Many years ago I had a friend whom I will call Enid. Enid’s eccentricities were carefully crafted. She was always the loudest voice in the room, her outfit the most outlandish, her histrionics the most outrageous. She would do anything to be the center of attention. Her personality was so in-your-face that people couldn’t help but know her. She owned every room, for all the wrong reasons. She was dramatic, over the top, determined completely to make an impression everywhere she went, no matter the reason. People often asked me how I could stand to spend so much time with her, but I couldn’t help myself. I was drawn to her overflowing personality like a moth to a flame.
Enid was an overgrown drama kid, and a borderline pathological liar, with chaos swirling around her wherever she went. She was not necessarily mean, but her theatrics were amplified when she felt jealous, or slighted, or worst of all, when she perceived herself losing control of your attention – and when any of those emotions were ignited, Enid was capable of bizarre acts of cruelty.
Once (many, many millions of years ago), I went home from a party with a guy I barely knew. (Sorry, mom). It was nothing more than a random hookup – we spent the night drinking 40s and smoking blunts. I was harboring zero illusions about it meaning anything, but still. The following day, Enid marched right up to this guy and said, and I quote, “I heard your spermies are swimming around in Amy’s belly this morning.” I shit you not, that is actually what she said.
This dude was like, uh, ok.
I was dumbfounded. Mortified. I never stop talking, but I was quite literally at a loss for words when she said that.
But here I am, more than twenty years later, still thinking about it.
I think the reason why I keep returning to this is partially because of the ridiculousness of it – when someone walks up to your hookup and tells him that his spermies are swimming around in your belly – you just, well, you just don’t forget a thing like that very easily. But also? What I keep, unfortunately, thinking about is my reaction. I had every right to tell her she was a crazy bitch who should go fuck off into the sea. I should have told her to stay away from me with her toxic, unhinged personality. I should have said that she had finally gone too far, and that I couldn’t be around her anymore.
But what did I do? I did absolutely nothing at all.
I shook my head and thought to myself, guess I won’t be hooking up with that guy again.
I maybe even laughed.
And that was the end of it.
And no surprise here, but you know what? It bothers me still to this day.
The thing about Enid was, I honestly couldn’t get enough of her ridiculous behavior. I was endlessly entertained by her. I was charmed by the absurdity she brought to every situation. And because her antics kept me hooked despite myself, I managed to excuse all of the shitty things she did.
I remember her at a party once telling everyone how she was a sharpshooter with a gun, who grew up shooting pennies off of the tops of fence posts as if she was goddamned Annie Oakley. I knew that she grew up in a posh suburb, the daughter of hippie social workers who would never have let her touch a gun, much less fire one at fence posts. Her lies were careless and outrageous and seemingly random. There was no good reason why she was lying about this – but once you got to know her well enough you came to realize that she was constantly, inexplicably making shit up. Nobody was impressed. The lies were just ways to command attention, and she rolled with them as they came.
Guys, there’s a lot about my post-marriage life that I’m trying hard to get right.
And one of the things I have spent a lot of time thinking about is how I manage to find an endless sea of excuses for people’s very inexcusable actions. When people would question my devoted friendship with Enid, I would say that they just needed to try harder to get to know her. They didn’t understand her. I would tell them, when you’re alone with her, and she’s not “performing,” she’s amazing. I would weigh the good times we would have, just the two of us, against a thousand examples of terrible behavior, and I would conclude that the closeness we shared outweighed all of the utter obnoxiousness she otherwise displayed.
This shouldn’t even be a thing, but what I have been thinking about these days is the Spermies Factor. I loved Enid like a sister, and as such I made up every excuse in the world for all of her ridiculous bullshit. But there’s a moment when someone shows you their true self. Maybe they walk up to your hookup and announce that his spermies are swimming around in your belly. Maybe it’s something even darker, and harder to glean. But when the Spermies Factor presents itself to you, you have to see it for what it is. And you have to walk away.
I have no idea why, but I’m desperate to see the good in people. I say, nobody’s perfect and we all make a lot of mistakes. Fuck, I have done a lot of terrible things myself.
But these are excuses.
It’s taken me a long time to see that.
p.s. My friends and I had a little love affair with Time of the Season back in the day – but right now THIS is The Zombies’ song that I can’t quit.
And don’t forget to listen to The D-Train, The Playlist, a soundtrack for a shit show.