Monday, March 28, 2011

The story of Connie and how Paul became Paulytics

Life is a funny thing - it almost never turns out the way we planned. That’s a good thing, though, because it makes for great humor and lessons learned. What is truly ironic is the way people you completely forgot about or don’t even really know turn out to be an influence on you. I’ll stop with the “sweet mystery of life” stuff now and share a truly ironic happenstance and how it has affected my life and politics.

The year was 1986, and I was in 5th Grade at Mirror Lake Elementary School in Plantation, FL. My father, Robert, had died of cancer early that school year and I brought his briefcase to school as a way of bringing him with me. I got picked on a lot for it - that’s what happens when a ten year-old sticks out like a sore thumb. To my credit, I had a big mouth and was lightning fast with comebacks – which meant I got my butt kicked occasionally. I had vision problems (I was born with a lazy eye that was later corrected through surgery, and wasn’t a fast runner, either.) This made me an easy and obvious target (deservedly so.) So that was not a great year for me. In retrospect, I could’ve helped myself, but didn’t.

Since I couldn’t see too well, I sat near the front of the class. My teacher that year, Mrs. Benson, didn’t like me very much. As such, in the latter part of the year, she moved me off to the side where I could see the blackboard and, at the same time, not bother her with my ADHD. I moved there and sat next to a little blonde girl named Connie. She just sat there, minding her own business and little smart-ass me decided to strike up a friendship the only way I knew how: by being a jackass.

One day, I walked up to Connie and said simply: “Good morning, Constance!” She ignored me at first, and quickly found that I was tough to ignore. She was a sweet kid, and didn’t know that this was my way of trying to be buddies with her, so she told me (repeatedly) to shut my trap. Needless to say, my little entreaty didn’t work. Connie and I attended school together for another seven years, but never really talked or became friends. We wouldn’t become friends until many years later.

Fast forward to 2008: I was working in the Investment Banking game back home in South Florida after attending college and graduate school. The financial panic of the recession had just kicked in and nobody wanted to sell their company in such an environment. That gave me precious little to do (my firm eventually went ‘belly-up’ and almost took me with it,) so I turned to the brand new diversion I’d recently discovered to while away my (now useless) time: Facebook!

As most of its denizens will tell you, Facebook is a wonderful place to find all the people you thought (or hoped, depending on your perspective,) you’d lost forever. After opening the account, I needed some “friends” or people I knew with whom to connect. I looked up my old high school, added some people I remembered, and decided I’d done a good thing. Now I could see what all those people were up to. For a guy with a career in an evaporating field, it was great. That meant I had something to do besides listen to CEOs complain about how their companies were dying and how could I even ask if they wanted to sell.

One of the first people I found was good old Connie from 5th Grade. By then, she’d forgotten all about my stupidity but had become quite vocal in her own little (conservative) way. I had degrees in political science that were going to waste with a career in finance, so I quickly decided to use Facebook as my personal bully pulpit to express my ideas and spread my personal (liberal) gospel. This was good, in that it gave me an outlet and a captive audience, and bad (I quickly found myself arguing with several of my vitriolic conservative former classmates.)

I logged on to Facebook one day to find a comment from Connie on one of my pictures. It was an opening salvo in the coming battle between two old acquaintances turned liberal and conservative – it started an argument that still has not ended as of this writing three long years later. The comment read: "You know, you didn’t grow up to be a bad looking guy and I just think that maybe if you weren’t such a Democrat that you wouldn’t be single still.” I was a little surprised, we hadn’t said a word to each other after 5th Grade (that I can remember, anyway,) but I was glad she seemed to be into politics – it gave me someone with whom to banter and debate.

The debates started then and there and have never really stopped. We’ve gotten to know each other a bit personally, so now I tone down the rhetoric and even defend her at times. At first, I was determined to “win” or at least to gain some ground. To her credit, I never did. For a little woman, she’s got a certain spunk that I’ve come to greatly respect and even admire. We debated endlessly on every political topic known to man: foreign affairs, welfare, unemployment, the Tea Party, Sarah Palin … you name it, we argued about it ... publicly!

Both Connie and I used to update our statuses regularly. Each one, in turn, turned into a debate on politics. We ran each comment stream up past the hundred mark, going back and forth. She once posted something about being frustrated with a long line at her local Wal Mart … it turned into an endless debate on welfare. I posted that I was at the dentist – that turned into a debate on health care reform.

My other Facebook friends all got sick of my little political rants and eventually either turned off my notifications or deleted me altogether. When that started, I decided to create a second account to air my politics – the new one would only have my political friends and be a place for my fellow liberals to rant. When it came time to give the new account a name, I quickly decided on using a nickname Connie had given me “Paulytics” (pronounced “politics,” and a play on my name.) Good ol’ Connie was my very first friend (which I’m sure she now regrets.)

It was only about six months ago that I created my little avatar, now known as Americus Paulytics ( It’s grown exponentially into something of a Facebook news service for liberals – offering commentary, punditry, humor, and all the liberally-slanted political news anyone could want. I’ve branched out into blogging (obviously) and am currently creating a website independent of Facebook where my friends and I will collaborate. I even incorporated it (yes, really) and created several political groups that offer people a forum in which to rant about different subjects (the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, John Boehner, and several others.) Through recommendations, requests, and word of mouth, “Americus” now has twice the friends that I (personally) do.

Today, Americus Paulytics is a small but growing little group of Facebook liberals who provide original content and share news stories with about 1600 people (the vast majority of which are liberals.) I even have a couple of partners who help and make suggestions. Not that I’m bragging, but it’s neat (even my mother likes it,) and is my very own creation. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments and some actually rely on us as a legitimate news organization. In that sense, I’m fulfilling my dream - for that, I have to thank Miss Connie for encouraging me. I’m sure she’s not going to be pleased when (and if) she reads that, but it’s my way of saying “thank you.”

Life is a huge mystery … you never know until you live it. After years of falling by the way side, it was the little blonde from 5th Grade that (successfully) encouraged me to do something with my education, trying where others had failed. She probably dislikes the result (she actually stays off the page now since there are 1590 other liberals that will comment if she posts anything,) but I certainly have to appreciate her tacit contributions. If this little idea of mine ever goes anywhere, I will have Connie to thank!


  1. And if it was not for this story, and the creating of "Americus Paulytics" i would have never met ya :D

  2. And had it not been for a debate with Mr. Wensel, you would have never friended me Pauly. So I too have Connie to thank for our friendship. Thank you Connie. Thank you Pauly for being the most level-headed of the group of psychos on your page. :)

    PS. Please get rid of word verification on your comments. You'll get a lot more of them if you do, and you don't have to worry about spam on blogger at all.

  3. @Alex, if you remember: we met on a chat board on FB before I created Americus - you were like my third or fourth friend.:)

  4. Excellent post. It broke my heart to think of little Paul so missing his Dad you bought his briefcase to school.

  5. Click the little "B" in the upper left hand corner. Click "settings" under the "Settings" tab, click comments, then click the "No" option.

  6. Your Dad's briefcase was his "Boy Named Sue" gift to you.

  7. It was very interesting to FINALLY read this because I had wondered a bit about who you were and your motivations... I had no idea you were from Florida even (which obviously makes two of us).