Monday, December 27, 2010

The Outing of Shark Girl

As you know, Shark Girl prefers to remain anonymous. If you have been reading my posts, you also know that Husband can’t stop telling everyone everywhere about my new BJJ habit. Which is fine. He also tells everyone about my blog. Which is fine. Then he tells them my alias: I am Shark Girl. Which is not fine. Up until that very moment, Shark Girl remains anonymous.

So, not only does my attorney know my alias (helpful if anyone wants the movie rights to my story, Renzo and Shark Girl) but neighbors coming over on Christmas Eve told me my new haircut looks intimidating, and I hear passersby in the grocery store whisper, “There she is! That’s Shark Girl!” Okay, not that last part. But this next part is true and you will clearly see the bind I’m in once you read it.

As a good minister’s wife, I took the kids to church on Christmas Eve when our neighbors left for the evening. After the service, hot chocolate and cookies were served while parishioners mingled, exchanged pleasantries, and extended holiday greetings. As I stood in line for hot chocolate I espied a handsome couple with two children chatting in the corner. The husband looked familiar. Of course, if he’s a parishioner, he should. But something wasn’t right. I don’t recognize him from here, I thought. Is he another teacher that I work with or know from a professional situation? Or the parent of a student? All this staring at him took the notice of his wife.
            “Oh, Honey,” she said, “This is Rev. X’s wife, [insert Shark Girl’s real name],” she said. And then it hit me. He was in my BJJ class. And his wife didn’t know we knew each other.
            We looked at each other awkwardly. Wife said, “Do you two know each other?” After much more awkwardness, it was revealed that I was that lone woman in his BJJ class. I was the girl who had her husband in my guard on many occasions. I wasn’t sure how he felt about her knowing this. But more importantly, I realized that if Husband is outing Shark Girl, it brought home the possibility of  my classmates reading my blog and knowing that I was writing about them.
            “Well, that’s why you have to be careful what you write,” said Husband reprovingly.
            “Well, that’s why I wanted to remain anonymous,” I reproached. “I didn’t want to worry about this. Thanks a lot.”
            “Okay, okay. I’ll stop.”

But is it too late? This could really limit what I can talk about. I have a whole “frilly underwear” post that I’m just waiting for the right time to use. But if my high school students could potentially figure out that I’m Shark Girl, I can’t talk about my underwear or sex, or anything like that. Right now many of you are breathing a collective sigh of relief.  

And then I started thinking. What is the protocol about writing about your classmates? I’ve read many of your blogs and you all relate matches and talk about your classmates. Many of you are not anonymous. What feedback do you receive? Have you ever had any problems? Please help Shark Girl. And if you are reading this and you know who Shark Girl is, please keep her anonymous!


  1. Well, I am part anonymous, Dagney is not my real name. I use first names of my classmates, no last names. A few people in class know about my blog, but not everyone.

    As for awkwardness when meeting a classmates wife, break that ice with a warm handshake and the question, "Do you train?" Yes? Cool! We should train sometime. No? Give it a try! It would be great to have another woman in class. I always go out of my way to mention my husband. (Based on a long ago personal experience, I totally understand how a woman could be put off by some strange lady putting her man in guard, and I like to alleviate any worry in that department).

    I have not had many occasions to write anything sour or angry about a classmate, but many opportunities to write glowing praise. Georgette would be a good person to consult about this, as she does used her real name. In any event, thank you for yet another funny and clever post. Your voice is hilarious.

  2. I often refer to people by name, and a good proportion of my regular training partners know that I write up all my classes. Although I always go by slideyfoot on the net, my real name (Can) isn't hard to find, as I put it on my articles and in the copyright notices.

    However, I also make an effort to maintain a neutral tone on the internet as much as possible. I think it makes sense to try and be diplomatic, as stuff you say on the internet tends to be difficult to erase. ;)

  3. I dunno -- one good frilly underwear post, and your husband may stop pointing people to your blog. :P

    I've only had 2 classmates tell me they read my blog (one has since moved away), though I suspect one or two others do as well (because they sometimes make comments that follow something I wrote recently). However, I generally forget about that and write anyway.

    If I have negative things to say, I usually do as you do with "SMEWB" -- give them a descriptive name or even just "another guy" or "someone else" (that is, no description at all). And these have been successful -- one of the guys who does read my blog couldn't figure out some of them. (Hint: give common training partners more than one name.) Unless someone was there, they should have a hard time figuring it out. In some cases, I just say that I rolled with someone and leave it at that; that usually means there was lots I would say, but none of it is very nice.

  4. I give minors nicknames. I use adults' first names only, unless said adult is in "the biz of BJJ". Then I give them props (free advertisement) so to speak. I use their whole name and I link it to their website. Say for instance my instructors, professional fighters and such. One of my training partners is Adam Villarreal, he writes for Tapout Magazine, and has an ESPN radio show. I think I'm doing them a kindness by providing fee advertisment.
    I'm fortunate to train with a bunch of really nice guys. However, on saying bad things. My grandmother said, "If you can't say anything nice about someone, it's best not to say anything at all." So I TRY really hard to find nice things to say. Then there are those days when I can't... So I make a funny. Then there are other times when I shoot an email to someone like Leslie and hash said incident out in private.

    @ Leslie - I like your idea about the more than one nickname per person. I'm so steeling that one.

    @ Dagney - Nice tip on dealing with significant others. They make me uncomfortable.

  5. I write as myself and have patches/gis with my blog on them, and I know a number of peeps I train with read my blog, including my instructors, some refs, and many of my competitors :\

    I usually write only nice things about specific named individuals or people who I describe so well that they might be identifiable. I DO write about the negative experiences as well but try hard to make them anonymous. Hope that helps? :)

  6. I try to write positive things. I try to imagine someone from class is reading all the time. It helps me. Otherwise--that's what super secret forums are for!

    I will often just have nicknames for people, though Fringe told me it was okay to use her real name--I'd asked if I could use her picture and she said sure.

    Sometimes I'll just use their initial, and sometimes I'll use their first name.

    Overall I just try to be respectful. Except about the meathead who cranked my neck after saying "I'm not gonna roll with you differently because you're a woman."

    I am happy to be public because I feel like there aren't so many women in BJJ, so I'd like to have my experiences be real and solid for people. I want to say "Hey--I know how you're feeling--check out my blog."

    Actually, last month having a public blog did me a favor--I didn't have enough money to pay for December, and an unknown teammate said "Hey, I talked to the instructor and you can pay whenever you can."

    I think I've only once met a teammate's girlfriend--and I would also ask if they trained and then invite them out!

    Glad to have met your blog, Shark Girl!

  7. @Everyone: Thanks for the great advice. And thanks for reading!

    What about perspective...I haven't yet had an experience that I would want to write up real negatively. However, people can take things in unexpected ways. Has anyone ever misinterpreted one of your posts and taken it in a way you didn't mean?

  8. @Shark Girl Nope, no misinterpretations yet that I'm aware of. My very favorite person for handling misinterpretations and negativity is Meg of Megjitsu.

    One anonymous troll wrote on her blog that she was ugly and she responded with:

    So I've been told, Anon, so I've been told. You should see me first thing in the morning, appalling! Happily, I make no claim to beauty and strive to be a courageous, capable, genuine and loving woman. Lucky, too, that while I fall short, a good gi serves me well, regardless :) Apologies, brother, but I'll have to delete your comment in a day or two; your earthy language is lowering the tone. Thanks for reading!

    She is a true inspiration.

  9. @SharkGirl I also teach ESL teachers how to teach writing. In it I say that the job of a western writer is to show your point of view. If someone else has to fill in the blanks from their perspective, you haven't done a good job writing. I try to be very clear with my writing and if I felt like something COULD be misinterpreted I would probably put some sort of "warning" with it, something like:

    "I have some strong opinions about this subject, but please do not interpret my passion for anger."

  10. Never saw that post from Meg, Julia. Phenomenal.


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