Back in December I noted an instance of envy that I had regarding an associate of mine who is the friend of some friends. I noted how my desire to not be envious of friends or acquaintances was an ongoing challenge despite me reaching an internal armistice regarding my singleness. This month, an incident occurred which could have triggered another moment of envy, and I feel I handled it much, much better. It could be a sign that even over the past 7 months, something inside of me has changed for the moment.
This time it doesn’t involve “Skip”, but one of my very best friends I’ve dubbed here as “T”. It was on a day when my talent for nicknames was on the fritz, obviously. I’ve talked about him here and there, including my 2nd base story (which involves his ex). He’s actually one of my oldest friends; he was the friend of a friend from junior high who bonded to me more after we shared a class in high school. T went on to become one of my staunchest pals during my high school and college days; one of the network of 5 or so pals who I saw on a daily and weekly basis. We hung out, watched anime, saw flicks, went to bars and clubs, and RP’d tabletop RPG’s more times than I can count in our youth as part of “the gang”. He briefly went to the same college as I did, but only to earn enough credits to qualify for a police officer. He’s been a cop now for roughly 10 years give or take. Thankfully, aside for a few sprains and strains he’s never gotten seriously injured on the job.
A former “fat kid”, he’s since become a gym monster. He’s won awards for weight lifting at his local gym, and briefly took up Greco-Roman wrestling. I joked at the time, “because your job isn’t violent enough for you”. Deep down he is a bit shy with women, but smothers it with bravado and a lot of boisterousness. He also drinks a lot when he’s off (like a lot of cops I know), and while he’s hardly the biggest stud of the group he’s had his share of girlfriends. He also was usually the one, either due to his face, his muscles, or both, considering the most attractive of us as a group — despite being the shortest (at 5′ 8”). He spent most of his high school and college days having long term relationships with two women, and after those were over he’s had some flings here and there. We share a similar sense of humor and some of the same hobbies and attitudes.
T is a man of contradictions. While he can at times be too honest, he also can be a skilled liar. And while I’ve no doubt he cares for me as a friend, he’s also been the messenger of some esteem sapping statements at awkward times. In the above “2nd base story”, he once drunkenly uttered a line which has stuck with me to this day:
“You wouldn’t know what to do with a girl if one sat on your lap.”
T was also the instigator in a more recent incident representing “the Dark Side of the Internet” a few years back. To recap, at a time when being on Facebook was a new and rare thing for me, he started a topic just before my birthday that year (about 4 years ago). To paraphrase, he asked if anyone knew any “drunken sluts without any standards for his friend who really needs to get laid”. And while nobody tagged me or used my name, to a person every one of my pals and associates who took part in that discussion seemed to know who he meant. A good online in joke was had by all. Complete with a woman I once had a crush on during high school adding, “If it hasn’t happened by now, it probably never will.” It was deleted from Facebook, but not my memory. Ever since, my pals and I have had this unspoken pact to never discuss my love life. While I am certain T meant well, the end result was more honesty regarding what my pals thought of my virginity than I wanted.
So, all this set up, for what? Despite having once urged me to join Facebook to make it easier to stay in touch and plan gatherings, T’s since “unplugged” from the social network. He hasn’t been on any major social media platform for almost 2 years now. Appearances by him at gatherings are even more rare than before. As everyone (but me) marries, has kids, gets a better job, and moves, that happens. This month he made one of his rare appearances at a birthday party for someone in the extended social network. I missed it, but pictures were posted and shared online. One was of him. A woman who had never seen him before posted, “Oh, who is that cutie?” Immediately another one of my pals said something about an introduction. I don’t know if any ever happened, or is in the works. But the gears were in motion.
I can say without a doubt had this happened a year or two back, and especially 5-6 years ago, I would have been envious as hell. After all, out of my entire group of pals, I was the only one who was a virgin after high school (and definitely after college). Out of the lot of us I was never the one any woman liked that way. I hung around them all the time, but their auras and appeal were greater than mine. None of them directly “sabotaged” any of my efforts, nor did they ever help me. Nor I them. We were pretty mercenary, yet if anyone in the group heard that a woman liked one of them, word cycled thru the grape vine quickly. I used to think it was inevitable that I’d be living my life being one of the crew and it’d happen for me. But the law of averages never worked out that way. Among them, at least romantically, I was always just a sexless sidekick. I was their Snarf, Deputy Fuzz, or Orko. Sure, people found me hilarious, but never so much so to take home. At one point during a Super Bowl night at a bar, I was with one of my pals and a woman watching the game and she was flirting to his face, and he didn’t notice; I had to tell him later. There were no end of nights throughout my youth and adulthood where I was frustrated, galled, and depressed over the ability of T and my other pals being that magnetically appealing to women without seeming to need to try.
This time? I was happy for him. I thought, “Go figure” or something like that, and that was it. There was no caveat, no sustained period of envy this time. Maybe it’s from a place of acceptance. Maybe it’s from a place of maturity. Who knows. All I know is that this time around, I won my bout with envy. There was no angst or fleeting moment of frustration. The ladies always love T. Even ones who weren’t even in the party with him. It’s just a fact. Nothing worth getting upset over.
Nick, who was in the last envy bout, has also gone on at least one or two dates, and posed some more about being checked out. With him I perhaps got more envious because he posts a lot of anti-feminist, he-man style macho stuff on his feed and has some toxic beliefs and unresolved issues with women. He literally feels any guy who is a feminist is trying to suck up for tail. He’s a postal worker and another buff guy with slick, gelled hair. They’re what women want. That’s not me nor has it ever been, and that’s not worth wasting emotions on for the moment.
I used to lament being the funny sidekick of the gang. Now I at least see it for what it is. I may not be thrilled, but it doesn’t have to make me miserable. And being envious of friends or associates is no way to be. I’m glad that this time around, I didn’t blink. This era of acceptable, or at least giving fewer damns, certainly has felt nice.