Yesterday, when I was sitting in class, two girls were up in front of the class giving a presentation. Meanwhile, I was on Facebook, Twitter, my email, my school email, and by chance… the same website that the girls presenting were on in front of class. All of a sudden, the girl’s computer died and she was stranded. The military guy sitting next to me looked over and saw the similar website and volunteered me, or rather my computer, to be the proxy in the middle of their crisis. Immediately, I started minimizing tabs, but not so many that it would uncover the up close shot of Jennifer Lawrence that is my wallpaper. Right as the girl got to my computer, I had an unreasonable number of windows minimized, and then it hit me. Dear God. What if they get on Google?
These people weren’t my roommates or a best friend… this was a giant class of people looking at my computer screen, which by this time, was reflected on a giant projection screen. And of course, they didn’t just need it for that website–they needed it for two or three websites. So, they opened up tab after tab revealing my most visited pages, which happened to be much less revealing than I had anticipated. But it wasn’t the most visited pages that I was worried about… it was what happened when you type that first letter into the search bar. There were safe letters and… well… not safe letters. And I sat there going through the alphabet in my mind, saying a silent prayer that they didn’t need the letters G or O or P or L or F or K or N or Y or S or T in particular. What if they found my Neopets account, or the one time I searched “How to Make Meth?” There were too many Google searches I worried about, and not a damn thing I could do about it. My life was on display and the only thing worse than typing one of those letters was the sinking feeling in my stomach that those letters might get pressed.
|I’m sorry, Skeeter. I’m just… sorry.|
And it reminded me that I’ve always been that way… the guilty one. That was my computer, and it didn’t matter what came up… But the embarrassment of what happens if people find out my personal details is something that has always haunted. And one of the first occurrences of it happened when I was 11 years old.
As an 11 year old, I was pretty much pure of heart. I attended church every week, and it was actually my preacher that gave me my cat, Skeeter. Middle school was rough, so Skeeter was my best friend. We would hang out together all the time and do cool stuff like watch television and walk around the house. Skeeter’s favorite toy was a small mouse that cost about 1.99 from Wal-Mart. The way it worked is that you would pull out the toy mouse’s tail and it would vibrate around the room, and Skeeter would chase after it. One day, Skeeter and I were doing our thing, hanging out in my room, and tossing the vibrating mouse. He would chase after it and then carry it back to me, like a dog. I’d pull it’s tail again, and we’d repeat the cycle.
But on this day, everything changed. I pulled the mouse’s tail out, but because of my fantastic coordination, I dropped it. In my lap. And all of a sudden, I felt something. I started to pick up the mouse, but then, well, you know… I just kind of left it there. The mouse stopped vibrating, and I stared down at my lap, then I looked at Skeeter. He didn’t need to be there for this–actually, I’m pretty sure that I didn’t need to be there either. Skeeter waited there in front of me to throw it again, but I wasn’t sure what to do because I wasn’t really sure what was going on either. I picked Skeeter up and put him out of my room because even at a young age, I really wasn’t feeling the whole voyeurism thing. I sat back down in the butterfly chair in my room (because we all had butterfly chairs… don’t lie) and held the mouse in my hand. As an 11 year old, I think that was my first insight as to what it might be like to do cocaine, or heroin maybe.
I went and listened at the door to make sure everyone, including Skeeter, was away from the premises. With no one in ear shot, I pulled the mouse’s tail again and “accidentally” dropped it again in my lap. And this is the point in the story where I move on to more pertinent things…
So, two weeks later, no one in the house knew where Skeeter’s favorite toy had gone. We had searched and searched, and when they asked if I had seen it, I remember becoming really defensive, Why would I have seen his stupid toy? I don’t know where it’s at. It’s no where that I could find it. My skills and persuasion and lying had obviously not began to fully develop at this point, so I might have well said, Hey guys, go check in the pocket in my butterfly chair–it’s there. Promise. But other than that, I kept my mouth shut. We all have our secrets, mine just happened to vibrate in ten second intervals at the pull of a tail. But even with all the secrecy and, um, other stuff, there was this sinking feeling that what I was doing was wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Nothing was making sense anymore because I had been introduced to this new, shaky world of happiness and confusion. But with all the positives, the negatives seemed to always outweigh the positive. I couldn’t look at Skeeter because I took something that he thought was innocent and made it into… whatever I made it into. So after the longest time, I broke.
|I don’t think the brand name is a coincidence.|
One night as I was going to bed, I called my mom into my room. She turned the light on, and I sat up in bed–already crying, because that’s what I do–and she asked me what was wrong. I broke into confession mode: Skeeter can’t play with that cat toy anymore. I did something to it, or with it. I can’t let Skeeter play with it anymore. My mom wasn’t quite sure what to say because from the way it seemed, I was just really irrationally upset about this cat toy. I continued. Mom, I took the cat toy, and I put it on my lap. And then I kept putting it there, and then “something” happened. And then my mom pressed her lips together–at the time, I thought she was going to kill me in the same way that I imagined God was going to. Looking back, I’m pretty sure she was trying not to laugh. And God’s mad at me too because I’m pretty sure this is a sin. I shouldn’t be doing this. I know I shouldn’t, but I can’t stop, momma. And then I burst into the dramatic tears, and she hugged me.
After I calmed down, she asked for a little more of a thorough explanation of what was going on with the cat toy, and then she calmly tried to explain that all little boys eventually did what I did–albeit not with a cat toy, but that’s neither here nor there. I wasn’t quite sure how you happened upon the same effect without a cat toy, but that’s not what concerned me at the moment; I was more concerned about my eternal damnation via cat toy. My mom had to explain that God doesn’t send 11 year olds to Hell for assaulting their torsos, and even after the fact, it took months for me to be okay with it all. My mom ended our conversation with, Just be careful and don’t bruise yourself, which is advice that I hold near to my heart to this day. I never gave Skeeter back the cat toy, mostly because that just seemed like a really weird thing to do. I threw it away soon after the conversation I had with momma.
So zoom forward. The presentation ended yesterday and no critical letter was pressed. A sense of relief flooded my body, but a small part of me still felt guilty that there could ever be anything on my computer that I would restrict the world from seeing. But when I think back to the conversations I had with my mom about the numerous acts I thought would send me to Hell over the years, I think we both came to the conclusion that sometimes secrets are best kept secrets. And with that revelation, I closed my computer and left class.