A friend of mine from high school died a few years ago and left a young kid behind. I didn’t know until their mom popped up on Facebook, even though I’d heard through the grapevine that we ended up coming back sort of near our hometown, at least within 50 miles of one another. I quietly ignored this for years.
Their kid is steamrolling into their teens, is of course adorable and even seems like someone I would thoroughly enjoy chatting with. They friended me on facebook after my friend’s mother, their grandmother, posted some pics of our high school days and referred to me as “their best friend.”
It was news to me. What I remember about this person is that during high school, I got into trouble a lot because they were constantly putting me in situations where I was covering for them. I also remember they cried when I gave them a haircut once. It was the grunge area, but do you have to be that emotionally attached to something that is essentially bodily waste?
They wanted to go out with someone they weren’t allowed to? They told their mom they would be at my house spending the night. I was the one who got busted with my family and got in trouble for it.
I got wrangled into a blind double date when they wanted to go out with an older person, which their mom only allowed if I would go too. I got stuck with their stinky sibling. Seriously, I don’t know how they managed it, but they looked both wet from some sort of contact with soap but moist and slick from sweat too. I spent a lot of time looking down thinking any moment they would start dripping. I tried my best to stay out of arm’s reach, with my head near open windows.
Another time, I’d invited them to go with a couple of us to the nearest and much larger city where there was more to do, common for our area. They had somehow hijacked the evening and we ended up where I wasn’t supposed to be with a bunch of people I didn’t know doing a lot of stuff that I’m sure would be objectionable. If any attention were directed at me, my friend would get pissed and go out of their way to recapture it.
Whenever they were around, I remember a lot of potentially cool but only barely started conversations with the copious amounts of people they wanted to surround themselves with, but only if the attention was completely on them. This is often what I think of when I think of their behavior.
Yes, this person wanted all the limelight, gender didn’t matter but opposite sex was preferred. I wasn’t in awe of them, I wasn’t chasing them either, so I was either a friend, a rival or their tool, depending on the situation.
Not even my full collection of Depeche Mode was safe. They borrowed them, then completely destroyed them. Fucker.
With that said, we did sometimes manage to have real bonding conversations, but there could not be anyone around and no prospect of anyone being there at any point in a 24 hour period.
We became better friends when we both married. They became the only married friends we’d had. I married young so finding people who were also married and relatable was tough. It made for casual weekends playing RPGs (the dice-rolling, tabletop kind, kids) that were actually enjoyable. I liked their spouse a lot and being with them seemed to settle that need to constantly have attention. They loved my friend, but they didn’t dote and gush either. They were a realistic slap, gently, to how things should be more equal.
It didn’t last long, one was in the military and the orders to ship out came soon after they married, but it was wonderful when a couple years later, they called and told us they were having their first kid. I hadn’t thought of them much after that, but hoped things had worked out.
But they didn’t. They split up and my friend ended up with an aggressive brain tumor that killed them. BFG and I have speculated a lot on whether this caused a lot of the bizarre behavior we’d come to know over the years, but at this point its rather pointless.
Now there’s a kid who has friended me on Facebook and any other social media we both use and I know the questions are there. They’re coming. It’s what I would have done if I knew my mom’s classmates. It’s what I imagine Spawn would do if this were us and not them.
The thought terrifies me.
None of this is anything I would ever tell this kid. Maybe that really does make me their best friend. They may not be mine, but I have and will keep their secrets. I guess that’s what a best friend is supposed to do.