A few years ago, two of my friendships—two of my strongest friendships—evaporated instantly with a little (and one very large) Poof!
I’ll say upfront, however, that one of those friendships returned, not in any onesided or dramatic way, but in rare one: one of us took the first small step and this time I wasn’t the one who made that first step. He did. Let’s call him H. Though I did not take that first chance, I returned the offer by taking a bigger chance than he did, all without giving up self-esteem and without taking any high road. Friendships mean a whole lot to me. So H. and I are friends again, but irony has it right now that he’s returned to the City after a long absence and is staying with the other former friend. Let’s call him F.
Dear GoB, I’m going to need a map. No, I’m really going to need a map.
Or maybe a history:
- I was dating J. at the time. Before me, J. dated a guy, DP. Remember this, because it’s very important.
- When I was dating J., I was still very good friends with H. and F.
- They had a friend, JD.
- Once I got to know JD somewhat, JD ssssssspoke the sssssentence that culiminated in the sssssssupernova of sssssstupidity: he told me, and I quote: If you were really my friend, you’d stop dating J.
- Me: blank-faced & !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! & ?????????????
- Turns out, JD had been dating DP, and someone NOT DP had told JD at DP’s party that DP was still in love with J. and would never be interested seriously in JD.
So JD asks me to stop having a relationship with J, because being around J reminded him of DP, who had wronged JD indirectly through a party guest.
Read that again. I’ll wait.
Done reading it again? Read it one more time.
Do you have a grip on how much indirection is there?
Do you have a grip on what kind of spacy, priggy git JD is?
Are you sure? Really sure?
Now, here’s how the friendships had ended, and while one can blame the misunderstadings inherent in AIM and email, ummm, no.
JD said it to me the first time in IMs: If you were really my friend, you’d stop dating J. I responded with an LOL or hehe or something. He had to be kidding, right?
He repeated it. I told him, buffered by plenty of politesse (the niceties must be observed, especially through a low-resolution medium like IMs), that he had no business asking me to do something like that.
In what I can only assume was tacit belief in the appropriateness of his request, he amped it up to demanding I stop seeing J. But JD was having none of it, and kept going and going and going with it, so I had no choice but to get more direct. And more direct. And when information was not passing at normal levels, I became blunt. I became candid. I began to deconstruct his lack of argument (so much for proving universal negatives). I began to describe what kind of sociopathic mind it would require to make an argument that he had the right to ask someone to stop seeing someone because that someone’s former someone’s party guest had shot down JD’s chances with DP because DP wasn’t ready to move on with anyone (where “anyone” would be, in this case, JD).
So the IMs had included, I swear, at least an hour’s worth of escalation, at which point it switched to emails. That first email was already quite contentious (I’m being understated), and as I was running out of words because nothing was being effective, I started to use a better-fitting, lesser-known vocabulary (translation: I was using ‘big’ words).
After probably another hour’s worth of emails back and forth, with plenty of “fuck you”s and “you’re a fucking asshole, you learning-impaired troglodyte and why-don’t-you-go-eat-some-billy-goat-ing, I get emails from F. and H. whose subjects started with “FWD:”, meaning forwarded. Meaning, the stubborn little shit had sent the entirety of the email portion of the argument to his/my friends. But here’s the key: the email chain only included the latter part of the argument, entirely omitting the part where my patience still had some wiggle room left in it.
”Why are you being so mean?” and ”You’re a horrible person for using big and nasty words against poor JD, making him feel small and stupid”.
“But…but…but…but….”, I thought. What was I supposed to do, say ’he started it’?
So there were phone calls with F. and H., and I first asked, then implored, then begged, then demanded that each permit me to offer information they hadn’t heard, the IMs part of it.
Only a couple of years after that fateful day was a dialog with H. started, and when we started talking, I asked of him only that he let me tell him what had started the whole thing that had turned me into such a mean, big-word-usin’ prick: “JD demanded that I stop seeing J because seeing J reminded him of how mean DP had been”, where J had nothing to say in it, never had said anything mean to JD, had stopped seeing DP long before JD started to see DP.
“I had no idea!” said H., visibly more and more shaken as I watched the wheels of his mind reconstructing the past several years.
Silence. I offered, “All I ever wanted from you and F. was that I get to tell you what started it.” That was the moment that the beautiful part of a friendship reignites. I’d said what I’d been waiting to be allowed to say. No blame. No guilt. No anything left to stand in the way of a friendship. And we’ve been friends again ever since.
Long after that day, I saw F. out and about, and there was more than just an exchange of meaningless niceties, I thought I’d have a chance to tell F. the only thing that I told H.
I emailed F., offering that it was nice to see him and that I’d thought maybe…
But at least JD still remembers to keep his distance and keep his yap shut.
Best of all, I have my friend H. back. Back in San Francisco and back in my life. That’s a lot, isn’t it? It’s certainly enough, enough for me.