When your close friends break up, there’s an expectation that you break up with their ex-significant other’s friends. Societal norms dictate that they’re not actually your friends and that they don’t belong to you. Your friends from before the relationship belong to you and the friends that the ex had before the relationship belong to them. It’s one of the most unfortunate aspects of relationships, assuming everyone was nice and fun to hang out with.
Sometimes, clean breaks are nearly as difficult for the friends as the two breaking off a romantic relationship. In this situation, the friends of my best friend’s ex were both a crew that I went out with every weekend and people I shared less than positive aspects of my life with. Sometimes it took alcohol to bring out conversations, but they happened eventually.
We talked about family, exes and how much the future scared us. We’d give each other 3 am pep talks about how we were going to change our lives when we woke up in the morning. Somehow, as the relationship between the only two people in the large group was breaking apart, the rest of the group got closer. When my friend wasn’t around, we were there for his girlfriend and vice-versa. For a few months, we functioned as a large support system, at least for me in particular, as much as we functioned as a group of friends who got drunk together on the weekends.
Then, the breakup. It wasn’t unexpected, really. They’d had a few fights and cancelled a few dates in the month leading up to their clean break. My friend cried, her friends told me that she did too, but everyone seemed to know that it wasn’t a relationship worth salvaging. Even worse, we knew that it meant the group was breaking up, since those two weren’t going to be able to tolerate being in the same room together anytime soon.
We didn’t think about it right away. The next Friday, a few of my close friends from before the relationship wanted to go out, but we didn’t realize until about 10 that we weren’t exactly in the groove of making plans with anyone else. Three of us, sans our recently single friend who had no desire to go out, headed to a bar, talked about how much the breakup sucked for a bit, then decided to walk home. On the way home, we ran into none other than the ex-girlfriend and all of her friends. They were in the same predicament we were; they had added no new guys to their group. Since we were without the male half of the broken-up couple, they asked us to go to the bar with them.
Unsurprisingly, what ensued was three hours of very heavy drinking and absolutely no conversation about the breakup. When bar close came, it was apparent that my friend’s ex was too drunk to walk, so we ended up walking a mile to her apartment with her right arm over my shoulders and my left arm around her back, under her left shoulder, somewhere halfway between helping her stay upright and dragging her back home.
She told me about how her ex was a good guy, but that they just weren’t going to work out. She apologized profusely for dumping him. She told me about what a great guy I am, and about how much all her friends love me, and how she hoped we could stay friends and still hang out all the time.
When people are drunk, they say the things they really want to say when they’re sober, but stop themselves from saying because they’re aware of the consequences. When sober, you can see the entire picture and all of the potential consequences that your words and actions might have in the future. Heavily intoxicated, all you know is your emotions and what they mean in that moment.
I think she really meant what she said to me, but I assume that when she woke up, she thought about what it meant. She thought about the potential difficulties of inviting an entire group of friends sans one person to an event, or having to interact with him on a regular basis. Possibly by herself, possibly with her friends, she decided that it didn’t matter if we were good people and fun to hang out with. The two groups of friends had to break up.
That night was the last time I ever saw her.
I went to an event with friends hoping to make some progress with a girl that I’ve considered dating for a while. I’m no longer interested in dating said girl.
Everything started swimmingly. We met up, we hugged, and we started to drink alcohol. We flirted. We talked about sex. She seemed pretty sex-positive and receptive to having sex with me. She seemed like someone who might be good in bed.
Eventually, she said something that made my dick shrivel up into my stomach. While talking about the living situation things that 25-year-old professionals who are transitioning from being college fuck-offs to being actual adults talk about, she mentioned that she had a broken vanity. I am good at fixing things and figured that finding a way to offer to fix her broken vanity would be a good way for me to get invited to her house, do something worthwhile for her and then subsequently end up making out with her on her couch. Before I had the opportunity, she started bitching about how her father wouldn’t come fix her vanity even though she asked him LIKE OMG A THOUSAND TIMES, then rattled off a number of other things that she expected her father to do for her in the coming weeks.
I mentally rescinded the offer I had not yet made to do anything her. I also decided that I’m not even interested in casually sleeping with her. She’d probably feel entitled to dick and/or cunnilingus whenever she demanded it, because that’s the kind of person who expects their father to do everything for them when they’re 25 goddamn years old.
Her friend is cool, though. She doesn’t ask her dad to do anything for her. Sometimes we text about asses.
A couple of years ago, an acquaintance called my friend — we’ll call him Darrell — a nigger.
People always say something along the lines of “I can’t believe someone would say that in 2013,” as if it was somehow significantly less outlandish and degrading in 2011. It’s been shocking to hear anyone use that word to describe anyone since the early 1980s. The Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, old people and bigots dropped n-bombs into the 70s, and people as a whole figured out that using that word is never okay sometime in the 80s.
Of course, the word has not been eradicated. Ignorant and/or old people use it all the time. It’s not terribly shocking to hear the word used by an 80-year-old obese white man with no teeth. But the acquaintance who used the slur — we’ll call him Giuseppe — is not that.
He’s a lawyer. As in, he went to law school, which he did after getting a bachelor’s degree. He has a juris doctorate and he passed the bar. While these things are all implied by the phrase “he’s a lawyer,” they’re important to spell out because they’re all worth considering, individually and in succession, when determining whether or not it’s plausible that pure ignorance could be the reason for someone’s idiocy.
Darrell and Giuseppe have literally dozens of mutual friends, but they have not spoken since that day. When Darrell is asked if he wants to attend an event that involves the group of mutual friends that they share, he asks “is Giuseppe going to be there?” If the answer is yes, Darrell refuses to go.
By refusing to ostracize anyone, forgiving Giuseppe and attempting to welcome everyone into the group, the group is ostracizing Darrell. He did nothing wrong during the incident in which he was racially abused by someone he believed to be a friend, and yet he is the party involved in the incident that has been excluded from future events.
Even if most members of the group don’t realize exactly what they’ve done, they do realize how wrong it is that Darrell has been excluded from their events in any way. They try to get him to talk to Giuseppe, who has reached out to him through intermediaries. Giuseppe feels bad, genuinely wants to apologize because he knows he was extremely wrong to do what he did, and feels serious remorse. Darrell doesn’t want to listen.
And here’s where Darrell, wrongly, becomes the bad guy. If one party wants to bury the hatchet and move on in a dispute while the other party is still bitter, the party that refuses to move on is generally viewed in an unfavorable light by observers.
In this case, most of the observers are white, and they want to know why Darrell can’t just accept Giuseppe’s apology. They protest that Giuseppe was drunk, that he always says stupid things when he’s drunk, and that he didn’t mean it, completely ignoring the fact that alcohol simply lowers inhibitions, rather than inventing points of view.
They don’t get it, which is okay. They’re white. They weren’t racially abused in a way that was meaningful while they were growing up. They don’t have any family members who were actually oppressed. They could never possibly understand the way that the n-word was used to demean Darrell as a child, and the symbolism that the word has to his family members, who were called that as they were beaten with nightsticks and sprayed with fire hoses.
I don’t get it, because I’m white. But I’ve had my ‘Stan from South Park’ moment. I get that I’ll never get it. The rest of the group hasn’t had that moment yet. They don’t get that Darrell can accept Giuseppe’s apology on his terms — or never — because only he knows how that word affects him and what it means to him.
There’s no easily solution to this situation, but I’ve realized that next time this group of friends does something, I need to go hang out with Darrell, not ditch him by using the excuse that I’m just going along with the group.
Maybe I can help flip the script, one dissenting voice at a time.
It’s 6 a.m., as I walk down 18th street in Adams Morgan. As the sun creeps slowly over the horizon, the street is littered with broken bottles, homeless people and various characters that appear to have no place anywhere, much less in Adams Morgan at dawn. With a backpack on my back and a 24 ounce coffee in hand, I walk by all of it with a smile on my face.
I’m smiling because life is best lived in extremes. The mantra of ‘I can sleep when I’m dead’ is echoed by many, but practiced by few. The mantra of ‘work hard, play hard’ is practiced by even fewer, or at least at its highest levels. There aren’t too many people on earth who drink aggressively until bar close, go home with a perfect stranger, then happily jump out of bed when their alarm goes off at 5:45 in the morning, giddy at the prospect of an 18-hour work day.
I love doing this, but not as much as I love seeing others that do the same. Because, even though I find things to give me pleasure, personally, just like everyone else in the world, the best thing about life is finding people that enjoy everything they do even more than I do. The best part of the 36-hour period that combines one of these running sessions of drinking, flirting, sexual connection and working is not any stage of the process that I partake in myself, but seeing someone else who was obviously doing something very similar.
About every other time I make that walk from AdMo to the office at 6 am, I run into someone else who is wearing the same clothes from the night before, sporting a bit of a hangover, a backpack on their back, a coffee in hand and a big smile on their face. We lock eyes, and nod at each other in approval, because game recognize game.
We all need sleep, time off work, stretches of sobriety and love that’s more important than a (mostly meaningless) physical release. But the extreme party and work cycles are my second favorite thing in the world, the work part included.
My favorite thing is he moments I walk past those who live the same way. I just become overwhelmed with joy knowing that someone else gets how I feel.
Most rides on public transportation are uneventful and innocuous. A distant phone conversation that your unwillingly eavesdropping ears catch a portion of, along with the stale smell of urine — is it urine? Or is it rotting food? — don’t qualify as memorable events during bus or train rides. They’re the everyday background noise that creeps into daily life, going unnoticed most of the time.
Attractive people on public transit also go unnoticed most of the time, or if they’re noticed, it’s hardly something that sticks with you for an extended period of time. Perhaps an average of once a day, if you commute and take two trips on transit daily, you’ll see someone and mutter to yourself ‘damn, you’re cute’, and then forget about them before moving on to thinking the same about people who walk down the street before you sit down at your desk and fantasize about fucking that girl in legal or that guy in your lit class.
But once in a while, someone catches your eye in a way that’s captivating, and you can feel yourself virtually fall in love with some person on the train who catches you looking at them for half a second too long and thinks you’re creepy.
It’s not real love, though, simply a love that manifests itself in your brain instantaneously because you know that you will not be afforded the opportunity to cultivate that love over time. They are a person from the train, who will exist in your life for a minute, or maybe five, or maybe 45, but certainly not until tomorrow. The range of emotions that takes place over a couple of months in normal, healthy relationships rushes through your body in a matter of seconds as you attempt to manufacture something artificial before it’s too late, and they’ve stepped off the train in Chinatown while you were hoping to hold onto that fantasy until U Street.
Headed back to my apartment after a trip home to see my parents, a girl caught my eye on the Metro. She wasn’t a traditional 10 by any means, though in my case, that’s not particularly relevant. Those are never the girls that catch my eye. Those are the girls that get the simple ‘damn, you’re cute’ response before I move on with my life and erase them from my memory effortlessly. The girls that catch and keep my attention are the ones who have something unique or at least intriguing to offer, and this particular girl was attractive because she quite obviously didn’t give a fuck about anything.
She saw my double-take. Attractive girls are used to getting at least a quick glance from damn near every man in attendance when they walk into a room, so they don’t bat an eyelash at everyone who looks at them for less than two seconds before turning the other way. But everyone takes notice of people who do one of two other things: The extended stare or the double-take.
The extended stare is a straight-up creeper move. I understand that passing judgment on anyone while I’m writing about my fantasy love affair with a random girl from the Metro is astonishingly hypocritical, but everyone knows this to be true. There is no spontaneous interest or romance that could possibly result from the extended stare. It’s fucked up.
But the double-take? That’s a different story, and it’s what I did. In some scenarios, it might even be cute. It might be a good first indicator that you think someone is attractive and/or potentially interesting, and that you’d like to talk to them. Most of the time I do the double-take and get a smile out of girls, because I have glorious hair and olive skin and my own smile is apparently cute, but Metro is a different animal, as is this girl who clearly did not have any time for me, or anyone else, for that matter.
Everything about the look she gave me and the way she presented herself screamed nonchalance, from her dismissive eyeroll to her probably four-year-old North Face to her leather boots that were almost ‘slutty’, for lack of a more descriptive term that everyone understands, but still potentially acceptable to wear to a conservative workplace. I shook my head as I looked away from her and down to my book. It wasn’t a dismissive or judgmental head shake, but obviously one that was expressing disapproval at my own lusting over a random girl on the train. A couple minutes later, I looked back up at her. She gave me a sly smile that said ‘you can’t have this’, and I laughed softly because I knew she was right.
That’s why the fantasy continued. If she was looking down at her own book, or her phone, or talking to someone else, she might have been another two-second crush. At the very most, I would have forgot about her the second she stepped off the train. But that ‘you’ll never get this’ look hooked me, because we all want what we can’t have. She stared me down as she walked off the train, and I was left to wonder whether or not it would have been worthwhile to strike up a conversation.
I hope that she went home and told her boyfriend that a boy flirted with her on Metro, and that he was cute, and he got jealous, leading to him putting more effort than usual into some mind-blowing sex, so that I might have provided an indirect service to someone through my inappropriate and unrealistic fantasies.
Going to seriously miss this at the start of the NBA season. What a monster.