If you ask ME, I think you should click TOP BLOG and VOTE pour moi. Why? Because I'm charming, funny, and I know how to use punctuation. It's right there---->
(THIS is even longer than the first posting. But I'd hate to split it into three. Deal. :)
Read part one, right here, before proceeding, if you haven’t already.
Writing and photography have been staples in my life for about 15 years. Despite that, few of my friends are artistic. It’s always been a disappointment that the artist friends I’ve had have always been so inspiring and exciting to know, but they’ve always flaked out.
Unlike most of my friendships, Al was a slow decline. It wasn’t one particular event that threw me out of whack, but rather a series of stupid, crass things that, on their own, just smacked of a dumbass insensitive twat. Together, though, it painted a portrait of someone I wasn’t interested in putting effort into anymore.
As I’d mentioned, Al was very much concerned about his image and his popularity. But more than that, he was the eternal hedonist. Whatever offered the best time was what Al wanted to be doing.
And that ride could be fun. Most of the time, though, it was bumpy.
The following spring, in early ‘99, I’d had plans with Alfred. Nothing special. Coffee, a beach, some conversation, and some music. Steff’s basic four food groups for a fine night out.
A couple hours before our plans were to kick off, Al called.
“I gotta cancel.”
“Some buddies have called and invited me to a beach party.”
“Yeah, I haven’t seen them for a while, so...”
“Gee, Al. Sounds like it’s a case of my getting ditched when something better comes along.”
“That’s exactly what it is. Yeah.”
I was dumbfounded. With a “Whatever,” I got off the phone and mulled it over. At least he was honest. Honesty was a refreshing change of pace. I decided not to make a fuss over it.* * *
Now and then, some other small inconsiderate thing would happen. He’d take out his gum, take a piece, “May I have a piece?” “No, there’s only one more left.” But it was never enough to make an issue of.
But you need to know one thing about me: Girl keeps score. A long, running total.
Al's inanities began to escalate. He slowly became more of an acquaintance than a friend, since I realized that his shortcomings were becoming more plentiful. Most people would have been ixnayed from my life by now. But the boy offered something unique, if undefinable.
But when a cool gig came up, no one was more appropriate to accompany me--music, drugs, and art. So, together, Al and I went to a performance of a friend’s goth-rock band at a warehouse art show opening. It was a reasonably wild night on Granville Island, with lights down low, bare mostly unfinished walls mounted with abstract art everywhere, people doing their drugs in the open, and an awful lot of leather.
The night was a pretty ritzy affair with a lot of sleek style on the cheap. It cost a few bucks to get in (far less than it should’ve) and a couple for a beer. Al was on my arm for the night, and we had an awesome time. I paid his way in, as he needed to get some cash at an ATM later.
Later came, and he was about to get the cash. It was $9 that he owed me, and knowing I was chauffeuring him across town, I rounded it up to $10.
He looks at me, furrows his brows, and counts out for the parking and the drink aloud and says, “It adds up to $9. What’s with this nickel-and-diming shit?” In the end, he gives me $10 and says, “You can buy me coffee next time.”
“Yeah, Al, enjoy the fucking two-zone bus ride home." I paused for effect and glared at him. "Or is that $10 looking a little better now?” Needless to say, he got the hint.* * *
Soon after that, my mother died, and Al was the first person I hung out with on the night that I’d gotten the diagnosis: One week to a month before she’d be kissing pine.
I don't know why I chose to hang with Al that night. My other friends, the ones who I cared more for then and still love and have around today, were better confidants. Somehow, I think they'd have made the night seem more real, more permanent, more painful. Some occasions call for an aloof artist with a flighty grasp on reality and sensitivity.
So, me and Al carted a six-pack of fine beer to the top of Little Mountain, cuddled under a blanket and watched a meteor shower, talking about nearly anything but the real deal that would soon become my life. For a short while, it was just like old times.* * *
But like the meteor shower we watched, it'd be a fleeting experience, in more ways than one.
Al was soon more defined by his bullshit than he was by his past. Still, I stayed patient and allowed him more slack than I've probably ever allowed anyone, except a particular ex-lover, who's bound to become one of these stories, too, one day.* * *
A few months later, during a nice quiet evening in with GayBoy, Zsa Zsa,
and her lover hanging out, Al decided it was time to let Zsa Zsa know how he felt about her, regardless of the fact that her longtime partner was present.
Throughout the night, he touched her, sputtered innuendo, leered, and accidentally bumped her every time he could, despite her politely commenting on the sly that she wasn’t appreciative.
Zsa Zsa, as I wrote in my story about her,
was a drama queen in her own right. But she was also a multiple-encounter victim of sexual assault. To have a friend, a flawed friend but a dear friend, feel unsafe and harassed in my home at all
enraged me, but to have it happen on a night when I'd spent a lot of money and effort to try to create a really nice evening for my friends felt like a slap in the face. Last thing you need with me is to piss me off then
offend me about it.
That said, there’s few things I enjoy more than having friends (or a special friend) in, and then spending both my money and my time to do my place up in great fashion and cook an incredible meal to go along with it. But I expect my guests to respect my efforts, to appreciate it and behave in a way fitting of the event.
And that doesn’t include groping chicks who have politely told you to fuck off time and time again.
Naturally, the evening ended on a very shakey note. The next day, I reamed Al out.
“What the fuck were you thinking? You ever touch a chick after she says no in my presence again, you won’t like a fucking thing I have to say about it, let alone what I’ll do
After that, he apologized and said it wouldn’t happen again. I was pretty pissed off, though, and decided not to contact him again for awhile. A cooling off period was needed, as it were.* * *
But then, six months later, Al called again. He was going to Japan soon, had met a chick, was teaching ESL and art, and had just moved to a new place.
“Wow, cool. So I’ll get your number. Let me find something to write wi--”
“So, Steff, do you have any weed I can buy?”
“Like, an eighth, maybe?”
I stopped where I was, and spun around in the center of my living room. Candid camera? Anywhere? No? Hmm. Lacking a human witness, I shot the wall an incredibly baffled look as I dropped my jaw, completely confused.
Now, YOU, dear reader, must think I’m a stark-raving pothead, what with the tales I tell. Truth be told, I’m fairly discreet other than with my friends, and I’m certainly relatively classy about my use. I understand the etiquette. (And yes, there is one.)
At that point, I never sold dope to anyone, ever. At this point, I’ll divvy a larger portion up with friends, but I never mark the price up, ‘cos I don’t want to feel like a dealer. Just ain’t my bag.
But dope is something I’m endlessly generous with. Always have been. Hell, for seven years, I got everything I smoked for free, and I always shared. Chances are, you put foot in my apartment, there’s at least 50% chance you’re getting passed a pipe. Literally. GayBoy would cite it as closer to 95%, in his case, for instance.
And Al knew I was generous. In fact, he’d even taken a juicy bud home with him from time to time. But he knew where my line was.
“Al, I don’t sell dope.”
“You might as well,” he derisively retorted.
I sharply inhaled. Thought for the briefest of seconds. And then I snapped. All the times he’d said asshole things to me came flooding back.
“Yeah, dude, sorry. I’m just a little anal after my time in that Turkish prison. Hardy-har-har. Seriously, I was gonna get a pen and take your number, but fuck that shit. You don’t call someone after six fucking months,
shoot the breeze for sixty seconds (one-sidedly, might I add) and then ask to buy drugs.
"It’s in fucking Miss Manners,
for God’s sake. No, Al, we’re done. Fuck off.”
I violently pressed the “end” button-- (yeah, there’s a lot to be said for the old days: “I slammed the receiver down...”) --and honestly just started laughing. I couldn't stop laughing for about 10 minutes. I felt awesome.* * *
I haven’t spoken to him since.
After all, if you’re in your mid to late-20s and you’re still treating your friends like you did when you were 16? Grow the fuck up.
Deep down, I wouldn’t mind running into Al again. He’s another one of those people that could well get his shit together, and if he did, wow, what a cool guy to know. But the Al I took leave of... just another dick with a style all his own. A shame.* * *
Next on the list for When Friendships Die? Hmm. Likely a guy who called himself “Avatar” (GayBoy's laughing) or Damon, both from long, long ago. Then there's my longtime ex-lover, but he's more of a book on his own. Oh, there’s a slew of ‘em, kids. Keep your sanity: Save the stories, ditch the “friends.”