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Tuesday, 24 May
One Adam Twelve, See The Asshole

The wife and I were hanging around the apartment on Friday night, not having much of a plan at all; maybe a movie later? I had noticed earlier that the evening's offerings included Closer, which I am profoundly uninterested in seeing (see also Garden State. This is known as the Natalie Portman Effect, where movies I would normally take a chance on become fatally poisoned by the presence of this willowy weirdmouth schmactress.) However, I also saw that the movie Elektra was playing, and my interest was piqued: this is the kind of obviously ghastly movie that my brain eats like dark candy.

But then a phone call came for the wife. It was from our friend J. And she had been foully dumped, out of the blue, by her boyfriend of some months. She was sobbing horribly--a sensible reaction when a loved one decides to move that adjective into verb past tense--and was also terribly concerned about cigarettes. "I think I'm going to smoke!" She had quit a few months ago with good success, but there's nothing like extreme emotional stress to get your brain to start playing funhouse mirrors with your sense of priorities. The wife of course made immediate plans to go over to her place to comfort her, while I, being a man, made plans of my own involving deep cover. Occasions like these are not exactly times when the male perspective is welcomed.

I made myself comfortable in my chair after the wife had rushed out. I figured this was going to take some time, and probably a not inconsiderable amount of drinking (and, of course, attendant hellish introspection, reflexive self-loathing, sudden vituperative skyward howls, etc.). At least, that's what I've always done.

Time ticked off idly while I watched SportsCenter for a while, and I took a savage kind of flagellant joy in seeing virtually all of my fantasy baseball players performing as if they had belladonna suppositories forced up their rectums, or perhaps just falling to sniper fire as they emerged sulkily from their dugouts. I'll trade all you dirty fuckers, I seethed inside. I'll trade you for beanies. Then I'll be the Beanie Guy, the guy who walks around wearing nothing but beanies, and people will point and hiss, "It's Beanie Guy! He drafted Scott Rolen and David Wells! And now he walks around in beanies!" And other people will say, "I just wish he'd wear pants." So, you know, guy thoughts.

And then the phone rang. It was the wife. "Listen, we all need to eat. You want to meet us on Broadway for a bite?" I squeaked a little. "She's okay," said the wife, reading me easily. "Come on, meet us." I glanced at the clock. I was pretty hungry, and it was getting a bit late. "Okay," I said.

I should point out that I don't write any of this to poke fun at J. I think we all know that being dumped is really one of life's shittier things, and I feel badly for her. So it's not to mock her that I write anything--that would be pretty cruel. But there are certain near-universals when it comes to Sudden Relationship Oh-Fucks. There just are.

J. was obviously a little drunk, and hey, you go girl. "I'm drunk," she announced unnecessarily. "And I'm going to get drunker." "I support your endeavor," I intoned gravely. I made a mental note to make sure J. didn't pay for a goddamn thing that night, because nobody should have to lift a finger for anything in these situations.

If I was on edge meeting up with them, the feeling dissipated shortly--happily (for me), J. wasn't in a generic Death to Men mode. Well, maybe one man. The ensuing conversation--broken here and again with drink orders--consisted mainly of circular, searching self-questioning peppered with the occasional spate of deeply unkind comments regarding the guy in question, which were inevitably volleyed back by the wife and I with loose variants on the phrase "He's an asshole!" Because there are rules. One rule is: the dumped person is allowed--nay, encouraged--to voice the most venemous possible things about the other party. Another rule is: As the friend, it is your duty to vigorously agree with these assessments, regardless of whether you have any idea as to their veracity. Because they are your friend, and they are hurt, and people who hurt your friends are, until some sort of irrefutable evidence comes along to suggest otherwise (and frequently not even then), fucking assholes.

So. Fucking asshole indeed. J. was, I must say, more composed than I have been in past similar situations; whether this was due to our steadfast reliance on the "He's an asshole!" tack, or her inner reserves, or the numbing amount of alcohol we were consuming is anyone's guess. In the end, we walked her home, of course, despite her assertions that she was fine. Sorry, nobody is fine on nights like that, and fuck walking home alone. Her cat was there at her apartment to greet us, perfectly outraged at being left alone for a few hours and vocal about it. I unkindly guessed it was a male cat.

So, J.'s former boyfriend: Boy, are you stupid.

So, J.' cat: Cut her some slack and lie quietly on her tummy.

So, Beanie Guy: Get over Scott Rolen. And put on some pants.

But most of all, J.: He's a fucking asshole.

There are rules.


Note: Comments are closed on old entries.

Comments

You're my hero. That.Is.All.

Comment number: 005791   Posted by: Kate on May 24, 2005 09:39 AM from IP: 161.114.32.113

God, that takes me back to the dark days of my last breakup. It's years later and I'm still grateful to my friends who got my shitfaced and screamed 'he's a f*cking as*hole' with me all night.

Thanks for being that guy.

Comment number: 005792   Posted by: Space Kitty on May 24, 2005 11:11 AM from IP: 66.194.2.9

There is another factor of being a breakup buddy that might be worth mentioning, music. I remember after an epic breakup years ago, a music junkie friend of mine Ed, sat me on the floor of his apartment with a bottle of Jamesons and played all the right songs for me for over an hour.

Tough breakups are like having your shell ripped off. Youíre hypersensitive and totally receptive to anything around you that rings a note of empathy. Iíve never appreciated those songs again like I did that day nor have I never enjoyed wallowing in my own self pity with quite such relish. As silver linings go, thatís got to be worth something.

Cheers Ed.

Comment number: 005793   Posted by: Lung the Younger on May 25, 2005 02:43 AM from IP: 80.58.34.109

I'm experiencing the same instinctive aversion to 'Garden State', despite my deep and abiding love for all things Zach and Braff. I explain tbe Portman Phenomenon this way: everyone loved her in 'The Professional', right? She was great in 'The Professional'! She was a hell of an actor for a twelve-year-old! Problem is, she's STILL a hell of an actor for a twelve-year-old. Her acting style has altered not one whit. Watch 'The Professional' and then 'Closer' back to back and you'll see what I mean. Or instead, preserve your sanity take my word for it.

Comment number: 005794   Posted by: Robin on May 25, 2005 06:02 AM from IP: 62.253.198.169

It's very cool that you know the friend rules. Good stuff.

Comment number: 005795   Posted by: Tasty (Stacey) on May 25, 2005 08:08 AM from IP: 40.0.40.10

I have to agree with the assessment of Natalie Portman. She's just not interesting enough to play herself over and over in everything. I couldn't stayawakefor Closer. Tried watching it several times and kept falling asleep. Tis a shame as I would have loved to get a good dose of Clive Owen but couldn't endure the movie long enough to see him. As for Garden State-I Loved it but I love the soundtrack even more.
Oh and yes Skot you are also my hero.

Comment number: 005796   Posted by: LilyL on May 26, 2005 06:01 AM from IP: 24.35.17.78

Skot, you rock. Thanks for knowing the rules.

J.

Comment number: 005797   Posted by: J. on June 4, 2005 12:54 PM from IP: 63.231.51.16

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