1. They Feel Entitled
When you start taking control of your life and rejecting people’s bullshit, people feel threatened. When people feel threatened by your confidence, they’ll do anything and everything to knock you down a peg. This was never clearer to me than it was last weekend, when my former best friend Kevin threw his 26th birthday party…at his own place…an hour’s drive from my parents’ house. Let me give you the texts verbatim:
Him: “Hey man, I’m having a little get together to celebrate my birthday next Friday. Cruise up! Wouldn’t be the same without you.”
Me: “Sure, BYOB?”
Him: “We should have enough! No worries!”
Me: “What’s the sleeping situation?”
Him: “We’ve got an L-couch with your name on it!”
Me: “Blankets? Pillows?”
Him: “I think we’ve got you ‘covered’ Lol. But if you’d prefer your own just bring em along.”
Two things pissed me off about this. One, Kevin can’t give a single straight answer, it’s ‘should have enough’ and ‘think we got you covered.’ These are yes-or-no questions; just answer them. Two, he thinks me asking about the sleeping arrangement is funny when he knows why I ask:
Two years ago I kept getting panic attacks when I blazed, so I went a psychiatrist and he put me on an anti-depressant and it mellowed me out too much and I was tired all the time. I went back and complained and he put me on Adderall, which was awesome but I couldn’t sleep so he gave me Xanax, and if I don’t take each of these at specific times throughout the day, I won’t be able to sleep—or worse, I’ll get a panic attack when I blaze.
Kevin knows I’ve been diagnosed with Insomnia and thinks that because it’s his birthday, he’s entitled to take shots at my mental illness. Normally I’d tell him to fuck off, but I ‘held frame’—meaning I absorbed his insult and kept my composure.
Me: “I’ll bring my own pillows and blankets, I don’t like yours.”
2. They’re Trying to Impress Their Friends
Kevin lives a few blocks from Manhattan Beach and it was a Friday, meaning there was no parking for two blocks—another thing that would’ve been nice to know ahead of time so I could’ve put my blanket and pillow in a garbage bag to keep them from dragging on the sidewalk. His neighbors were throwing a party and one of them shouted down from the balcony:
“Guys, look! It’s the Charlie Brown dude!”
I stopped right there on the sidewalk, dropped my pillow and blanket, dragged my polarized Oakley’s to the edge of my nose, and yelled:
“Hey, retard! That was Linus, not Charlie Brown!”
And all his friends laughed at him. One girl literally spit out her drink and another guy saluted me with his beer. People seem to think I’m an easy target, but then they get wrecked and find out they’re sorely mistaken.
3. They Take Things Too Seriously, On Purpose
When I got inside, Kevin grabbed my blanket and pillow and I handed him a Xanax and told him happy birthday. Even though he pocketed it he seemed stoked, but the real surprise was that I had an eight-ball of really pure cocaine, so pure my hook calls it ‘vaso puro,’ which is Mexican for ‘pure glass.’
Kevin and I took a shot and I took three more to catch up and calm my nerves, and before we walked to the rooftop to greet everyone, I made a pit stop in the bathroom and took a few bumps just in case this party was boring.
It was four of his guy friends, his fiancée Caitlin, and three of her friends who were decent. I’m sitting next to one of Caitlin’s friends—a six—and I’m playing it cool and not saying anything for twenty minutes and she kind of sighs and asks for my sign, laughing:
Me: “Scorpio, why do you ask?”
Her: “I don’t know, just wondering.”
Me: “You don’t really believe in that shit, do you?”
She blushed and looked at Caitlin. It was too easy.
Caitlin: “What kind of dog does everyone think they’d be?”
Yeah, that’s the kind of party it was. I drank half my beer in one swig just to deflect that stupid question but her friend next to me perked up.
Her: “I’d be a Greyhound because I’m really fast!”
I moved the beer from my mouth.
Me: “Greyhounds get euthanized a lot.”
Everyone burst out laughing. I had to double down.
Me: “Greyhounds are like blacks; when they’re not dazzling us with athletics, they’re getting killed.”
Everyone looked away like they didn’t hear me. Complete silence. Right when I drop a 9/10 joke everyone acts like they’re Mother Teresa and haven’t seen a Comedy Central Roast before in their entire life. Still, I held frame and went downstairs for a few more shots and bumps.
4. They’re Projecting
This blow was so pure and sharp it shreds your nostrils and makes your head feel like the only part of your body. Kevin came downstairs and seemed pretty surprised:
Him: “Holy shit, your nose is bleeding that bad?!”
I moved the paper towel from my mouth to talk.
Me: “Did you guys get it yet, the greyhound joke?”
Him: “Yeah, dude. We all got it, but Caitlin’s friend is black.”
Me: “You had to explain it to her, then?”
Him: “What? No, never mind. Why is your nose bleeding so much?”
I took the little pouch from my pocket and threw it to him and winked.
Me: “I wanted to surprise you. Happy birthday, bro.”
Kevin starts spewing this conspiracy theory that ‘glass’ is really slang for ‘crystal meth’ and says I should apologize to Caitlin’s friend for not having a sense of humor. He tells me to stop shoving the bloody paper towels into the sink’s garbage disposal. I nearly lost it. He doesn’t give a shit that I bought him a $700 eight-ball and cares more about his sink than anything else, but that’s not really why he’s upset…
He’s projecting. He’s upset because he’s having a shitty time at his own boring birthday party, and he’s taking it out on the one person—me—who’s actually enjoying themselves. This sort of henpecking is usually reserved for female inferiority complexes, but I guess the birthday boy is a little upset he’s not the center of attention like he was at prom.
5. They Pretend To Care About You
I shoved a wad of paper towel up my nose and grabbed my blanket and pillow. When you find yourself in a toxic environment, it’s on you to see your way out; otherwise you’re just flaunting your lack of self-respect. As soon as you give people an inch, they’ll walk all over you. Believe me. Yet Kevin tried to make all these concessions and pleas on my way out:
Him: “Dude, please don’t go, there’s no way you can drive right now, just sleep here on our couch and we’ll all go get breakfast tomorrow. This place by the pier has the best breakfast burritos you’ve ever had in your life, please.”
Me: “And what, sleep on your L-couch when I could sleep in my own bed?”
I opened the door and he stopped me.
Him: “You can sleep on our bed. Caitlin and I will sleep on the couch. Please, dude. I care about you, and I feel like we’ve been slipping away. You’re a good guy. I’ve known you since Little League and this isn’t you. You had a bad high, everyone does at some point, but it didn’t mean there was anything wrong with you. Hang out with us…for my birthday.”
I tried to hold frame but he was using a tactic I hadn’t seen before and I started to think he was right. How many years had I thrown away just trying to stay high all the time? He always went out of his way to include me at school and stuff; I just never understood why. I had one chance to call his bluff:
Me: “If I’m sleeping on your bed…where is Caitlin’s friend sleeping?”
Me: “Can she also sleep on your bed?”
Him: “Oh…I’m not sure—”
Me: “—tell her I have my own pillow and blanket.”
Him: “If I’m being perfectly honest, I don’t think she’s planning on sleeping over, but—”
I walked out and slammed the door right in his face. That’s what people do. They give you this beta crybaby soliloquy about why they care about you, but when push comes to shove, he has a scarcity mindset. That’s when people lack generosity because they think there’s a finite amount of good in the world; the guy with a nine fiancée won’t even hook his best friend up with a six, and he can go fuck her and himself for all I care.