I have a confession to make: Once upon a time I was a loner harboring revenge fantasies. I hadn't thought about that period in years, until the VT massacre reminded me of it and I realized just how far I've come.
A friend of mine, reflecting on the tragedy, wrote about an episode from her past in which a girl told her, within a class discussion, that she always looked like she was quietly plotting to blow up the school, to which she replied, "I am."
I had completely forgotten that the same thing happened to me once. During a discussion in English class one day, a student who liked to pick on me verbally said that she thought me most likely to go postal. I calmly (and bitterly) told her that if I ever snapped she would never know it because I would kill her first and she would never see it coming, that I knew exactly how I would do it, and that she didn't need to worry about it because I was quiet not murderous. Those morbid daydreams were a means of letting off steam.
It's amazing, even years before Columbine, that nothing came of that statement; no trip to the principal or counseling or anything. I think the class discussion turned to the diversity of personality types.
(What a difference three years makes. My younger brother turned in a story in which a character clearly modeled on the teacher was killed. It was a horror story; that's his genre of choice. My parents got a letter home that April asking them to keep him home on the one year anniversary of the Columbine massacre Just In Case. It upset me, and I drove to the school to tell the principal why. She was very rigidly formal and had the school officer with her the whole time. As I drove back to the dorm I realized I was wearing my trenchcoat, and had a good laugh.)
I haven't had a violent revenge fantasy in years. I outgrew them. I have a wife and family now and I'm every bit the loner I ever was. I take no glee in the suffering of others.
My confession is this: a part of me, back then, was just waiting for someone to snap, for someone to go through with it. I was at work when the news of Columbine broke, and I called my roommate excitedly to say, "They did it! Someone actually did it." Later, I was disappointed to learn that they were inefficient, and indiscriminate. I never wanted to see anyone hurt, but I got a thrill from the idea that someone had done what I had only dreamed about.
This time around I'm just horrified. It doesn't matter how efficient or how discriminate, I don't have any empathy anymore. It's just tragic. Plenty of people are loners harboring violent revenge fantasies and they never snap. I never snapped.
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