My Life as an Imaginary Girlfriend (and other tales)
By now most people have heard about the story of Manti Te'o, the college football player who was duped into believing he had an online girlfriend who tragically died the same day as his grandmother. I really don't care about the story as much as I care about the incredible mundanity of kids doing stupid kid things. So now I'd like to confess some of my own stupid kid tricks, just a few of many transgressions from college and yes, even early in my post-college career:
At some point, thinking this would be useful information, I memorized the phone number to the Tri-Delts sorority house. Several months later my roommate and I were sitting around late night watching television when we decided we needed a pizza. He asked for the local pizza place phone number and off the top of my head, I gave him the Tri-Delts’ number. He called and then cursed me for the rest of the evening. I thought that was the funniest thing of all time.
One semester, I had to take a required computer class; in it were several people I knew. This class provided access to the university computer network along with something new (to us) called email. After wasting my time trying to access other university networks and other people's accounts, I resorted to email gags to my classmates. After creating a false id, I started sending emails to one guy as if I were a girl pretending to be interested in him. This was fun for a short while, until he figured it out because I kept asking him about her.
Early in my post-graduate career, I was granted system admin access to the company computer system where I promptly learned the wall command (write to all) which would send an immediate message to the monitors of everyone logged onto the system. I became very annoying. I then figured out how to set up user logins to make it appear as if a user couldn't log on to the system. This would have been an easy way to steal people's passwords, but I was not that evil. It amused my 22-going-on-12 self to watch people trying to figure out what was happening when they thought they couldn't log on.
In the early days of the internet, it was a novelty to join newsgroups where like-minded people could discuss similar interests. A friend and I decided to join one where the focus was golf. Our first (collaborative) posting was this:
“Hey does anyone remember the 1943 El Paso Open where Ben Hogan got mad because a kid in the audience farted during his swing, and Hogan chased the kid into a pond waving his 5-iron, and the kid was mauled by an alligator? And then Ben Hogan signed a golf glove and gave it to the kid's parents?”
We thought we were quite hilarious when people posted their astonishment to the story and wanted more information. Finally, someone wrote: “You are an idiot.” We immediately canceled our membership in that newsgroup.
There you have it, four totally useless juvenile stories that probably make you question why you read this blog. But my point is that I would argue rarely does anyone totally “grow-up” before the age of thirty and for men it might be fifty or sixty. We all commit, and are often victims of, stupid pranks.
Even if Manti Te'o was involved in the deception from the beginning, the story still should have ended up in the “who cares?” file. And as far as his talking up the so-called girlfriend, what guy in the history of humankind has not embellished a story(ies) about girls or women he has known, or sort of known, or briefly met, or seen pictures of, or totally made up? And if you believe it affected Heisman voting, then you have only the voters to blame, because having the best background story is not a qualification for the Heisman Trophy.
Unless blackmail or some other illegal activity occurred, this was nothing more than juveniles being juveniles (as instigators and victim). It's only a story because sportswriters are mad that they've been duped and by golly they're not going to take it even if it means writing the most deadly, vengeful haiku imaginable.
In short, the Manti Te'o story is the most overblown story since Ben Hogan at the 1943 El Paso Open.