A friend of mine committed suicide today.

I don't use the term "friend" loosely here; we spent a great deal of time together over the course of eight or so years. If I were more eloquent, I would probably say words about having connected with her soul, about how I was her beacon in the darkness, but that would just feel meaningless and hollow.

I did everything I could to help her through the rough times, and there were many. Late nights on the phone or in a car or on a roof, listening to her pour out all of her troubles, her worries, her doubts, or just listening to her cry into my shoulder. If anyone asks you what it is to love someone, tell them that it is watching the sun set and then rise again while they pour their heart out to you.

I held her hand twice while she checked herself into rehab; once for alcohol and once for harder drugs. She never talked about the experiences, and asked me not to visit her during her stays, but I have never seen her happier than when she walked smiling across the parking lot to meet me after being released.

I even introduced her to this place. She was a noder here for the space of one writeup, gone now, entitled "slut." If you are clever, that will tell you some of what to think of her. She never wrote for e2 again, before or after, as far as I am aware, but she spent a lot of time here, and loved a lot of you. Loved your words. Lots of nights she would call me, drunk and crying, over something she read here. In a weird way, I think some of you helped her more than I ever could have, and for that I thank you.

She called me last night to wish me a happy new year; I jokingly told her that she was early, and she replied that she would be going out of town to see her mother and wanted to catch me before the phone lines got all tied up. She thanked me for helping her hold her head high, and hung up.

Her roommate called at ten o'clock this morning to give me the news. We both cried.

Callie, I'm sorry. You are a beautiful soul, and I will miss you.

"My daddy died this year in Iraq. I am going to give mommy the Angel pendant that daddy put on mommy when she was having me. I had it in my jewelry box since that day. I love my mommy."
--winning "Hannah Montana Rock Your Holidays essay winner

Somewhen around the early 90's, women's studies departments noticed that between 9 and 14, something happens in female development (quelle surprise!). Nascient Rosie O'Donnells (self-confident, boisterous, energetic, earthy, fat) become little Helena Bonham Carters(shy, quiet, restrained, modest, thin). Suicide! Bulemia! Your precious snowflakes in grave danger from gender discrimination, the pop media, date rape, and the annihilation of self! Pull the wagons in a circle, and call the shamaness!

Time was, we called it "growing up", "attaining poise", and "becoming womanly". A quiet, graceful, modest young woman is going to get a lot more attention of a good kind than the class clown, even if the boys think her a capital ladette, and a good party all around. She might even get called "grown up", and be called upon to join the Junior Auxilliary of the Garden Club in their conservation drive, or help at a tea, which of course means having a good name among women whose husbands might hire her, or of course have dateable sons. Nonetheless, the usual suspects were called up: "Take Your Daughter to Work Day" became a national institution (despite controversy), some school districts called for same-sex classrooms to address the problem that boys tended to blurt out the answers in class, while girls waited to be called on and American marketing (headed by Disney) went into overdrive promoting The American Princess.

Unlike a king or queen or even prince (in this view), a princess has virtually no responsibility past wearing a tiara, looking pretty and having beautiful quasi-mystical experiences on her way to eventually finding her Prince. (If you like Marianne Williamson, you can even dispense with the Prince.) She is, however, a paragon of self-esteem, guaranteed gems, expensive clothing, unquestioning fealty from besotted commoners, etc. etc. Birds and butterflies come down off trees to feed from her gentle hands, dogs and horses are always friendly (but not too friendly, hmmm...) and she's without a doubt, in touch with Nature, though I wonder how much of a carbon footprint all her living large is making...oh, sorry. This is the Fantasy Medieval economy.

What little girl could ever fret about how the boys at school tease her when she can put on her tiara with her galpals? OK, so they also play soccer, they're sporty princesses! But they got the big P on the hoodie, and the legend "Believe in your Dreams" inside. They can even be rockstar princesses, at your local mall's Club Libby Lu "It's all about you, you, YOU!"

Being a rockstar princess at Libby Lu, involves a makeover (a "Libby Du") by the staff, a wig, a dressup session with bare midriffs and feather boas, a karioke session with a headset microphone (videotaped), and a goodie bag of bubble baths and hair ornaments to take home, all in an atmosphere of screaming pink, pink, PINK! (Somehow, I get the feeling Anita Pallenburg was not consulted...nor was Patti Smith, come to think about it...) Just think about it...your daughter, a cute little Britney Spears look-alike...or Paris Hilton, or Lindsey Lohan, with a cute little stuffed "pooch" in its official "Pooch Parlor" carrier. See her eyes light up, as she gets the Pierced Ear charm for her VIP charm bracelet, after so much bickering. Reflect on her expertise at mixing colors, scents and soap solution...such a good little apothecary! (Granted, I had a few diva fantasies of my own, but I kept them on the level of my older relatives' evening outfits...of course, there was always the fantasy that I was a consumptive heiress at a spa-like san...but that came later...) And of course, whatever she wants, she gets...

Now we have the news that their Hannah Montana Rock the Holidays contest was won by a girl whose mother (whose last name is, curiously, not the same as the girl's father...) lied that her baby daddy was dead in Iraq. Club Libby Lu is taking away her kid's prize: "We only wanted to make a little girl's Christmas special." Please, Libby Lu. You're breaking this little girl's heart...her daddy isn't dead? What did she do to deserve this? She has important lessons to learn...things that will help her in her future career!

An open response to XWiz:

I don't know what your problem is.

The five "'fuck' and 'shit' laden messages" I sent you actually had content other than swear words but from what it looks like you're just out to stir some stuff up and you don't really care about what's really going on, you just want to justify to yourself why you're being irrational and ignorant so I'll try again:

You don't know the circumstances, and I don't need you swinging your e-gavel at me based on what you think you know.

I've got no problem with it being deleted, if most of the people who read it didn't like it, obviously it needs to go.

I wrote this to you already but you chose to ignore it: if someone is going to carry a "you're a cow" metaphor to the extent that the cow in question is milked, and then that milked is churned into butter, it's obviously an exercise in being ridiculous, i.e. "whimsical." The girl has been friends with the other guys who work with me for years. They are about as bad as I am. She knows what's really going on when boys like us tease her the way we do - we like her enough that we can act ourselves and be dumb around her.

"You're gleefully expressing how you systematically abuse another human with the help of your fellow workers," "If I were able, I'd provide as much help as possible encouraging her to pursue some form of legal action. At the very least, I'd be holding her hand down the police station and encouraging her to let it all out," you don't know what you're talking about and with that kind of warped view of reality you sound like an over protective parent with no concept of what's actually going on.

You can tell me to grow up all you want, it doesn't change the fact that you don't know the circumstances or the people involved and that you need to chill out.

By the way you could have just as easily kept this private instead of responding privately with

XWiz says I've been waiting for that response all day. And after reading all that, I have one short thing to say: Grow up.

and then going public with this, trying to make it look like I wasn't making myself available for reasonable discussion. You didn't care about "arguing intelligently" as I'm sure you think this is what you're doing, so it wasn't worth the effort for me to write another five messages in which I explained what was happening just so you'd ignore it again so you could live in this fantasy you have of being the knight in shining armor.

You're ignorant, fuck off.

edit - Just to clarify, I don't care that the write up was deleted, I just don't think you're in the position to be making judgment calls on my character or my actions.

XWiz, you win.

I tried going to work today.

The girl was there bawling. My managers watched me walk in with very disappointed looks on their faces. I was told I was fired, and that harassment charges would be filed against me.

"You mean you didn't like being called a cow?" I asked, incredulous.


Now I owe several hundred thousand because of undue distress and psychological damages.

It turns out none of my friends ever liked me in the first place since I'm such a dick and now they are no longer friends with me. Apparently they feel that I don't know how society works, nor do I know my place in it, and that this speaks poorly of my character.

I got kicked off my school's weightlifting team for inflammatory behavior. They said I swore too much. It made me ignorant. But, but, I protested, what about my write ups? So much insight, so much research, surely those count for something? No, they were vehement, the second you use a single swear word, you negate everything you've ever said. Technically I can still compete, it's a club sport, but my entry form to the state meet was rejected, because upon further review "the Texas State Weightlifting Championships and Open does not need a fucking asshole lifting in the Open Men's division; perhaps you'd like to apply for School Age eligibility, you immature fuck?" I declined.

My parents disowned me because I wouldn't stop making fun of my sister - I kept saying she looked and acted like a 12 year old when she is in fact 23. That's what happens when you're Korean. She probably won't like that I said that.

A child, barely a toddler, ran up to me out of no where today and kicked me in the shin. "I hate you," he said. His parents told me that he had never spoken before, they thanked me. Then they looked into my eyes and saw how black my soul was and tased me into unconsciousness, all the while screaming something about taking legal action and calling the police and encouraging their boy to let it all out, it's all right, the bad man's gone now.

On my way driving around looking for another job I intentionally tried running over squirrels, because I am that immature. I missed all of them. Because I'm also inept.

I could not find work because I systematically abused the employees and managers everywhere I went before I finished filling out my application. Everywhere I went, people were gnashing their teeth and pulling out their hair in anguish. Never had they ever met someone who was so hurtful, so callus and apathetic to the feelings of others. "You're a monster," they told me. "A monster."

Frances, who I have not spoken to since finals week, called me to say, "You are a dick." She hung up after that. This is OK because since I'm such an asshole, I am used to girls hanging up on me because that is all that ever happens to me. And I am especially used to Frances hanging up on me. Because she hates me and always will because I'm a bad, bad person.

There was some talk of giving me a taste of my own medicine. This stopped when I started sobbing uncontrollably because someone told me I looked like I had lost weight. Because obviously I am an insecure, little man with no redeeming qualities. They let me be. I cried alone.

You were right, XWiz. I regret everything. I've hurt so many people in my life and helped no one. All I've ever done is make people miserable. I have no grasp of the consequences of my actions or my words. I vow from this day on to never be mean ever again. Or take glee in doing so.

edit 3:57pm - The most amazing thing happened. Outside the cardboard box that I now live in, I heard birds chirping. I have not heard the song of birds in years. Mostly because I usually shoot them and then spray them with hairspray and then ignite them with a match because I treat everything in my life like shit. When I crawled outside they alighted upon my shoulders and chattered happily. Dogs and cats approached me with the warm familiarity of long-lost friends. Children smiled at me. Girls started giving me a second glance. But I haven't showered since I lost my job so it was just two looks this time, not the one. Baby steps.

I'm a new man, XWiz. You've changed me for the better. Now I utter only the kindest compliments. You do not look like a cow. You are like a graceful swan gliding upon the most peaceful lake of perfect stillness. You do not excrete milk but golden eggs of elegance that almost certainly cannot be churned into a fattening dairy product. You are beautiful.

Strangely no one likes me. They say I'm too nice, I smile too much, it's kind of creepy. But that's all right. I must attone for my sins. This is my punishment. I bear it proudly. I love you all.

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