The Bean Blog (currently on hiatus)

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Shoot the Messenger

The mind is a weird thing. Or maybe just mine is. I remember the turning points in my life almost in a revolving circle. One such turnng point involved my (then) best friend Jake.

We met in 1995. I was 20 and just foraying into the same sex dating scene. I'd been on my first date, then my second, and then--inexplicably--I was dumped. I couldn't understand why this had happened, because it didn't make any sense (it wasn't until years later that I got the whole story). I was just becoming good friends with a guy named Ned, and when I was complaining about my girl troubles, he suggested that I spend some time with Jake, who was also going through girl trouble.

And that's how our friendship started. I remember the first time I hung out with Jake. He lived in Delaware, as did I, just a few blocks up from my mother's house (where I lived at the time). Jake knew that Ned had orchestrated our meeting to discuss our mutual problems, so he asked me to tell him what was going on with me and this girl. I told him about the two wonderful dates followed by the inexplicable dumping. Then I asked him to tell me about his girl trouble. He launched into this long, tortured story about the love of his life, who he'd been with for over a year, and how every day Jake wondered why he was getting out of bed now that "she" was gone. Needless to say, our situations were far, far apart. I don't know what Jake got out of it, but I firmly put my predicament in perspective.

What brought us together was filmsy, but in each other, we found a good friend, someone to verbally spar with, an intelligent conversationalist, a person with the same sense of humor, a kindred spirit, and, yes, a confidant. I told Jake everything, and he did the same with me. He knew things about me that I didn't tell anyone else, and I knew the same things about him. For years, our friendship was strong and one of the most wonderful things in my life.

When Jake moved to Philadelphia in 1997, we didn't miss a beat. We saw each other less frequently, but we talked on the phone for hours every week. He saw me through two break-ups (from real, substantial relationships), and I was there for him as he slowly put his life back together--that girl had really rocked his world. Jake found a circle of friends in Philadelphia, and as I visited him every week or so, I too became a member of this tight-knit group.

Jake didn't date seriously, even though a wonderful girl in our circle of friends, Kate, clearly had a crush on him. Well, it was clear to everyone but him. He claimed that they were just good friends, and that's all they felt for one another. It was all he felt for Kate, certainly, but it was not all she felt for him. Meanwhile, Jake had several casual affairs. He still wasn't ready for another serious relationship.

A girl named Kathy Green joined our little group in 1998. I don't know why, but no one ever just called her Kathy. She was always Kathy Green. Kathy Green moved to Philadelphia from Texas. She was a friend of a Kate's (Kate was also from Texas), and she had a boyfriend, Alan.

During one of our phone calls one night, Jake confided in me that he thought Kathy Green was really hot, and he thought that she was attracted to him, too. I wasn't certain, but he was, and he was right. Soon, the two of them were sleeping together, and I was the only one who knew about it.

Kathy Green kept it a secret because she didn't want it to get back to her boyfriend. Jake said he was keeping it a secret for the same reason. Of course, there was another person who they were both keeping it from--Kate. Kathy Green certainly knew how Kate felt about Jake, and although Jake wouldn't admit it, he knew it too. Kate had been carrying a torch for him for well over a year now, and if she found out that Kathy Green and he were sleeping together, she would have felt betrayed by them both.

I, on the otherhand, knew all about Jake's sexcapades with Kathy Green. He told me the details of her giving him head in a parking garage, of how she had multiple orgasms, and they had sex in every room of his house. It was great, juicy gossip. The very best kind, and it went on for months. Kathy Green and her boyfriend split up almost as soon as they moved here, but neither Kathy nor Jake made their relationship more serious nor moved it into the light of day. No, it was still on the down-low in order to spare Kate's feelings.

Kathy Green ended up moving to New York, and that put an end to her affair with Jake. Meanwhile, I moved from Delaware to Philadelphia, and I never told a soul about their relationship...until I did.

It was 2000, and the affair had been over between Jake and Kathy Green for over two years. I was talking to a member of the aforementioned group of friends, a girl named Susan. Just so happened that Susan was now dating Alan, Kathy Green's old boyfriend! As we were re-hashing our memories of Kathy Green and Alan and their move to Philadelphia, I of course remembered that Kathy Green and Jake were having an affair during that entire time. As all of the dirty little secrets and sexual positions flitted through my mind, Susan read me like a book. It wasn't long before I spilled the beans and told her about Jake and Kathy's little "relationship."

Oh, it was wrong. I was wrong. It was a secret, and I should have taken it to my grave with me. Granted. Now that I'd told the thing I'd been instructed never to tell--being a person of integrity, rather than pretending that it hadn't happened--I called Jake immediately and told him that Susan knew about him and Kathy Green.

He was a little mad at me...at first. I apologized profusely and admitted that I was wrong, wrong, wrong. Which I was. I had some hope that Susan would keep the secret--as she'd also sworn to do--but before long, Susan told everybody. Only Jake didn't know that the secret was well and truly out, and again I was the one to let him know that everyone knew...and by everyone, I really meant Kate. She knew, and she wasn't happy. She was hurt. All these years, and she was still carrying that torch for Jake.

His friendship with Kate--an important one for him--fell apart. My relationship with him also faded further and further into the background of his life. He never got steaming, yelling at me mad. It simmered there, under the surface. I tried to keep the friendship going, to get it back on track. I tried to prove myself to him, but it was impossible. He felt betrayed by me--and he was--and it was something that he could never get over.

I'm not a part of that circle of friends anymore. Actually, the circle is more or less defunct. Two things happened around the same time which lead to my leaving the group. First was the growing distance between myself and Jake. Secondly, my relationship with the Bread Winner was going fast and furious, and I found myself spending most of my time with her. I wasn't really eager to spend time with my other friends going out to see a movie or some such thing when I could be at home having great sex all night.

But I still think about my relationship with Jake. He moved to California for a few years, but now he's back in Philadelphia. We hardly speak although we're still casual friends. I miss our old friendship, although I know now that we can never go back to it. I've tried for years and years. It's hopeless. I know he still blames me for the loss of his friendships with both Kate and Kathy Green. I know that Kathy Green blames me for the loss of her friendship with Kate as well.

For a long time, I beat myself up about that. Heck, I still do to some extent. It's still my default reaction when I think about those people: It's my fault. But then I think that's only the surface reason. Yeah, there's a good chance Kate would never have found out if I hadn't told Susan. Then maybe she'd still be friends with Jake and Kathy Green. Maybe the group would still be together. The truth is that there are many reasons the group fell apart. The secret I revealed, while definitely a major reason, was not the only one. But it might have been the one that left a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

Now I'm just beginning to see beneath the surface. Yes, I should have kept Jake's secret. But the truth is that Kate was (is?) mad because she was betrayed by two of her best friends--Kathy Green and Jake. They slept together, and they knew it was wrong. They knew it would hurt Kate. And if they hadn't done it, there would have been no dirty little secret to tell. Or if they'd been honest about it at the time it was happening, Kate would have been upset, but she would have gotten over it.

So when I feel guilty about it all now, I remind myself that while I was wrong, I was covering up someone else's bad deed. It was a bad deed, and the bad deed is what got Jake into trouble. In my life, I try to live by a code: If I can't stand the consequences of people knowing what I did, I shouldn't do it. Sure, there are some things I don't go out of my way to publicize, like my feelings of envy over my friend's pregnancy (now her baby) and my sister-in-law's pregnancy. I don't tell them about my feelings of envy and jealousy, and I ask that the Bread Winner not tell them either. But if they did confront me about it, I would say, "Yep, it's true. And if you can't be friends with me anymore, I accept that. I'm doing the best I can, and that's all I can do. If it's not enough for you, then it's not enough."

That's what it comes down to for me. Would I feel angry at someone for revealing my "secret," whatever that would be? Yeah, I would...a little. But the truth is that I did it. I have to accept the consequences of my actions. And I don't know that Jake has done that. So, after about four years, I'm trying to let myself off of the hook for this one.

5 Comments:

  • You're not the one to blame here, Oz. Jake is. You're right. However, it seems that Kate's love for Jake was completely unrequited, therefore why should he have to keep any of his affairs secret from her? If he were a true friend to her, and her to him, he should've laid out his feelings from the start. Told her he couldn't see them being anything other than friends. I have no idea, perhaps he did... I'm just going from what I read, but to me, Kate seems like the pivot point here. Not you or Jake or Kathy Green.

    By Blogger Dan, at 6:04 PM, November 23, 2004  

  • It's really bad when friendships fall apart because of something said without thinking. Discussing other people when they aren't there is always a dangerous thing to do. You never know what will get back to them and what they will think of what was said.

    By Blogger Newell, at 9:07 PM, November 23, 2004  

  • Dan, The thing between Jake and Kate was really kind of strange. I always suspected that Jake liked her too...except he said he didn't, and he wouldn't lie to me about it (at that time, anyway). They were the kind of boy-girl friends who wrestled each other constantly and got into tickle fights. You know what I mean? Jake participated in these things, and the only reason I believed him when he said he only liked Kate as a friend was because he could have had her anytime, any day, anywhere. You know what I mean? And he didn't. The only reason I can fathom that is that he just didn't want to. And they did talk about it. She knew how he felt. But I assume that she was confused because of all the tickle fights.

    Newell, Well, I agree with you in general, but I don't think your points are particularly valid in this situation. For one, I knew exactly what got back to Jake because I called him up immediately and confessed everything. I wasn't talking about him behind his back and then crossing my fingers and hoping he never found out. I took the high road and let him know his secret was out there. I did this because I didn't want him to appear foolish with his friends. For instance, Kathy Green didn't know that I knew about her and Jake, and she appeared foolish to me several times, because she would basically lie about things that had happened, assuming that I didn't know about her relationship. I didn't want that to happen to Jake, so I told him. And I told him again when I found out that Susan had told everyone else. Secondly, I knew how he'd react to some extent--badly. But I didn't think it would be the end of our close friendship, that's true. Of course, at the time I didn't think anything could end our friendship. I thought we could remain friends through anything. Guess I was wrong about that, too.

    By Blogger Oz, at 11:24 PM, November 23, 2004  

  • Oz, I wasn't really commenting on your exact situation... just the whole keeping-friends-secrets thign in general and how it can turn out shitty.

    By Blogger Newell, at 10:08 PM, November 24, 2004  

  • i think it's definitely sad when you end friendships that are/were so close. and you think what you could have done differently and a lot of time you blame yourself, even though it may not be your fault. it's been a year since i am not friends with this girl i was really close with.. and it's still.. hard. i don't know.. and i feel stupid a lot for "obsessing" over it.. i'm glad to know that i'm not alone.

    By Blogger Jean, at 9:01 PM, November 27, 2004  

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