I have promised to tell the story of Larry.
Reader, this is a long story. It will take at least five installments to write, and it may require revision and recantations as I consult my fact checkers. It's complicated.
Why should you read it? You should read it because it is just incredible. Larry is, in fact, the Worst Person In The World - and I say this, reader, about a person who used to be my friend. On some days, he (sort of) still is - but this depends largely on whether he can "handle" being around me "emotionally."
Below, a recent email from Larry:
N - I think it would be best if you didn't come out tonight. To be around you brings out not so good memories for me. I don't think I can be around you. I hope that you can understand. I wish that it all had turned out differently. I don't know what the future will bring, but for now, this is what I need. I am sorry.
I am sorry, but is this not the sort of nonsense you send to someone you just broke up with? Later, you will find out why this email - and the fact that we never dated - is nine kinds of ironic.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
In May, 2006, I ended my relationship with a man I will call YoYo, formerly refered to here and FB (former boyfriend). It was a miserable, protracted, wrenching break up. The only reason we are not still together is that I stopped answering the phone and eventually had him blocked. Had I not done so, we might still be hating each other and slowly quietly dying. He would still have me dangling by the end of a string. I would still be making him wish he had the courage to cut off his own hand to be rid of me.
I could say more about the break up, but all you need to know to get entree into the Larry story is that I was a mess. I holed up in my apartment for weeks on end. I never returned phone calls. I didn't read my emails. I was too twisted to even check my mail, which is very stupid.* I was in this state for about a month when my friend Ethan told me, in no uncertain terms, that he would end our friendship if I did not come out and meet him to play volleyball. Him and about fifteen other people. I hated him for it. I did not want to do it and I was very angry but he was not kidding. "Be there, or we are done," said he. Ethan was and is important to me and so godammit, I went. I hated it and I hated him, but I went.
There, I met most of the people you see listed on the right side of your screen: Bibi, Sri, Pax, and Joe - and later, Jib and Tex. Larry, who had organized the game, was solicitous of my attention - but not, I noticed, in a "I want to roll around with you" kind of way. He simply asked me questions, made conversation, cracked harmless jokes. Who was I, what did I do? How did I know Ethan? Could he have my email address? Would I be coming to the happy hour later?
Well, of course I would be. It was the weirdest group dynamic I had ever witnessed - no one was interested in sleeping with anyone else. Here was a group of thirty something year old moderately to very attractive single people that was perfectly free of romantic or sexual motive. No one even bothered to flirt. And for me, fresh out of a relationship and batshit crazy, the scenario was perfect. A bunch of people - no danger of romantic entanglement - good clean fun.
Every other day an email would hit my in-box re: some or other idea Larry had about what we could all do for fun, and my, we had a lot of fun. Twice in one year I camped upstate with Larry and, oh, the fifty or so other people we hung out with. Three times in 18 months, I went on vacation with Larry and other people I met through him. Larry was on the other end of the rope when I completed my first ice climb, and later, he got me rock climbing, too. He taught me to edge and scramble. He brought me out climbing and never said one word to me about the plain fact that I was, in the beginning, a terrible volleyball player. I was their player - I played - end of story. When twenty of us were spread out across the Sahara desert, and night was falling, and genuine panic set in regarding the hikers who were not yet anywhere near camp, Larry ran back along the route and carried two of the girls who couldn't make it. How he held down a job, I do not know, because he was always planning something. Always.
As you can well imagine, we all loved him. I adored him.
Thing have changed. Obviously. Half of us are not even speaking to him - and those who do are openly hostile. Only a few bother to be even slightly nice - and that because they have planned international trips with him and can't get out of the airfare. That is how pissed off the Entire World is at Larry. However, in all this drama, I am the only person who Larry has plainly asked to stay away from him. A man abandoned by basically all his friends has to have a pretty compelling reason to push a harmless creature like Nina away, don't you think?
What little ol' Nina do to Larry?
Reader, what I did was catch him. Once word got out, other people we prepare to burn him alive too, but it was my kind of burning that hurt him the worst - and for that reason, he claims, he cannot see me because it is "what he needs right now."
The fifty or so other people involved think he is a coward for treating me this way - but due to circumstances yet to be revealed, how Larry treats me is the least of their worries - and mine. Even though the debacle started in earnest on June 2nd, 2007, the story is still developing.
Check back here next Tuesday for Part Two, in which you will begin to understand what I caught Larry at, and why he is, in fact, the WPITW.
* See House of Sand and Fog.