did, the grapevine would have been surpassed by official notice from the jail, to be sure.

Not so where technology and social media are concerned. For all we know, one of the inmates accessed a library computer and found a way to post directly from “the clink.” Yes, you would expect there to be some online restrictions in place—so an inmate couldn’t start a revolution while behind bars or something—but these safeguards often fail at the most inopportune times. Why should this be any different?

Sadly, there is nothing to be done now. Samantha knows her husband is dead and regardless of how she obtained this information, the end result is the same. I hate it for her, but not as much as she hates it for her husband. And who could blame her?

“Be Victor a monster or be he not one,” Samantha said recently. “He still deserves some respect.”

You have to admit, she has a way with words.

Bullying Claims Another Victim

How could anyone hurt Amanda? (courtesy of MySpace)

It was only last October that Vancouver teenager Amanda Todd was found dead in Coquitlam, Canada, the victim of merciless bullying who couldn’t take it any more and hanged herself. She was almost 17 years old.

Almost.

The story was all over the news since a month before her suicide, Amanda posted a video to YouTube describing the abuse she’d suffered at the hands of an unknown bully. And like Bob Dylan in his grainy video for “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” she used flash cards to do it, never uttering a word. See it for yourself right HERE.

What happened to Amanda was horrible and still makes me angry. In the seventh grade, this beautiful girl went online and started video chatting in an attempt to make some new friends. Everyone she met complimented her on her looks, but one particular guy went even further, and not in a good way.

Somehow—most likely by playing on her innocence and insecurities—he convinced Amanda to appear on camera topless. A short time later, he found her online again, only this time it wasn’t chatting that interested him.

It was blackmail.

He told Amanda that if she didn’t “give him a show,” he would send her topless photo to everyone she knew, including friends, family and even teachers at her school. This was a lie, of course, because Amanda soon learned that her photos were all over the Internet. That was likely her blackmailer’s intention all along.

As you might imagine, this crushed Amanda emotionally, causing depression and tremendous anxiety. Her parents tried moving into a new home, but even that didn’t help. Amanda continued to get worse and eventually turned to drugs and alcohol to dull her pain.

A year passed and the memory of Amanda’s abuse finally started to fade, but it simply was not meant to be. Her bully again appeared online—this time on Facebook—and even used her topless photo as the profile picture on his bogus account. He contacted her friends, embarrassed her publicly and sparked even more teasing and bullying at school.

So Amanda ran again. She started attending a third school and sadly, it wasn’t much different from the last. Amanda hooked up with some guy she met online, pissed off his girlfriend and suffered a beating at her hands—and several of her friends’ hands—a short time later.

The attack sent Amanda to an even darker place and, later that night, she attempted suicide by drinking bleach. Luckily, her father was able to rush her to the hospital fast enough to save her young life. And once she was released, he packed up his family again and moved to another city.

If only this had helped.

No matter where Amanda went, her bully followed. He never asked to be her friend directly, but he did befriend everyone she knew. And once he knew enough of them, he shared Amanda’s naked photos and embarrassed her yet again.

I wish I could say Amanda bounced back, discovered who her abuser was, watched him being apprehended and testified to send him to prison. We all know that didn’t happen, though. In actuality, it was quite the opposite.

Her downward spiral continued.

Amanda started to cut herself as her fragile psyche deteriorated and even overdosed on antidepressants, which sent her to the hospital for several days. She returned to the hospital a short time later to be treated for severe depression, this time for teasing and bullying at school. Some classmates found out about her learning disability and laid into her for having bad grades.

And that was all it took. Amanda hanged herself at her home on October 10, 2012, a beautiful young victim of some unknown Internet sociopath, as well as loads of her peers who all need a lesson in kindness and compassion. A lesson that begins with my foot in their asses.

And Heaven forbid I ever get my hands on the guy who tormented Amanda for so long. I wouldn’t hurt him myself, of course. That’s not my right. But I know who is deserving of this honor: Amanda’s father. And nothing would make me happier than delivering this psycho to his doorstep with a big red bow on his head.

Not to mention some power tools. And maybe a blowtorch. But I digress.

Amanda’s suicide was heartbreaking, even more so since her bully was never caught. And now it looks like bullies have claimed another young victim, also in Canada: 17-year-old Rehtaeh Parsons of Nova Scotia.

Rehtaeh is bullying’s latest victim (courtesy of Facebook)

When she was only 15 years old, Rehtaeh was gang raped  by four young men who not only took pictures of her having sex, but also shared them with all their friends. For the next year, Rehtaeh endured nearly endless taunting and teasing at the hands of classmates who also have a lot to learn.

Unfortunately, this amazing young woman with so much potential simply couldn’t muster the emotional strength to cope with all the bullying—and who could blame her? Like Amanda Todd, her relentless abusers got the best of her, and on April 4th she hanged herself.

Rehtaeh didn’t die instantly and was placed on life support at a nearby hospital, but her family removed it yesterday and now I am sorry to say that she’s gone. Another young life snuffed out by bullies and other mean-spirited jackasses.

Something’s got to give.

Reunited

A common mistake (property of someecards.com)

If you were to ask, I bet most people would say that class reunions—whether high school or college—were a waste of time. That’s generally what I hear anytime the subject is broached. And I have never heard anyone get excited at the prospect of attending, even in the case of five-year reunions, which to me seem close enough to graduation to still be fun.

I didn’t attend mine, of course, but that’s because (a) the person in charge of organizing the event “dropped the ball” or (b) the reunion got tossed in with some alumni event. And since I discard most of the mailings arriving from my alma maters (the majority of which involve fundraising, which is of no interest to a person with limited resources… I have to eat, after all)—I still don’t know the truth. Maybe I did miss the damn thing.

Anyway, I was recently invited to a reunion of sorts—it was actually a cookout during alumni weekend at the college where I work—and decided to really get into it, especially given my previous reunion misgivings. Sure, I never actually went to this school, much less graduated from it, but I certainly felt like an honorary graduate.

You see, I used to work—and party—with a lot of these folks. We waited tables together, bartended together or met up through mutual friends at “off-campus gatherings”—which is a nice way of saying that we did some crazy you-know-what when we were younger. I even work with some graduates now, since many alums return to campus in staff, faculty or administrative roles later. This means I know people who graduated in nearly every decade since the 1960s, not to mention grads from a good number of years throughout.

And since I myself was not a graduate—and it was in this context that most attendees would likely view each other (digging through their college memories to place names with faces)—I could travel relatively incognito. Some of my best friends would know me immediately. Former acquaintances would remember me vaguely, but hopefully in a positive way. And others wouldn’t know me at all… but I would probably know them.

You know it will happen (property of someecards.com)

It sounded like fun to me.

Prior to the cookout, I joined a Facebook page for the event and started monitoring it to see who was planning to come. Told you I was getting into it. On this page, I could also see who might attend, who might not, and who was too freaking lazy to respond to the one-click, yea-or-nay invitation they received.

Odd that people can find time to update their FB status, tell me about their latest bowel movement and how it resembled Justin Bieber with his old haircut, post pictures of the nasty meal they’re about to choke down and still miss an invitation to their class reunion. Some people’s priorities are so out-of-whack that I weep for the future.

It looked like a lot of my old friends were planning to come, so I found myself getting pretty excited and reminisced about some of the “trouble” we got into back in the day—I set off “trouble” because nothing we did was very serious, at least not from a legal perspective. Damn it. I’ve probably said too much already. Sorry, pals.

My Internet wanderings also led me on a search to see what other people thought about class reunions. I didn’t dig very deep, but the best I could find were surveys from 1961 asking people when their reunion should be held, or some such question.

Incidentally, the answer seems to be August or July, which apparently represent the national averages for reunion planning (21% and 23% respectively). I found that on my reunion search, too. Thanks, ReunionAnnouncements.com!

The day of the big cookout finally came and throughout the morning and afternoon, pictures of alumni on the local scene kept popping up on Facebook. There they were at a local restaurant, tossing back shots and trading stories about the old days. Or watching some athletic event, maybe one they played when they were here as students. Either way, it looked like plenty of people made the trip. And since the band playing the event also had connections to the college—the lead singer was a graduate, if I’m not mistaken—it promised to be a fun time for all.

And in many ways, it was.

I made it to the cookout in the late afternoon to find it pretty vacant, but steadily picking up. There was plenty of food and free beer to be had—and I took advantage of them both, in courteous moderation, of course—but being a staff member definitely put a damper on things, or so I thought initially.

Then I remembered that most of the attendees—myself included—were older, had kids and just couldn’t sustain a late-night throw-down anyway. Most of us could still drink effectively, mind you. Some things never change. We just couldn’t get hammered, get wild and get up the next morning with no regard for consequences.

A few people brought their families with them, for goodness sake.

So that was kind of a downer, but only in terms of making us all long for our lost youth. It was nice to remember some of the things we did, to address some of the drama we created and to get past old grudges and misunderstandings. Sure, there was still some bad blood here and there, but that’s certainly to be expected.

Glad this isn’t always true (property of someecards.com)

Another down side to class reunions that I hear people mention is all the judging and showboating that goes on as former classmates try to impress each other with their savvy business achievements… or ridicule the people with shorter, less impressive resumes, which probably happens more often. This may be true—as I said, I have very little frame of reference here. But that certainly wasn’t the case at this cookout reunion. In fact, I would have to say that the opposite was true.

For whatever reason, people I hadn’t seen in years—and even some I’d never met before—opened up their hearts and shared their personal stories and struggles with me. And I returned the “favor” by sharing a few of my own, which normally makes them feel a whole lot better. It was definitely nice and I had the opportunity to add a few new friends in the process. And not Facebook friends, either. Real friends in tangible reality.

What a novel concept!

Another upside to this great event—and one I would hesitate to mention if I possessed any sort of internal filter, which I don’t—were the beautiful young ladies in attendance. Yes, we had all aged a little and picked up a few pounds and wrinkles along the way. And yes, most would refer to us as middle-aged, a term I very much dislike at the start of my forty-second year, but I can live with that. And judging from some of the beautiful women I saw and spoke with, time had treated them just fine. Beauty is beauty at any age, right?

Of course, most (if not all) of them are married with loving husbands and beautiful kids, so the “hook ups” of the past are but a distant memory. Even if they weren’t, the parties die down around eight o’clock anyway. And though I really show my age when I say this, I don’t know anyone who can stay up past ten, at least not if they’re parents. There simply isn’t time to hook up anymore, and in some ways, it’s a real shame.

It’s probably a lot safer this way, no doubt, but it’s hardly more fun.

All in all, though, I have to admit that my first pseudo class reunion was fun, albeit it very laid-back. All the components for a good time were there: good food, fellowship, reminiscing, networking, activities for kids, music, beer and wine, a free taxi service. And it was a good time, despite ending so early and reminding us all that regardless of how fond our memories are, we can never go back to being the people we were back then.

Memories will just have to be enough.

%d bloggers like this: