(This was first published in the October 2013 issue of THE MAN magazine.)
I have known her for as long as I can remember. We met when we were tiny-tots in school and then she grew up. Me? Guys are not supposed to grow, are they? Anyway, she keeps telling me to grow up, so does my wife, my mom and almost every female form that knows me, so I take it that I haven’t grown up. But this is not about that, this is about a very dear friend of mine betraying me. Ok, maybe, betrayal is too harsh… how about deceit? She’d found her ‘special someone’ and she didn’t even tell me till their engagement date had been fixed. We had literally grown up together; can you blame me for wanting to know about her ‘him’ earlier? After all, I had told her about my wife the day I had met her.
But, pissed as I was, I decided to be the better person and accepted her invitation to meet up at a coffee shop. No sense in carrying a grudge, at least not openly! My wife was at my in-laws, so with no one breathing down my neck, I had a chance to be at my sarcastic best. My friend and I share a very happy platonic friendship (yes, it’s possible), so I was very happy for her. But a part of me – a major part, actually – had turned demonic. Somehow, I felt like I had to upstage her ‘him’. I felt like I had show that I didn’t care about the fact that she hadn’t told me about him earlier, even though it did. I just wanted to be aloof, show some attitude and prove that I wasn’t affected by his presence. Actually, I hated him already – he was the guy who was taking one of my best friends away from me.
That evening, I dressed with utmost care. Not for a long time had I ruminated about what to wear so much. Eventually, I chose to be cool and casual: a t-shirt and denims with loafers. You know, it takes a hell of a lot of more time to dress as if you want to show that you don’t care what you’re wearing. I arrived at the coffee shop a good half hour late, deliberately. I had kept him waiting – a point for me. The scoreboard in my head was in business.
Me: 1. Him: 0.
Wait, he’s gonna marry her. To be fair, he deserves a point of that.
Me: 1. Him: 1.
But wait, I am her childhood bud.
Me: 2. Him: 1.
As we shook hands, I noticed that he was kinda chubby. Me, I am athletic, oh ok, lean. And since the scoreboard operator is lean, ChubbyCheeks loses this round.
Me: 3. Him: 1.
She looked gorgeous as always. I sensed a hint of nervousness in her demeanour. But then, I couldn’t blame her. Her long-time friend was meeting her life partner. How well we gelled probably meant a lot to her. But that evening, while her life partner might have been trying, her friend was no help. Ten minutes into the date and I had already passed a couple of brilliantly sarcastic comments. A stupid joke, which obviously only I found funny, had been told and a couple of unnecessary remarks were on the way. I guess, the fact that I was could be an idiot and get away with it should earn me a point.
Me: 4. Him: 1.
After a while, after I’d received enough clenched-teeth stares from her, I moved my attention to him. So, what do you do, I asked. He was into some kind of industrial manufacturing; I am a writer. Definitely cooler!
Me: 5. Him: 1.
By the time the date ended, my points tally was somewhere around 20. He was still languishing on 1. But it was after I came back home that I realised that by being more genteel, he’d probably won. I knew I had lost that round, I hoped I hadn’t lost my friend. I had been such a jerk, which she reminded me of through some lambasting SMSes that night. I was sure I would never hear from either of them again.
But like so many times, I was wrong again. He called me up the next day and asked me if I would like to join him for beer and T20. By making the call, he’d won again. However, I wasn’t a complete loser – I realised that I wasn’t going to lose a friend; in fact, I had a new one in ChubbyCheeks.