If you put the hours together, I have spent more time with online friendship networks than with my biological family in the last year. Friendster is increasingly passe, and I refuse to go on MySpace (ostentiably because it's owned by Rupert Murdoch but really because I have no more space for passwords left in my head), but Facebook sucks up insane amounts of my days. My use has tapered considerably since the signup frenzy of last year, when my alma mater finally got on the network and ninety percent of the university and alumni spent months building their collections of names, but it's still something I regularly visit.
This morning my Gmail contained a surprising email from Facebook: "Brenda Carp has listed you as a friend" (pseudonym, obviously) (but not THAT far off). If it had been my middle school in Mean Girls, Brenda was Regina George. She was my best friend until seventh grade, when she suddenly decided to spread nasty rumors about me, turn all our friends against me and generally make life as a 13-year-old girl a nasty hell (cuz y'know, it's not like that already). Nothing terribly shocking-- writing things in magic marker on my face when I fell asleep at slumber parties, smashing an egg in my face at her birthday lunch, but hurtful and cruel nonetheless.
But the really fun part is that she never got over it. Even after we went to separate high schools, I stopped being quite SUCH an enormous dork and we were supposed to have grown up, she still enjoyed the occasional nasty action or comment designed to poke me in my most vulnerable spot. When I ran into her at her high school's play, she saw made sure I saw her pointing at me and giggling in a corner with her best friend before sitting in front of us during the show, constantly turning around to look at me and then whip around, still laughing. I later found out that she had just hooked up with a boy I went out with freshman year who dumped me because I wouldn't give him a blow job. This girl could have taught Donald Rumsfeld a LOT about psychological warfare.
Over the years, I haven't really thought about her-- that is, until this morning, when I got that Facebook message. I clicked to her profile. She sounds happy. She has a lot of friends. She's still pretty. I want to think "good for her."
Nope, can't make myself think that just yet. Apparently old habits die hard.
I'm deleting the email and her request. I may not actively wish her ill, but what's the point of opening up that door again? Almost all women I know have someone like that in their lives, who no matter how far you travel and how much you grow up, can still get under your skin. A lot of the men do too, though they're far less likely to talk about it. Sometimes it's an ex, sometimes a parent, sometimes a colleague. For me, all these years later, it's Brenda.
This email triggered an idea, though. Something I've been kicking around for a while, and I think I'm going to try to organize it. Stay tuned, because I'll need your help and participation. For now, let's just say that I have an idea for a way we can look back and smile at the things we once wrung our hands over.