In my AP English class senior year, our teacher assigned each of us a literary element. We were then given a date that we had to teach the class about that literary element. Her teaching tactic worked because I've not forgotten what a motif is.

A motif is a recurring theme in a story. I have several motifs in my life and in thinking about one that has popped up in almost literally every stage of my life that I can recall, I remembered an ironic story...

From pre-school up until I went to a private school in 8th grade, I had 3 best friends. One's name was Jackie. She and I were very close for a long time. Even as we grew up and discovered that we were very different, our history of friendship kept us close.

Being older now, I can imagine that Jackie spent a lot of time back then defending our friendship. Because we were very different and had different interests, we actually spent a lot of time in our own groups of friends but Jackie and I had been friends since pre-school. We were friends because...well..we just were.

I also imagine that it was her defense led to a very awkward situation...

I had tried hanging out with Jackie and her friends but for the most part, they didn't get my jokes and found my sarcasm (which yes, I was perfecting at even age 12) annoying. Jackie used to press me to spend more time with them. I think she thought that if they got to know me, they'd like me.

7th grade was the year my friends and I started pairing off. I had a huge crush on this boy named Dennis, but of course, Dennis liked Jackie. The three of us and a bunch of our friends had a morning class together and, as best as 12 year olds could, Dennis spent a lot of time flirting with Jackie. Dennis, of course, had his own crew of friends including one guy, Charles.

Charles, at the time, was annoyingly awkward. He lacked heavily in the charm department and he didn't seem to know it. Of course, most 12 year old boys fit this bill so in regards to that, he was average. Charles was also in the morning class we had and he would often, as best as 12 year olds could, attempt to flirt with me. I didn't dislike Charles, but I didn't like him either. I didn't want to hurt his feelings, so I would entertain the mindless chatter (yes, even at 12 I was like that).

It didn't take long before someone came up with the bright idea that all of Dennis's friends and Jackie's friends should pair off. I'm sure I don't need to tell you who I got pushed towards.

I was nice, and back then even a little shy, but I wasn't stupid and I wasn't pairing off with Charles. I didn't like him, he annoyed me and I was embarassed that my "friends" thought that was ok. My choice to not go along to get along pretty much cemented that Jackie's friends would never warm up to me and I was ok with that because, even at 12, I knew it had nothing to do with 2 friend units coming together and had everything to do with embarassing me.

The summer after my first year in college was an interesting one. The summer before, my best friend had completely and abruptly stopped talking to me. Even now as I type this (and as I've mentioned before) I have no idea why, though I've surmised many reasons over the years. In any case, this meant that that summer I was spending a lot more time with "other" friends. My pride and feelings were hurt because not only had I lost a close friend, I'd lost other close friends in the process and I didn't know why. Friends I'd had long before I met the BFF who had become friends of hers chose her over me (when, in fact, I would have been fine with maintaining a friendship with them).

I'd also, that summer, tried to reopen communication lines. I felt that maybe a year at school had done us both some good and maybe she was ready to open up to me. I'd managed to get her talking to me, on occasion, via AIM and this one particular night I took advantage of that.

She and I had been talking for about 15 minutes when I got a phone call from one of the aforementioned friends who I hadn't seen in almost a year (outside of places like church where we were bound to run into each other). I had definitely not hung out with her since the summer before. I was a little confused, but answered the phone anyway.

She was calling to invite me over to yet another MIA friend's house. She said something about they were hanging out and wondered if I was free and wanted to come over.

I need to reiterate that the former BFF, and these 2 were tied at the hip. Somewhere inside I know I hoped that that former BFF would show up as well. Maybe this was some intervention, I thought. I told the former BFF where I was going, to end the conversation and I rushed out of the house.

When I got there, the 2 girls told me why they had really invited me over: Earlier in the day while they were out, they met 3 guys. Each of them had taken a liking to one of the guys and invited all 3 over. Of course, with there being only 2 of them they needed a third person.

It didn't take me long to start wondering why they called me instead of any of the other girls they knew. Why me of all people? The girl they hadn't bothered to call or spend time with in a year. I was upset, embarassed and my feelings were hurt. I wasn't sure if they were trying to play a game on me. But, wanting to believe that people are inherently good, I stuck around to see who would show up.

When the 3 guys came in, it was quickly clear who was the 3rd one -- the one for me. He was a little awkward. He also looked a little familiar to me, but I couldn't place it. The guys sat on one couch across from us and we started talking. We each introduced ourselves one person at a time, one fact at a time and so I slowly was able to gather where I knew this guy from. Even though he told me his name was Charles from the outset, it took me a few rounds of introductions to realize it was the same Charles that Jackie's friends had tried to set me up with years before.

The longer it's been since that happened and the more I've learned about people, the more irony I've seen in the situation. I don't doubt for one second that it didn't take tweedledee and tweedledum too long to decide I'd be the girl, of all their friends, they would call. Just like I know it didn't take Jackie's minions long to decide who they would dump on Charles the first go-round.

There are several motifs within these two stories that continue to show up in my life. Including subpar friends, guys I don't want and the way females like to get you back -- even when you don't know what you did. I like to think I get better and better at dealing with them with every go-round.

Oh and when I returned home that night after a very less than stellar evening, I found the former BFF had sent me an IM after I left. She told me that talking to me brought up painful memories for her and that it would be best if we didn't talk anymore. I wasn't able to shake the feeling that I'd been set up from the jump.

1 comment:

Solomon said...

I don't know why but I kind of had a feeling that was how the story was going to end.

That's gotta hurt, I mean being setup like that.

And by somebody you thought was your friend.

I've heard other stories like that where the poor girl being set up just never was able to get over the pain and embarrassment.

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