In my early 20s I had one of my best, best friends ever. Like many bromances, we were a total mismatch. He was the wild card, I was the straight man. He was the ladies’ man, I was the wingman. He was the loose cannon, I was the clean up crew. We were like a bad 80s sitcom (see photo). But damn, we had so many epic times. It really worked … until it didn’t.
We met at the fast food service restaurant we worked at. Our first moments together were actually captured by two supervisors from the other side of their one-way mirrored office door window. I remember sitting down for break one day when one of my supers sat down with me and, with a smile, asked, “What do you think of the new guy, Humphrey?”
“He’s okay. Why do you ask?”
“Because we were watching you from the other side of the glass and were taking bets on when you were going to choke him.”
She recounted their delight at watching me working my butt off to get the front line ready to open that day while my soon to be best friend followed me around with his coffee mug sharing some jokes and his latest adventures, but not lifting a finger to help.
I’m pretty good at seeing the humor in situations and this was pretty damn funny, especially considering that instead of doing their job and putting my friend to work, they took delight in watching him putz around behind me.
I try to keep these blog posts snappy but man, so many stories! The white clothesline, the parking lot barriers, the snowy Halloween, Rogues Hollow, the Assassination Game, the silent treatment, the Fxxk Rax Party, the Maypops, Beau Coup, the railroad crossing, walking on the hood, and Munroe Falls just to name a few. Drop me a line if any of these sound intriguing.
And here’s where I need to drop in a tangent. I can’t promise you I’ll be the best friend you ever have, but something I’ve always promised is that I will always be there for my friends, 24/7. It’s a standard I held myself to with this friend, and every friend since, sometimes to hilarious effect (more stories for another time.)
And honestly, it feels a bit selfish to be there for my friends. It actually makes me feel better than it will ever make them feel. I’m sure you’ve had many similar experiences. Tangent over.
Then it started. There was the drunk, stranded phone call at 2:30 a.m. from Youngstown. The drunk, lost, early morning tap on my bedroom window, with the ripped shorts from apparently hanging upside down on a fence. The snoozing in the passenger seat as a poured my guts out. The drunken, repeated phone calls from the stripper bars, seeking company. And so much more.
And I was there every time. But almost without notice, until it was noticeable, something was different. I was helping a friend but it didn’t make me feel good anymore. And I realized something. I needed something from him too. I’d never felt that way with a friend before.
And then I realized something else. I wasn’t really his friend anymore. I was tireless ear. I was a get-out-of-trouble-free card. I was an “I’m lonely please be around me” option. I was someone he knew and hung out with. But I wasn’t his friend.
And that’s what I needed. I was his friend, but I needed him to be my friend, too. I needed someone to cry with, as well as someone to laugh with. Someone to adventure with, but someone who could be serious when needed. Really. I’m more than a pretty ear! But here’s the trick, he had to want too, and he didn’t. And you can’t make someone want that. Honestly, if you have to ask ….
It was the first time I learned that lesson. And like many lessons, I’ve been a repeat offender.
Alas, we’ll always have Rogues Hollow.