Thursday, September 21, 2006

I'll Take Rumors and Gossip for $800, Alex...

OXFORD, Ohio (ZP) -- The prevalence of rumors, gossip, and other spiteful talk is something one learns to deal with in small towns.

There are always tales of sordid affairs, closeted husbands, and swingers' groups. There are stories involving proper church ladies giving head after the pancake breakfast, that 30-something dope dealer down at trailer park who's been fucking some 15-year-old, that one-time prom queen who must be "easy" because she was seen leaving the local Planned Parenthood.

It's a common phenomenon, really, all across the Planes of American Small Town Existence. It's as old as the Revolutionary War memorials in New England, as controversial and distorted as the Confederate Dead statues across the South, as common as the cannons in front of just about every damned V.F.W. in every Midwest village.

In small college towns, however, the rumor mill is quite different. The dynamic is as complex as postdoctoral quantum mechanics; social geometry refracts gossip through various lenses - through that of the faculty, the student body, and the "townie."

The woman giving head at the local church becomes the nymphomaniac middle-aged assistant professor, the one rumored to invite unsuspecting male undergrads back to her home for wild Mrs. Robinson-style sex. That dope dealer legend grows into a tale about a 50-something dean, all hopped up on Viagra and academic self-importance, seducing students not yet able to legally drink.

There are the student secret society legends, the intercollegiate illuminati who supposedly have enough power and influence to get away with murder. Chlamydia and gonorrhea outbreaks on campus tend to be blamed on some unsuspecting 20-something "townie" woman or college drop-out, as if the virginal, sanctified walls of Higher Education could not be tarnished by anything but someone from beyond the campus, some walking, talking STD without enough money to cover tuition.

Have I ever mentioned that, well, according to several rather authoritative sources, the Local U. here has a VD rate on par with several Least Developed Nations? I'm more likely to catch something here than I would be if I lived in Tunisia or Libya.

The rumor mill here isn't unique, but it can be quite entertaining. Lunch conversations turn into seedy afternoon talk shows; scholarly discussions can devolve into whispers in only a few seconds.

And there is no way for anyone to avoid being the subject of rumors and speculation. No one is immune to it. Nobody is above gossiping, either.

* * * *

So what happens when, say, Oxford Fucking Ohio's "most popular" blogger (for the record, please don't IM or email that phrase to me anymore - kinda bugs me) discovers that both the "ZenFo Pro" character and Offline Jason are now subject to the rumor mill?

The blog? Well, hey ... it's a personal web site. My ugly mug graces the page you're reading right now. I accept the risk. I'm an active participant in the amount of personal information shared on this forum.

But when something from the ol' personal life gets blown way the hell out of proportion because someone saw a few photos posted elsewhere online, well, that's a different story.


So how many women am I supposedly sleeping with, exactly?

* * * *

I started getting the most random instant messages about eight weeks ago.

Several undergrads and, possibly, a few grad students, saw some rather blurry, candid, camera-phone photos turn upon someone's Facebook account.

They wanted to know if I was one of the people in the photos. And if I knew the photos had turned up online.

More to the point, they wanted to know if I was the librarian who'd been caught in a certain bar restroom with a woman, doing what appeared to be very naughty things.

Before responding, I tried to view the photos, but they'd been taken down. The same day I started receiving the first of the "Is it True?" IMs, I received a very apologetic phone call from the "culprit."

The woman in question was so shaken and pissed at herself. I couldn't bring myself to get mad at someone for making an honest mistake.

Not only had she deleted the photos, she'd deleted ALL of her photos, shut up shop on her Facebook account, downright terrified she'd ruined her best friend's life - and my life as well.

Yeah, my offline life. The "professional" side of the Zenformation Professional. And, well, the best friend is a different kind of professional in a major Midwestern city. Neither of us really needed the grief that goes along with, well, photos posted to the Web, tagged with phrases like XXXXX donates to [The ZenFo Pro's] Library or Jason will do anything to help patrons.

Okay, for the record, yes, the photos were of me and someone else behaving badly in a very public place, several months ago.

We're not talking Paris Hilton sex video here. Two people in their Mid-to-Late 20s tend to do these kinds of things when left alone to swap "my exes are more satanic than yours" tales whilst enjoying each other's company - and somebody else is picking up the bar tab. I'm also a sucker for well-read girls who enjoy zombie flicks and know their Delta Blues.

The woman who snapped the pics? Stuck the camera through the door when, well, a bathroom sink kinda-sorta detached from the wall.

When I answered the IMs, one-by-one, I answered honestly and frankly. They were blog readers; one of the things I pride myself in as a blogger is my ability to make myself accessible. There's no point in lying; anybody who's ever had to dispel rumors knows the best practice is, well, just fess up and deal with it. (I do, however, think I may have chased off a few readers with my candor.)

According to the, er, photographer, the photos were up all of 15 minutes before she realized the dangers of posting things online while intoxicated.

How many people could've seen those photos, anyway? And who would really bother to make the connection from the tags on a silly Facebook Photo Album and, well, this blog or my offline self?


Oh, for fuck's sake...

* * * *

It's amazing how fast rumors spread through certain populations. If actual viruses like AIDS and Malaria spread like gossip, the human race would've been extinct 20 minutes after we learned to quit dragging our knuckles through the dirt.

At least, well, the rumors aren't widespread, at least in relation to the ol' Blogger homestead here. Most IMers simply thought it was funny, or commented that it was good to see that one's Late 20s can be full of just as much reckless fun as one's Early 20s.

Hell, I'm a guy. The fact that I was born with a penis makes me highly susceptible to being a dumbass. I've got another four to five decades before I outgrow these dumbass tendencies. As anyone who's ever had one can attest, a penis is, at times, nothing more than a lightning rod for stupidity.

The blog readers who saw the rather poor quality photos weren't the problem.

It's the people I didn't know about, the ones who thought it was fascinating, scandalous, and, well, burlesque; Cyberstalking voyeurs merely curious as to what several alums from their Local U. were doing with a frigging librarian...

...And curious to know what this alum of another nearby U. was doing, breaking bathroom sinks and doing very bad things with a frigging libraran...

Fortunately for me, I don't have a publicly accessible Facebook profile. But my cohort in crime? Her profile was linked and, until I talked her through disabling her account, open to the public.

An abandoned piece of information technology, a relic from her undergrad career, complete with un-updated relationship status and photos of her long-gone college boyfriend.

A few clicks of a mouse somewhere in that Online night, and, just like that, to some folks I became The Librarian Who Steals The Girlfriends of College Athletes, the Homewrecker Services Librarian Who Gets Off On Putting Alums of XYZ Sorority From XYZ University Through Sinks in various Public Restrooms.

Apparently, there are some rather bored (or possibly deranged) local students who find it entertaining to try to discern the identity of this particular librarian...

Oh, the joys of Online Livin'.

* * * *

There's no way to really explain how goddamned annoying it is to be walking home from a night out on the town, be stopped at a crosswalk, and to have a carload of intoxicated 18-to-19 year old girls holler out of SUV windows, wanting to know if I'm the "full-service librarian."

There's no way to explain how damned embarrassing it is to be in a dance club with friends and, while making one's way to the bathroom, to have a drunk, oversexed, under-orgasmed Tween decide that it's appropriate to tell a guy pushing 30 that she could be his "wildest library fantasy" - based solely on the fact that she saw a few blurry photos of a fucking web site.

And to a recent commenter, who I suspect may have been one of those "let's fuck the librarian" folks...

That tall gorgeous blonde I was out with the other night? She's just a friend.

Yup, she kinda-sorta looks like the woman you saw in a low-res online photo. And yup, she manages a bar here in Oxford. And yup, I'd much rather hang out with around people like that "townie" "blonde bitch bartender," because, well, she's much more entertaining.

And yeah, insulting my friends, online or off, is a sure way to convince me that two "hotties" in this town are obviously as frigid as Alaskan roadkill.

And to the three drunk guys who felt the burning need to ruin my night Tuesday, insisting that I explain the secrets involved in getting a woman to, well, destroy plumbing...

Errr...rage building. Must...restrain...ZenFo Pro...silver, forked tongue...

For the record, it's not that I discriminate based on age, but I really have no desire to spend the night being drooled over by a bunch of, well, horny teenagers who spend more time in tanning salons than in the classroom. Call me when you grow up and quit worrying so much about what brand of bottled water Lindsay Lohan drinks.

Yeah. I know. That's harsh. It's cold, brutish, and insensitive. But, well, enough's enough. It was hard enough, when I started discovering I had local people reading this blog, to communicate that, yeah, this ain't some Ohio version of Gawker. For most part, I believe I've managed to chase most of the problem folks away.

Hell, at least most of the local female blog readers have figured out I'm not exactly a "Daddy's Little Princess" kinda guy, really. I tend to go for the "Self-Reliant, Well-Read, Intelligent, Empowered, Independent Woman" type.


If you're a local college student, and you hear somebody repeating this rumor about some librarian who supposedly provides "special services," or some legend about some swinging bibliographic equivalent of John Holmes, or you even think you hear someone whisper something about some no-good, girlfriend-stealing, player librarian, well...

Please feel free to bitch-slap the taste outta some gossipy mouth for me, will ya?

# # #


EsotericWombat said...

Alas, the burden of being a legend

Wish I could do some gossipy mouth-slapping for ya. If I ever find myself in Ohio I'll go to it.

ziggystardust73 said...

what you need is a gay buddy.

Let's face it, we are best at bitch slapping this type of woman right back to where they belong.

unfortunately I am in London, otherwise I would very kindly offer my services.

Then again, it seems you are doing fine all on your own.


Anomie-Atlanta said...

Hilarious! I love it that you are being hunted by students with a librarian fetish.
Don't let the gossip bother you, remember:
"Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people." Eleanor Roosevelt

EsotericWombat said...

it occurs to me that what I said could be misinterpreted. Most of the slapping I do is figurative

Cat. said...


Just...yeah: small towns suck. They suck most of the intelligence out of their inhabitants sometimes.

You could move two states West, eh? :-)

*lynne* (azlynne1972) said...

aw geez... and i thought you were kidding about small-town mentality! Sounds like you could be in Malaysia when you consider the speed of transfer of information *and* the people who jump to conclusions based on 10th-hand accounts!

Smurf said...

lol... wow... Honey, I have to say this SO reminds me of Greeley. I mean you are more grown up and experienced, but after the first "T" episode, before we moved out of the house, I remember some stories that remind me a little of this. Isn't it odd how that can happen sometimes. I love the way you tend to handle it, but it shows me you are still J. *hugs* Take care my friend.

sassinak said...

oh gosh where to start...

1. oh my i got linked! thank thee sir :)
2. i'm really sorry but this post has me all kinds of cracked up. i'm sorry for your personal embarassment jason but this is a really funny post.

3. "Hell, at least most of the local female blog readers have figured out I'm not exactly a "Daddy's Little Princess" kinda guy, really. I tend to go for the "Self-Reliant, Well-Read, Intelligent, Empowered, Independent Woman" type."

where the fuck are the men like you in toronto?

here i'm (wait for it) 'intimidatingly self sufficient'

Naomi said...

Ahhhh. The headaches that come along with fame. You can't help it that you're a babe. I think you've put Oxford on the map. LOL

HuneeB said...

First I am so sorry to laugh but I just about fell out of my chair when you compared your penis to "nothing more than a lightning rod for stupidity" I can say from observation, and the benefit of being considered "one of the guys" at times, this is true for so many 20 somethings’ hell even 30 somethings’ I know.

I remember all too well living is such a small town that you couldn't sneeze without someone starting the telephone game that you have aids or something. (I know bad analogy but it's all I got right now, my brain is in slow mo lately) The place of hell I live in now is somewhat similar but not as bad, perhaps that comes more from my total reject of being a bar fly, a MySpace junkie and participant in childish gossip circles. When asked about other people I usually reply I am not sure or you should call them, I don’t know...

That’s too bad that you have to deal with all that but it sounds like you are handling it well. I get that you value your freedom of speech but isn’t it just as appealing to change your URL and remain somewhat anon...or do you view that more like giving in and taking the easy way out?

The ZenFo Pro said...

Lmao. Both comments. Figuratively? Aww...nbody's going to think you're Ike Turner, dude :)

Actually, I do need a gay buddy. I love hanging out with gay guys. I've never been one of those gay-bashing heteros and, well, I've gotten into more women trouble because of lesbian friends in my life than Anne Heche.

Thanks so much forthe quotation! You're a sweetheart!

Cat: You know, my parents recently bought some retirement property in New Mexico and hinted that, well, I could buy a 5th wheel, move across country and squat on their peice o'high desert for a few months whilst looking for a job in that state.

Not a bad idea, actually.

Lol. See, I've never understood the cultural superiority that many Americans seem to cling onto for dear life - that somehow the bullshit that goes on in Oxford Ohio is any different than what goes on in other parts of world.

Like Greality, but, sigh, worse.

At least we don't have a Denny's to help people congregate and spread rumors ;)

1. You're welcome :) I've been updating my links lately, eliminating some blogs that have fallen inactive and adding more folks. Everybody likes linkage :)

2. Lmao! Yeah, I realized reading it this morning that it is a kinda funny post. So funny, too, how I'm hearing crickets chirp in terms of local web traffic, other than the alums of Local U. who read last year.

3. Lol.

Lol, babe??? Me??? Nah, just a librarian :)

Lol, definitely! It should be common knowledge by now that guys tend to do stupid things (20-something women have their "moments of stupidity" stereotypes, like always choosing the wrong guys to date despite big frigging red flags, etc.) I think it doesn't matter where you are, small-minded people are bound to gossip. It happens. But, yeah, the almost maliciousness of the last rumors about me were, well, kinda frightening. Can 18-22 y.o.s college students in Oxford Fucking Ohio really be so bored as to waste more than a few seconds trying to figure out which librarian is screwing which woman?

Err...scratch that. Yeah. The popularity of games like beer pong and cornhole (for non-Midwesterners, feel free to snicker. Cornhole here refers to a version of beanbag toss, not anal sex) locally proves that students are bored.

As for changing the blog/free speech, well...I decided a while ago that it's, well, stupid for me to fret about it. Last year, I wasted so much time worrying about how people were judging me, locally, for my blog. The blog rumors are fine; it'sthe ones that turn up because of other web resources that can be the problem, the ones that leak into the real world are the pain in the ass.