After Breakup: Phil’s Return and Trolls–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–April 1995, Part 3

But back to the breakup.  I had Chaucer class with Catherine the next morning, Friday the 21st.  As soon as she had the chance, she said to me, “Guess who called me right after you hung up?”  It was Cugan, and he sounded like he’d been crying.  I won’t say what they talked about, just that it was encouraging.

I have never understood the male aversion to women using letters to fix relationships.  Pearl also used letters to try to deal with problems, and these days everybody uses e-mails.

It seems a perfectly legitimate method, even recommended in the Men are from Mars/Women are from Venus book.  It seems better than calling, because people cut in before you finish speaking, and you can work out exactly what you want to say.  It can be hard to get someone to meet with you, and even then, you can get nervous and not say what you wanted to.  A letter solves all these problems with communicating, so I have no clue why guys hate letters so much.

But I didn’t want to deal with yet another guy getting freaked out by the very sight of paper in his mailbox.  I still started work on a list of things to say, since Cugan actually allowed me to call him.

I don’t remember if stuffed gargoyle Dido made me cry or was a comfort to me, something to hold.  I do know that Cugan later told me he feared for poor Dido after he broke up with me: Would I do something to him?  I didn’t, of course.  Catherine said to that, “Did you tell him you’re not vindictive?”

I don’t think I cried all that often, however.  I was upset and sad, but had reason to hope that this time things would be different than they were the last times I went through breakups.  And if they weren’t, I could go to Brad.

I had broken up with Stimpy and told Brad I made my choice, only to have the man I did this for, break up with me.  I was all alone now.

I thought about going back to Stimpy, but I couldn’t because I knew it would never work out.  I broke up with him for a reason.  I didn’t think he’d take me back, anyway, that he wouldn’t appreciate me treating him like I could just walk out and back in at will.

As for Brad, I thought about writing to him and saying things didn’t work out like I thought they would.

I changed my tagline on TCB to, “Oh no not again.”  I told Ish what had happened, too.

As I worked that afternoon, Phil came by and hung around by the circulation desk while Astrid’s roommate Chloe and I worked there.  He put his books and Big Slam Dew on the counter and said Persephone had been trying to get him to go here and there.  I forget where.

I thought it was strange, especially since they were not dating anymore, and I didn’t know why she’d care where he was.

He kept talking and joking with us.  I now realized just how annoying his jokes could be.

I didn’t want Phil back, even though at the moment we were both free; I wanted Cugan.  But in a way I welcomed him being there, because he distracted me from sadness over breaking up with Cugan.

Chloe kept making pointed barbs, and I made a few, too.

The Roanoke play for April 20 to 22 was “Hedda Gabler,” which I didn’t see.  Phil was in it.  He and I debated if it was “GABE-ler” (which I got from my World Lit teacher, the hot Wesley) or “GAHB-ler” (which Phil said).

Finally, one of the library clerks came over and complained about him being there for so long.

Phil said, “These girls might want me here.”

I said, “I never said that.”

Phil appeared upset, whether with us or the clerk I’m not sure.  He left within the minute, taking his Dew bottles and books with him.

Sounds like Phil took for granted that I was waiting for him to come back to me, and this was his wake-up call.

Over the weekend, Friday or Saturday night, I went on America Online (AOL) to forget my problems for a while in the Christian Fellowship chat room.

First, there or in some other chat room (probably Starfleet Academy), some guy kept IM’ing me, or sending me instant messages, while I tried to answer other people’s questions in the chat room.

I didn’t know who he was, but he kept telling me to call him on the phone.  I didn’t want to call him, and his persistence made me wonder if he was an Internet stalker.

He gave me his number as proof that he was okay, but it still didn’t convince me.  I also didn’t want to call some stranger long-distance in the wee hours of the morning.

Because his IM’s kept delaying my replies to other people in the chat room, they told me to do certain things to block his IM’s.  But before I could decide whether or not to do this, I found my connection cut off.

I’d heard of AOL users doing this to new users, and I wondered if the IM’er had done it.  I re-logged on, and stayed online this time.

That night or the next, the Christian Fellowship Room was pleasant for a time.  I hoped these people could cheer me up, though some said a few too many “praise Gods” for me and seemed a bit unreal.  But I liked it there, and figured it was the best place I could go.

Then some Internet trolls came in and began to stir up trouble.  They were non-Christians, or more like anti-Christians, trying to get a rise out of the Christians.

One of them said he listened to devil music–alternative–including Nine Inch Nails, what do you think about that?

I typed in, “I listen to NIN.  I identify with the line of their new song ‘Hurt’ which says, ‘Everyone I know goes away in the end.'”

This guy typed back, “My gosh, you DO listen to NIN.”

One guy came in and was merciless.  It was very late now, so the number of people in the chat room dwindled.  He was verbally abusive; when I gave him no reason to be upset with me, he made one up.  I don’t know why he had it in for me.  As well as I can remember, here’s what happened:

One person I’d already met online before was in there, Cybrmonkey, a nice guy.  Someone thought this name meant he believed in evolution.  This guy was more liberal than many of the people in there, but he believed no less fervently than they did.  I liked talking with him.

At some point, someone asked me for my real first name, and I gave it.  The abusive guy, whom I’ll call the Abuser, said it was the same name as his grandmother.  I think I was in there as Estrella.

Apparently some question about current events came up, and I must have said I hadn’t heard about that yet.  The Abuser said I should just go look at my neighbors’ newspaper.

Considering it was late at night, my neighbors wouldn’t have a paper outside their door no matter if I lived in a dorm or in the suburbs, so this made no sense.

Probably for safety reasons, I didn’t want him to know I was on a college campus, so I simply said my neighbors probably didn’t have a paper anyway.

(Unless they bought a USA Today from the box outside the Campus Center, it was unlikely they would have one.  There were papers in the library for anyone who wanted to read them, and there were even foreign newspapers, such as German and Chinese ones, so the Asian and Bulgarian girls in the next apartment might not even bother having their own subscriptions.  But if they did, I wouldn’t be able to read those, anyway.)

The Abuser said, “You probably don’t even know your neighbors,” and went on a harangue about how awful I was to not know them.

Considering I lived on a college campus, knew one of the girls next door, had plenty of friends, and my neighbors changed every year, this was silly to me.  I don’t remember if I said much of anything about it, though.  I just let him make a fool of himself.

The Abuser liked Cybrmonkey, probably because he was more liberal, but hated me, probably because I was more conservative.  Someone asked a theological question, and I gave a possible answer, which I thought was very intelligent and well thought-out.  The Abuser wrote, “Go to bed now, Estrella.”

I wrote, “I’ll go to bed when I want to, and not when you tell me to.”

He wrote, “All right.”

I’d been thinking about going to bed soon, but because of what he said, I decided to stay up a while longer.

The Abuser cried out at one point, “I can’t believe you have the same name as my sweet grandmother!”

I had no clue why he talked to me this way.  He didn’t know me, and I didn’t ridicule him, harass him, or in any way treat him bad.

I wrote, “Why are you treating me this way, when I’ve never done anything to you?”

I don’t remember if he gave me an answer.

I finally went to bed, long after he told me to, disgusted with this guy and wondering why in the world he would want to harass anyone like he did me.

That’s when I began to learn that there are many creeps in cyberspace.  Sure I encountered mean people on BBS’s before, but the size and lack of restriction on the Internet gives them a huge playground unlike what they found on BBS’s.

I didn’t learn until later that they’re popularly called trolls, or that the best way to deal with them is to not respond to them at all.

Though I was sad that weekend, I wasn’t as depressed as other break-ups had made me.  This may be because: I was still stunned; we’d only been together for a little over a month; there was a very good chance that on Monday he would want me back; and even if he didn’t, there were others who would.

The Three Musketeers, the recent Disney version with Charlie Sheen, played on Roanoke-TV at three p.m. on Saturday.  (This was the movie I planned to see with Phil on our first date, until he showed up too late and we saw Cool Runnings instead.)

Though I was sad and didn’t enjoy it as much as I would have, especially the romantic parts, I still liked it.  (I later saw it with Cugan, and it became one of our favorite movies.)

One or two of my roommates watched it with me.  When the young king appeared with his new queen, Pearl or Sharon said, “I wouldn’t want a guy who’s prettier than me.”

Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound
January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD
February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995: