Since I joined up, MySpace has afforded me the chance to get in touch with old friends, old loves and answer a heck of a lot of surveys which all seem to want to know my favorite beverage (Diet Coke with lime), whether I’ve been kissed today (yup) and if I someday want to get married (liked it so much I did it twice). My most recent MySpace connection is my best friend from high school.
She sent me an email with her phone number telling me to give her a call if I wanted to talk. I had nothing to do last Wednesday, so I rang her up. We ended up chatting for over two hours. About half of the conversation was catching up on our jobs, families and who we still keep in touch with/back home gossip. The other half of the conversation was devoted to stories about her ex-husband. Saying she’s harboring some resentment is probably the nicest way I can put it. It’s fair to say she’s a smidge bitter. Actually it’s probably more accurate to say she’d be happy if some angry villagers tied him to a tree, covered him in honey and let ants devour him. Not the little ants we have around here either, I’m talking the big scary African ants that really can gorge themselves on human flesh.
Normally I’m not a big supporter of bitterness towards exes. While my break-ups have never really been pleasant at the time, they haven’t left me feeling hostile, just really, really sad. With time the sadness passes and I move on. I’m still friends with most of my former loves. K and I get along great. Todd stayed with me in Muncie. I saw James a few years after we broke up and he invited me over and we hung out for awhile. Even crazy T and I parted on pretty good terms once the neurotic 2 am phone calls stopped. I make the exception in the case of my friend though. Her ex-husband is a bad, bad man.
I don’t say this lightly. There are very few people in this world that I despise. Most people who annoy me or make me angry I chose to avoid. I don’t waste time or energy loathing them. Again, for him I bend my rules. Then again, I never had to live with most people who bother me.
During my sophomore year of college, K and I decided to move off campus. In order to better afford an apartment, we signed a lease with my best friend and him. He was a friend of K’s and I didn’t know him very well. I have few regrets in my life, but signing that lease is one of them. I won’t go into all the atrocious details, I’ll just give some of the highlights. One day he decided to film a movie in our apartment. He didn’t tell either K or I about it, so we’d rented Young Einstein and were curled up on our couch watching it. He and all his friends came in about thirty minutes into the movie. He told us that they’d start filming in a few minutes and since they’d be filming all over the apartment, including the front room, he needed us either to leave or stay in our room for the next several hours. My jaw fell open in disbelief. K, not wanting to cause a fight, shoved me into our bedroom where we stayed for several hours. They never even filmed anything in the living room.
Another time after a party where someone threw a befouled piece of toilet paper into the trash instead of into the toilet, he refused to believe any of his drunken friends could have done it and accused K or I. We told him it wasn’t us, but he insisted it had to be. He went to the store, bought a piece of poster board and made a diagram with both pictures and caustic directions telling us how to properly use and dispose of toilet paper. When I took it down and threw it away, he dug it out of the trash, put it back up and told me I better not throw it away again. Of course, I did.
My favorite story though, the one that takes the absolute cake, happened not too long before they moved out. In order to class the hovel we lived in up for potential tenants, our landlord added a rather nice new cabinet. It was completely out of place with everything else in the apartment that was stained, moldy or falling apart, but since we were lacking space and sharing a cabinet, I was ok with it. I figured that in order to avoid any food confusion I would move all of our stuff into the new cabinet and leave all of their stuff in the old one. I figured the childish food labeling might be able to end then. Now, I told my friend what I was doing and she was fine with it. He was in the bathroom taking a shower. She went in there to talk to him, I’m not exactly sure about what, but apparently the cabinet switching came up. He came storming out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel, screaming at me. He wanted to know what the hell I was doing and who told me I could move anything in the apartment without his permission. When I reminded him that I lived there and could move things if I wanted to, he called me a fucking cunt and demanded I take half of our things out of the cabinet and put half of theirs in it and then move my displaced half back into the other cabinet with the rest of their stuff.
Needless to say, when they moved out in May to go live with his mom, I was thrilled. I didn’t even care that we had a lease until August and there was a very real possibility we’d have to come up with their rent. I was just glad he was gone. As much as our next roommate drove me crazy by constantly mooching food, using my pans to do his dishes and then letting the mac and cheese leftovers congeal in them (and then try slipping them into my dish pile), as far as I was concerned, he could have won the best damn roommate ever award.
Somehow K managed to stay friends with him, although once he moved out he was never invited back into my home again. I had to see him from time to time, and out of respect for my friend, I was always polite. She and I drifted apart because I couldn’t stomach him or the way he talked down to her and treated her more like a pet than a wife. When she found out several years later that he’d been cheating on her, I tried to be there for her. It was a pretty messy break-up and a long divorce. At one point he actually told her that he’d never really loved her at all, that he was just using her to pass the time. Then when the girl he was cheating on her with hesitated about their relationship he turned back up at my friend’s door professing his love and devotion.
The last time I had the misfortune of seeing him was at a show. My husband was in a band with K and he opened for them. Still the ultimate asshole, his set was full of nothing but joke songs. One of them was about my friend. It’s a disgusting little ditty about how she was so stupid not to know he was cheating on her and how he gave her old lingerie to his new girl. His songs weren’t funny. They were misogynistic and made him look like the true prick he is. I know, I’m obviously biased, but I wasn’t the only one in the crowd who thought so. The only ones who seemed to be clapping for him were his students from Ivy Tech and I’m pretty sure they were trying to suck up.
For along time I was very angry at her for letting him treat me the way she did. I felt she should have stood up for me when he attacked me and put me down. She and K were always about trying to defuse the situation in a non-hostile manner, which might have made living together a bit more bearable, but made me feel like they didn’t care enough about me to tell him he couldn’t call me names.* Looking back though, I think I understand her a little better. She was in love with a bad, bad man, and didn’t have enough self-confidence to stick up for herself. I’m glad she’s found someone new who she seems really happy with. She’ll never be rid of him though because they have a son. He still torments her by snapping at their nine year old son, telling him to heal and expecting him to immediately stop what he’s doing, run over and sit at his feet. He does this in public. When they disagree, he shouts horrible things like slut and whore at her, even though he was the one who cheated on her. He sees nothing wrong with any of this. Bad, bad men never do.
*K did tell him that he couldn’t talk to me like that if he wanted them to stay friends