I read the comments

What I saw: comments on my Facebook wall after a blog post last month.

This post is not going to make sense unless you read the original.

Schwartz never reads the comments

What I wore:

Since changing to this format last February, I have included a sometimes brief but other times detailed description of the clothes that I wore. Once in a while, what I wear elicits comments, but usually out of curiosity rather than criticism. I don’t know why I started doing it, and I don’t intend to stop. 

What I did beforehand: 
the post got 31 likes (or hearts) on Facebook, and 19 positive comments. 9 likes on Twitter, more or less. Most of the traffic came from Facebook. But then there was this:

So here’s the official response from the reunion host: we missed you, Maggie, and all your calculating, equine loving, haute couture aspiring, outspokenness! And you would’ve still fit in more than stood out since our high school was and is the educational liberal standard-bearer for a city so gracious as to be internationally known for a monument built to honor those bold and brave enough to actually move away. Please consider adding to your donation list a charity our classmate…told us about.…All that to say, see you at our 40th? [crooked-smiley emoji]

Let me start with “haute couture aspiring.” I realize that the outfit I described in my last post included a fucking gorgeous expensive dress from Barney’s New York that I do not own but would have totally liked to have bought for the reunion. I am guessing that this item, or the rose gold jewelry from Tiffany, inspired the comment. Regular readers know I usually wear jeans; the exact number at the time of the calculations post was 57%. Sometimes I admit I wear dirty jeans to the theater. 

I replied to her comment: now that I’ve stopped laughing at “haute couture aspiring,” I’ve successfully swapped my pajamas for riding breeches (worn once already, wadded up and inside-out on my closet floor, seem clean enough to wear again). Because I put my dirty pants on just like everyone else: one leg at a time. 

I was only pretending to find it funny; I thought it was intended as a barb. The kind of mean thing that women and girls say to each other about their appearances. The kind of funny/mean thing that reminds me of how we all interacted back in high school. The kind of funny/mean thing that told me that the real reason she missed seeing me at the reunion is so she could remark about my appearance. 



Who went with me: when we were in high school, we belonged to a class of about 90 students. I’m not sure that the event’s host, who I will refer to as “SiM,” short for “Stayed in Missouri,” and I ever had a class together, other than like gym. We had a couple of close, mutual friends. I remember SiM as good-natured, upbeat, funny, and well-liked, though perhaps not one of the most popular girls. I went to a private suburban school in the late 1970s, and teasing and clever name-calling were a social currency of great value, though less than the ability to score cheap or free booze or drugs. I do not deny that making fun of people was one of my cherished high school pastimes. But I liked SiM, even if I was afraid of her and all the other girls I didn’t really know.

Why I increased my donations:  I think probably SiM is still good-natured, upbeat, funny, and well-liked. She seemed to have been trying to say I’m entitled to my opinions, though since everyone else agreed with me in the comments, she also told me that she didn’t agree with my politics. Because everyone else was basically saying, “Amen.” (See also, “Things that were funny/not funny”)

Things that were sad: I also didn’t get the part about “you would’ve still fit in more than stood out.” I never said I didn’t go because I didn’t think I’d fit in. What I said was, “the last time I went, I got creeped out by a couple of guys from my class.” So. Maybe SiM was trying to be nice here; she’s a mom, and it’s the kind of thing you might say to your kids. Ok. But does what she didn’t address bother you? I said I wouldn’t go because last time men in our class said or did something inappropriate, and either she didn’t read it carefully enough to catch it, or, she thought that was something she couldn’t do anything about. Even as the hostess. As hostess, shouldn’t she have reassured me that she would keep me safe from harassment? Whose responsibility is it to see that my former classmates behave themselves? Mine?

Things that were funny/not funny: next, the exchange then went to direct message on Facebook.

SiM: I get the joke now about “aspirational!” A classmate had me google your husband – HE INVENTED XBOX?! You were probably looking through your closet, not catalogues! 

That’s right. Now we’re transitioning to a chummy, private conversation because she found out my husband is “someone.”

Readers, if you come to my blog because you’ve discovered that my husband is “someone,” allow me to assure you that I don’t write about him very often, and when I do, it’s not about his professional life. Let me also say that I am, actually, a person. 


SiM went on to say, “And I’m so sorry about the “libtard” troglodyte. Gross.” She tried, right?

My mother insisted that it was bad manners to point out someone else’s bad manners. But my mother is dead now.  I think that given that SiM made me feel patronized, made fun of, and unimportant, and adding to that how bad I feel about this week’s unthinkable presidential election result, I am going to make additional donations to most of the organizations listed in my original post.

What I saw on the way home: the Monday after this Facebook exchange, I took another load of the Bacon Provider’s shirts to the cleaners. The owner of the cleaners has a daughter who rides, so we always talk horses if I’m in riding clothes. On this Monday, she mistakenly called me, “Mrs. Roosevelt.” 

Three Trolls

I’m gonna start by talking about what I mean by “troll.” Sure, the word has its origins in Scandinavian folklore, and I can recommend a book. Real, old school trolls that turn into stone in daylight are much better than today’s trolls. You wanna tell me what you think trolling means, go make your own blog post, or comment. Whatever. I think I might have an inner troll, and she’s hectoring me already.
The term “troll” comes from the fairly recent past, but those early days of the Internet, that feel like now, but it really wasn’t, because then the Internet was, you know, just for porn, sparsely populated by the denizens of the specific-interest message-board; from those boards it sprang, this term. It means “A deliberately provocative message board user.”
Specifically, for me, more simply, it is a person who tries to make other people mad.
Though my older brother and I are close now, I am pretty certain that he was my first troll. I do remember we played well together, but I also remember that as soon as he started elementary school (and I didn’t), I was rejected for bigger, smarter, faster-running school friends. Friends who could catch and throw. Friends who were cool. I was also rejected for being a cry-baby. In my family, teasing was constant. It was an expression of love, perhaps, but here is my evidence: I gave my brother a concussion when I hit him over the head with my shiny new baton, driven to the deed by rage from teasing. And then. Having been punished and won the damned thing back from my parents, I did it again.
My second troll was the M-boy, who lived near my grandparents, in our neighborhood. On a good day, I was terrified to walk to school alone, and the M-boy made it so I was even more terrified to walk home. How long did I endure the bullying? I can’t say. I don’t remember anything that he said, but I do remember a bird’s nest being found and thrown at me. In the infinite wisdom of the late 60s/ early 70s, the solution to this bully was to keep him after school an extra 15 minutes every day so the rest of the kids could get a head start running home. I guess I wasn’t his only target.
When the M- boy died in an accident at his home, just a few years later, I took delivery on the twin feelings of relief that this bully would never bother me gain, and of guilt for not being sad about someone who was really, actually now dead.
I have resisted writing about my third troll, because, just as I struggle with my latest troll, who occasionally plagues me on Twitter, I worry that writing about it will give the troll exactly what she was looking for.
My third troll (so named for the purposes of this essay) and I were friends in high school. We had the same first name and a similar last name. We’d started in 9th grade we were in the same crop of new kids brought in at 9th grade. We hung out. Talked on the phone. Passed notes in French class. I spent the night at her house a couple of times. We rode her parent’s tandem bike in her neighborhood and got chased by a giant, angry poodle. I watched her cat Daisy steal a whole piece of fried chicken off the dinner table and was impressed. I’d never seen a cat steal a whole piece of fried chicken off the dinner table before.
At my highschool, there were many privileges afforded to seniors: a special lounge, a special parking lot, senior prefecture, electing a Mary and a Joseph to pose in the tableau at the highlight of the school Christmas Pageant. On Halloween, seniors got to wear costumes and no one else in the school had this right.

Glee Club, Halloween, 1980. Only seniors could wear costumes 

I don’t remember what I wore, though I may have spent four years planning it. What I do remember was that my same-named friend came as me on Halloween.
It wasn’t a complicated costume. She wore socks that matched her turtleneck, and a tiny side ponytail in the front of her hair, with matching ribbons. You could say I was a walking target, dressing like that every day.
I used part of my precious free period to use a pay phone and call my mother. She was even home. I was upset. I was always upset about something, but I didn’t usually call my mom. She told me, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”
I hung up, resolved to be cool about the fact that I felt mocked. In retrospect, I would describe the feeling as being trolled.
To the face of my same-name friend, I laughed. Maybe my eyes didn’t laugh, but I did.
Years later I dreamed I was having a swimming party at the house I grew up in. Everyone I had ever known was there: my cousins, my friends from college, my favorite TV actors. My same-name friend showed up with a machine gun and sprayed the place with bullets, shooting everyone.  It seemed real.