I recently made a new friend; a not inconsiderable feat considering that I do not believe in friends, or, indeed, other people. Almost immediately I began to use this friend as a verbal punching bag, calling him girl names, insulting his literary taste and skills, making fun of his font choices and so forth, because it turns out that it is surprisingly satisfying to be part of a relationship based entirely on abuse, provided you pick the right role. “I’m king of the world!” I would shout, arms spread wide, from my perch atop his flattened dignity.
Recently this friend, let’s call him Paula, staged a sad last-ditch effort to be free of me and my flattenizing. He stopped responding to my emails, my phone calls, my text messages, my voicemails and my comments on his site, and when I showed up at his house disguised as an old beggar woman selling lovely red apples he wouldn’t even open the door.
For a while I shrugged it off, but the fact is I am starting to miss the little rodent, though I could not tell you why. I miss having someone to verbally spar with who I’m not afraid of, or dating, or afraid of dating. I liked how he maintained his chewy emotional center even though he knew he was in danger of being cast as a supporting lead in a Sandra Bullock movie. I liked how he would invent gossip for me about top Company X executives taking regular business trips to Thailand for inappropriate sex adventures, which I believed, oh, I believed. I liked watching the innocent school children he teaches slowly grind him into hamburger as the semester progressed.
But that’s all in the past now. And why? What for? Is it just my fate to be eventually dumped by all new friends, even as Czech Mark eventually dumped us all in favor of his much-cooler-than-us fiancee, or as Ellie dumped us for her much-cooler-than-us new baby? Or is there some other reason, something I cannot put my finger on but which might have to do with my constant firehose of verbal abuse and his nougatty emotional goop? I guess we’ll never know. But Paula, if you’re out there, and I hope you are, just know that I will always treasure our four long months of friendship. You silly, silly girl.