A thousand memories rush in when he calls. Throwing snowballs at cars, wrestling, trying to learn to kiss each other. Mostly I used my tongue like a hockey stick, pushing his tongue out of my mouth. Still kind of in the thats icky phase. Telling him a dark secret around the time 13 became 14. We spent hours listening to music, him with a joint burning his fingertips, me in a partial fetal ball on his bed. His sister T busting in to show us the latest dance. Him feeding me jalapenos back to back, amazed that I did not flinch. Staring at each other in amazement when a man with a gun hopped his fence and ran past us. He always told me that he thought I could do anything.
A friend, an impossibly gorgeous girl who I will call J, introduced us because we both "like to read books and stuff like that". Shy first meeting at Showbiz Pizza which became a teen dance kind of thing at night, several lifetimes ago. I think I wore a pleather shirt and torn jeans. Was I in the kubuki makeup phase? Not sure. Bad curly 80's hair like that chick from Flashdance. We so hit it off except that he was reeeeeally Catholic and "prolife" and at that time I wished that I had been aborted. Arguments turned vicious, and sometimes wrestling devolved into full on fights. His dad pulling us apart. I stopped talking to him. Later he said he thought it was because he smacked me. I am no wussy. I love a fight, even now. No, it was because I was in family turmoil. In danger.
My drug dealer boyfriend scared him away, pit bull in tow. I did not know. I went to Temple because at least I would have a buddy there. He quit and joined the service. Ended up shooting people who look like us in Panama. Came back in a low caddy, high all the time. Far less talkative. Something changed. He wanted to buy me clothes. No thanks, I was used to looking shabby.
Now he calls, as he does every few months. Oddly, he says little. I get frustrated, carrying the conversation. He always asks about my partner. He also tells me things that I contest, wondering where he got all of these chauvinistic ideas. I told him to be nice to his wife, before their divorce. Dear friend A. thinks he was hoping that I would get divorced as well. She says men are very persistent that way. I hope he called because he values our friendship and our laughter as well. Maybe she was right. Surely he knows that we could never do the "day to day" of a relationship together. I am a free bird with claws and he is an admitted control freak.
There were a few visits, sitting at Denny's, showing me the room of the baby that he and K lost. Chats about life driving through town listening to experimental jazz and surveying the gutted drive in, the empty Tastee Freez, a haunted town. I listened, stunned by the pain pouring out of him, staring at a snapshot of him, holding his dying newborn son. I listened as he told me of his marriage unravelling. I suggested couples therapy. His exwife was always partying in NYC after they lost their child. He shared that he was not exactly faithful. Oh well. I can not judge anyone, I told him. Not good though. Keep yourselves safe.
Solid silence after I announced that I was pregnant. Maybe A. was right when she said he still carried a torch. But he did at least call to see how we made out. Last week he called to announce that his girlfriend was pregnant by several months. I am happy for them and especially him, having lost a son. I too know this pain. Losing a baby really wounded him during his marriage to K. He is, of course, hoping for a boy. He sounded kind of deadpan.
I tell him to rub his wife's back and hire help if she has a c-section. He sounds vaguely annoyed. I suggest a play date and baby bonding with him and his soon to be wife when I am in Philly. He mumbles something about seeing me ALONE in DC when he is there on conference. Asshole. Selfish immature troll fucker.
Where are the evolved motherfuckers who can be friends with a chick? I have great women friends, so I guess it is nothing that I did. I guess few of the men in my life, friends and lovers, and relatives, cared about me very much, and that is a sad truth. Friends J. and T. expressed similar experiences with grave sadness. T. said she just wants to know what she did wrong?
We women are startled when men bulk at being "friends". I hate the phrase "Just Friends" because it minimizes a bond that is sacred to me. By not fucking my man friends I was generally doing them a great service. Sex is such a box of chaos and I am so a witch on a broom. It does not mean that they are not attractive, it is just that I would rather have a longterm supportive REAL friendship, than 25 minutes of probably mediocre sex, or a tiring 6 month romantic fiasco. Making you a friend is a profound complement and gesture, when you are the friend of a lady of substance. But then we women make "frienship" an art starting in like kindergarten.
My WBE - Worst Boyfriend Ever (from high school days) contacted my mom out of the blue, the day his mom died. Please, he pleaded, have M. call me. Tell her mom is gone. I called and left a standard I am praying for you, with whoever answered the phone. Maybe he recognized that I was indeed a good friend, if he reached out to me during such a terrible time. It made me feel hopeful. Maybe I have not been loving my male friends and exes in a vacuum?