I shot a friendship in its foot. It was a classic case of homicide. I planned it, went armed with carefully constructed sentences aimed to maim if not kill, I took aim when least expected and fired. I imagined the friendship would cry out like a wounded animal or flap its tail helplessly and struggle to stay alive. But no, it just smiled and said – No problem darling. Whatever you are comfortable with, I’m always there for you. And just like that, the friendship flipped over on its side and I suppose it died.
I met him 3 years ago; we worked together on a project. We lost touch really quickly that time – a direct result of really having nothing in common between us. We met again a year ago at the most unlikely of places – he came in to the practice to get some work done on his teeth. He was obviously more in need of a friend this time around – he started calling regularly, he messaged me good morning every morning, he invented exciting things for me to do (specifically involving movies, Thai food, lots of cola spiked or otherwise, drives, random flattery and stories of his advertising world – I am susceptible to all of these and not necessarily in this particular order!).
We still had nothing in common. We didn’t have great conversations - mostly I spoke and he didn’t listen very well. The few moments that our conversations actually showed sparks of depth in it, we would quickly kill it lest it became a regular thing. The friendship initially hung by a very fragile thread and then slowly became something more tenacious - Habit. But what a habit it was – we spoke of nothing, every single day.
He would say – So what’s happening?
I would tell him.
His only reply would be – So what else is happening? (Though sometimes when he was feeling
creative he would vary it by saying – You’re crazy.)
And I would tell him some more.
He would always end by saying – Lovely, lovely – irrespective of what I told him.
That was the sum total of our conversations, except when the tables were turned and he complained about life and I got my sadistic chance at saying “Lovely”. Yet he called or messaged no matter where in the world he was. And I do have to thank him for some outstanding gifts.
No one in his life knew I existed – not his family or friends. I was his escape from the inane. I was the bubbly cheer that made him feel good about himself and pulled him up from the quicksand of his negativity (his words, not mine and in a rare moment of introspection). I gave him job advice (he didn’t need it), I gave him house hunting tips (he did need it), I gave him relationship advice (he said he didn't need it but I didn't know a person who needed it more). Mostly I just gave him my shoulder to moan on.
We stayed friends for a year. In a friendship that was by turns symbiotic, infuriating and frustrating, one that threatened to morph into something else or nothing at all. Or worse, one that would be at a stand still for the rest of our lives, unable to go back, yet refusing to budge ahead. And thus, one fine afternoon I shot it and walked away.
It’s been 1 month now. I’m ashamed to say I don’t miss it much. I guess there is nothing to miss when there is nothing to cherish. I do miss the convenience of it but when was friendship ever supposed to be convenient.
Some days I wonder if I should call and say – how are you? Because I do care. But then what? Relive history again? I don’t even know if my aim to kill will be as good the next time around.