Every time I hear about a my life is better than everyone else’s person, I remember Stacey and I smile. She taught me a lot, although it likely wasn’t what she wanted to teach.
Stacey was the perfect person in the parenting forum I belonged to when Jeremy was young. She had the perfect job as an educational assistant, the perfect husband, and the perfect two children. Her house was always perfect (and spotless). Her children never misbehaved. She never disagreed with her husband. As far as I could tell, she was only on the forum to lead us lesser beings to the light by way of her superior knowledge.
Any time someone had a problem, Stacey was there to let her know that she’d faced the same problem but had succeeded because she was smart, educated, worked, and had a perfect husband who loved her dearly and took her out every single Friday night.
It was because of her perfect Friday night dates that she missed the troll. Every week a troll would show up on the forum and wreak havoc. It would mimic the names of regular posters; at one point it pretended to be me, asking if I could feed my kids dog food because I was supposedly too lazy to work full time. Why I’d feed my kids dog food while owning cats was a mystery. Another time it took a regular’s name and proceeded to tease and taunt that person’s friends. Then it discovered how to bypass post titles and write rude messages in the name section. Post after post with only a name section would flood the page in bold, stark profanity. No one could keep up. By the time a post was written, the troll had flooded the whole page with nonsense.
The next day everything would be back to normal, except for people gossiping about the worst of the troll’s messages, and Stacey would ruefully comment she’d missed all the excitement again, it was too bad the troll didn’t pick another night to hang out.
And then Stacey disappeared. It turned out she was the troll all along. There were no Friday night dates; those marvels that Stacey claimed help preserve her perfect marriage. Instead, every single Friday, she’d sit down at the computer and spend four hours bashing the same people she claimed to be friends with for the rest of the week.
No one has ever claimed I’m perfect. My house is currently a mess thanks to Jeremy taking apart a spare computer. My hair looks like I chased a kitten through brush (which I did… the kitten was leashed). I rock and hand flap in public, I’ve been known to sing in the produce department, and I almost never remember names. But I remember Stacey’s lesson. I’d rather be real than perfect.