That’s the bizarre proposition John Brammer received one night on Scruff when he was visiting his childhood home in rural Oklahoma.
It mostly just dredged up all the hometown growing pains Brammer lived through.
In a first person Buzzfeed essay, he writes:
“The last time I went home, something strange happened. A blank profile messaged me from about a mile away.
Given that this was during the dead of night, my first instinct was to open the blinds of my windows and check to see if I could spot a glowing light out in the field. A mile in rural Oklahoma is too close for comfort. It might as well be coming from inside the house.
‘Hi,’ the message read.
Curious, I responded. ‘What’s up?’
A few minutes passed.
‘I think you know me lol.'”
And that’s when things got weird.
‘We went to school together,’ the blank profile continued.
‘We did?’ I replied, on edge. ‘Who are you?’
‘You probably don’t like me… haha. I was a little mean to you.’
A familiar feeling bubbled up in my gut: Panic.
Finally, Mr. Blank Profile sent over a photo. There he was — once of the boys who’d mercilessly bullied John — staring up from within Scruff.
“‘Are you mad?’ the profile asked.
‘Yes,’ I said.
Unable to control myself, I decided to ask him if he remembered anything he’d done.
‘No lol,’ he said. ‘But I was a real asshole back then.’
And that was it. All those years of remembering, carrying, and suffering over this person, and he probably never thought about me at all after I moved away.”
Beside himself, John left the house for a long walk, trying to process this new information in light of years of nightmares surrounding his middle school experience.
“This person wasn’t the one-dimensional villain I’d made him out to be. All this time, he’d been closeted. Just like me. Yes, he had hurt me. Yes, he was wrong to hurt me. But I realized he was a victim too. In the town he and I had grown up in, being gay was seen as one of the worst things you could be. You might as well not even be human.
I didn’t know it at the time, but he and I were caught in the same system, a cycle of violence that perpetuates itself — one that leaves in its wake people who are in turns the victim and the villain. Someone made him hate himself. He saw himself in me. And so, he hated me.”
Especially not when his phone buzzed again with a new message:
“I was busy thinking all these thoughts when I received another message on my phone.
‘Want to fool around?’ he asked.
I didn’t know how to tell him that this was a nightmare I hadn’t even considered. It would probably take weeks to scrub that image from my mind, the thought of ‘fooling around’ with someone who had traumatized me.
‘No,’ I said. ‘Have a good life, man.’
I meant it.'”
Read the full story on Buzzfeed.