Tuesday, February 01, 2005

My fragile friend

This is a story about a friend of mine. I've known him for a long time. It's the kind of relationship where if one of us goes away for a while, things are always the same when we meet again. It's comforting.

Anyway, today he came to me with a real problem: He wasn't good enough.

Not good enough. What for?

For anything. For everything. He wasn't good enough at relationships, he wasn't good enough at his art, and he wasn't good enough at his job. He talked about all these other people who are wildly successful, and who are five years younger than him. He compared himself to all of these imaginary ideals and standards, and came up short in every case.

When people look at him, he felt they saw someone who, like almost everyone else, would fall into the crowd of faces you forget as you walk down a busy street. Average. Maybe slightly above average, but certainly not that different from everyone else, and if there were differences, they were probably deficiencies.

He looked at me, and I didn't know what to say. What could I say to him? "You're right, man. Actually, I forgot that you'd been out of town the last couple months, so when you knocked on my door, that's why I didn't ask how your trip was."

Earlier in the day, I had been talking to another friend (this one from London) using an online instant messenger service. She suddenly said something that made no sense -- words had appeared on her screen; the sentence: "Was it worth it?" It appeared, and disappeared and she promised me it had been there, and that she wasn't going crazy.


That's what I thought about as I was standing in my apartment, facing someone who I couldn't bare to answer with the truth.

So I did the only thing I could think of. I put my hand down his throat to shut him up, ripped out his heart, and left him laying in the entryway with the whole bloody mess hanging out of his mouth.