|The Satan Gekko|
I learned a long time ago that people, especially lunatic fringes, have firmly entrenched behavior and patterns. When a lunatic fringe pulls numbers on friends, let me tell you, you're not immune. There's 100% probability you'll be next.
So, it wasn't surprising in the least when I received a phone call the other day from my dear friend, Art, about a mutual acquaintance, Caraway.
"She cut me off at the knees," he complained. "Just because I didn't do something her way. Hell, I saved her a fortune, but no thanks, no gratitude. Just this. You'd think she'd show more respect after twenty-five years!"
I sighed. "Honestly, I'm surprised your friendship lasted this long."
Mine with Caraway lasted almost eight years of brief encounters that always left me with a moue of distaste. Eight years trying to boss me around, snide remarks, pride for accomplishing nothing in life, malapropisms and basic ignorance. At that point in time, I knew my lunatic fringes and kept them at a distance. Except we lived in the same co-op building and were Board members along with Art. We had to co-exist. Outside of this scenario, there was no fucking way a person like that would be in my life.
Until I realized she was my sister's doppelganger.
Underneath the nasty, sarcastic, greedy, manipulative, hoarding, self-centered exterior was a warm person who cares. Or so I believed. Hell, I believed the same of my sister only to find at the age of 47 she chose to cut me out of her life. Talk about a bitter pill! And here I went down the same path with another of Satan's spawns. But this time, with my eyes wide open.
I asked Art, "Why are you friends with Caraway?"
"She's on the same page as us about the building," he stated. Curious, he asked, "Why are you friends with her?"
"She's exactly like my sister. This is an opportunity for me to figure out whether I could've done anything in the past which wouldn't end up the way it did. Honestly, if I had my druthers, I would've ditched Caraway from the get-go."
Caraway and I had not much in common outside of our age and dedication to our building. For she ruled her home the way she ruled her life, her friend, her whipped husband and neighbors: like a syphilitic dictator with a heavy hand, shitty attitude and implicit threats. Just like my sister.
I tolerated Caraway in limited doses and knew one day there'd be a breaking point. What surprised me was how long it took. Nearly eight fucking years! Until I drove her one time to Costco. She wailed about the $14 round-trip cab fare, yet never offered a fucking penny for gas. Instead, she offered usage of her Costco card as a form of reciprocity.
Let me tell you, I don't need Costco: I live alone and don't require humongous amounts of food which will rot or get dusty in the pantry. I used her Costco card to stockpile toilet paper and paper towels to last nearly a year and some meat to freeze.
At the check-out counter, the young woman working there asked, "Is that your mother," and pointed at Caraway.
I was insulted. My mother was a beautiful woman, not this ugly wretch of a human being. I corrected her, "No, a friend."
Right at that moment, I turned around and caught the look on Caraway's face.
Aha! The breaking point. All it took was ONE trip to Costco!
Thanks a million, Costco! Where the hell have YOU been for eight years?
Later, Art phoned me. "Why don't you apologize to Caraway? It's so sad. You two knew each other for years."
"Apologize for what?" I yelled. "I did nothing. I can't help she's a mess and looks forty years older than me!" Then, I got agitated. "Fuck her. She's just angry at herself and projecting it onto me."
That's when I recalled a similar incident which occurred with my sister. It had nothing to do with me and everything to do with me which accounted for why she never liked me thereafter. No matter what I did, she resented and despised me. Aha! Finally closure.
The end of my one-sided friendship with Caraway didn't hurt or wound me. Instead, I felt relieved not to walk on eggs around another loser, something I did with my sister. Because I don't get why I should. Why I should bother. At all. My interest in any aspect concerning my sister and Caraway dissipated.
Numerous times I warned Art, "One of these days, she's going to put the kabosh on you as she did to me."
Did he listen? Nope.
Four years went by and sure enough, Caraway pulled a number on him. It didn't surprise me. Art felt used and hurt that by doing her a favor, she would react in such an insulting way. But I knew better.
Which leads to a side topic. The other day, my closest and dearest friend, Michelle, asked, "Have you seen the movie, The Vow?" In the past two years, I hardly watched any movies due to my neurological deafness. Being a kind, compassionate friend, Michelle turned the volume low while we sat like pashas on her plush sofas.
After the first few minutes, I asked, "Wait - is this a romance?"
"Yes," she said. "Based on a true story."
Disappointed, I said, "Oh, I thought it was going to be a horror film."
Nevertheless, the plot was impressive: A woman, as a result of a car accident, lost all memories of the last five years of her life. During those five years, she made monumental, life-changing decisions that led to a new career as an artist and marriage. After her recuperation, without regaining her memory, she left her husband and picked up her life from where it stopped five years' earlier. Only to make the same decisions all over which led to reuniting and falling in love again with her husband.
Little did I know this was a fictionalized version of reality. Even so, the concept put my mind at ease. I was always plagued with the 'what ifs': what if I never entered banking, but pursued my dream of writing a novel thirty years earlier? What if I married So and so? What if I got a job overseas? What if I said something else that didn't cause a rupture? What if the exorcism was effective and my sister was no longer possessed by the Devil?
If I had a chance to redo my life, I knew with certainty I'd still go down the same road, burning bridges, sleeping with toxic men, having my heart ripped out by too many adverse circumstances only to wind up an impoverished and eccentric novelist at this late stage. These were my choices all along. Perhaps free will may not be so free after all and we're all wired to a certain degree.
The Caraway Involvement is a line of demarcation where I clearly saw heavy-handed manipulation and amateur hour mind-fucking. It became evident that, insofar as lunatic fringes go, my involvement or participation isn't required. Similar to me, they're wired as well and no doubt have gone down the same roads repeatedly.
I recounted all this to Michelle right after the movie. To torment me further, she then cued up Soul Surfer.
"Is this a horror film?" I asked.
"No, it's an inspirational film about Bethany Hamilton, a teen-age surfer whose arm was bitten off by a shark."
Need I say any more?
# # #