Friday, July 17, 2009

Best friends, for ever and never

Lately I have been told that I ought to have more friends. So I pondered this advice in my quiet times, when I sit under an old tree and birds relieve themselves on my hair. Those are the times when I tell myself that it can always, always be worse. I ruminated, as I say, on my recluseness and what brought me to it. From this seemingly innocuous thought a torrent of mawkish effusions poured, for I remembered with much chagrin all my unfortunate experiences with friends and loyalty and this godforsaken can of worms that we call friendship.

Best friend number 1

There was a time in my tumultuous existence when I was open to the idea of having friends. In fact I sought them with open arms. But I was also very gullible and this attracted a lot of vermin to me because, I suppose, I was good to feed on. My first best friend was somewhat of a leech. But I found her absolutely wonderful. She possessed an epic cleavage, had an unfortunate case of acne and drove boys crazy. In one word: she had everything I did not. And I, apparently, had everything she wanted.

First my laser pointer went missing. It was one of those cool gizmos with ten different replaceable heads, each giving a different shape to the beam. At night I took it outside and projected a red Playboy bunny on the building in front. It was a new building with crisp white walls that had completely obscured my view of Bucharest. It fulfilled all the requirements to be desecrated. The laser had been a present from my aunt, who had brought it from Greece. No one I knew had something like it, so for a while I actually was the cool kid on the block. It did not last long, of course. When I could no longer find the laser I blamed my misfortune on my typically scatterbrained ways.

Then my electronic planner went missing. Scatterbrained, airhead, plus some other laudatory epithets from my father. I said good bye to that too. But the day came when my best friend came to pick me up for school and I could not find my deodorant. My deodorant! She helped me look for it, but to no avail. We had to leave for school. Circumstances made it so that the professor was late and I had a desperate case of running nose. I was desperate, mind you, otherwise I would not have taken the liberty to rummage through her backpack. Had I not, I would not have discovered, between the seedy objects that she had in there, my redolent deodorant along with my Titanic t-shirt, where Jack and Rose lay on their fatal boat in a final heartbreaking embrace. The latter was a present from my grandparents, who went to Turkey and knew my weakness for saccharine and completely improbable movies.

When my friend came back my mouth was still open. Confronted with the evidence, she denied that those things were mine. People had gathered round to watch the spectacle. In the meanwhile the professor had entered the classroom and was trying futilely to assert his authority by making discordant sounds against the black board, but no one paid attention to him. We had serious issues to discuss. Although everybody knew that the objects were mine my friend stuck to her story. During the whole commotion of people coming over she had actually come up with a fabulous story about a friend who knew a friend who knew a friend who gave her the t-shirt – who, coincidentally, the friend, went to Turkey! I was incredulous as I listened. I still am, as I remember.

Best friend number 2

After this delightful experience I allowed another prey animal to feast upon my soul. This time it was the chubby-and-funny kind of girl. I had the looks, she had the jokes and I was under the impression that we made a good team together. Until we started meeting guys on the Internet. We went to the meetings together, because we were only thirteen and despite all our aspirations to womanhood we were kind of cowardly. But after a few experiences where her “dates” told her that her physique was reminiscent of Frankenstein, she decided that it was all my fault and I had to be punished. The next guy I met was a rocker-type with long black hair who was twenty-four while I was thirteen, but ah, who is counting. He thought that I was seventeen: I had him persuaded of that.

My best friend knitted a systematic sabotage. First she insisted on coming along to all our dates. Then she started talking with him regularly on the phone. She assured me that these conversations of theirs would benefit me tremendously, because she would whisper mellifluously in his ear what a good girl I am and how lucky he is to have me. But instead she whispered that I was thirteen and I was a slut. And many more flattering things like that.

But I forgave her, because I am noble. Until she did it again. She did it with a friend that we both had, on a night when the fellow expressed interest in me and I decided that I was quite infatuated with him. But I did sense her covetous look, so I took her aside and asked her whether she had any interest in him. You see, I was going to back off, relinquish my first attempt at a boyfriend, if my best friend’s feelings were at stake. She assured me that she could not care less about him.

So we had a good run, he and I, and a gruesome break-up. But while we were living our teenage love affair, this best friend of mine was so infuriated with my insensate behavior that she wrote my name and my address on all the benches in our neighborhood park. How do I know? I got a call one day from a hobo who was looking for a good time. He thought that Silvia, hot and juicy whore, sounded pretty good. She told me that she was the one who did it, but was unapologetic about it.

Best friend number 3

Before high school I was the personification of a good girl. I studied, was erudite, did not smoke, had no social life and wore maiden-like braids. Everybody liked me because I knew things, shared them and had a droll sense of humor. I find it ironic how the droll humor I have kept, but my fans I have inexorably and irretrievably lost.

So in light of my good behavior one of our teachers decided that I would be the best company for the female badass of our class. She was ignorant, intractable and somewhat of a burgeoning vamp. My role was to tame her. I did not succeed in doing that, but instead gave myself permission to canoodle with her wayward ways: stealing green peaches from the neighbor’s tree, riding the bus without a ticket, wearing belly-button-exposing minimal shirts, thinking that school is claptrap. Stuff that I had not imagined myself doing in a million years.

With time I grew disinterested in school. But I still did my homework and knew things, because that I could not help. So my dearest friend copied the homework from me, passed it on to everybody else in the class, and declared herself a philanthropist. In the end there were only a handful of us who actually bothered to do that stinky homework. But the others were clever and would not share with the masses. I remained the only pillar supporting the poor low-lives floating in the stew of indolence.

Once I put my foot down and refused to share my homework as well, I was denounced as a traitor. The voice that was most virulent was hers, my best friend’s. So my heart melted and I did give her the homework, but I made her promise that she would not disseminate it. She did, of course, and once again I was the petty miser and she was the goddess of the people; I was in disgrace and she was in exaltation. She even made me, my beloved, whisper the answers to her whenever she was asked to stand up and recite the lesson. I hid behind some tall dude and whispered away and at the end she berated me for poor volume or no diction. I’d do it all for her. My best friend, what the hell!

Best friend number 4

As a result of all this trauma, upon entering high school I nursed myself by dying my hair platinum blond and acquiring not one friend but six, an entire female gang. When this too blew over, as it was bound to happen, I made a last attempt at a best friend. She was pretty and witty, smoked and had a penchant for long-haired rockers. She was my brunette counterpart. While at school we were inseparable. I was eighteen by this time, so one could say that I knew better. But I did not.

The boys who probably slept with inflatable dolls constantly snarled belittling jokes at us both. It’s because they are not getting any, she used to say. She was probably right. She stood up for me and I stood up for her and in the end we put up a wicked fight with clever low blows and barbarous sarcasm, and those miscreants were silenced for all their embryonic testosterone and their bitter frustration. But she did have a glitch, this friend of mine: she insisted on telling me that my boyfriend was an idiot. Not stopping at that, she insisted to demonstrate it whenever he was around and, in doing so, took advantage of his good-hearted nature which detained him from retaliating as she deserved. If this had been all, I suppose that I could have put up with her idiosyncrasy or perhaps tried to train her. But there was something more serious at play, which was that in my friend’s body lived the most unreliable person on the planet.

Whenever we made plans she canceled them. Any kind of plans, any kind of outing. Anything that did not involved school, which she was required to attend for objective reasons. We were friends for more than a year and I only managed to see her outside of school once, although plans, well, we must have made hundreds of those. Her pattern became so predictable that I had come to know exactly when the cancellation message would come and what kind of an excuse she was going to make. She is leaving town, she has the flu, the dog is sick, you name it. My father and I chuckled together about this procedure, for I lay my phone on the table and stared at it and one moment later her message arrived, so accurately foreseen, with some ridiculous excuse like “I don’t have a bus ticket to come and meet you!” Father would smile in amusement and I would smile, more with bitterness than anything else.

I confronted her once and inquired about her reasons, but – a defense that reminded me of the past – she denied that she had canceled Every. Single. Meeting. We. Ever. Had. Surely I was exaggerating. Strangely enough, she did go out with other people. I knew this for sure. She was shallow, but a nice friend to have when you have no one else, and I would have liked at least to understand what happened there. I suppose I never will.

Sadly we have come to the finale of the freak-show. It is time for me to draw the curtain over the junkyard of my friendship-fiascoes, the sepulchers of camaraderie. These are my friends, ladies and gentlemen. Hats off.

So I remain here, still a hermit, still writing my blog, alone and happy.

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