Monkey See, Monkey Do

07 Aug

Do you know what I’ve discovered this week about taking a vacation? I can’t figure out a place to go on the planet where there aren’t any people. I’m sick of people. If you scan the globe much of the brutality that is happening around the world is caused by bullies. Bullies are everywhere. No matter where you go—from your workplace to the Middle East to Congress to your place of worship—there’s always a bully trying to mess with you.

If the world were the audience of the old Oprah Winfrey show, you could almost hear her proclaiming: “WELCOME W-OOOOOO-R-L-D! Have I got a surprise for you: YOU get your ass kicked by a bully today, and YOU get your ass kicked by a bully tomorrow—go anywhere in the world, and you’ll get your ass kicked by a BUUUULLLY!

World in Chaos Gary McCoy Cagle Cartoons

Used by Permission: World in Chaos by Gary McCoy, Cagle Cartoons

In my disgruntled state of mind, I ran across an article on the “It Gets Better” Project by Dan Savage who birthed this campaign to try and encourage teens who were being bullied. I’ve supported it through my blog in the past and initially thought it was very good. But recently, I realized that as thoughtful as that project was, I don’t think it does get better. Can kids learn not to bully when the adults in the world own the franchise on fucking with people who they deem weaker or less than? Every religion has a major component of compassion within its ethos, yet history has proven that religious people can be some of the worst bullies. It got me to thinking that maybe we are all just six degrees of separation from a bully tango, even in situations that should be considered safe (houses of worship, marriage, friendships, the grocery store).

But what if we had the ability to call bullshit on the bully within ourselves and others? What if an Anti-Bully App were invented (adults only) that would sound an alarm when we or others stepped over the line of compassion no matter how right or empowered we thought we were in the situation? The more I thought about this, the more I wanted to explore the germination of bullying in adults. So I asked my alter ego, the “Dalai Mama” (sees all, knows all) to query her advice column readers for weird, quirky stories of bullying in which my proposed app would have been a handy aid. Below are some of those stories and the Dalai Mama’s response.

(Please note that even though the Dalai Mama is imaginary, the stories are all true. Only the names and the locations have been changed to protect the innocent.)


Dear Dalai Mama:

I used to attend a church where the pastor’s wife and two of her ladies in waiting had a three-way conference call with me and told me I should not leave home without a full coat of makeup. The pastor’s wife said I was being unkind to the neighbors. I have laughed about that for years, but it did affect me deeply. It is only in the last year that I can let people see me with no makeup. And when they do see me, no one has killed themselves. Go figure! I sure could have used your Anti-Bully App—if only I had realized I was being bullied. (Would it surprise you to know that the wife, who considered herself a “prophetess,” sold “Fancy Me Lovely” makeup?)—signed: Jezebel from Tennessee, age 63

Dear “Jezebel”:

I checked out this sorry-ass woman’s Facebook page—thinkin’ she must be all that and a bag of chips to say somethin’ like that to you. Guess what? She is no Halle Berry; she is what my mama used to call havin’ a face only a mother could love. Does yo’ man like how you look? Then that is all you have to worry about. Go on and strut yo’ stuff with or without makeup and act like you own the world, girl, because you only have this one life to live. Also, next time you see “Miss Thang,” tell her that I said, God don’t like ugly—hearts, that is.

Hey Dalai:

Zuckerberg + Facebook = bullying!  I avoided “the Book of Face” for years and only signed up to promote my book, Monsters’ Throwdown. My kids made me do it. They said if I didn’t, no one would buy my book. They said it would be fun. Well, they lied! The Facebook is not fun. People came out of the woodwork wanting to “friend” me that I didn’t remember. I barely could tolerate them if I did know them in the past, and could have cared less about chatting with them in my old age. If I thought they were stupid before my encounter with them on the “Book of Face,” they became verifiably ignorant after reading their inner-most desires and thoughts on their page. As quickly as some of them “friended” me, they “unfriended” me during the presidential election and left attack-dog Tea Party messages on my “liberal” page—“just tryin’ to set you straight.” When I changed my privacy settings, I’m told by Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times* that Zuckerberg kept changing them to less privacy without my knowledge. The Zuck kept demanding to know my business (how old I am, what schools I went to, what type of relationship I am in), and when I wasn’t forthcoming, he kept on and is keeping on demanding I cough up the goods. (I changed my birthday three times to protect myself from identity theft since Facebook insists on broadcasting to the entire freakin’ world that I am an old fart, and Zuckerberg had the nerve to indicate that he would only allow me to change it a total of three times, and then I would be stuck with the last age chosen. I am currently 85 years old according to Facebook.) Now I hear that Zuckerberg tried to categorize and study my responses by manipulating the news feed on my page to make me sad.* When I sent him a nasty note about messin’ with my mind, he said I gave him permission when I agreed to his data use policy. (It is 9,123 god-damn words—I never read all that crap!) I need an anti-bullying gun with Zuckerberg and all my ex-trolls (ex-“friends”) engraved on it, and I’m calling for a rumble on the Facebook campus in the fall.—signed, “So Over the ‘Book of Face'” from Somewhere USA, age 50, 71, or 85

Dear “So Over the Book of Face”:

You sound familiar. Is that you, Eleanor the blogger? Girl, go away. This is a conflict of interest. Plus, I only have one thing to say to your clueless behind: “Whoever writes the contract, gets the gold.” Or another way of putting it is “Whoever gets a free online service will get all her shit exploited—so deal with it.”

Bullies Types David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star

Used by Permission: David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star 

Dear Dalai Mama:

I know a couple that fought like cats and dogs and took home the first place trophy for bullying each other. To meet them as individuals was to love them, but together they were like two rabid demons from Hell. If they were invited to your house for dinner, before the soup course was served the woman would cut her man down for how he talked, how he chewed, how stupid he was, what a piss-poor man of God he was, and what a poor provider he had been. He would volley with how fat she’d gotten in recent years, what a bitch she had become, and how she got on his every last fucking nerve. In the past, she threw a pan of hot grits in his face, and he retaliated by slashing her craft room into shreds with his chain saw. The man died of a heart attack over a year ago, and the strangest thing happened. The woman was inconsolable. She threw herself over his coffin—weeping and wailing as if she had lost the love of her life. I had to leave the room when she and her pastor tried to raise the man from the dead through prayer and the laying on of hands as she screamed: “Rupert, come back, don’t leave me . . . I need you, baby!” Last month, the woman died. She left behind a daughter. Why is it that somehow I think the woman and the man are still trying to kill each other in eternity? There isn’t an anti-bullying app that could ever be made that would have cut through all their loveless crap. Some people are beyond the pale.—signed, “The Daughter, a.k.a, I’m Never Getting Married” from Honolulu, age 30 

Dear “I’m Never Getting Married”:

I don’t even know what to say, Baby-girl except I’m so sorry. I’m so very sorry. Some people will never change.

Israelis vs Palestinians Daryl Cagle CagleCartoons com

Used by permission: Israelis vs Palestinians, Daryl Cagle,

I am discovering that if rearing kids has taught me anything, it’s that “what monkey sees, monkey will definitely do.” If we want our kids not to become bullies, we have to be on guard against the slightest trait of this within ourselves and model that behavior.

When I first started blogging, I was trying to find my voice, and I did a humorous puff piece on flesh-colored tights being worn as leotards with sort tops, thus causing major ass display whenever the wearer bent over. I found a picture on the Web of the back of a very obese cashier exemplifying exactly why this was a fashion no-no as her seemingly naked ass was causing people to cover their eyes and flee in horror every time her shirt hiked up. Some stranger had taken her picture without the young woman’s knowledge or consent and uploaded it on the Web. It had a million clicks as people laughed at her over and over again. I used the picture in my blog. Two years later a troll left a comment about my “ass-holy-ness” as a Christian towards this girl. I never answered the troll, but I did repent for my momentary bullying and deleted the post because the troll was right. I called bullshit on myself. We are all just six degrees of separation from becoming a bully, and the children are watching.

Bullies et al Pat Bagley Salt Lake Tribune

Used by permission: Pat Bagley Salt Lake Tribune

“A religious man is a person who holds God and man in one thought at one time, at all times, who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion, whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair.”Abraham Joshua Heschel

“For me, forgiveness and compassion are always linked: how do we hold people accountable for wrongdoing and yet at the same time remain in touch with their humanity enough to believe in their capacity to be transformed?”Bell hooks

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”Dalai Lama

“One’s dignity may be assaulted, vandalized and cruelly mocked, but it can never be taken away unless it is surrendered.” ― Michael J. Fox




Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Eleanor Tomczyk and “How the Hell Did I End Up Here?” with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



Posted by on August 7, 2014 in Uncategorized


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21 responses to “Monkey See, Monkey Do

  1. imagesbytdashfield

    August 7, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Wow and damn! You went get out the hip boots deep on this one, my dear. Insert sound of slow clap here.

    • etomczyk

      August 11, 2014 at 2:15 pm

      Thanks TD. Was a hard one to write until I looked into my own heart. Ouch!

  2. momshieb

    August 7, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Women of great wisdom, both you and the Dalai Mama.
    One of the most powerful lessons that I ever teach is when I find myself getting frustrated with the kids and a little snarkiness slips out. I always try to stop, identify what I did wrong and why its wrong, and then I apologize. I never say, “But you made me….” I take it on and own my own slip up.
    Kids are always astonished, and I see them doing the same thing later on, when they catch themselves being unkind.
    Good luck finding a vacation spot without humans! That’s why I love Assateague islands: sometimes you can go a whole day seeing only horses and deer.

    • etomczyk

      August 11, 2014 at 2:22 pm

      So true about being transparent with kids and the positive results of transparency. I wish I had known that early on in rearing my own kids. It is so easy to get caught up in the role of parenting vis-à-vis the humility of it.

      One day remind me to tell you about the story of me getting engulfed by scores of wild horses on Assateague and unable to escape. It was like being in a horse maze. I have no idea how it happened. It’s as if they were messing with my mind. I almost had a heart attack! 🙂

      • momshieb

        August 11, 2014 at 3:50 pm

        Oh, I love it!! I can tell you about the time my kids almost got run over by a herd on the edge of the water! I love that place…….!!!

  3. Joanne

    August 8, 2014 at 8:34 am

    Thanks, Eleanor. What an important topic for all of us as individuals and for the world at large.

  4. Valentine Logar

    August 9, 2014 at 10:20 am

    Whenever we want to know how to stop violence / bullying we must know how to rev up the empathy and compassion bone in ourselves. If we can see another person as someone we might know / like / love it is nearly impossible to treat them with disdain or cruelty. This is a lesson I teach when I speak in Victim Impact, quite often those he sit and listen stare at me dumbfounded / stupefied. It is the beginning though isn’t it.

    Standing ovation E, always you bring it home.

    • etomczyk

      August 11, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      Hi Val. You are so right. What always amazes me about your personal journey, though, is how you were able to gain empathy for your attackers. That’s a tough one.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and for your wonderful encouragement, as always.

  5. Elyse

    August 9, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    Amen, sista!

  6. composerinthegarden

    August 10, 2014 at 11:26 am

    Eleanor, another great post full of so many insights wrapped in humor. Dalai Mama is my favorite guru of plain talk. The dog bully photo cracked me up. It has been suggested that humans get along with dogs so well because we have common social structures, so perhaps bullying is an inherent human trait that we have to learn to release? I tend to think of it as learning the responsible use of power.

    Vacations are mostly staycations for us these days. I traveled so much when I was younger that my special treat is extended time in my own garden – it’s quiet, beautiful, and no human crowds 🙂 “There’s no place like home.”

    • etomczyk

      August 11, 2014 at 2:28 pm

      Hi Lynne. Appreciate your encouraging comment. The dog photo made me laugh as well.

      We have a few more trips left in us, but I know what you mean about “no place like home.” I really don’t enjoy crowds and find myself more and more longing for the peace of my own habitat. Of course, if I had a garden like yours, I would probably never leave home. Cheers!

  7. aFrankAngle

    August 11, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Dalai Mama is one of the great call-’em-as-she-sees-’em philosophers. I wonder what a showdown between her and other philosophers would be like. Cheers to compassion between a common trait among religions …. if we could only get many others to see it and the other common threads.

    • etomczyk

      August 11, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      Thanks Frank. You’ve given me an idea for a story about a showdown between the Dalai Mama and other philosophers. I’ll have to mull that one over.

      I’m beginning to think that just as God hide so many things within the Earth and in the heavens for man to discover via science, I wonder if suffering great and small is part of the human journey to unlock empathy, compassion, and love for one another. Maybe that is the true meaning of life.

      • aFrankAngle

        August 12, 2014 at 6:32 am

        Discovery as a central theme is appropriate … including human traits. After all, how many times do we have those I-O-C moments in life.

  8. Let's CUT the Crap!

    August 11, 2014 at 9:23 pm

    A clear and important message delivered in your spectacular and entertaining approach. You must be the most humorous person in the blogosphere. Thank you for being YOU. ❤

    • etomczyk

      August 11, 2014 at 10:10 pm

      Thanks Tess. I truly appreciate your encouragement and very kind words. Cheers!

  9. simon Tocclo

    August 14, 2014 at 10:54 am

    As we grow better we meet better people Elbert hubbard once said .. I´m so glad I met you

    • etomczyk

      August 14, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      Simon, so glad to have met you as well. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. Wishing you all the best.


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