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The True Housewives of Omegle By Brendan Tynan Buck
The True Housewives of Omegle
By Brendan Tynan Buck (Columbia College Chicago)
It’s when the sun hits me in the face as I walk through the glass doors at the Roosevelt Street L station that I really start to regret the plan for my first official date with Karen. It was my idea that we go out downtown because there would be more stuff to see, places to eat at, and things I could buy her than in the suburbs. The idea of arriving there separately using public transit, however, was all hers. She said that it would be like a rendezvous in a spy film so it would make it more romantic. I agreed, but now it just seems like a needless complication that just makes me nervous.
The reason for the nerves is that I have no idea where Karen is. I’m not sure if she is ahead of me or behind me. After marching up and down the L platform unable to find her, I pray for the latter. Scenarios race through my brain, ranging from plausible to stupid. What if she said ten instead of eleven? What if I got the wrong day? Maybe she got off at the wrong stop or worse, kidnapped by some weirdo on train. Obviously, I am a recently deflowered transit virgin.
I try to put my paranoia aside. I lean up against a wall directly under the platform, right next to a group of people waiting for a coming bus. I try to not sound too hysterical while texting her, but I question my success when it reads, “Hey, where are you? Please don’t answer six feet underground, lol.” I added the laugh out loud to make my fear sound more like a joke than an actual concern of mine.
While I wait for Karen to text back, I walk back and forth between State and Wabash. I don’t have any sunscreen, so I debate whether or not I want to slip over to the Walgreen’s on the corner to buy some. I decide against it on the fear of not being around when Karen is. I turn back towards the L station when my phone vibrates in my pants pocket. I rush to grab my phone, but it’s at the cost of losing all spacial awareness.
It shouldn’t surprise me when I stumble into someone’s chest. Just as he’s about to say, “Watch it asshole,” I have an apology ready quicker than a Japanese schoolboy with no self esteem. This seems to work since my ass obviously isn’t getting beaten. I’m surprised when he asks with a noticeable reluctance, “Hey, are you…?”
I recognize the voice, though it’s different than I remember it. It has the same general attitude, but it’s a lot deeper than I remember. He’s a lot taller than the last time I saw him, when he was my height, meaning he’s grown in the two years since he dropped out. He has long straight hair and a goatee, whereas his head and face were clean shaven before. Instead of a t-shirt, his past fashion choice, he wears a three button collared shirt. He even has a short chubby girl with poorly dyed red hair standing next to him (I can see the black roots.) It is him, though. When his shit eating grin appears, I’m sure of it.
“It is you Marc, you old abomination of nature. How’s it going?”
I want to leave. I want to run into the station and away from him and back into my home where I don’t have to deal with assholes like Timothy Scott Benedict. However, I have to wait for Karen. “Uh, I’m good. How are things going for you?”
“Awesome,” he yells at me with pure enthusiasm. “I just got my GED and I’m going to Moraine in the fall. Also I have this beauty by my side.” He grabs the hand of the faux-redhead.
“You are such a flattering hubby,” she says back to him with a grin that mirrors his.
“You’re married?” I ask with some bewilderment.
“Yep, I found true love, man. Daisy and I here have a love so true we’re on our way to get filmed in documentary about it.”
He lets that sink in for a moment, but not long enough for me to think of reasons why someone my age, eighteen, might be married.
“So what are you doing down here? I heard from Paul you’re going to Columbia College in the fall for film. Got orientation or something?”
“No,” I say nervously. “Well, I am going to Columbia in the fall, but I’m actually here on a date.”
Tim laughs and his wife giggles. “Are you sure? I don’t see a Japanese fuck pillow around here.”
I ball my right hand into a fist, but I keep my hand at my side as not to break the peace. This fracker hasn’t changed a bit. He’s as much of an asshole as he was when he made me an untouchable back in junior high.
The biggest mistake I made was that I thought that life was like the Revenge of the Nerds: that being a nerd meant I was a member of a tight brotherhood and that anyone who shared my interests was a friend. That is a lie. Sure, some of us who like things like Star Wars and Final Fantasy and anime are nice people, but it’s also true that a lot of us are assholes who spend our time yelling at each other about the integrity of a series from the eighties whose sole purpose was to sell toys of robots that could become cars or airplanes. The fact is that being a geek doesn’t make you a good person.
I met Tim around the beginning of seventh grade, which was a weird time for me. Puberty was less than kind to me. I had become shorter than my classmates, while Karen, the only friend I bothered to spend time with outside of school, had become beautiful. Her brown hair flowed, her dimply smile melted hearts, her brown eyes couldn’t be more inviting, and she had, and there really is no better way of saying this, large tracts of land. Guys started petitioning to spend time with her. Girls who had previously ignored her invited her onto both cheer and band, she making friends in both. Girls who had previously persecuted her tried to downplay their previous atrocities. By winter Karen would become the undisputed queen of the 7th graders through her natural likability, cuteness, willingness to throw herself into activities, and a fashion sense even she didn’t realize she had.
I was happy for her. I hoped her popularity would end the loneliness she felt through elementary, which at one point threatened her life. The problem was where it left me. I may have still been Karen’s best friend. She told me everything and I told her almost everything and we still talked geek. But things had changed. I didn’t have the monopoly on her that I once had. We were still close, but not as close as I was used to. We not being joined at the hip couldn’t have come at a worst time. I had always liked her, but while puberty hadn’t been kind to me, it did make me notice her in a way I hadn’t before.
By the time the first guy asked her on a date, I knew I had to make other friends.
Tim was a boy in our homeroom class. I didn’t really notice him until the field trip to the I&M Canal. I would have sat next to Karen on the bus, but she was surrounded by her new friends. She wouldn’t have had a problem with it, but I knew they would. So I chose my seat randomly, meeting Tim by chance. His hair was short, but wild. He was also my size. As soon as I was next to him I pulled out my Game Boy Advanced. When he saw me do that, he started talking to me. “So is that Pokémon Ruby?”
“That’s cool,” he said. “Did you start with Torchic?” Torchic is a little firebird that evolves into a kick boxer.
So we were friends. Or I thought we were. We talked about video games, anime, and science fiction for the entire trip, even when we were supposed to be learning about frontier life. I quickly learned he was a Trekker, his favorite anime was Cowboy Bebop, and he really liked Sonic the Hedgehog. He was a geek in a way Karen wasn’t. He liked things I didn’t. He was the one who introduced me to Gundam and Megaman. He was exciting and new.
But Tim was odd too. The first habit I noticed were the bursts of disruptive behavior he indulged in. He was the kid who’d always break up lessons with snarky comments and obscure references. Within a month of our meeting, he brought in a lunch pail full of hot sauces to the cafeteria and challenged other boys at our lunch table to an endurance contest that ended with three students in the nurse’s office and his sauces confiscated. He even considered himself a playboy, making passes at all the girls, Karen included. Needless to say, our classmates, particularly the girls, found him annoying.
His behavior could be explained by the observation that he didn’t give a single solitary crap about school. Since he thought he knew everything, he never did his homework. He didn't care for tests either, skipping one by drinking himself sick with chocolate milk, consuming six cartons in the space of twenty minutes, one after the other, even recruiting me to buy him some so the lunch ladies wouldn’t notice. His tendency to talk back made him a fixture in detention and would eventually lead to regular suspensions. When I asked him if he was trying to get expelled from school, he answered, “If I wanted that, I’d bring a knife in man, but it’s so much more fun pissing those stuffy bastards off.”
I noticed he was off, but I think that was part of what I liked about him. He did what I wouldn’t dare do. He was so free willed. Despite my own wishes for acceptance and academic success, I wished I could be him.
Before he turned my secrets loose, the only time I evaluated our friendship was the early December afternoon after he got sent to the dean’s office for yelling “KAHN!” during history class. As always, I walked home with Karen. Being December, we both wore coats. I was wearing a thick, bubble coat that provided me with a lot of warmth. Karen was wearing a stylish double breasted woolen coat that she looked fantastic in but appeared to not retain as much heat, especially with her wearing a skirt underneath. If she was cold, she didn't show it.
After telling me about her second play through of Knights of the Old Republic, this time playing as a Sith, she ran slightly forward, twirled around, and asked me, “So what’s the point of him?”
“What do you mean?”
She stopped, which almost made me walk past her. She grabbed me, her eyes narrow and fierce. I almost blushed. “Why are you friends with him?”
I slipped my arm through her hand and resumed walking. “Is there a reason I shouldn’t be?”
She ran up to me, still facing behind me, “Well, isn’t he a bit weird?”
I walked faster. For the first time, besides her sixth grade suicide attempt, I was mad at her.
“Yeah and we aren’t?”
“But he’s different,” she protested, matching my pace besides her obvious lack of balance.
“Because he likes Trek?”
“Not that,” she said, finally turning to face the direction she was moving. “It’s because he doesn’t seem right, you know? Have you heard his views on God?”
Tim was an evangelistic Christian who went to a church run by his former drug addict uncle, whose first name Tim shared as his middle. Tim believed that to go heaven you had to be “saved” or it was straight to hell with you. Gays were evil. Premarital sex was equally so. Creationism was truth.
“Sure. I don’t agree with him, but he has the right to believe what he believes.”
“But he’s inconsistent. How can the guy claim to be a Trekkie—“
“—Trekker,” I corrected.
“Trekker, and believe that? I may not be a fan of Trek, but even I get that show is based around science. The Bible doesn’t meld with that. That’s why I don’t trust him.”
“And you’d trust him if he was a fan of Star Wars?” I asked calmly.
“That’s besides the point.“
“What is your point? That you can have other friends and I can’t?”
We both stop in front of my house and talk directly at each other now. “Look, I’m not saying that.“
“I could say things about your so-called friends,” I seethed without yelling, “including ones who made your life a living hell.”
“But those aren’t really my—“
“Then what are—“
“COULD YOU STOP INTERRUPTING ME FOR ONE MOMENT AND LET ME HELP YOU?”
As soon as she finished yelling, Karen seemed frozen with shock like it was I who had just yelled at her instead of the other way around. It was the first time something like this had happened between us. I mean, we had yelled at each other as kids, but we yelled like children. This was serious.
Karen exhaled, her breath visible. “Look, I’m sorry for yelling, but I’ve got more legitimate reasons for not liking him.”
“He’s been spreading rumors about you.”
This piqued my interest. “What kinds?”
She blushed. “I heard that you liked me.”
It was the kind of rumor that anyone could have made. It must have been odd for people who hadn’t noticed Karen before middle school seeing a girl like her being friends with a guy like me. To them, something must have been up. “Did you hear it from him?”
“Then it wasn’t him. I never said anything like that.” I turned around and started walking towards my house, waving her goodbye. But inside, I started to wonder. Could he have really have spilled my secret?
The moment of betrayal came a little after the holiday break. To keep in touch with Tim, I gave him my IM handle, DarthRevan1191, which was my handle for most things at the time. It wasn't long before he took to Google and found some of the places I frequented with that handle. He found my more innocent activity, such as my account on the 501st forums where I asked for tips on creating Stormtrooper armor, but he also found more incriminating accounts on DeviantArt and fanfiction.net. I didn't post any artwork or stories myself, but...I did like to comment a lot, making it clear what I liked.
Some of things I liked were okay. There was some artwork that was genuinely awesome, like a pic of Luke fighting Vader here and a Spike Spiegel tribute there. But other stuff? I was thirteen years old and a nerd. A lot of nerdy people have dirty minds and like to see certain romances between characters explored. Fanfics of a certain nature come with the territory and fanart of that nature is a central part of the anime and manga fandom on both sides of the Pacific. I couldn't find anything too explicit on either site, especially it being after 2002 on ff.net, but my comments made it clear I wanted to see more explicit things. I found those on more explicit fan sites.
It was impossible for me to explain it then, but I know now why I was attracted to the stuff. I didn't like real porn. I was attracted to real girls, but everything looked so fake, so soulless. Fanficition and fanart, as creepy as it sounds, was more emotionally engaging. In some cases the material was depraved, or porn without plot, but sometimes the material was sweet. I'd find a fic where Tenchi and Ryoko get together or where Han and Leia consummate their love before he gets frozen with Carbonite, and along with the porn there would be some tenderness, and I liked that. Besides, all the normal porn I saw involved Jenna Jameson clones. So the only masturbation material that I could find that wasn’t filled with blonde hair and fake tits were hentai doujins, aka pornographic fancomics.
Not that Timothy would understand any of that.
One day I arrived to homeroom to find Timothy sitting at desk with a bright green folder on top, which was odd since he never brought any materials to class. He had this huge shit eating grin on his face, the sort of look he had whenever he was about to defy a teacher or play a prank. I walked past him and towards my desk, saying hi as I walked past. He didn’t say anything back, but instead just started laughing.
I should have known that something was wrong.
Tim didn’t confront me until lunch. I was sitting at the table, half done with the tasteless burger that was on the menu, when Tim stood across from me, holding that green folder. I looked up and that shit eating grin from the morning was still plastered on his face. As I said hi, he dropped it on the table in front of me and commanded me to read.
I put my lunch to the side and turned the folder open. The first page of the folder had the first conversation between me and him on IM, which included me saying “Hey Tim,” and him saying “Hey Marc,” linking me to my handle. The next page was the excerpt of a fanfic with a comment I made about it underneath. Then the next page was a piece of semi-risque fanart, again with a comment. As I flipped through the folder, the content that my internet alter ego liked got worse and worse until I found records of myself saying “I came” on a manga dumping website, at which point I shuddered and closed the folder.
I looked back up at Timothy who was now sitting directly across me, thinking about what to say. I wondered how he found all of this, but I was able to answer it myself. I wanted to ask him why he printed this record, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to know. Paralyzed with dread, sweat beaded down my forehead and I found I couldn’t say anything at all. Instead, Tim was the first to speak. “You’re a real sicko.”
“I’m not…I mean, I don’t…”
“Seriously Marc, do you like actual women or do you just masturbate to the Little Mermaid?”
“Of course I like real women. I—“
“Save it perv. You’re disgusting.” He was starting laugh now, as if he was getting off watching me squirm. He took back the folder and put it in his lap. “You’re probably going to hell for this.”
The tone of my voice rose to a falsetto. “Look, it isn’t that depraved. I read that stuff for the story, you know? It’s all loving couples and…”
“But it’s still wrong. It’s not real. Looking at that stuff is a sin.”
“You have porn. I’ve seen it.” I had, when I visited his house. He had gigs and gigs of porn, most of it anal.
“I deleted all that,” he laughed unfazed. “I’ve been saved. But you’re probably unrepentant.”
The word inconsistent echoed in my head, in Karen’s voice. “Whatever,” I said, putting up a calm front. “What I do in spare time to get my jollies off is none of your business.”
“You’re wrong. I think it’s everyone’s business.”
My small layer of composure melted instantly. “What?”
“I don’t think any unsuspecting girl should have the misfortune of dating you. So I’m going tell everybody.” As he said this, Karen was carrying her tray past us toward her friends. He turned around and started to say something, and I grabbed the collar of his shirt, shutting him up. Karen didn’t seem to notice him. When I let him go, he started giggling. I gave him a threatening stare and his giggling slowed, which allowed me to speak. “What can I do to stop you from saying anything?”
I hesitated. I wanted to say no. I wanted to plead to him as a friend, but I figured that wouldn’t work. Blackmail was my only way out of this “How much?”
“How much do you have?”
I pulled out my wallet. There was a ten inside. I put the bill on the table. “Is that enough to shut you up?”
He grabbed it. “My silence is assured.” He handed me the folder.
Twenty minutes later, a girl in Pre-Algebra asked me why I liked the boobs on Bulma from DBZ more than hers.
“No Tim, I’m dating a real, breathing girl.” I say calmly over his and his wife’s laughter. I’m trying to keep myself from exploding with a half decade’s worth of repressed anger. I tell myself that he’s gotten bigger than myself and that if I were to punch him in the throat I’d be throwing my life away, but damn is the dark side tempting. After all, Karen got away with hitting her ex-boyfriend in the head with a toy lightsaber right? Then again, she was helping a fourteen year old molestee and it wasn’t in board daylight, so I’m guessing I probably shouldn’t?
“Well baby, I don’t see her. Are you sure you didn’t dream it?” she says with a hint of a southern accent. Where exactly did Tim meet her?
My phone buzzes in my pocket again. Resuming what I was doing when I bumped into him, I pulled my phone out of my pocket. “See that’s her. We came here separately.”
“Cool story bro,” Tim said. “If there really is a girl, you shouldn’t play with her heart. We all know that 2D girls are where your real love lies.”
The concentration it takes to keep me from thrashing out stops me from checking my phone. I want to say, “Well frack you too,” but instead I change the subject. “So how did you two meet?”
They giggle and put their hands together. Tim starts, “Well I was on Omegle, going into random chats…”
“…And then we started talking…”
“…And we hit it off…”
“…So we decided we were just made for each other…”
“…And several months later here we are!”
They look at each other lovingly and I want to gag. “Is that all? You guys met on Omegle and then you got married?” Omegle is an anonymous chat service where you are put into conversations with random people. Think Chat Roulette without the penises. “Did you marry each other the next day?”
Tim’s shit eating grin couldn’t be wider, “Wifey, I think he’s jelly. Do you think he’s jelly?”
“He’s totes jelly,” Daisy added.
“But if you wanted to know, we waited a month, to make sure it was true…”
“Which it was…”
“And then she flew here for the wedding.”
I find it more annoying than adorable that they finish each other's sentences. “That's stupid.” I say flatly, unlocking my phone finally.
Tim walks up and leans his face over mine. I'm not scared, even though I should be now that he's six feet and I'm still five foot zero. “Well, it's no worse than what you got with your fake anime--”
“His fake what?” a soft voice asks. An arm suddenly entangles with my right and a familiar firmness presses against my shoulder. I turn away from Tim and see Karen smiling at me, as if unaware of the situation. She's wearing a bright yellow dress with a flower print.
Timothy steps back, the color leaving his face. Karen doesn't comment on this either. Instead she turns to me to say, “You never answered my texts.”
“I'm sorry,” I answer softly, “But I ran into these two.”
She looks over at them and back at me. “Am I supposed to recognize them?”
“Well, you should remember one of them.”
She steps forward a bit, narrows her eyes, and leans forward. After a moment she stands straight, looks at me, and asks, “Is it the girl?”
I shake my head. She turns back at them. Her head tilts and then straightens. Her right index finger touches her chin so I know she's figured it out. “Oh Tim, you've gotten tall!”
It takes a moment for Tim to stutter a reply. “Hi, Karen—”
“You know her?” Daisy interrupts impatiently.
“Oh and he has a girlfriend!” Karen exclaims. “Color me surprised.”
“Wife, actually,” Daisy corrects, tapping her ring.
Karen laughs, but slowly stops when she sees no one is laughing with her, even me. “That wasn't supposed to be a joke?”
“No Karen, they are actually married.”
Karen's smile becomes slightly evil, reminding me of the Emperor's on the Death Star. “Now that really is a shocker. I didn't think anyone would goes as far to date him, but to marry him too? Now that's real charity.”
Tim's wife explodes with rage, “Bitch, don't you talk about my husband like that or I'll slit your throat.”
She's about to make a move at Karen, but Tim grabs her shoulder. His face is even paler, as if he was told he had terminal cancer or that the bomb was about to fall. He didn't say a word as his wife tried to thrash at Karen, but he kept her from moving an inch.
With perfect serenity, Karen says, “Well, it was nice talking to you two,” before leading me away from this scene, the threats and screams behind us.
When I returned to school three days after my secret got out, I found that my presence had become a source of laughter. It was such a unified choir in homeroom that Mr. C had to put a lid on it with the threat of detentions. The only voice that wasn't part of it was Karen's, but I didn't know if it was out of embarrassment that I was once her friend or if she genuinely felt bad for me. I didn't dare look at her to find out.
As I moved to my desk, I noticed Tim's was surrounded by people. The reason for his betrayal become instantly clear: I was his ticket up the food chain. He could become one of the cool kids. In letting everyone know that I masturbated to hentai and characters from Star Wars, he created a source of constant entertainment for them. I was his gift lulzcow.
The moment I sat down, Mr. C made his way out of the room. After he shut the door, Karen stood up. Wearing jeans, a green hoodie, and a tank top she walked across the front of the classroom with a determined gait that I barely noticed at the time, but I'd always remember when recalling the event. She stopped in front of Tim's aisle. All the boys around Tim's desk went silent and turned towards her, while she was looking directly at Tim. They noticed this and dispersed to their desks.
I silently dropped tears. “Has even Karen abandoned me?” I wondered as she approached him. If I had simply analyzed her face for a moment I would have known that was an unnecessary fear. She wasn't wearing a smile. Her expression was blank. In fact, that fear was struck down harder than a little Jedi boy by Darth Vader when Karen slapped Tim in the face.
After the initial clap, there was a gasp and then silence. Tim felt up the part of his face that had been hit. Those few people who were left of him would later remark that she had left a red hand shaped mark on his cheek. The look of shock slowly turned to anger. Tim made a fist one finger at a time, pulled it back, and then swung at her face.
Tim, being as scrawny and weak as he was, wasn't that much of a problem for Karen, who was taller and stronger than him. Her left hand caught his thin wrist and squeezed it. He let out an audible cry and then another when she dug her heel into his toes. “It's not nice to throw punches at girls.”
Tim, obviously in pain, said, “You...you hit me! N-not even my own father hit me!”
“Well I don't have a father or a mother even. But I've been hit plenty of times by girls. If I can get used to it, you can.”
“W-why the hell are you doing this you crazy—” Before he could finish that statement, Karen dug deeper.
“I don't like what you did to my friend.” She pushed him on the floor. “It wasn't nice. He trusted you.”
Out of her clutches Tim laughed, “So the Queen of the 7th grade girls is defending the pervert? The head of the cheer squad doesn't like that I saved everyone from dating the most disgusting boy in school?”
“Stop talking like you're better than him.”
Tim tried to lift himself up to his feet, but failed to. He laughed again. “Are you suggesting I'm not?”
“I even have a way of proving it.” She pointed at him and turned towards the class. “So who here would date this fine bachelor? He likes to punch girls, betray his friends, and stalk their activities.” She stopped for a moment and not a soul raised their hands.
“Really? No one? Did I mention that he loses fights to petite girls?” There was a slight chuckle behind me and then Karen looked back down at him. “See my point?”
“That proves nothing. He's still a perv.”
Karen leaned down and picked Tim up by his shirt. “Being a perv doesn't matter. He was my friend when there was no one. He saved my life when I didn't want him to. Even if he wanted to fuck you of all people he'd still be my best friend. By extension, that makes him better than you.” She then dropped him on the floor.
She was turning away from him when he opened his mouth one last time. “Just cause you want to fuck him doesn't mean he’s better than me. It means you’re disgusting.”
When her foot hit his nuts there was a small crunch. “Don't talk about something you know nothing about.” She then wordlessly walked her way around to her seat. No one in class said anything till the end of 1st period, not even when Mr. C came in and asked why Timothy was passed out on the floor. Even Timothy, when he woke up, said not a word.
“I’m sorry about that,” I say while we walk past a vandalized statue of Christopher Columbus.
“You don’t really have anything to be sorry for, Marc,” she says squeezing my hand. “Is it your fault that Tim is still an asshole?”
“I guess not. It’s just, well, it seems like an awful start to a romantic date.”
Karen laughs, walking slightly ahead of me, tugging my arm. “Really? I just got the opportunity to embarrass Benedict in front of girlfriend.”
“Wife,” I correct. “Wife.”
We walk down the path under Lake Shore Drive. Under the overpass we pause and Karen turns to me to look me directly in the face, our hands clasped. “Something about this whole thing is still bothering you still, isn’t it?”
“Well, do you feel like the past continues to follow us? We graduated high school, but now the ghosts of stuff that happened in middle school came to haunt us. I just feel like I’ll never be free of the past.”
Karen closes hers eyes and shakes her head, “If you continue to worry about things like that, then you’ll never be free. Do you see me lamenting over my lost grade school years?”
“Then you shouldn’t focus on that asshat’s betrayal. Focus on being happy now rather than focusing on ways you weren’t happy in the past. Even if it comes to stare you in face, remember things are different now. You have me in front of you, so try to live in the moment.”
It is hard though. With the past trying to catch up to us, it reminds me that the future is waiting and I don’t know if this will last. This date is the product of a drunken accident between friends, forcing us to finally confront our true feelings for each other. Is the way we did things any worse than Tim meeting his wife on Omegle? With her going downstate in two months, can this really last?
But I guess I really should worry about the past or the future. I step up on my tip toes to kiss her for a quick moment. When I land back on the ground she smiles before we continue on toward the lakefront path.