Jul 24, 2013

Past lives

I ran into a guy that I used to know yesterday.  I won't go so far as to actually say that we were friends, although for a time we probably were. But it was more of a "drinking buddy" sort of relationship. We lived/worked in the same town and hit the same joints. It wasn't a great time in either of our lives, so we definitely spent way too much time and money in bars.

We would occasionally get together for golf or something, but he wasn't the kind of friend that I would invite into my home or set my sister up with. Just a guy that I knew who was sometimes fun to be around. Sometimes he wasn't fun to be around. Like when he got too drunk and developed the superpower to start bar brawls. That's not my gig.

One day he ran afoul of some legal trouble and he needed some money. Despite my better judgment, I lent him some even though I had real doubt about his ability to pay me back. Basically, to borrow from a scene in A Bronx Tale, I calculated the amount of money I could afford to part with for deducting someone from my life who I really didn't need or want. It worked too. Over the next year or so, I would run into him and he would either slip me some cash or sheepishly make an excuse to get going. Sometimes I would see him buying drinks for folks at bars and I would just turn a cold shoulder.

Although he paid me back a large portion of what he borrowed, he never settled the full tab. He moved a few towns away and I heard some stuff about him here and there. I even ran into him once or twice in the ensuing years. Mostly just a "howyadoin" moment. Or I would see him first and go the other way. Maybe he saw me too and did the same thing. I have no idea. I know that it was or it seemed uncomfortable for both of us.

But yesterday, there was no avoiding it. We were on top of each other before we realized it and there was no way around it. And you know what? After a brief hesitation, I had no bad feelings about him at all. He seemed to be doing well and I'm happy for him. We caught up for maybe two minutes, then I excused myself and went on my way. I don't know if he remembers that he never quite paid me back fully, or if he even cares. All I know is that I didn't care anymore.

I told him to "have a good one" before we parted ways. Mostly, between friends, that means have a good day. Maybe until the next time you see them. But I meant it as have a good life, because I hope he does.

He's gone from a guy that I actively avoided to just a guy that I used to know. I'd like to think that's a healthier way of dealing with...life.


Verdant Earl said...

PS - No, I didn't run into Slyde yesterday. :)

SK Waller said...

It's a powerful lesson that when we become a lender we are just as chained to the borrower as they are to us. I have a friend who has owned me $750 for over a year. I've already pretty much written it off because I don't want to carry weight that around anymore. What hurts me isn't that he hasn't tried to pay me back, but that I see his discomfort and pain when our circle of friends is together. He never really joins in and has fun anymore, and that's tragic.

Mrs. Hall said...

as a general rule, when i give money, i never expect it back. and i don't get upset if they spend that money i gave them for rent/food/diapers on booze or somesuch. because it's just money and i gave it.

that's probably why i don't give money out though. last time i gave money was some 18 years ago.

Verdant Earl said...

SK & Holly - what I wanted to stress, but maybe didn't stress enough, is that I was willing to part with the money as a trade off for having him out of my life. Yet it still used to bother me. Not anymore. I'm done with ill feelings, hopefully.

Slyde said...

i TOLD you that i'd fucking pay you back...

stop being a dick

Anonymous said...

Fuck that guy! Here's your life metaphor, "Ask for help if you need it. Offer help if someone else needs it. And fer fooksakes repay your debt!" Whatta cunt!

Verdant Earl said...

Slyde - I said it wasn't you. (this time)

Anon - Word to live by. Respect.

Poppy said...

I enjoyed this post. You're a good egg, which I knew already.

Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst with everyone in life then they can't let you down. It's definitely way healthier to wish everyone well than to dwell on which of our expectations people don't live up to. :)