When I was younger, I had a best friend named Perry. He was a buddy for close to twenty-five years. What killed our friendship? I found out that he was doing nasty things to me that until then I chalked up to coincidence.
The demise began when he announced he was getting married. We had been sharing a place so I knew everything he did. This included going out with the same woman for close to ten years while he was actively pursuing the dating of others. At the time, I didn’t understand why he was so two-faced. If he didn’t think he could make a go of it with the steady, why not just end it?
This was also during the 1970’s and 80’s when it was still considered not so kosher to be living “in sin” with the opposite sex openly. He was always talking to her on the phone in his room with the door locked in a quiet tone so I could not overhear. They’d go out on a weekend night. Whichever one they didn’t, he would go out with someone else the other night.
We were watching Hill Street Blues and as soon as it was over, he told me he had something important to say. I told him to go ahead. He said, “you gotta move out.” I asked why. He replied, “’cause I’m getting married.” I was dumbfounded. I stupidly asked him, “to whom?” He told me, “to Juanita.” I said, “you’re crazy. All you ever do is fight with her? Why now?”
He said that he had to try it or he would regret not knowing if could work out. I told him that it was not like buying a pair of shoes and returning them if you didn’t like them or they didn’t fit right. Especially, if they had already been worn. (Don’t go there.)
He said that he understood but that he had to legitimize the ten year adventure or it was all just a joke. I had to move out as his name was on the property. That’s another thing- I knew it was a mistake because Perry was a cheapskate. Juanita was also thrifty- but with her own money, not other people’s.
Next thing I knew, they were getting married and I remember wanting to step up at the wedding ceremony and declare that I had a good reason that they should not. But, they got hitched and definitely did not live happily ever after.
Juanita had been trained over the years of their courtship never to talk to me. If I answered Perry’s phone because it incessantly rang when he wasn’t home, invariably I would hear a click as soon as my voice spoke a greeting. I knew it was her.
Now that they were married, she started calling me regularly to complain about Perry’s bad habits. Like it’s my fault. She couldn’t talk to him but she could tell me. And I heard what I always knew- that he was a cheap S.O.B. who almost had a heart attack when she wanted to re-do the furniture and re-paint the walls.
Then, Perry started calling me and telling me how she was nuts and making it all up and just to forget about it. All of a sudden, I was in the middle and didn’t really want to be. It got worse. She then let it all out and told me about all the devious tricks he had played on me, especially using her as a participant, to drive me crazy.
That was the last straw to our friendship and to their marriage. Jaunita remarried about a year later to another guy better suited to her temperament. I haven’t talked to Perry in twenty five years and that’s okay by me.
My grandmother used to say, “there is no such thing as a best friend. Your mother is your best friend.” Maybe she was right. But, then again my grandmother once said to me, “Do you like coffee?” I said, “yah”. (At the time, I used to drink it. Not anymore, though.) She replied, “Ah, it’s a shame, you don’t know what you’re missing.”
And then there was the time my grandmother saw my brother eating pizza and asked him what it was. He said, “pizza.” She said, “oh, I never had it. Can I try it?” So he gave her a piece and she said, “not bad.”
The next day, she saw him eating pizza again. She said, “what is that?” He said, “pizza.” She said, “oh, I never had any. Can I try it?” So he gave her a piece again.
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