Facebook friend requests come in many forms. Sometimes they’re surprising like, “Hey! It’s that girl I knew in 3rd grade who’s now a Wiccan in the Bahamas.” And other times they’re a company’s desire for you to build a personal relationship with Axe Body Spray. And every so often, you receive a friend request that keeps you up all night debating whether to approve it. Which is what happens when you get a request from your childhood bully, Pete Sparks*. To be fair, I was rich fodder for a bully like Pete. I was a late bloomer with a buzz cut and a fondness for wearing jean shorts, and the most masculine skill I had was drawing passable doodles of The Simpsons. So, for a big testosterone driven man-boy-thing like Pete Sparks, it probably was just too hard to fight off the urges to violently throw me from my desk after I wouldn’t give him some of the Atomic Fireballs candy I had stored in my JanSport backpack. I found myself haunted. Why would Pete want to be my Facebook friend? He couldn’t possibly think that I’d want to fondly reminisce about all the various gay slurs he shouted at me in the P.E. locker room. So I tried to investigate. I clicked on Pete’s Facebook page, hoping to anonymously discover whether Pete was now either bald or morbidly obese. Either of these things would mean that I had been victorious for being the non-bald and non-fat one.
But my investigation quickly reached a dead end. Pete’s user pic was some indeterminate landscape photo, and his account was private unless I accepted his friend request. So I didn’t accept it. I denied it, and it…felt awesome! Fuck Pete Sparks. More than likely he didn’t notice or care, but it didn’t matter. For once, I was the one in control. The power to click “Deny” was mine, and I wielded that lame power like Zeus with his thunderbolt. Months later on Facebook I ran across photos of my ex’s old roommate, Mike. Mike and I had never gotten along, partly because I was sleeping at my ex’s place so much I should’ve been paying rent, and partly because he would leave the song "White Horse" by Laid Back playing all night long after passing out in the living room following an Ecstasy binge. Running across Mike’s Facebook page, I was hit by pangs of guilt. Sure, he had drunk all of my Alize Curacao without offering to replace it. But in the end, I knew I was to blame for getting along so badly with someone whose apartment I slept at 3-4 nights a week for free. Before I knew it, I found myself sending Mike a Facebook friend request of my own. Then it hit me. I knew exactly where this impulse was coming from
If Mike accepted my Facebook friend request, then it was like all was forgiven. But Pete was a douchebag, and through info obtained by a Facebook mutual friend, it appears he still is. Although not morbidly obese or bald, Pete now resembles a beardless Zach Galifianakis, is still single and spends most of his time getting really drunk at pool parties in Phoenix. OK…while that doesn’t really sound all that bad, in the end I was still the winner. While Mike accepted my friend request the next day, I had denied Pete’s. My guilty soul could now rest easy with the peace of mind that only Facebook can provide. * Pete Sparks, by the way, is not his real name, as some irrational part of me is worried that he’d read this, find me, and beat me up. Mike is also not his real name…as he’s currently my Facebook friend (for now). I could feel cleansed of my sins, as if a tiny virtual priest living in Facebook had absolved me. Is that what Pete Sparks had been trying to do? Did I deprive him of that peace of mind?
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