Learning my ex Peter was a love fraud; New Men–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–February 1995, Part 3

(Love fraud definition here by the one who coined the term.)

The following may have happened soon after February 7: I found my ex Peter, or “Red Dwarf,” on TCB.  I sent him a cryptic e-mail one day, saying he could look in my registry and know who I was.  I got no reply, so I thought he wanted nothing to do with me.

Then one night, he paged me on TCB with, “Hello Nyssa.”  He knew who I was.  He said he hadn’t answered, not because he didn’t want to, but because he wanted to catch me online and talk to me.

He said, “I never expected to see you on these BBS’s!”  I told him about Dad’s old modem in Pearl’s computer.

That night we talked online for a long time, mostly about what happened between Phil and me.  He heard we broke off the engagement, but didn’t know why.  “What happened???” he wrote.  He also told me he converted to Wicca/Paganism.

He got angry with Phil when I told him the things Phil did.  At one point, I wrote, “Phil should go and be a monk, and spare all women.”  He’d once wanted to be a priest, but I figured even a priest gives marital counseling to his parishioners, so a monk in some isolated monastery would do the least harm: safely locked away, sparing all women.

Peter made some shocked cyber-gesture and wrote, “I’m shocked that you would say–or rather, type–such things!”

Heck, I had written this and all sorts of other things in my diary on February 7, when I wrote that I no longer wanted Phil because he wasn’t worth it.

My mother also had never heard me talk about anyone the way I talked about Phil.

Peter talked about a girl he recently broken up with who was twenty(?) and acted fifteen(?).  I wondered if it was the same one I met earlier that school year in the cafeteria, though I didn’t mention her.  I couldn’t be sure, though; it could have been someone totally different.

Peter gently scolded me for using cold medicine and not herbs or other natural remedies.  Which struck me as weird, because doesn’t everybody do that, and why would I do different?

He said that he went to see the O’Haras recently, and was treated like crap.  So there was no love lost between him and Phil now, even though they once were good friends.

Soon after we started using TCB, and before February 8, Sharon went on one late afternoon before dinner and met someone who called himself Krafter, age 26.  He chatted with Sharon for a while, then told her he was administration.

Sharon, apparently thinking that a member of Roanoke administration was hitting on her, said, “Oh, yuck!”  As it turned out, he was a member of TCB administration, or one of the co-sysops, so there was nothing icky about him hitting on her after all.

He spoke with Sharon often over the next few days, and seemed to have more than friendship in mind.  One day, I talked to him as well, starting my own friendship with him.  One night, I even chatted with him for hours–somewhere between three to six.

I may have run out of time on TCB, because he told me the name and number of his own BBS, Deltapolis, and we went over there to chat.  We had many things in common and really hit it off (obviously, or we wouldn’t have chatted for so long).  Now he seemed interested in both Sharon and me as more than just friends, but didn’t know which one he preferred.

He’d never dated before, so he couldn’t believe that two women were actually interested in him.  He said he must be dreaming.  My handle, Nyssa of Traken, also interested him because as a kid, he had a huge crush on my namesake, Nyssa on Doctor Who.

He also hated the Doctor’s other teenaged companion, Adric, with a passion because he was “in the way.”  After that chat, he seemed more interested in me than in Sharon, which wasn’t my intention, though I was starting to fall for him, myself.

When Sharon discovered this, I couldn’t tell if she was mad or just faking, but part of it seemed real.  She said, “I hate you,” and laughed.  I didn’t think she meant it, though it made me uneasy.  I didn’t mean to steal Krafter away from her.

I told her, thinking of my ill-fated meeting with the Vampire, “You might not even like him when we meet him.  You don’t know.”  I probably said we should wait until our meeting with him on the eighth to decide who should have him, if either of us.

We set up our meeting for 5:30pm in the Chase Center in the hall beside the plants, or the greenhouse which was on the main floor of Chase.  Sharon had a class there at six.

His description: long leather coat, brown coat, red backpack, a (hooded) sweater/sweatshirt in many colors, blue jeans, and black tennis shoes.  I think he was about six feet tall, and something over 200 pounds.

We ate our dinner in excitement.  Randy joked about our meeting.  When 5:30 neared, we rushed off to Chase.  We sat in the hallway by the plants, wondering what we got ourselves into.

A scuzzy-looking guy in a leather jacket walked by.  At first we feared it was him, but it wasn’t.  We sighed with relief and waited some more.

Finally, Krafter arrived.  He was cute with striking, slanted, dark eyes.  He had short, brown hair, glasses, a shapely mouth, and a sweet, cute smile.  I was attracted to him, but Sharon wasn’t.

She said none of this to him, of course.  We went into a classroom, sat at the desks, and talked for maybe ten minutes or more.  I was jealous because Sharon had more to say than I did, so the two of them talked mostly to each other.  He smiled a lot.

When it was time to separate, Sharon said to me, “He’s so nice!”  Whether either of us wanted to date him or not, we certainly wanted to see him again.  And I was definitely interested in dating him.

I probably met Speaker online around this time, too.  He was 20, which seemed young to me then, even though I was only 21.  He had low self-esteem, refused to give his real name, and complained that he could never find a girl to love him.  We chatted for hours; I seemed drawn to such guys.  Phil had been similar.  I didn’t mind trying to encourage them.

Speaker had spoken to many of the other girls on TCB, but I was the “only truly nice girl” or the “nicest girl” there.  We became fast, online friends.  He called me Nyssie, and I called him Speaker-y.  I called myself his Nyssie.

Speaker and I got acquainted by doing the Budweiser frog thing to each other: One of us typed “Bud,” the other “Weis,” and the first typed “Er!” or “ER!”  I didn’t know it then, but he hadn’t even seen the commercial.

(When I met him finally, he said that on the way over he saw a Budweiser frog billboard, and thought of me.  Then I had to explain to him that I got the “Budweiser” thing from the frog commercial.)

Krafter wanted to meet us again.  He said he and his friend Stimpy watched Mystery Science Theater: 3000 and ate pizza every Saturday night.  Though at first he wanted to just see us alone that Saturday, he said, “No, I can’t do that to Stimpy.”

Krafter knocked on the kitchen door on Saturday the 11th at around 5pm, holding a box of pizza.  Somebody also provided Mountain Dew, since, as my roommates and I now discovered, caffeine-filled Divine Dew was the drink of choice for computer geeks.

I answered the door.  Stimpy was nineteen, tall and skinny, with distinctive eyes.  His handle came from Ren and Stimpy.  His hair was long and light brown, and under a baseball cap–but facing front, not back, a good thing.  I thought he was cute, and Sharon and Pearl thought he was hot.  If Sharon wanted Krafter, I could take Stimpy.

We seemed less like two people meeting two other people, and more like two girls and two guys trying to get together and pair off.  All we needed to know was who wanted to pair off with whom.

That night, I sat on the couch, Krafter in a chair to my left and Stimpy on the couch to my right.  I wanted to choose one of them, but wasn’t sure which one I wanted most.  At the time, I thought it was Krafter.  I also flirted with Stimpy.

Sharon thought they were paying too much attention to me and not to her, so she finally went to bed.  She didn’t understand that she was Krafter’s favorite, not me.

To me, TV wasn’t a conversation killer, but a social gatherer.  By watching it and not each other, and filling up uncomfortable silences with it, you could feel more comfortable with people and begin to open up to them.

(Farwest Trivia, though it killed teleconference after its debut, was also this way, because you could comment on the questions if the conversation lagged.)

You could learn a lot about people just from their comments and laughter during TV shows.

Krafter was “in charge” of an imaginary corporation named Delta, made up of some TCB users (such as Ish Kabibble; more on him later).  Its aim was to take over everything.  This was all a joke, of course.  He even gave us Delta business cards.  The name of his BBS, Deltapolis, came from this.

Delta was housed in an imaginary pyramid, which, Krafter said, one day would “crush H–.”  I asked why H– (the town in which my friend Mike grew up); he said it was arbitrary, picked for being tiny and close to S–.

I dropped a Mississippi Mud ice cream sandwich (chocolate ice cream and nuts) on Stimpy’s lap in a flirty fashion.

After the TV shows ended, Krafter and Stimpy sat on chairs by the kitchen counter.  Krafter said,

“Stimpy and I can tell you about the users on TCB.  We can tell you who’s nice, who you can trust, and who you should avoid.

“If you want to meet someone, do it in a public place with people around.  If somebody doesn’t want to meet you, you should beware that they may not be as nice as they seem.

“Ish Kabibble is the one truly nice guy on TCB.  Speaker is a problem, since he never wants to meet anyone, and keeps giving girls these sob stories to make them feel sorry for him.

Red Dwarf is the worst!  He pretends to be what a girl wants so she’ll date him.  And he’s always borrowing programs from us for his BBS, which is really annoying.”

This revelation floored me.  I smiled and said, “I used to date Red Dwarf when I was a freshman.”

Krafter and Stimpy looked at me like I’d been contaminated or there was something wrong with me.

I laughed and said, “He was a Christian back then.”

Of course, what they said about Red Dwarf, or Peter, made me wonder how much of our relationship had been real, and how much had been an elaborate lie so I’d date him.  Was he like that back then, or was I not only his first girlfriend but the one who actually got to see the real him?

I had no way of knowing, especially since he changed completely after the breakup.  That could indicate that he lied to me, except that back then everyone else saw him the same way I did: as a sweet, Christian person.

Of course, Shawn wondered all along if Peter truly changed after the breakup, or if he’d been that way all along.  He said sophomore year, “Nobody changes that much.”

I didn’t believe Shawn back then, but now I didn’t know what to believe.  I still don’t; it’s not the sort of thing you ask somebody, even when you’re friends again: “Were you just fooling me and manipulating me?”

Apparently he makes a girl think he’s just the guy she’s always wanted–then wonders why she’s so upset and can’t let go after he breaks up with her!

I saw Speaker online soon after that, and he began beating himself up again.  Instead of reassuring him like usual, I got mad because he seemed to be manipulating me just as Krafter and Stimpy had warned me.

He then got mad at me for getting mad at him based on what other people said about him.  We eventually made up; I decided to be his friend and make up my own mind about him.

When I returned from Christmas Break, I planned to go back home after I graduated, and be with the Vampire, my old friend Josh and my high school friend Becky.  Now I couldn’t stand the thought of leaving all the wonderful people I was meeting on TCB.  I decided to stay in S– with them and my roommies.

Index 
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:

 

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Life on TCB–College Memoirs: Life At Roanoke–February 1995, Part 1

Counselor Dude said when he gave me a grade in February that my working on the novel Jerisland since 1988 or 1989 showed persistence.  He said I had a good grasp of the mechanics of writing, and could become an editor if I wanted to.

****

Sometime early fall semester, Sharon saw two freshman guys put up a poster advertising the new Roanoke College BBS.  We were surprised, and checked it out.  Apparently we weren’t the only ones on campus getting connected to the wonderful world of the Internet and BBS‘s.

It wasn’t much, mostly a message board saying what classes were canceled and such, but it was still nice to have one.  It was a voice line, however, hooked up to the freshmen’s dorm room phone, so we could only call up at certain times of the day.

Every other college already seemed to have Internet access for students.  Roanoke didn’t have it until the next school year.  I’d watch the students on Beverly Hills: 90210 use the Internet on a school computer, and feel jealous.  We heard the access was supposed to be available senior year, but had to be pushed off until the next year–after I graduated.

Pearl had friends with e-mail addresses through school accounts, and now she could finally send them e-mail through our AOL accounts.  We got one account for all four of us with separate screen names.

But our favorite was The Crystal Barrier, or TCB, as I described here, because of all the fun we had with people who lived nearby:

The action words in Teleconference, or tele, were a lot of fun.  For example, if I typed, “slap stimpy,” Stimpy saw, “Nyssa Of Traken is slapping you!” but I saw, “…Wap!…Wap!…Wap!”

You could also do them to other people privately, like this: “kiss stimpy secretly.”  I saw, “Pucker up!” and Stimpy saw, “Nyssa Of Traken is kissing you on the cheek.”

More action words: “pave,” which said, “Crystal Dragon is driving a steamroller over everything, chanting, ‘The earth must be paved'”; “pkiss,” or “Nyssa Of Traken is kissing you passionately!”; “look,” or “Stimpy is looking at you,” which the user saw as, “Like what you see?” or “See something you like?”

“Look” was good for giving a funny look to someone who was acting very strange.  You could also just type “look” without directing it at anyone, and that showed up as, “Nyssa Of Traken is looking around the room.”

To direct an action at someone, all you needed were the first three letters of that person’s handle, or more if someone else online had the same first three letters.  You didn’t need to capitalize.

Sharon and I often spoke to each other and others offline as if we were in tele and using action words.  For example, I’d say to Sharon, “Nyssa is slapping you,” and we would laugh.

South Bend and S– BBS’s had different commands.  South Bend used dot commands.

Unlike with the South Bend area dot commands, which dealt with other functions on the BBS’s, on TCB you could use dot commands to send an action to someone who was logged into the BBS, but not in Teleconference or Farwest Trivia with you.  Example: “.kiss krafter.”

To look at someone’s registry, or a list of answers to personal questions, you typed “/r Krafter,” or went into the registry menu.  This registry asked for computer phone number, the name of your own BBS if you had one, your favorite food and movie and music and TV show, your least favorite show and music and movie, physical description, eye color, hair color, a short summary, etc.

You could answer each question however you wished: Some people typed “n/a,” or not applicable, to every question.  Speaker typed “.” after every question.  Some people gave answers that revealed them to be scary people, such as one guy who I believe called himself Nightstalker.

I either ignored the phone number questions or made up fake BBS names or spelled out fake numbers (“1800FUNWITHZARA,” for example).  My summary was often, “I long for the days when men were men, alternative was alternative, and mice were little furballs that squeak.”

Krafter liked this one.  I knew it was an adaptation of something I’d heard once (and I don’t mean the standard, “When men were men and women were women”), but I didn’t remember where.  Some time later, I discovered it came from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  My variation was my own, but the Hitchhiker’s version went:

In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were REAL men, women were REAL women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were REAL small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. —http://www.davekimble.org.au/humour/hitchhiker.quote.htm

We could also type taglines, which showed up next to a user’s handle whenever someone typed “/#” to call up a list of who was online at the time.  There was a default tagline, I forget exactly what; I generally had various taglines, depending on what I felt like putting there.

When someone was still logging in, the screen showed “login” in place of the handle, and “I couldn’t stay away!” as the tagline.  These were similar to the taglines on Pan-Optic Net.

I was Nyssa Of Traken, Sharon was Ziggy, and Pearl was Pearl.  My name, of course, came from my favorite handle from Indiana BBS’s, as I explain here.  Sharon loved Ziggy, and Pearl’s handle came from her nickname, so none of these names was a surprise.

Even Astrid went on TCB a few times, and called herself Tigger, fitting with her nickname, Boing Boing.

There, as in Internet chat rooms, normal punctuation and spelling rules went out the window.  In forums, people wrote normally (except for the occasional “4” for “for,” “u” for “you,” “c” for “see,” and other abbreviations).

But when chatting or playing in tele, you saw lots of ellipses and emoticons, and a lack of capitalization or punctuation.  Even I, whom Stubby once called the TCB spelling cop (I got better), was guilty of this.  It’s just quicker to write if you don’t have to worry about what your English teacher would think.

Sharon loved going online and being bombarded with “so and so is hugging you” from people all over the system.  I would go online, get such greetings, and type “.kiss Krafter” (which kissed him on the cheek) to greet him each time I saw him online.  Pearl was also popular.

The people online were so sociable and Sharon was so popular, in fact, that sometimes she went online and hoped no one would notice her so she wouldn’t have to answer their pages or return their hugs.  She tried to sneak on, check her e-mail and get back off again.

The problem, however, was that the system announced to everyone whenever someone came online, along with an entrance message, if one was set.  So it was hard to sneak on without being noticed, unless you figured out how to work the “invisible” function.

In my teens, the “cool” kids had never even heard of BBS’s.  (No, I was not one of the cool kids.)  Now, even the “cool” people joined the “geeks” online.

Other people liked to sign their names in various ways–all capitals, shortened handles, funny symbols–so I decided to use my own signature.  This is what I came up with:

}] Nyssa of Traken [{

For a short time, I changed my online summary nearly every day so that a different line of the first twelve lines to the Prologue to The Canterbury Tales–in Middle English–showed up.

When one of us was online, the other two often sat around the computer and watched.  Most often, we went into tele or Farwest Trivia (a multi-player trivia game).  There, the watchers would tell the one typing, “Page so-and-so and say this,” “Say this,” “Tell him Pearl says such-and-such,” etc.

When one of us was online, all three of us were generally online, even though only one of our screen names was logged in.  It was quite a party every night by the computer.

Oftentimes, people, such as Krafter or Speaker, sat in the menuing system (main menu), and just waited there for pages while doing something else.  Just like nowadays we do with, say, IRC, Facebook, or other instant messaging systems.

For me, the computer gave stiff competition to the TV.  Even though I wanted to see a new show named Sliders, Star Trek: DS9, and this new Star Trek show called Voyager, it was hard to pay attention because I was usually online while they were on.

I loved Sliders anyway, as did Charles, and we loved the various things that were different in each dimension the four sliders slid into.  One of my favorites had a dimension in which America had never broken from England.

(When Sci-Fi Channel picked up the show three seasons later, they ruined it, turning it into some action thing where favorite characters got killed off.)

As for the Star Trek shows, I couldn’t get into them.  After that year, I didn’t even try keeping up with them.  My love affair with the continuing Star Trek series had ended: There were just too many of them now.

For a short time, a guy called Atlantis sent me messages on TCB.  He played a game with me, a guessing game, with hints on who he was.  Then he disappeared before I could find out, upsetting me.

I heard somewhere that he was kicked off, maybe for a misunderstanding, but I don’t know if this was true.  Then Mike’s friend Brent finally admitted to being Atlantis.

Sometime during this period, Pearl’s sister came to visit and stay in the apartment for a day or two.  She saw my tapes and CD’s and went wild, because I had a lot of alternative, and the kids were really starting to get into alternative in those days.

She also went on TCB a few times as Squisha.  This name came from an inside joke between her and Pearl, a name one of them gave to a squirrel squished on the highway, Squisha Squirrel.  She had a lot of fun, and the other TCB users loved playing with her in Teleconference.

One day, I checked a user directory for one of the BBS’s.  The new user setup, or a series of questions each user needed to answer–what kind of computer and graphics you had, what password you wanted, your real name, address and phone number–included, of course, the question, “What handle would you like to use?”  The user directory listed all the users of the BBS by handle.  One person showed up as:

What do you mean “HANDLE

(No, no closing quote or question mark for “handle”; there wasn’t room; the handle could only be so long.)

Many teenagers hung out on TCB, and most of these seemed to love talking to Sharon, Pearl and me.  We felt popular.  Sharon said, “I think they think we’re cool because we’re three women living together.”

Though TCB wasn’t free, it wasn’t expensive, either: $5 a month got you five hours a day.

****

Sharon’s Sharon-isms included various expressions of disgust or dismay: “eww,” “ergh,” possibly “erckle” and “icky.”  We both used these online as well.  Another popular term among us roommies was, “Owie!  Owie!”  Sharon also sometimes said “cry” during a fake argument.

During second semester, it became common for my roommates to steal my seat whenever I got up from the couch.  I often ended up sitting in the armchair instead.

It was comfy, of course, so this wasn’t a problem, though sometimes I’d be in the chair while my roommies acted weird on the couch, joking and making weird noises and such.  I felt a bit left out.  But at least I had fun playing the straight woman.

Just as she did last semester, my old roommie Clarissa often came over to walk to dinner with me.  This, of course, was on nights when I didn’t end up eating mac and cheese or Spaghetti-os in front of the computer, while playing on TCB.  Now that we had our own kitchen and food, I could do this.

Tara and Pearl, having just seen Bugs Bunny’s A Hare Grows in Manhattan, began saying, “It’s a GY-raffe!  a GY-raffe!” instead, of course, of the usual “giraffe.”

My friends now watched Sesame Street every once in a while.  They thought there was nothing weird about this, that they had every right to if they wanted to no matter what their age, and that the show was cute.

Pearl’s sister liked Elmo.  (This was before the “Tickle-Me-Elmo” craze, which was in the fall of 1996.)

We noted that the same little African-American boy with an afro (probably John-John) had been on Sesame Street since we watched in the 70s, yet he was still there.

The show kept playing the same old clips even in the newer shows.  It was good, though, that the little kids wouldn’t miss out on some of the things we saw as kids, but wouldn’t they wonder why the kid’s hair looked so weird?

I never wondered about it as a kid, but that was in the 70s, and lots of people had hair like that.  (Of course, if Sesame Street still plays those clips of the afro boy, today’s kids probably think he looks normal.  Fashion is weird like that.)

Index 
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:

 

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Today’s Fun: Highland Games, Weird Friends

What a full day today:

First I bicycled to church (so I get to sleep in tomorrow), a new thing with my brand-new bike after years of no bike.  I got to visit with the people at coffee hour, practice Greek, try to understand Greek, and chat with a new friend, a very spiritual young man who’s become close enough to know my struggles with faith and the loss of a meaningful but abusive friendship.

I spoke to him about it back in February, told him the whole thing.  It’s hard for a shy introvert like me to make that close of a friend.  Facebook chats help a lot.

It’s good to find another spiritual, potentially close friend, to have someone to talk to who’s close enough to actually help.  Just his presence at church is quiet moral support as I go through this tough time.

My priest has also known for the past two years about my struggles, the various things that have come up, since I’ve been going to him for advice, prayer and counsel over this ever since July 2010.

They were my support system since long before the ex-friends (Richard and Tracy) found my blog.  So I’m not all alone there, even though Jeff goes to a different church.  There’s nothing the ex-friends can do to me with my support system in place. 

They have threatened to sue me if I tell members of the church about what they’ve done, but I told my priest and this friend long before they made that threat, and I’ve also told them about the threat and the blog stalking and intimidation they’ve done since.

It is my human right to confide in whomever I choose about my problems, so such a lawsuit would violate my free speech, would be frivolous, and would be thrown out of court.

Such threats are often used by bullies/abusers to keep their victims quiet and fearful.

That woman, Tracy, even pressed up against my back in the communion line and started breathing loudly–literally breathing down my neck and snarling!

It is a huge relief to connect and re-connect with normal, nice people who do not abuse their friends, who just have the usual human foibles.  The more I see them, the better I feel, the farther along I get on the healing process.

Then I went to another friend’s annual Highland Games/caber toss thing.  Stoneput, spear throwing and another tossing thing were added, and the usual caber tossing (big pole like a utility pole, in various weights/sizes).  Extra points if you wear a kilt.

The usual/annual jokes about men tossing their wood and what’s under that kilt.  (The rules stated that you cannot go commando because it’s unsanitary and could subject the people behind you to an unwelcome view as you toss your caber.)

And the usual fun was had by all.‎…Oh, and Jeff got a plaque (homemade by my friend, T., a gifted craftsman) for coming in 1st place in mini caber.

I tend to have unique friends.  I’m not used to the rougher types T. hangs out with, but my friends are usually geeks of some kind, computer geeks, British comedy fans, Dr. Who fans, roleplaying geeks, reenactment geeks (SCA, Renaissance Faire).  I even married one.

That’s also why my friends tend to be guys, though sometimes girls are this way as well. 

T. is one of these unique friends, met years ago through other geeky friends I met on a local BBS (back before the Internet made BBS’s into a bunch of crickets chirping, around 2000).  He also has Scottish ancestry, and even claims to go back to King Nebucchadnezzar.  I believe he goes back to King MacAlpine as well, which makes us cousins in a way, because so do I.

Though I couldn’t help wondering–after discovering that not only does my dad’s line go back to royalty, so does my mother’s–if some of the records coming down have been fudged.

Why is it that everybody I know, who has records stretching back that far, goes back to royalty?  Or is it just that if you can trace your records back that far, you must be from royalty, because the records of common peons would not be so carefully kept?

[Update: I recently read some Internet article which demonstrated that, based on math and probability, EVERYONE goes back to some kind of royalty.]

T. also comes from a unique family: Today he told the story of his stepfather, I believe it was, who likes to go into the pharmacy, let a nasty one go in one aisle, then go to another aisle and watch in the security mirror to see people’s reactions.

Once he did this while T.’s mother was bent down looking at a bottle.  An old lady came along, said, “Well, I never!” and started hitting her with her purse.  The response: “Maybe you should, and then you’ll be in a better mood.”

Another of my unique friends, M., seems to know other people I know as well: the youth pastor I used to work with 12 years ago, and a new convert at my church who almost went to live with him.

He is the kind of person who started out with a completely normal, ordinary name, hated it, and legally changed it to a name from myth (which if I named to you, would identify him, so I won’t give the name).  He also wore a beautiful kilt to T’s first Highland Games, in October 2010.

We used to play Dungeons and Dragons with him, his sister, his sister’s boyfriend (now husband, who was the first one I befriended on that BBS), T., and a teenager who also hung around in our little group on the BBS and in person, back around 2000.

The teenager was obsessed with Star Wars, wore a Jedi cloak to my birthday party in 1999, and to this day, despite being a mature adult, insists on being called the name of a certain Star Wars character.

In maybe 2001 or so, there was a rift in this group when everyone except me turned against one of the members.  I felt like, because I did not want to cut him out as well, I was also jettisoned, because after that, there were no more invites, no more showing up for our invites.

But in the summer of 2010, having reconnected with all these people through Facebook, and finding the rift repaired because the outed member had greatly matured, Jeff and I invited them to a party.

M. had a sunburn, claimed that grass was good for sunburn, then went out and rubbed his back on our little closed-in lawn.  While doing so, he lost his iPod, but didn’t realize it.  That night, it rained.

The next morning, we found his iPod on the lawn, and returned it to him.  I don’t know if it still worked.

I’m told by T. that M.’s wife was a very serious person in high school, the last person he would’ve expected to marry M.  Yet they were together for many years before getting married, so she must’ve had both eyes open.  Funny how things turn out, isn’t it?

 

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Their doublespeak and double standards

As for the things that so upset Tracy, as described in chapter 2, she wouldn’t let either of us forget for the next couple of years that I did these things or wanted to do these things and was such a slut to even think of them in the first place.

If these things wouldn’t be okay with her, why did he do them with me in the first place?  (In case you don’t know and don’t look at the link, these things were all innocent and platonic.  But I don’t want to use up space by describing them yet again.)

If Richard didn’t complain about something, and especially if he acted as if it were perfectly fine and dandy to do it, and especially if he himself kept doing the thing–

I had no way of knowing if Tracy had a problem with it until I did something in front of her (to show her my intentions were pure and I had nothing to hide), and she got short with me, or he’d tell me about the drama he was dealing with at home.

Or the rules about what exactly was and was not okay, were extremely hard to understand because his own behavior kept changing, or because nobody ever explained them to me.  And Tracy’s reactions to things seemed extremely overblown.

An example: We were always having long chats online and off, and I never heard the slightest hint from Richard that Tracy might have a problem with it.

Then one day–several years into our friendship, which was online for two years before becoming in-person, and in person for at least a year–Richard told me Tracy said to him one night, “Were you just chatting online for two hours with that woman?”

Keep in mind modern online geek, Gen-X and Millennial culture, how it’s been for probably 20 years now: It’s quite common to find people online at all hours of the night, especially with different time zones, ages and work schedules.

I have often chatted with male and female friends in the wee hours of the morning, whether on BBS’es, IRC or Facebook.  Keep in mind that Richard and I were both night owls, that he called me or guy friends in the middle of the night, that late-night online conversations are quite common in online geek culture.

My friends are often male because I’m part of the geek subculture, and it’s more common to find males than females who share such interests.

Meanwhile, Jeff’s friends are often female because he can talk with them on the sidelines at SCA events while most of the men fight with sticks.  He often went to events by himself because I got bored with the SCA a while back, and stopped going for a long time.

I’ve read many crazy things on the Internet–probably by much older people who have nothing to do with geek culture–describing “signs of cheating.”

Things which show no understanding of modern culture among Gen-Xers and Millennials, especially computer geeks.  Things such as late-night conversations must be cheating, going on the Internet late at night must be cheating, etc.

When actually, in our crowd, such things are considered perfectly normal and appropriate behavior.

So I certainly didn’t expect Tracy to be upset about any of it, especially when we’d been carrying on such chats for years.  So her comment baffled me.

I was sick of her making innocuous stuff “dirty.”  Especially when I had no reason to think she’d be upset about it–and especially when Richard kept carrying on with it (such as late-night chats) with no indication that we were doing anything wrong.

Then another time he’d tell me she had no problem with us talking on the phone or him visiting me with the kids along or whatever.  I didn’t know what was going on.

Then there were things that Richard did many times, but if I did it, it was somehow wrong.  Then later on, he did it himself again.  It was all very confusing.  

I doubt that having a normal brain, no NVLD, would have helped me much: Abusers do this “crazy-making” with normal people as well, keeping you on your toes, being fine with one thing one day and then screaming at you for it the next.

Then there was the time shortly after they moved out, when I told Richard I had another bag of his family’s stuff waiting to be picked up.  He said he’d come over, but didn’t, didn’t even call to cancel, so I just waited and waited.  I was upset at his rudeness and lack of consideration for my time.

I finally wrote an e-mail asking him to PLEASE let me know when he can’t come over, rather than leaving me hanging.

He responded that she actually fought him “tooth and nail” every time he needed to come over just for ten minutes to get a bag of their own stuff!  She’d say I hated her and was biased against her.

That’s the first time I heard of this!  What, did she want us to keep their hair fasteners and mail and books and other crap that I kept finding all over the place?

Then when he finally did come over soon after to pick up those bags, I talked with him some more about it.  He said no, she was just upset because he promised to do something with the family right after work.

Wait–What?  So which is it?  Does she hate me or is she just afraid you’re going back on your word?  I later asked him by e-mail and he said, “It’s both.”  So the doublespeak drove me mad, because he did this all the time.  Jeff also complained about it.

More doublespeak: One day I hear something’s okay with Tracy, then another day I hear it’s not okay with Tracy.

Also: He called it “flirting” when he put his head in my lap, when he put his head on my shoulder, when he began flirting so shamelessly with me that I began thinking it wasn’t just innocent flirting, so I fled to my room to get away from it.

Then the next day and night he goes about life like nothing has happened, talking about his wife and kids coming to town in a couple of days, etc.

Then the following night he does these things again, making me think, What the heck is going on here?  Then the next day he acts normally again.

So that night I confront him with the “cuddling and flirting,” to confront him about it, get the truth out of him of what the heck he’s up to.  But he denies there was any such thing: No, it wasn’t cuddling, cuddling is something else, my family/relatives put our heads on each other’s shoulders, I was sleepy, and the teasing wasn’t flirting, it was “playful banter.”

In online geek culture, everybody, no matter what their marital status, flirts with anybody and everybody, often shamelessly, often with the same sex.  Jokes get raunchy, humor gets bawdy, and some really crass groups on IRC will have one guy (such as “Maverick”) greeting another guy (“Saetan”) with “Maverick is raeping Saetan.”  This “raep” stuff is too crass for me.  But it’s all just pixels on a screen.

I have participated in such exchanges ever since the days of BBS’s in the 90s, so much so that my college roommate Sharon once called me a “cyber slut.”  My husband, too, occasionally does this.  It’s just what you do for fun in chats.  Bawdy humor and flirting is also the norm in SCA groups.

So while some people might consider this shameful or even “cheating,” our groups would consider them “prudes.”  Nobody is swinging or switching beds here: It’s all just talk.

The double standards: Richard flirts shamelessly with the ladies.  Tracy sometimes flirts with Jeff (footsie, or asking me if I wanna switch husbands).  Tracy flirts shamelessly on IRC.

Richard posts a picture online (for those overgrown frat boys in the IRC channel!) showing his wife’s breasts.  He often flirts with me.

But I use my verbal wit on Richard in IRC one day and Tracy appears to get all upset.  (I say “appears” because I was never sure if she was upset or just joking.)

(I’m pretty sure Tracy had a little thing for Jeff; I found it cute.  Jeff also used to have a thing for one of my friends; I found that cute, too.  I just don’t have time for jealousy.)

Or Tracy makes some comment in the IRC channel, and one of the guys types, “fap fap fap!”  Or Richard acts like a stick-in-the mud, some days flirty and some days acting shocked at something I said, even though it’s just a bit of harmless silliness, nothing like the kind of stuff he says to people all the time.

He can “sex” ladies in the IRC channel with Tracy watching.  He can post to ladies on the Forum that he “may be married but has lots of love to go around, so call me.”

He can make orgasmic sounds in the middle of his music webcast, knowing full well that I’m listening along with the guys in the IRC channel.  My mind starts going places where I don’t want it to go, but when I complain he treats me like a prude.

He can hit on Jeff all the time and tell me he’s going to steal him away from me, so–even though it’s supposed to be a joke–Jeff complains to me, “Talk about crossing boundaries!”

Richard tells Jeff (with Tracy right there) that he’s going to invite us to a Christmas party and smooch me under the mistletoe, so Jeff says he won’t bring me to his party, then.

But when I playfully tease Richard about it later, he acts like I’ve said a horribly shocking thing, and says like a party pooper, “I think of you as a cousin.” Jeff’s response: a very cynical, “Uh-huhhh.”  So….It’s perfectly fine for you to make this joke, but it’s disgraceful for me to tease you about it?

But somehow (according to Tracy in July/August 2010) I’m the one who “doesn’t understand boundaries” or social convention or “appropriate behavior.”  Even though anything I ever do is extremely tame compared to the stuff they do, with me, Jeff and others.

She tells me how Richard flirted via text with one of his female friends from the Forum, while proposing to Tracy.  And she laughs about it.  She jokes about how he finds “girlfriends” online.  We all laugh, understanding that he’s a faithful husband and it’s all just a big joke.  But then she gets mad when it involves me.  Or another time, doesn’t get mad.

Richard flirting with me, especially in front of Tracy, is an obvious sign that she must be okay with him doing that now, just as she is with him flirting with other women.  But then several months later I can’t even tell him I’ll miss him on his trip out of state.  Okay, Sybil, who am I talking to now?

The lines keep moving back and forth so much that I can’t pin them down, what’s okay and what’s not.  Her approval for something, like getting coffee with him, is given one day, then at some mysterious point, without a word, is taken away again.

He’d say, “She knows you’re not trying to get with me,” but she acted as if she thought I was.

Tracy can go to a rock concert with Jeff, but I can’t get coffee with Richard.  (Both are in public places!)

I don’t wear revealing clothes around Richard, while Tracy wears extremely low-cut blouses and low-waist pants around Jeff–yet I still get treated like a slut.

Richard and Tracy can be jerks to others, but God forbid anybody be jerks to them.

One day he tells me something would be fine once I fulfilled Tracy’s obligations, but the very next day he tells me it would never be okay.  This is obvious crazy-making.

I think that even a “normal” (neurotypical) person would have trouble dealing with this doublespeak and the double standards.  But NVLD made it even worse because–since I already knew that I was socially inept and had trouble doing “normal” social things–I looked to Richard as my guide for proper behavior.  If he did a certain behavior, then it must be okay for me to do it, too.

The author has noticed how girls with Asperger’s Syndrome seem more able to follow social actions by delayed imitation. They observe the other children and copy them, but their actions are not as well timed and spontaneous. —Tony Attwood Answers Some Common Questions About Asperger’s Syndrome

Note a double standard in what Richard was allowed to do with male and female friends, vs. what Tracy was allowed to do:

All Richard had to do was meet a guy once, and he’d even let the guy go to a conference overnight alone with her.  Then if he hit on her, Richard would know whom to beat up.

In red because it’s a HUGE red flag of abuse:

But according to a phone conversation Richard and I had in 2008 or 2009, and a forum post she wrote in 2008, she insisted on approving all his friends.  This included male and female.

She had to meet them, put them through her “test.”  Her approval could be made in minutes, or–with me–it became a long, drawn-out, exasperating process that infuriated my husband and me.

She felt she had the right to say she didn’t want him to keep a friend, and it was “respect” for him to follow her wishes.

But she freely did things with Jeff that if I tried them with Richard, she’d scream bloody murder.  Like, for example, going to a concert alone with Jeff, telling me she was playing footsie with Jeff under the table, and joking about wanting to switch husbands.

If I did these things with Richard she would scream because I “hadn’t befriended” her.  Yet she did them with Jeff after making very little effort to ever befriend me.

I thought this meant I finally had more freedom to do simple friend things–like going for coffee–with Richard, since turnabout is fair play, but no, I didn’t.  (Or maybe I did, but she pulled her approval at some unknown time without a word.)

He could go out for coffee with, flirt outrageously with, and show affection to his friends, male and female, but if it involved me–I was a whore.  (She didn’t use that word, but the things she said and did added up to that.)

More doublespeak: He told me I was very dear to him, reassured me that we were friends.  But he was cruel and deceptive to me, allowing his wife to go off on me for things he did and convinced me were fine, getting angry at Jeff for saying it was wrong of her.

Richard tells me for the longest time, “Oh, yeah, hugs are fine.  Hugs are okay.”  So we hug all the time, including in front of Tracy, and I’m led to believe it’s perfectly fine.

Then on the day of the Incident, he gives Jeff the impression that hugs are NOT okay and were never okay until certain conditions would be met.

I’m told it’s not okay to go out for coffee with Richard.  Then one day, maybe December 2009, Richard asks me to go get sushi, but it’s like midnight and hardly the time for it.

This was the “signal” I had asked for in an e-mail just a few months earlier, to tell me that Tracy is completely fine with me, that we can go out for coffee now, do everything he does with all his other “okayed” friends, since I didn’t want to keep asking him again and again if these things were okay.

So I e-mail him, saying, let me know when you want to go out for sushi.

Then on the day of the Incident Jeff hears how “Yes, it’s okay to go out for coffee/hug/etc., when certain conditions are met which have not been met.”

It drove me crazy.  I felt like Alice in the rabbit hole, trapped in a world I didn’t understand, bombarded by contradictions.  And Jeff, too, recognized the doublespeak and double standards.

As “Dategirl” Judy McGuire wrote in a column a few years ago,

Lest you think that could never happen to you, if you look at any study of domestic violence, you’ll see that jealousy is the No. 1 predictor of domestic abuse. Some other adjectives used to describe a typical abuser include controlling, overly critical, hypersensitive, and isolating.  Sound familiar?

Yes–In fact, these describe Tracy, not just to me but to her husband and children.

But unfortunately, she and Richard gaslit me, scapegoated me, tried to pin the blame for everything on me.

I resisted as much as I could (as I do whenever someone bullies or abuses me), knowing there was plenty of blame to go around, to them as well as to me.  But the gaslighting still affected me, making me doubt my own eyes and ears.

It seemed they wanted me to think I was crazy and they were normal, as if I had no right to my own opinions, as if everything I felt was wrong.

Tracy seemed to want me to grovel at her feet, and think I was some kind of worm who didn’t deserve their friendship unless I jumped and danced to her tune.

Her demands seemed to be deliberately placed so high that I could not reach them, especially with someone as mean to me as she was.

And of course, when she first discovered that I found her behavior to everyone to be abusive, that her behavior to me was ungrateful and wrong (after I had gone out of my way to give generously to her and her family), that being jealous and controlling are wrong–

–Instead of changing or proving me wrong, she did everything in her power to prove me correct–and try to make me seem like the “wrong” one.

2. The brainwasher controls the victim’s time and physical environment, and works to suppress much of the victim’s old behavior. The victim is slowly, or abruptly, isolated from all supportive persons except the brainwasher.

Your partner might have insisted that you stop certain social, hobby, or work activities. You might have gotten moved to a new location, farther away from your family and friends.

Or you may have been asked (or told) to reduce or stop contact with specific supportive people in your life. –Barbara, The Process of Brainwashing (Mind Control)

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

13b. Thinking of celebrating the first anniversary

14. Updates on Richard’s Criminal Charges 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

 

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