Old friends are usually a comfort as we age, because they give our lives continuity and stability and they remind us of when we were young and carefree. Or….they can be a pain in the ass, or all of the above. However, old friends can get away with a lot more than newer acquaintances becauseÖ..wellÖ.they are old friends. Their rarity gives them special status in your life. You tend to put up with more of their stuff than most people.
Even still though, it sometimes becomes necessary to end that relationship. Too much water under the bridge. Too much stuff hitting the fan. The actual moment when it is time to say goodbye to any relationship is hard to say, but I think it’s much like what the Supreme Court judge said about pornography: “I can’t define it, but I know it when I seen it.”
When it’s time to dump someone from your life, it sort of wells up within you, like a meal from Jack-In-Box, then all of a sudden, usually without warning, your emotional subconscious explodes and says to your rational mind: Ok, that’s it, no more of this crap, we are frickin’ OUT of here.
Let’s start with an extreme example of a cowardly person waiting way too long to jettison an old friend who has been sorely asking for it for years. Let’s call that weenie of a person…oh…say…..me.
I grew up with a friend we will call Jim, because that is his name. I don’t even remember not knowing Jim. I was about 4 years old when he moved onto our block. We become besties real quick even though I was often forced to chase him down and pummel him senseless after he would swindle me or otherwise aggravate my young and delicate sensibilities. Not that I myself didn’t have my punky moments, but that is a story for him to write. As we grew up in the seventies, the glue that held us together was our off-the-wall senses of humor and youthful lack of concern for all things serious. Not to brag, but we invented the talking buttocks long before Jim Carey came up with it. We also shared a common inventory of references.
For example, instead of using the word slut, one of us would just say, ‘Judy Kay’ and we would know exactly what the other meant. That was actually a term of endearment by the way, since, but for our gender and lack of opportunity, we would have been sluts of the worst kind. We had a great time though. Life was silly and stupid and you were forgiven all your youthful indiscretions; like the time when we were ten years old and Jim accidentally sliced my hand open with a jack knife, requiring a two hour operation to repair the damage. You know, youthful indiscretions.
Things began to unravel in about our senior year in high school. Jim always had a pretty good talent for rationalizing bad behavior which, up to that point, I always found slightly amusing, until it was aimed at me.
One day Jim shows up at my door holding hands with my ex-girlfriend, with whom I had recently had a very bad breakup. Somewhere in their twisted little minds, they thought it might be entertaining to show up at my house and ‘chat’ with me. Seeing the both of them standing there in my patio with sadistic little grins on their faces made me want to clang their heads together to the tune of “Cry me a River”. The only thing that kept me from throwing hot grease at them was knowing that if ever two people deserved each other it was them, and that they would be their own punishment, which proved to be the case in amazingly quick order, to my great satisfaction.
My relationship with Jim continued on into adulthood because I must admit that he was fun to be around despite the fact that he remained an off-the-wall whack job, or probably BECAUSE of that fact. Even after accruing a wife and two young children, he just couldn’t quite take that last step into adulthood, which brings us to:
He hit on my first wife several times at parties, while I was there and married to her. In fact, right up until the recent hiatus of my relationship with him, he continued to tell me that one of his biggest regrets is that he didn’t sleep with her WHILE I WAS MARRIED TO HER. He apparently was totally oblivious to the fact that this is not exactly what friends do to each other! It just didnít cross his mind.
One night at a very upscale restaurant, he stood up and screamed at my current wife because, in a lively conversation about global warming, she asked him if he loved his children. Granted, a bit of a risky question, but still, his reaction was quite out of proportion. It was hard to make a normal night of things after being invited to leave a restaurant for disorderly conduct.
Over the course of years of substance abuse, which apparently included pretty much everthing but herion and drano, he would call me up in the evenings, rambling unintelligibly about God-knows-what, while laughing uncontrollably, until I finally had to feign a bad connection and hang up. Fortunately, caller id was invented just about this time, but I still had to endure the whacked out messages he would leave.
When I started to back off of our relationship, he got angry that I wasn’t responding to him on facebook, so he threatened to tell my 20 year old daughter and everyone else on facebook that we had had a torrid gay love affair together, unless I started to respond to him. I thought he was kidding, as there was never any affair or anything like it but, no, he wasn’t kidding. When I continued not to respond to him, he followed through with his threat! It was the kind of accusation that you can’t defend against because there is no way of proving it didn’t happen. I found all this behavior to be quite strange being as it was coming from a right wing homophobe. Just to add to the strangeness though, he then messages me on facebook and tells me that he REALLY WAS in love with me and continues to be.
Now, I am aware that a normal person would undoubtedly consider all this to be reason enough not only to end the relationship, but would probably even be sufficient evidence for justifiable homicide. In fact, this that just a partial list of the transgressions. Brevity required me to cut the list in half, but I am fairly sure no further evidence is needed here.
So what the hell, you might ask, is wrong with ME for putting up with all this? Good question. Well, for starters, I think I mentioned the part about me being a weenie, so there’s that. However I would offer in my own defense that almost everybody has a “Jim” in their lives. Someone who has far exceeded their lifetime quota of BS, and yet there they are, still a major fixture in your life, whether it be lover, friend or family member. Most people can name one of these right off the bat, with no hesitation.
My only real excuse is that Jim could be a fiercely loyal and intense friend in between all the major reem jobs he would perform on me. In addition, he was ALWAYS at least entertaining, which is something that I value highly. Finally, it’s hard to let go of someone who really truly gives a shit about you, and would defend you with their lives. There just aren’t that many of those. So, to be honest, I really don’t know where it goes from here. I am on a hiatus from my relationship with Jim, but I suspect the last round has not yet been fought.