Next month, it will have been a year.
In early March of my senior year of high school, winter was shedding its layers and readying itself to welcome spring. But, before it bid the town of Montclair, New Jersey goodbye, winter offered us one last shot at a snow day. Word of the upcoming weather spread quickly. Two days away from the forecast, children across the school district feverishly checked snowdaycalculator.com to validate their hopes. I was one of those children. At 10:15, I got a notification from a classmate, Cameron. He had posted a screenshot from snowdaycalculator.com in the Facebook group of my graduating class. The post read, “Fingers crossed!” followed by a predicted 63% chance for a snow day two days away. I grinned, unabashedly revealing a mouthful braces to the glow of my computer screen. My mind whirred with excitement, and as fan of comedy and attention in general, I wracked my brain for a joke to comment on Cameron’s post. That’s when all hell broke loose.
Before I plunge into the events that followed, allow me to provide more background. It was a particularly successful year for the Montclair High School boys’ ice hockey team. The talented crop of players consistently rallied its fans with skillful ease, often asking them to come to games dressed in all blue or all white to demonstrate of support for the team. Students from all grades quaked with admiration for the ice-inclined young men. I wasn’t one of them. My first mistake.
What I didn’t know as I prepared to type my reply to Cameron’s snowdaycalculator.com post, was that it was the Night of The Big Playoff Game, and the boys’ hockey team had just suffered a tragic loss. Unaware of the loss, and the game itself, I hit “enter” on my comment. It read “Everyone wear white!! Support the snow!” simultaneously poking innocent fun at Montclair High School sports culture, and indulging in widespread excitement at the possible snow day, I was satisfied with my one-liner. Minutes later, the responses rolled in. One hockey player sarcastically apologized for upsetting me. Another posted a facetious “lol,” another demanded that I have some “goddamn respect.” Respect for what? It was then that the news of their loss was revealed to me. “Okay,” I thought, “This is fine. I’m no stranger to internet firestorm. I’ll apologize for the confusion and wait this one out.” But the comments kept coming. Girls jabbed at me with sad face emoticons as I explained that I meant no harm. “There’s nothing mean spirited about my joke,” I insisted. Another girl replied, “nothing nice about it either,” a comment that received 9 likes. My cheeks burned. Desperately, I tried to communicate that I didn’t hate the hockey team, I didn’t hate sports, I didn’t hate my peers, and I didn’t hate human decency! As sweat coagulated in my brows, it happened. A new comment appeared.
“Haha, fu*k you. I know it’s hard to understand this because you’ve never done something meaningful or competitive in your life, but…” adding, “to have a fellow school member make a petty bullshit joke (that wasn’t even funny) is disgusting.” and finishing with, “wow that was a low-blow, fu*k you, and shame on you.”
How dare he make such a damning statement? I’ve never done anything meaningful or competitive in my life? Tell that to all of the awards I’ve never won and all of the community service opportunities I’ve chosen not to partake in!
I would never have purposefully made fun of the hockey team’s loss, especially considering my lack of knowledge of meaningfulness and competitiveness. Today, I maintain this truth.
But why now? Why me? I was tired, it was 11:44 pm, I was too young to be a comic martyr, and I still hadn’t showered for school the next day. It hit me. I had to face school the next day. I envisioned glares, heard scoffs, and imagined being the victim of various crimes of passion. How would I go to my classes and keep composed and dignified? I thought back to all of my controversy ridden predecessors. I channeled Monica Lewinsky, Pamela Anderson, Tommy Lee, and OJ Simpson. What would they do? Suddenly, I knew the answer. I decided that only anonymizing sunglasses would protect me as I walked from class to class. And they did.
The Hockey Incident of 2016 continues to haunt me. Thankfully, I was able to cleanse myself of some of my evil-girl reputation by graduation, but I am forever stained with scandal.