I had a friend in high school that I’ll call Tina. We were very close, spent a lot of time together, and had plenty of crazy teenage girl adventures.
Tina was very bright and very funny. And she was a good friend. She and her family were loving and giving. She was important to me.
Unfortunately, she was also well known to be a liar. Everyone knew it. She would lie about anything. Most of it was silly stuff, but some of it was designed to impress other people. Still, I never understood it. Why was it so important to her to impress me or anyone else?
But as I said, she had lots of good points, and we had lots of good times together. She dropped out of high school to get married, but we remained friends and got together often.
As the years went by and we became adults and had families of our own, we’d go through periods where we lost touch, as often happens with friends. Then we’d reconnect, have a great time for a while, and then a few more years would go by.
Even as an adult, she continually reinforced her reputation as a liar, and I learned how to operate within that reality. Eventually, I came to assume that everything she said was a lie, until I saw evidence to the contrary. But sometimes her lies were entertaining, and as I said, she was always a good friend to me.
We differed politically and that drove a rift between us, but we reconnected for a while after a mutual friend passed away. As is her habit, she made big plans for ways to celebrate our friend’s life, then backed out when it looked like those plans would actually become a reality. She seemed to become somewhat reclusive, without wanting to reveal it to anyone. She wanted to be seen as a social butterfly, with loads of friends, always going and doing. At one point, she made a big deal about the fact that another high school friend of ours lived near her and they had rekindled their friendship. When I mentioned it to him and asked how often he and Tina got together, he said they never had, that they made plans a couple of times, but she always backed out.
We had once made plans to get together when I was going to be vacationing near her — she lives in another state — but when we arrived and I called her, she made an excuse and begged off.
So, what was the last straw? It didn’t even have to do with me directly. It involved a mutual friend whom both of us had dated in high school. I’ll call him Ed. At one point my relationship with Ed was very serious; Tina’s was always a casual one. I hadn’t seen Ed in decades until at one point he was vacationing near a town where I had a second home. So, I went to visit him. We had a wonderful reunion, I had dinner with him, his girlfriend, and his son, and I was really happy to have the opportunity to see him.
A couple of years later, he retired and decided to go on a solo road trip. His route literally took him right by my house, and he stopped for a visit. He then continued on his way, with plans for a stop to see Tina and some other friends who lived nearby.
Upon his return, I asked him how his visit with them was. He told me about the time he spent with them, but never mentioned Tina. When I specifically asked, he said he hadn’t seen her, that she’d been sick or busy with work or both — who knows? — but he made it clear they did not get together. Frankly, that didn’t surprise me given her history, and I told him that.
Fast forward to just a few months later. My dear friend Ed passed away suddenly from a heart attack. For some odd reason I never quite figured out, Tina, with whom I had not had contact for a couple of years at that point, was the one to tell me the news. She texted me. It’s a lovely way to find out a close friend has died, don’t you think? She then went on to send me additional messages about having seen him when he was in town, about the conversations she and other friends had had about him, and that she and Ed had talked on a weekly basis over the last 6 months or so. Basically, my reaction was … whatever.
So, what was the last straw? When Ed’s memorial book was made available online, I very much enjoyed reading all the wonderful tributes to him from his childhood friends, some of whom I had never met but had heard many stories about.
Then I came across Tina’s entry. As is her style, she managed to make it all about her. Not surprising. It’s what I expected. What I didn’t expect, however, was a detailed account of their last visit together, on that trip a few months before, how they walked along the beach and sat and talked for hours.
Perhaps it was all the lies over the years that had built up. But this was a lie I couldn’t ignore. To post bald-faced lies in a man’s memorial book was too much for me. It was clear that, once again, she was trying to impress somebody — certainly including me — and to use a man’s death for that purpose made me furious.
It takes a lot to run me off. I tend to let people slide on things and try not to make things into a bigger deal than they are. Perhaps I’m failing in that effort when it comes to the “memorial book episode.” But the thing about me is, while it’s true that you can push me a long way before I start pushing back, once you’ve pushed me too far, we’re done. I have had no contact with this woman since, and it is my plan that I never will.
Stay tuned for my next post — how my best friend of 30 years decided to start telling lies about me. (I’m beginning to think I’m not a great judge of character.)