A really funny incident occurred over the weekend while I was listening to one of the final regular-season Cardinal games of the season. MLB.com has a Cardinals chatroom, where you can, well, basically waste your time with other Cardinal fans who are in the process of wasting their time. I log on occasionally to go ALL CAPS when we win or group-mope when we lose.
One of the participants was being an absolute pest -- if someone disagreed with him on even trivial things, they'd be labeled an idiot. He'd fill up the screen with obscenities. He'd be contentious and rude about pretty much everything. The guy gave the proceedings the air of a 13-year-old middle school bully in a sports bar. So I made the casual remark that it's a shame that you can't slap the shit out of someone over cyberspace. Apparently, that flipped a switch. The guy IMs me and does the internet equivalent of giving me that oh-too-familiar first shove. Over the internet.
"How bout I give you my phone number and we'll go from there, asshole!"
I wasn't really sure what to make of this. I'd never really been in a fight before, but from what I remember from middle school, the guy trying to indimidate you was usually supposed to be in the same room, or somehow able to physically affect you in some way.
Andy: What the hell is wrong with you?
Nutjob: You yanked my chain one too many times! Maybe I should kick your ass for you.
Andy: I'm in Arizona!
Nutjob: That's too far.
Andy: Yup. Too far.
Nutjob: Maybe you'll just make me change my vacation plans.
But that assumes that I would have actually given him my address, description, maybe scheduled a time (coordinated with his incomong flight plans) to meet out on a playground out back of a school or something and shove each other around some. Maybe he could pull my shirt up over my head and tackle me and we could wrestle around a little like they did back in the day. I've heard of people traveling cross-country to finally meet up and capitalize on an internet love affair, but I have yet to learn of a formalized conference by which satisfaction for a chatroom insult was had.
Strangely, it did feel a little bit good, though. I haven't had any interaction with bullies since middle school, and yet here was the genuine article going through the same routine, except disembodied and ridiculously impotent. I wound up laughing at him (again, ALL CAPS), and he signed off in a huff. Almost like he was signing me up in a program for systematic desensitization for bully-phobia -- next, I have to stand and look at one from afar before coming closer.
And at the very end of the program, you go to the nearest middle school and beat up the largest 13-year-old you can find.