People You Probably Have in Your Phone Contacts, Part 1

The Friend Who’s Not Really a Friend But a Social Experiment

Usually odd, maybe suffering from ADD/ADHD/Asperger’s Syndrome, the awkward, older guy who took Calculus II with you in high school, the one who used to burp a lot at inappropriate times, the one who maybe rooms with you in college, along with two of your real friends, two guys you met in college, two guys whose friendship never seemed forced because they didn’t have to chug from vodka bottles to feel comfortable enough to even sit in the same room as a group of people they didn’t know well and hold a conversation, two guys who didn’t lurk in corners like potted flowers because they were too incomprehensible when they spoke to people because their voices were like old boat engines slowly groaning to life, sputtering at first then speeding past any sort of metronomed pace, ending in a blur of syllables that were never quite words, or sentences, or paragraphs. Friends who you couldn’t hear masturbating through the walls like the The Friend Who’s Not Really a Friend But a Social Experiment.

This guy makes everyone uncomfortable because he comes into rooms and sits on his knees in some backwards reversion to preschool, bouncing up and down on the floor in ‘circle time’ or whatever the fuck it’s called, waiting for his saltine crackers/carrots and juice-box snack for the day. This guy in college, still doing this when you have girlfriends over to watch movies (read: ‘make sweet, sweet love to’), bouncing up and down with a dumb look on his face, unable to think of anything he can talk to you or her about—just deciding to stay silent and grin to make you feel like he’s having a good time—thinking, ‘Maybe if they think I’m happy they’ll think I’m cool and maybe that will make them want to be friends with me.’

The guy who does dishes every time he gets drunk because he thinks that if he’s super clean it will convince you and your other roommates to keep him around. The guy who washes every dirty pot, pan, plate, and piece of silverware of every messy dinner you and your roommates can think to make, leaving everything unwashed on purpose every time, continuously increasing the mess made with each meal, to see just how far you have to go before his disgust of what’s in front of him outweighs his need for even simple acceptation. The guy who used to be fat in high school, the guy who was so trusting of the people he thought were his friends (that’s you), that he listened to them when they told him he was fat and out of shape and unhealthy. The guy who listened to you when you told him he should run cross-country. The one who you and your friends would laugh about when he wasn’t there because you all had this stupid, evil high school prank, this ridiculous ‘long-con’ you had planned to make the Guy lose a lot of weight and gain a lot of confidence/girls/whatever, to then—just when his life started getting good—begin to make fun of him in horrendous ways, thus destroying him and plunging him back into binge eating and the world of the overweight/ acne-ridden/ lunch-table-rejects, building him up before destroying him, like letting an infant see the backyard for the first time—this single event being a total doubling of their concept of how much space and opportunity the world held—before slamming the door in their face, closing forever the option of exploration but instilling within them the dragging feeling of wanderlust, constantly pulling them towards the door—towards confidence/girls/whatever—still unable to reach the knob and reopen the door.

The guy who you occasionally think about when you’re up late, drunk, wondering why you’re such an asshole sometimes, wondering why people are so quick to turn on each other, wondering why your drink is almost empty, these questions plunging you deeper into a bottle in a desperate, downward spiral towards sunrise and the dollar pancakes at IHOP. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

image – Dan Zen

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