John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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When They Suddenly Hate You

During the years that normally would have been "junior high" for me, I went to a private school instead of public, for reasons having to do with being a square peg. During my second year, which would put me at just over ten years old IIRC, I became chummy with a kid named Jeff. Jeff, like me, was a big ol' Star Wars fan and had an impressive collection of Empire Strikes Back stuff, including some items he'd made on his own. (He was particularly proud of his "carbon freezing chamber" he'd made out of a glass jar and some styrofoam blocks.)

Over the course of the summer between that year and my third year, phone calls (and more rarely, visits) between Jeff and myself started out fairly frequent but gradually slacked off. Finally, at the end of one, I got the distinct impression from his tone (but not his words) that he would rather be just about anywhere else but talking to me, so I rang off.

When the school year started again, for reasons which I've never learned, he suddenly hated me. He and his buddies became part of the enemy camp, and he used to ridicule me particularly for liking Star Wars, which I thought was pretty strange, all things considered. In memory of the friendship we had once shared, I tried a few times to find out what the deal was, but was cruelly rebuffed each time. I then adopted a "You go your way, I'll go mine" policy towards him, except that I had to make sure that "my way" never intersected with his or he'd just be nasty at me.

After that year, having exhausted their curriculum a year early, I left to go to a public high school, and never saw or heard from Jeff again. And I never did find out what had changed that had turned me from "best buddy" into "target practice" -- my best guess is that he started hanging out with the "we hate nerds" crowd because they seemed tough and decided that he had to prove beyond all shadow of a doubt that he wasn't one.

However, the experience made a deep impression on me. One thing it did, was to make me a lot more reserved about actually considering somebody a friend. Another thing it did, was to make me never assume that just because somebody likes me today, they're going to continue to do so tomorrow. I may get on their nerves, or their tastes may change, or maybe just Mercury changes its position in Sagittarius, I dunno. Jeff's case was not the first time somebody and I had drifted apart, but it was the first time friendship had turned to poison. I've had it happen a few times since then, and in each case I was not aware of having done anything but be the same myself they knew all along and hadn't had problems with before.

The final thing it did (to my knowledge, anyway), was to make me prone to keep to myself, and withdraw if I begin to suspect for any reason that my presence is unwelcome. I sometimes suspect this makes me seem arrogant, or at the very least standoffish, which is not my intention. The truth is, I'm just trying to avoid irritating people by being around them when they'd rather I wasn't. It also may make me seem flighty; because the more I actually like a person, the more likely I am to make myself scarce because I don't want to pester them.

I wonder what happened to ol' Jeff, anyway. My gut instinct is that he turned into a real prick. ;P

-The Gneech
Tags: deep thoughts
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