Tough Call 1/4/22

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

Looking at my past posts, you might be tempted to think that I’ve only had female friends over the years.  No, I’ve had my fair share of male friends as well.  I still do, actually.  Truthfully, I think it’s a fairly healthy mix.  The list might be more female heavy, but I have lost platonic female friends to jealous husbands and sometimes their own inhibitions about having a male friend, especially a single one. 

One of my friends ended up unintentionally putting me in a difficult situation.  We met in high school and quickly went on to become good (almost inseparable) friends.  He introduced me to things like racquetball (we played fairly regularly at his club), gyros and even bagels with cream cheese and lox.  We were nerds, at best, and periodically would even spend the night sleeping in his parent’s basement, staying up and playing pool all night long. 

In our senior year, he started dating a freshman at another school, and I started dating a prostitute who would have been a senior when I was a freshman.  After high school, he joined the Air Force, and I went on to a state college to study chemistry.  Four years later, she graduated from high school and went to the same college where I was attending.  I think she was excited at first, as if she had an ally to help her settle in and keep an eye on her, and she did although her belief in that seemed to quickly fade.

Being a freshman in high school dating a senior (then an airman) was a pretty cool boast, at least back then (this was some time ago, so things may be different today).  Unfortunately, in college it became more of a burden then a blessing.  Her newfound freedom seemed hampered by the fact that she was still dating my friend.  Never did I ever criticize her for anything she did (or even make suggestions), but I think she believed that I was spying on her for him.  I was not.  I figured their relationship was not my business any more than her actions were, but it got to the point where every time our paths crossed, she became increasingly hostile. 

I think that, as her friends were out exploring sexuality and freedom, she wanted to do the same, as frankly she should have at that stage in her life.  But she was still technically dating him, and I think that maybe she was beginning to struggle with that.  At the end of my senior year, my friend started counting down the months to his service discharge, and she was about to get a college free from my presence.  I heard it from both sides.  She didn’t seem to be interested in continuing a relationship with him, and he started talking about his proposal to her. 

I never felt any loyalty to her aside from the fact that she was with my best friend.  I did feel like I owed him something, but how do you handle a situation like this?  I wanted to protect my friend from being disappointed, but certainly didn’t want to interfere with their relationship.  It wasn’t my place.  And I had no proof that she had done anything wrong.  It was more her attitude on campus, and just her behavior in general.  She just didn’t act like she was in a relationship, and if I asked her about him, her response was hostile. 

It was a difficult decision, but in the end, I had to tell him.  I didn’t want to come out and accuse her of any wrongdoing as, honestly, I had no proof, and even if I had, it’s not my responsibility to “tattle”.  Talking with him on the phone (back when long distance calls incurred a fee to give you an idea of how long ago it was), he was telling me his plan.  Timidly, I eeked out what I thought was pretty much the gentlest caution I could muster when I simply suggested that he shouldn’t be surprised if she is less than receptive to the idea.

Yes, he was suddenly furious.  Now both of them hated me, him for suggesting that she would be less than happy to be engaged, and her because she still thought I was spying on her (an interesting concept since she followed me to my college).  Things progressed as you might imagine.  He bought the ring, and the day he came back, he proposed.  She said no and she wanted to break up. 

Eventually, he and I mended our relationship and are still friends to this day.  He went on to marry a woman he met while finishing his degree after the force.  The last I heard, she met someone and is happily married and has a family of her own.  Still, I truly hope I never have to face such a situation again. 

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