Years ago when I was living hundreds of miles South of NYC, close to the Beach, I was having a hard time meeting friends and establishing a friend group. It took me months and months, and funny enough, most of these friends were all transplanted Northerners. We were a ragtag bunch, but I felt I found in this group people I could count on and people who would be supportive and there for me when needed. The city we were living in was a very transient and very “party” centric. People came and went. One day they would be there, the next they would have moved on. No explanation. No goodbye. I considered myself very lucky to have found this stable group.
My then boyfriend and I competed in a charity bicycle ride. My friends drove my car hundreds of miles, showing up at the finish line, complete with handmade signs. My very own cheering section. My boyfriend was in awe, with the amount of support I received, commenting that he wished his friends had gone above and beyond as my friends had done.
At the heart of this group was a gay couple in their 30s, Keith and Billy, together for more than 10 years at this point, and my co-worker and roommate Lori. Looking back on this core group, even though I had introduced everyone, I was definitely the odd man out. Lori, Keith, and Billy were thick as thieves. Keith and Billy gravitated more towards women than gay men. Fortunately, I was very comfortable with my “odd man out” status as I had cultivated a larger group of friends as well, consisting of gay men, co-workers, intramural sports teammates, workout partners, past tricks, etc.
One negative quality of our group was the way we talked to each other. We all had fun ribbing each other and “coming for each other” as the gays say it now. However, it usually went too far…and it usually was directed towards me. More than once I voiced concern acknowledging that our good-natured joking had gone a step too far. Most times it would end but often there would be remarks of “stop being so sensitive” or “calm down, we are only joking.” Although I’d preferred an apology, I’m tough, we were friends, it wasn’t really that big of a deal…Or so I thought.
Fast forward a few years later and this once stable group was hit with the city’s transient effect. People moved, friendships evolved, some grew stronger and some faded away. Lori had moved back to her hometown and I had moved about 30 miles north. Keith, Billy and I lost touch. Then, in November 2012, my mom passed away. That June I moved back to NYC for good. I had not talked to any of them in over a year, although I did see Lori when she came to my mother’s wake. (She was living back on Long Island).
The next few months, as imagined, were unbelievably difficult. Living with Dad back in the family home there was a black cloud of sadness that enveloped both of us. Slowly but surely the cloud grew smaller as the weeks slowly turned into months. I felt that I had turned a corner. (Which was false, as you can never really turn a corner mourning the death of a parent.)
Cue a snow day at home! Always guaranteed to put a smile on my face. Getting to watch rom-coms or Bravo or “Price is Right” all day! However, this particular snow day took an unexpected turn when I started getting weird text messages. Things like “hey you’re Robert…you’re a teacher right?” “Hey, Teach can you teach me [something perverted or dirty?]. All of the messages had pretty much the same area code. I called my friend Jack and explained all these weird messages…Jack then seemed to have a sudden flashback exclaiming “Oh fuck! Keith and Billy stopped by my work, super drunk and on their way to the bars.” We pieced together some information that hadn’t made any sense at the moment but together provided an overall narrative of what was happening.
Keith and Billy had written my name and phone number on the bathroom wall of some gay bar. Class all the way with those two. By this point, I had not even had contact with either of them in close to two years. Their actions were weird and random. What type of person does this? I called Verizon and within 10 minutes had a new phone number, and a highly coveted NYC 917 number, which I had heard wasn’t possible anymore. I should have sent them a thank you card. In the years since I have spoken with Keith, he’s apologized and that was that.
Fast forward to this January. I was at my dad’s house cleaning out some closets and found a box of old pictures. There was a really nice one of me and Lori at a friend’s wedding. In the spirit of the New Year, and wanting to mend fences/reconnect, I had sent her the picture through an Instagram Direct Message. I wished her well, wished her family well (she is married with two young children now). I also said give my best to your family (her mother and sister were always very kind to me). She replied with a snarky “Who is this?” then thanked me for the picture and said, “since you sent one it is only fair of me to send one also…” And then this picture appeared:
This is a pic of the evidence from six years ago that proves Jack and I were indeed right about those strange, inappropriate text messages. After the initial jaw-dropping, I quickly blocked her. This girl has kept that pic for six years, taking pride in her cruelness. On the one hand, her commitment to this practical joke could be applauded. On the other hand, I can’t believe I ever considered this person to be one of my best friends.
I am by no means a saint and by no means an innocent bystander in relationship failures. I have royally fucked up friendships that I regret to this day. If I could take back my mistakes I would in a heartbeat, as I know how bad it feels to be on the other side. I have been royally fucked over by friends. I have been heartbroken by guys I thought I loved and I have also left a trail of broken hearts in my wake. I realized too late who were just “party” friends, and I underestimated people I considered “party” friends when they showed me that they were damn good people who I now consider lucky to be in my lifeboat.
That being said, not once, have I considered any form of revenge or retaliation after a relationship ended. No matter how upset, angry, heartbroken, crushed I am, my thought process never gets to that point. In talking about these latest developments with my friend Raquel, she succinctly laid it out quite clearly, “There is nothing you could have done differently, nothing you could have done to them that warrants what they did to you. You did not deserve this and it quite frankly has nothing to do with you. It’s a reflection of her character. End of story.” And that’s it in a nutshell. Some people are nice, some people aren’t. Lori is not.
But I will still remember and focus on the overwhelming number of good times we had. The laughs. The great memories. I don’t dwell on how we ended and what happened. I’m ok with that. Call me “Miss Congeniality” if you must; I already have the sash in my closet!
@copyrighted February 21, 2019