As might be inferred from the picture above, I’ve only ever bitten one person. I was five years old, at a birthday party or something, and my mouth was open. I do not remember why my mouth was open — maybe I was yawning, or maybe I was just having a moment of slackjaw — but regardless, my mouth was open, and for whatever reason, the kid next to me reached over and stuck his hand in it.
So I bit him.
At the time, I remember feeling very logical and justified about the whole thing. The other kid, however, freaked the fuck out and ran to the adult chaperones (one of them being my mother), wailing like a banshee and pointing (what was left of) his finger at me.
“You bit him?” my mother asked, more concerned than angry.
“He put his hand in my mouth,” I replied, matter-of-factly.
“And why did he put his hand in your mouth?” she asked, now just confused. I shrugged and raised my eyebrows as if to say, “Your guess is as good as mine, lady; I just work here.”
I don’t remember exactly what happened next, but I assume she made me apologize, to cover her bases and assure the other moms that she wasn’t raising feral children. Anyway, the point here is that I bit someone, because he put his hand in my mouth. And I’m thinking about this now, 35 years later, because I just saw something similar happen on Twitter.
The whole affair kickstarted with some snarky tweets directed at the author of Gardnerians. The author of this blog is actually a good friend of mine, and…
[Okay, I need to stop here for a sec. The author in question writes anonymously, and while I am not about to out him, I also can’t just call him Anonymous Author, because he’d hate that. Trust me. Instead, I’m just going to start that last sentence over and give him a pseudonym I guarantee he’ll appreciate.]
Destruct-o the Baconator is actually a good friend of mine, and knowing his sense of humor, I was not surprised to find him vaguely baffled but clearly amused by the unwarranted attention. He remained aloof but polite as his newest detractor (let’s call him Frothy) barked furiously, and he gamely tossed out loaded talking points for Frothy to pounce on and gnaw. You’d think Frothy would eventually catch on to the fact that he wasn’t being taken seriously, but nope, not so much: By the time I went to bed, he was still frothing away, and using the word “bullshit” a lot, which, y’know, doesn’t lend itself well to one’s academic credibility.
The last tweets I saw from him were addressed to Twitter at large, denouncing Destruct-o and slathered with passive aggression, which (in my mind, at least) confirmed his motivations. Just as that other five-year-old put his hand in my mouth and then feigned shock when I left teeth marks, Frothy — displaying roughly the same level of maturity — attacks specifically to provoke negative reactions. When he receives those reactions (and I assume this has gotten him results in the past), he can then wheel around and scream about the mean, ignorant jerks who are trying to suppress him. Cue the sympathetic music for our maligned anti-hero.
This tactic actually works well for toddlers and adolescents (or at least, it worked for the kid I bit, because really, who are you going to believe: The kid who’s bleeding, or the kid licking the blood from his lips?), but it’s a little harder to pull off via social media. It is as nothing to click around and determine who lobbed the first grenade in any given online skirmish, so if Frothy (or someone like him) picks a fight and then loudly proclaims innocence and/or persecution, all he’s really done is make himself look like… well, a mean, ignorant jerk.
Thing is (and I’ve gone through this before), I get it. I get that need to denigrate others, and I get the jealousy that runs underneath it. Years ago, I developed a mad-on against this one particular Pagan blogger. She mainly blogged about the New Age dance class she was taking and her favorite vegan recipies, but oh, how I desperately wanted to strangle her, because one time she made disparaging remarks about Wicca and intimated that forged metal was rapey, and that pushed me right over the edge.
But you know why I really hated her? Because she’d published two books. Which I could’ve done too, if I’d put as much effort into writing as I did trying to convince everyone that I already was a successful writer. (Hint: I wasn’t.) Granted, I never went after her on Twitter or anything, but I did tell anyone who would listen how much I loathed her, and why I had extremely sound and valid reasons for doing so. (Hint: I didn’t.)
So yeah, I understand. And I always get in trouble when I say I understand effed-up behaviors, so let me clarify: Understanding is not the same as excusing. I mean, I fully understand why Kim Davis is the way she is, but I still cheered when she went to jail. And I fully understand why Frothy & Co. try to bully the people they perceive as somehow better than they are, but I still giggle when the objects of their antipathy ignore and dismiss them.
Of course, there’s always the chance that Frothy is a standard-issue sociopath, in which case any other attemtps at profiling are moot. But I like to think the kid I bit no longer puts his hands where they don’t belong, and I like to think that one day, Frothy will accept that his opinions are ultimately irrelevant.
As is anyone’s opinion of him.