Monday, February 7, 2011

I was blown off. By my best friend.

About five years ago when I started graduate school I went on a date with a girl I met in a class. I thought she was pretty cute and she was the first Iranian-American girl I had met who was also getting a PhD in the humanities. Well, we chat in class the first couple weeks and decide we should get a drink. The night we end up going out, things are going fine, but we run into one of the people in her department (she studied English, I study Comparative Literature), a short Asian guy named Mike who in not very long becomes my best friend in the Bay Area. We get invited to sit with him and his good friend and said good friend’s girlfriend. I get a pitcher of beer, and all of us but my date start pounding away (she was sipping), laughing and having a great time. At this point my date kind of nudges me and gives me the look that, hey, we should go to another bar. I reluctantly agree, but I exchange numbers with Mike having learned that he lives in my building, likes beer and also has to read an inordinate number of books all the time.

The date itself ends up with an anti-climactic blow off.

What did come out of it though was a best friend. Looking back on it, Mike and I would crack up as to how Seinfeld the moment at the bar was with us drinking beers and cracking up while she just kind of sat there. But! This story, like all Blow Off stories, does not have a happy ending. So, stick with me.

See, Mike and I became ridiculously close. Like I said, grad school in the humanities can be really lonely since there are thousands and thousands of pages to read and an equally ridiculous number of pages to write. And Mike and I basically compensated for that by reading together all the time. It was a nice way to push each other to get shit done and it made food breaks and the requisite procrastination a lot more fun. Over time, we started hanging out more and more to the point where even if you didn’t know we were friends, you could just tell we were by the fact that we talked the same way (this sounds weird, but those of you who’ve had a friend like this know what I’m talking about).

We moved to another building and became roommates. Then I moved just down the hall from him in the same building and into my own unit. Five years later we still live just a few doors away from each other. For the longest time our day would basically start with one of us calling the other in the morning to go get some food and get to work, and would end with a late night TV session before Mike would leave to go back to his own room and go to sleep. We both had other friends, but rarely would we hang out with them without the other around (this led to some of my family actually thinking that I was gay...not cool fam, not cool).

Mike and I bored taking pictures*
About nine months ago Mike got into what was apparent from the beginning would be a very serious relationship. The girl (Allison) is a bit older than him, and he admitted that he liked her far more for her personality than for her looks – a clear signal that long-term was in the picture. Well, sure enough, as they start hanging out more and more, we start hanging out less and less. No big deal. This was to be expected. But given that she works in the middle of the week, weekends of just hanging out as guys very immediately get left out the picture. Now, this was more or less understandable, but I expected Mike to give more of an effort to set at least some weekend nights aside to just chill with the guys. When I’d talk to him, he’d agree, but the only time this would happen would be when she was out of town. Otherwise, it was always me being invited as the third leg to some lame event where almost everyone was already a couple. Boring....

Not long after, even the one night we’d hang out in the middle of the week disappeared too, as he started spending every night of the week at her house. Sure there’d be the requisite lunch once a week or so, but this wasn’t just any friend. This was someone who lived down the hall, and with whom I had spent everyday with for quite a few years and now I was relegated to a courtesy lunch and invites to couple’s parties. Ummm...wtf? One week, I shit you not, after flaking on me two nights in a row to hang out with Allison (because she was in a funk and "thinking" about quitting her job) he called and apologized and invited me to go Christmas tree shopping with them over the weekend (I’m serious folks, he invited me to go Christmas tree shopping!).

Ugh...I decline, but we make plans to hang out the following week. This is when shit goes down.

[If happy endings are your thing I suggest you stop reading now]

Now, before coming out he texts asking if Allison can come since she’s still feeling sensitive over “thinking about” quitting her job (yes, it’s been over a week that this thinking has messed with over three nights worth of our plans) and I respond that while I love Allison and think she’s a great girl, it obviously won’t be the same, but that if he wants to bring her along it’d be cool. He ends up arriving at like 10:15, about 45 minutes later than we had planned, but says that Allison was too tired and was going to sleep, so she didn’t come. Well, about an hour into us hanging out he gets a call from her telling him to come in quietly when coming back to the apartment since she would be asleep. When I learn of this I get a bit upset, telling him that if he were going back to her place that night it would mean that I’d have to leave SF in the next 30 minutes to get back to Berkeley, since BART (public transport) would stop running. He responds really casually saying, “Ya, ok that works”.

Remember, this was my best fucking friend, and after a month of not having hung out, he’s totally cool with us just sharing a pity beer. I thought for sure we’d make a night out of it, get drunk, stay up late, maybe smoke some weed and watch T.V. –you know, standard shit you do with a best friend you haven’t seen in forever. I couldn’t believe he was so cavalier about things --us hanging out had totally become a courtesy appearance for him.

At this point, I straight up told him that I couldn’t believe that he was willing to bail on the rest of the night like that. He came up with some shit about how he would come to Berkeley to hang out (remember, he lives down the hall) and just drive back to the city after, but that still totally missed the mark. How the hell was he going to drive if we were going to be drinking? “I’ll figure it out”, he said. At best, that’s his code word for drinking and driving (which he does all the time). At worst, it means, I’ll have another courtesy beer and then leave. And even more importantly, for me, it was about how indifferent he was about ending the night so early when I first mentioned it. I told him that I considered him my best friend and that he wasn’t getting the point. It wasn’t about forcing him to hang out; I actually expected him to want to hang out. And I wanted him to consider our friendship important enough for him to be willing to explain to his girlfriend (who is eminently reasonable) that he just wouldn’t be able to be there for her the next morning and she’d just have to go to work without seeing him for the 20 minutes during which she gets dressed (she was going to be asleep when he came back that night anyway!).

At a certain point, I realized that I was fighting a losing battle. The reality was that I was hurt that he wasn’t willing to take those steps himself. It really wasn’t about convincing him to do anything in particular that night. Realizing that—as much as it hurt—really calmed me down. And I told him that I’d always consider him a friend, but that if he really wasn’t understanding why I was fed up, our friendship would just become kind of superficial. He got super pissed in response, saying that he always offered me to hang out with the two of them (including mentioning how he asked me to go Christmas tree shopping with them the previous weekend) and that he felt that I was making him choose between Allison and me. “Omg, you’re so unbelievably selfish!” he yelled.

And what did he do then?

He bolted.

Not a goodbye. Nothing. He just left.

Ten minutes later, I sent him the following text. A little passive aggressive, for sure, but I didn’t know what else to say:

Hey Mike, no biggie about tonight. I wish you hadn’t stormed out like that, but we just see things differently. Anyways, have a good night. I’ll see you around.

That was two months ago.

I haven’t heard from him since...


*[Disclaimer: I don't usually look as handsome as I do in that picture]

3 comments:

  1. this kind of stuff makes me so mad! those of you that read this blog regularly know i have a pet peeve about people who only have time for friends between relationships.

    Inevitably, we all know it's harder to spend as much time with friends when we're dating someone--- like you said O., it's to be expected. BUT there needs to be some kind of balance, especially when it comes to best friends. It sounds like Mike doesn't really have other dudes he needs to make time for, so grabbing beers once a week shouldn't be that big of a deal. In the end, people that spend every minute of free time with their significant other are co-dependent. maybe mike may have been a little co-dependent on you too, but eventually found someone else to take on that role.

    anyway, it's refreshing to know that dudes get annoyed about this shit too and it's not just us girls that get into fights with friends.

    finally, note to people in relationships: inviting your friend to come along on a date with your significant other does not count as making time to hang out with them. No one likes hanging out with a couple let alone going christmas tree shopping with them.

    i hope mike and allison break up.

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  2. Really, the whole thing with Mike infuriates me too now. I thought at some point I'd just hit him up and be like, "Hey, this is dumb, let's just forget about it", but I can't see myself doing that anymore, especially after he made no effort to contact me post fight-night text. In a way, I actually can't believe it. Even if it was all my fault, you would think that just by virtue of the fact that he has someone he's "replaced" me with, he would do the courtesy stretching of the hand. I don't even know if I could play it cool and just be friendly if I were to run into him in the hall --a part of me really hates him now.

    On the plus side, I've become a lot closer with a bunch of my other friends out here, so at least that's been nice.

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  3. You have every right to be pissed and I wouldn't reach out to him or be friendly if you see him. I really think that his relationship with the girl will implode and then he's going to eat crow and contact you, in which case you will have to tell him to fuck off. Glad you are hanging out more with other friends there, that's definitely the silver lining!

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