What’s a Guy to Do?

The term “funemployment” had such a great ring to it at the beginning of the summer. Extended vacation, few responsibilities, and best of all, now work! The thoughts of beach days, day drinking, road trips, lounging around, barbecues, pools, roaming around the city with no plans, and plenty of time to read and write. Hell, even when I talk about it now, it’s a dream. Who could think of any better way to spend a summer? It was all it promised to be, except for one detail: the end date. Funemployment became unemployment, and unemployment has become depression and anxiety. Money worries, boredom, loneliness, self-doubt, short-lived panic attacks…this is now what my days consist of.

Please, don’t get the impression that I’ve done nothing this summer to better my situation. Even when I was riding the funemployment train with my head out the window catching the warm breeze on my scalp, I was actively looking for work. I’ve written and re-written cover letters, job applications, my resume, my linkedin profile; I’ve signed up for half-a-dozen job hunting search engines; I’ve tried to network; I even contemplated going down a completely foreign career path…all led to the same result: nada. Nunca. Niente. Nothing!

So here I am, going into my ninth week of unemployment, hoping and wishing every waking minute an employer picks up the phone and dials my number to ask me to interview, while trying not to check my bank account or agree to go out with friends and spend more money, and spending mind-numbing hours applying to jobs I probably won’t get.

Go, me!

Lights, Camera, Vacation!

 

18 hours of driving, 2 border crossings, a 1-night pit stop in Dundas, Ontario (home of my Uncle and Aunt), two traffic jams due to accidents (two-lane highways that are as straight as can be…pay attention people (no one was hurt in either accident)) and at last, Eliza and I arrived in Traverse City, Michigan. Well, her family’s farm house 20 minutes outside of Traverse City, up the peninsula and right along Lake Michigan. It was a long trip, sometimes a little stressful and exhausting as the scenery along Northwestern New York State, Southwest Ontario, and just about all of inland Michigan is short of inspiring, but the destiny was well worth it. A beautiful farm house set in a cherry orchard with no street lights, cable television, internet, or any other signs of city living that we’ve grown so accustomed to here in Boston, and to top it off, a private beach just beyond the backyard. DIMG_20140820_230005ays were spent lounging on the beach, searching for Potaskeys (fossilized rocks that can only be found in northern Michigan), kayaking and paddle-boarding, reading, napping, picking fresh cherries to make a home-made pie, mini-golfing, eating ice-cream and home-made fudge, and enjoying the simpler side of life. Nights were spent making bonfires, eating s’mores, drinking local craft brews, riding on jeep trails (Thank you, Ryan Polk, for scaring the crap out of us…) and of course, laying in awe of the vast ocean of stars that can only be truly appreciated in a place that is swallowed up by black when headlights, flashlights, or porch lights are turned off. It was a fantastic trip that brought Eliza and I closer, and changed my opinion of Michigan, which I previously thought of as nothing more than the home to a couple of big college football programs and Detroit. It is truly a beautiful place.

Awkward Encounters of the Third Kind

Have you ever found yourself in a conversation with someone you haven’t seen in a while and out of the blue, the person tells you about someone that died. Like:

“Heyy, Steve, long time no see, man. How’s it going?”

“Hey, Dave. Can’t complain. I got a good job, been with my girl for over a year now, all’s good.”

“Right on, man. I’m glad to hear it.”

“My grandmother died last month, so not everything has been good.”

And you’re just like, ughhhhhhhhhhhhh. Well that fucking sucks. But we all tend to have the same response when someone else mentions the death of a friend or family member, and we always say: “Oh. I’m so sorry.” Every once in a while the person will respond to that aggressively and say, “Why? You didn’t kill her.” Which immediately puts you on the defensive but you can’t get mad because you’re still talking about his dead grandma. But seriously, who the fuck says that? Are you suggesting that I am capable of killing someone? And if I had killed her, what kind of sociopathic shit would it be for me to just casually walk up to you and apologize for killing your grandma. “Hey, sorry about Nanna.”

“You should be sorry! You fucking shot her in the face!”

“Yeah. That’s why I said sorry. Christ, why don’t you freak out about it.”

 

But anyway, so we instinctively say: “Oh. I’m so sorry.” But you’re not. Unless you knew the person well, you don’t really give a shit. What you really want to say is: Well, this is awkward. I don’t want to be a dick, but while we’re on the topic of death, you totally just killed this conversation. I was just about to tell you about this big-titted slut I hooked up with at the bar last night, but that seems to be a little crass, now. Fuck.

The worst part about it is after we say sorry and there’s that awkward moment of silence or acknowledgement, we then go and ask the dumbest, most rhetorical question possible: “How are you doing? Are you OK?” What the hell is anybody supposed to say in response to that? (very excited and happy) “Couldn’t be better. I fuckin hated that bitch. Always pinching my cheek and ruffling my hair. Left me a bunch of money, too, so that’s pretty sweet. May she now rest in peace.”

 

You know what annoys me? When a person dies and no matter what, someone says, “may he rest in peace.” Rest in peace suggests that the person’s life was tough and chaotic, but that’s not always the case. Not everyone works for a living. I had a friend of mine die recently (wait for reaction from audience). No, no, it’s fine. He served absolutely no purpose in this world. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the guy, but he was the laziest and luckiest motherfucker I ever met. First off, he was rich. And not like, live in a big house and wear preppy clothes rich; I mean never have to work a day in his life, have maids that clean up after him, oblivious to what living a real life actually means, rich. He spent every day since he graduated from high school in his own, separate wing of his parents’ mansion playing video games, listening to music, and giving girls free coke in return for blowjobs. Dude drank, smoked weed, took ecstasy, acid, and blew mounds of coke on a regular basis. Died in his sleep at age 28. Cardiac arrest. Doctors said he didn’t feel a thing. So when I was at his wake and his mother put her hand on his cold dead shoulder and said: “may he now rest in peace,” I was like… “NOW?!? May he NOW rest in peace? That’s all the fucker did his whole life! Do you know how peaceful blowjobs are?” I felt bad after that because clearly, she will never know how peaceful blowjobs are since she’s the one doing all the work.

 

Isn’t it funny how felatio is referred to as a blow-JOB, but cunnilingus is never called a lick-JOB. Think about the diction here, women give handjobs and blowjobs; men finger and eat out. I know what you’re thinking ladies: it’s a job so we should get paid! Just remember, even if you did get paid, you’d only get 75% of what gay guys would get.

 

Anway, back to my dead buddy. What his epitaph should have read was, “Lazy cocksucker should have exercised more.” All he had to do was go for a run every once in a while instead of lying around on his wrap-around sofa, and he’d still be blowin coke off of some skank’s tits right now. So you know, the moral of the story is: reserve the “rest in peace” thing for those who deserve it.

 

My parents caught me high once. I came home and they were watching TV and I was all fucked up. I mean I didn’t even know what was going on, I just stood in the living room doorway with my mouth open, shoving chips into it, crumbs falling all over the floor, a little drool coming down my chin, trying to figure out what was on the television and oblivious to the fact that my parents were both staring at me, watching me shove my fingers into my mouth and sucking the salt off like it was the greatest thing in the world (mimic sucking on fingers in an exaggerated way). When I realized they were both looking at me, and I saw the looks on their faces, I knew I was busted, but I was so high that I just started laughing hysterically. My parents had very different reactions to this. After a few seconds of me standing there laughing like an idiot, my dad walked straight up to me so his face was right in mine, which was not helping me keep a straight face, and he started sniffing like a hound dog (mimic). He looked at me after he got a good scent and whispered in this angry, clenched-jaw tone, “Are you on dope, right now?” Now, when he said this, I was caught between two very opposite emotions: one was fear. My dad hates drugs and thinks that all drugs: weed, crack, heroin…are all the same, so even though I was just stoned and did’t drive that night, I was as bad as a meth head. I knew he was pissed and I was terrified that he was going to knock my ass out. On the other hand, I already had a case of the giggles so when he asked me if I was on dope I almost lost my shit. I was so high I was laughing with fear. The ONLY time you can laugh with fear is when you are REALLY high. Have you ever broke out laughing during a really scary horror movie? If you  So there I was, emotionally confused and unable to say anything with my dad so close to my face I could smell the nachos on his breath. Of course, it smelled delicious but I managed to hold back from asking him if I could have some. Then he said, “You better smarten up because if I ever catch you like this again, I will take care of the few brain cells you have left in that empty head.” And that’s what fathers do: they scare and intimidate to keep you from doing stupid shit. But notice how he didn’t say, “don’t ever do this again.” It wasn’t an ultimatum, I mean it was a threat, but it was also kind of a dare, you know, “IF I ever CATCH you again…” I read between the lines. My dad wasn’t telling me not to do dumb shit, he was saying don’t get CAUGHT doing dumb shit. So thanks, Dad. I took your advice and smartened up and over the past ten years you haven’t caught me high once. And I was high plenty of time. I’m high right now! (to the audience) Didn’t notice, right? Yeah…smart.

 

My mom had a very different reaction. Parents are funny like that – it’s like they subconsciously play good cop/bad cop. My dad was always bad cop. But it’s not just with punishment. Kids know they can manipulate their parents, so when they don’t get the answer they want from one parent, they go to the other one to get what they want. In the education world, we call that splitting, and if you know any married couple you know that turning them against each other is easier than convincing a fat kid that cake frosting makes you smarter (mimic a fat kid stuffing his face with icing). So my mom, who sat quietly as my dad threatened to knock my head off, told me to sit down then very calmly and very gently said, “Well I feel dumb. I just thought you were a bit tipsy from drinking and had bad allergies.”

Time Travel

I think about time travel a lot. But in a completely narcissistic way. Like, I’d go back to all the times I got beat up, and find the person that kicked my ass five minutes before my younger self showed up and just beat the shit out of the guy, you know? Just like, punch him in the face and kick him in the ribs kind of shit. And I’d win, too. I’d definitely win this time because the last legitimate fight I was in was in middle school, so the oldest guy I’d have to fight would be 13, and I can definitely kick a 13-year-old’s ass. I’d be worried though, that I might hit him too hard and put him in a coma or something, or worse, I’d have a flashback to when he kicked my ass, even though he technically hasn’t yet because my younger self hasn’t shown up yet, but anyway, what if I had a flashback and just totally lost my shit? I’d grab the kid by the collar and force him to stare into my eyes and be like:

“Yeah, bitch. Look at me. Look deep into my eyes. Do you recognize me? Huh? (in a higher pitched voice) How about now? Do you realize who I am yet?”

And he would. He would realize that I’m me, except 17 years older. And then 30-year-old Dave would run off and hide just when 13-year-old Dave shows up, and completely fucks this kid’s mind up. That’s how narcisitic I am: Instead of doing something that would change history or make the world a better place, I’d go back in time and completely destroy a kid’s life just to prevent getting a minor black eye.

 

But you know what’s stupid? When people talk about time travel and say dumb shit like: “I’d go back and kill Hitler and prevent the Holocaust, or, I’d go back and meet Jesus.”

OK. First of all, let’s go through a few scenarios involving Hitler.

  • You go back to 1938 or 39, just before concentration camps start up. How are you going to get to Berlin? Like, what? You’re just going to hop on a commercial flight to Germany, take a taxi to his house, because at that time, every taxi driver in Germany knows where Hitler lives! And then you’re going to get out, walk right past his SS body guards who just ignore the person wearing strange clothes and who can’t speak German, and just showed up to Hitler’s house unannounced, just walk right by them, knock on the door and when Hitler answers, you what? Pull out a random gun that you just so happen to have stuffed in your pants? I guess it would have to be a Luger since you’re in Germany unless you somehow snuck it by security at the airport, and while I’m sure security wasn’t as crazy to get by as it is today, considering the world is on the brink of war, I’d imagine they’d spot a gun in your pants, but let’s ignore that fact and just get to where you shoot Hitler in the face, because, you know, killing someone is EASY. Just point the gun at his head and pull the trigger. BAM! No more Holocaust! WRONG! You know what would happen even if you managed to do all that? First, all those guards would shoot your body with their bullets until there was nothing left of you. And then, upon hearing that an American killed Hitler, all of Germany would rally to declare war on America before we had a chance to build up an arsenal. Oh and preventing the Holocaust? No, the only thing you’d succeed in doing is pissing off Goebbels and Himmler, who would honor their dead furher by killing all the Jews in Europe as quickly as possible, skipping the concentration camps and just going with blow torches and machine guns instead. So, well done. You helped Germany win WW2 and made the Holocaust even worse than what it was.
  • Second scenario; and I love this one. Kill Hitler when he’s a baby! Because that’s totally fine. Not only do you have to go through the same trouble of getting to Germany, but then you have to sneak into his parents’ house, go into his room, and kill a fucking baby. I know it’s Hitler, but it’s pre-Nazi psychopath Hitler. I doubt any of you would actually be able to go through with it, so you’d come back to present time and get so depressed that you let Hitler live and allow the Holocaust to happen that you’d kill yourself, and according to Christian belief, go to Hell, where you’d then see Hitler every day for eternity.

You know what I’d do? I would go back to the moment just before Hitler got rejected from art school, put a gun to his professor’s head and tell him: “You will accept Adolf into school and give him straight A’s until he graduates, or I will find you and kill you and your family. Oh, you also have to convert him to Judaism. Good luck!”

 

Then you have people who say they’d go back and meet Jesus. Again, explain to me how the fuck you are going to get to Jerusalem? Planes won’t be invented for another 1800 years, and I’m pretty sure a boat would take two years to get across the ocean, not to mention once you got across the ocean you then have to figure out how to communicate with the locals, none of whom speak English because the language hasn’t been invented yet, and you’d have to trade your Tevas for a camel – and yes, if you’re the type of person who says you’d go back in time to meet Jesus, you wear fucking Tevas – learn how to ride the camel, and navigate your way through the desert without any GPS or even a map – just using the stars as guides to travel hundreds of miles of uncivilized, dangerous terrain. No big deal, right? So, you get to Jerusalem, you find Jesus, who also doesn’t speak English but he’s God so he must be able to understand, and you say:

  • “Hello Jesus. I just traveled here from THE FUTURE to meet you.” Effectively making you history’s most epic one-upper. You meet Jesus and you’re like “Wow, you’re amazing. You cure the blind, turn water into wine, you cure leprosy, you can walk on water…I just TRAVELED 2000 YEARS THROUGH TIME! No biggie. Oh, and with modern medicine and technology, I can actually do all the things you do. Well, maybe not me directly, but I can do it vicariously….you know what, nevermind.”

And of course, others get wind of this and Jesus loses all credibility. People are like:

  • 1st person: “The son of God? Please. This man (or woman) came from the year 2014!
  • 2nd person: “2014? What year is it now? Negative 5?”

And of course, you tell Jesus that billions of people still worship him and know him to be the son of God who was crucified and died for all our sins, and Jesus is like:

  • Jesus: “Crucified? Wait, did you just say crucified? When do I get crucified? (Looks up) Dad? DAD! Who is this person and what’s this about being crucified for all of man’s sins? DAD!

So yeah, well done. You one-upped Jesus, took away all his credibility, changing the course of history and now we all worship Kevin, the one and true time traveling savior!

The Invitation

He looked down at the invitation in his hand: the maroon letters in segoe script font on the off-white card with a printed ribbon border spelled out names he was familiar with – he knew the names and the people attached to those names for almost twenty years – along with a date and a cordial invitation: Mr. and Mrs. James Mahoney request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their daughter Jordana Eveline Mahoney & Matthew James McCormac son of Mr. and Mrs. James Andrew McCormac, Saturday September 13, 2014.

It was not a surprise that Matt and Jordana were getting married. They had been dating for five years, and had known each other all their lives. Everyone knew it was just a matter of time before Matt popped the question, and when he did two weeks ago, Ted, along with all of Matt and Jordana’s friends and family congratulated them and wished them the best. What surprised Ted – what hurt him deeply – was that this invitation was the first he had heard of the wedding. This must mean, Ted thought, that I’m…I’m not in the wedding?

Ted and Matt had first met in fifth grade. They were both new to Oak Hill Elementary School, Ted having moved from Toronto and Ted from Dorchester. Since Oak Hill was in a suburb of Massachusetts, both Ted and Matt were teased for their funny accents: Ted for saying “eh” after making a statement or asking a question, and Matt for not pronouncing the letter “r” when he spoke, but instead saying “ah”.

Anybody got a quatah? Matt asked in the cafeteria the first day he arrived at Oak Hill.

A what? Matt responded earnestly. Since he had moved to Franklin only two weeks earlier, Ted was unfamiliar with the Boston accent, and was trying to decipher what Matt was asking for. It sounded like guana or maybe carta, but Ted neither knew what either of those things were or why anyone would be asking for one.

A quatah, Matt repeated. I wanna get a chip-burgah but I only got a dollah. They cost a buck-twenty-five, so I need a quatah.

Oh! Ted exclaimed with a sigh of recognition. A quarter. Yeah, I’ve got a quarter, eh. Ted reached into his pocket and pinched the coin between his index finger and thumb, then pulled it out and flung it towards Matt, who missed it because he was laughing with the rest of the kids at the lunch table.

What? Ted asked, uncertain of why everyone was laughing but certain it was at him.

I don’t know, eh. Greg said.

Yeah, eh. What’s all this aboot, eh? Brendan teased, nudging Ted playfully in the ribs.

Matt picked up the quarter and headed for the ice cream cooler. Hey, thanks for the quatah, eh! He giggled.

Ted had no idea why everyone kept saying, “eh,” or why they were looking at him and laughing. He never noticed that he said “eh” after just about every sentence, nor did he notice anyone else doing it while growing up. It was part of the vernacular in Toronto, so when the kids made fun of him for doing it, he became very self-conscious and embarrassed. It was difficult, especially at a young age, to recognize when you are doing something that’s different from the norm, and try to fix it. Ted wanted to fit in as quickly as possible in his new school, having seen what happens to new kids at his old school in Toronto that struggle transitioning to a new social hierarchy. If Ted was becoming the butt of the jokes already, the rest of fifth grade would surely be an eternity of misery.

When Matt came back to the table, munching on his ice cream sandwich, Ted, knowing that he had to find a replacement for the position he was in, in the pecking order, looked at Matt and said, loud enough for the entire table to hear him, say quarter, again.

What? Why? Matt asked.

Just say it, Ted insisted.

No. Fuck you, Matt said.

Greg saw what Ted was trying to do, and as the alpha in the group, took charge in assuring that Ted remained the target of the jokes. Hey, Ted. When Ted looked over, he noticed all eyes were on him. The blood in his face drew hot, and he felt his stomach begin to knot. Is it true, Greg went on, that people live in igloos in Canada? There was some chuckles but no one took their eyes off of Ted.

No, Ted said defensively. We live in houses and buildings just like you, eh. In fact, Toronto is like, one of the biggest cities in the world. It’s bigger than Boston, eh.

Is your dad a lumberjack, eh? Greg asked. The giggling turned into chuckling.

Fuck you, eh.

The laughter broke out like a clap of thunder, echoing throughout the cafeteria. Now, the eyes of every student in the cafe were looking at Ted, who was red with anger. He wanted to jump up and attack Greg, but he felt powerless with the deafening sound of laughter pointed at him. He had become the new kid that everyone made fun of. How did this happen? Ted wondered. He had been here for two weeks and no one made fun of the way he spoke. Why the sudden change? It suddenly dawned on him: Matt had done this. Before he moved to Franklin, Ted was the new kid; fresh, interesting, exotic. He came from a different country and lived in a city. Everyone wanted to know what it was like living in Toronto, but now, Matt was here. The role of new kid shifted, and like Ted, Matt grew up in a city, except this city was the home of all the beloved sports teams and the lure of danger, crime, and excitement. Dorchester was a rough neighborhood, and Matt was a product of that. Toronto was in Canada, home to a hockey team and a new basketball franchise named after a dinosaur. No one was going to pick on Matt because he was assumed to be tough. Ted was an easy target, even though, in reality, the roles were reversed. Matt did grow up in a rough area of Boston, but he never went too far from home and the roughest things got for him was when he’d wrestle around with his two younger brothers. Ted, on the other hand, grew up on a street with a few older kids that picked on him and treated him like a little brother – forcing him to play goalie during street hockey games then pelting him with slap shots, holding him on the ground and giving him charlie horses until his legs went numb, they even once handcuffed him to a tree and left him there while they went inside to eat dinner. At his Catholic elementary school where he had classmates from all different parts of the world and an Irish-Catholic principal, Mr. Fitzpatrick, who treated violent outbursts with a slap on the wrist and an hour of detention, fistfights at recess were common. Ted found himself in a fight with one of his friends or classmates almost once a month, whether it was a result of an argument during a touch-football game, a battle over a girl’s attention, or simply a moderately-aggressive “your mama” joke, it didn’t take much for Ted to lose his cool and start throwing punches. He didn’t think much of it. Going home with a black eye, a fat lip, or a blood-stained shirt from a bloody nose was no big deal, and after the fight, Ted and the other kid usually became even closer as friends. It was almost a right of passage, and Ted was considered the toughest kid in school.

All of that changed when he moved to Franklin. Oak Hill had a no tolerance policy regarding violence, and if Ted started a fight with anyone, he’d find himself suspended or even expelled from school. So, when everyone suddenly turned on him, he didn’t know what to do. He just sat there, staring down at the left over mashed potatoes on his tray and waited for the bell to ring. When the bell did ring, all the kids got up to throw their trays in the garbage and head to their next class. Ted waited for all the other kids to go first, as he was worried someone would make fun of him when there was a girl around. Matt noticed Ted’s hesitancy and gave him a little nudge. “You know we’re all just messin’ with you, right?”

“Yeah, I guess,” Ted tried to say with as much confidence as he could muster.

“What class you got?” Matt asked.

Ted pulled his crumpled schedule from his pocket, smoothed it out it on the table, and after an uncertain moment when he wasn’t really sure if he was reading it properly, said: “I think I have art.”

Matt’s mouth spread into a wide grin, “Mr. Pitts?”

“Yeah.”

“Me, too. Come on, we’ll go together.”

Ted and Matt went to art class together where they goofed off until Mr. Pitts threatened to throw them out of class. After school, Ted went to Matt’s to shoot hoops. For the next eight years, they were inseparable. They had their differences of course: Ted played on the high school soccer and hockey teams, Matt played football and basketball, but they hung out almost everyday and once they became upper classmen and house parties became a weekend activity, they could always be counted on to show up together with a bottle of Captain Morgan and two twenty ounce Coca-colas. They grew apart a little during college since Ted went to UMass and Matt went to a small business school in Vermont before transferring to UNLV, but even during those four years, they’d make it a point to try and visit each other over spring breaks and hang out back home over winter and summer vacations. Neither of them thought they’d ever stop being friends. No matter what happened, they always had each others’ backs.

Of course, no one can really plan for life and the way it comes crashing down on you like a rogue wave on a calm night. After fifteen years of unbreakable friendship, Ted and Matt decided to do the one thing capable of destroying any relationship: they moved in together. Ted had moved to the city right after college, and after spending the first two years out of college living at his parents’ house in Franklin, Matt took Ted’s offer to rent an apartment together. Both Ted and Matt worked in the city, Ted as a special education teacher and Matt as a restaurant manager. They worked opposite hours – Ted worked 8-4, Matt typically worked 4-midnight, so they didn’t see much of each other during the week. Matt made it a point to be quiet when he came home at night, not to wake Ted, and Ted returned the favor in the mornings. Still, things were rocky from the start: there was an argument over who got which room since one was significantly larger than the other, and it just built on from there…arguments over food and groceries, leaving dirty dishes in the sink, keeping the bathroom clean, borrowing money for the Laundromat… it seemed that every little detail was under scrutiny and Matt began to resent Ted. Ted, having been accustomed to arguments and fights, as he’d been getting into them with most of his friends, and all of his family, his entire life, thought little of the issues he and Matt were having living together. He took them as a part of having roommates. For Ted, if there were no arguments or fights every now and then, something was wrong. He and Matt had had plenty of blow-outs and even a few scuffles over their years as friends and they made it through it all. There was no reason to believe differently.

Things took a turn for the worse when Matt’s work schedule changed, and he had to work the morning shifts. Ted saw it as a perfect opportunity for them to hang out and get drinks after work, and smooth things out, but Matt wasn’t interested. He’d go out for drinks if he had the following day off, but otherwise, he preferred to stay at the apartment and have some drinks in front of the TV. Ted hated staying in the apartment, and hated the TV shows Matt watched even more. He couldn’t understand how anyone could watch reality TV – mental diarrhea, as he called it – and voiced his disdain every time he walked in on Matt watching Real Housewives, Pawn Stars, Jersey Shore, or any other show that Ted considered below him.

“Come on!” Ted whined, “turn this shit off and come get a beer with me.”

Matt picked up the beer he had next to him, gave it a light shake and said, “already got one.” Then he took a sip and turned the volume on the TV up.

Ted never stayed out late on weekdays, so there was never an issue of him waking Matt up, but come Friday and Saturday, Ted felt he had every right to stay out as late as he wanted and to get as drunk as he wanted, which he often did. When Matt went out with him on the occasional Friday or Saturday night, they’d resort to the same attitudes they had as teenagers, drinking pitchers of beer, taking shots of Captain or SoCo, and laughing all night over nostalgic stories. Those nights were few and far between, since Matt now had to work most Saturday and Sunday mornings. Ted always got drunk. He said it was his reward for being underpaid and underappreciated at work. He had plenty of other friends in the city, and finding people to go out and get wasted was just as easy living in Boston as it was living in the dorms at UMass. Boston is a drinking town, after all, and Bostonians take pride in that fact, just as New Yorkers take pride in their ability to make it big, Californians take pride in their uniqueness, and Floridians take pride in their cameos on COPS. Since Ted tended to drink heavily, he tended to come back to the apartment well after midnight with a craving for munchies. If he came home with some friends, he’d try to keep the party going by turning on music, passing out beers or shots, and yelling nonsense until he either passed out of ran to the bathroom to throw up.

Matt never said anything to him, even though seeing all the dirty dishes on the counter, often times with bits of Chinese food or chips littering the floor, his bottle of honey mustard left opened or empty, and people he never met snoring on the couch with their dirty socks on the coffee table made his skin crawl, not to mention that he had to look at all of that while fighting off the heavy fatigue he felt due to his lack of sleep. He’d take out some of his anger by stomping around, slamming kitchen drawers and cabinets, and slamming the front door when he left, but none of that was comparable to the inconsideration Ted treated him with, nor did it have the same lasting affect since Ted was able to fall back asleep for the rest of the morning while Matt had to go to work and desperately try not to take his anger out on an unsuspecting customer or one of his hapless waiters.

It wasn’t until Matt began spending all of his time at Jordana’s, who he’d started dating just before moving into Boston, and presenting his resentment towards Ted with a level of passive aggressiveness that made Ted want to put his fist through the wall that Ted was fully aware his friendship was weaning from what it once was. There were fewer arguments and no blow-outs as the months went on. Ted rarely saw Matt, and when he asked if he’d be around to grab a drink, Matt would shake his head and answer simply with, “work.”

Ted cocked his eye and asked with a little too much accusation in his voice: “What, did they change your hours again?”

“Yeah, Ted. Not everyone gets the luxury of working 8-5 jobs. Some of us have to work 60 hours a week.”

Matt had said that with so much disdain, Ted almost felt guilty for having a job with regular hours. He didn’t like being accused of not working as hard as Matt, since Ted’s job was extremely demanding and exhausting, but he agreed that 60-hour work weeks was something he could never do.

“Well, consider yourself lucky.” Matt was taking a large hamper of laundry to his car.

“We got a letter from the landlord. He wants to know if we’re renewing the lease.” Ted knew the answer already, but figured he’d hear it from Matt directly, just to be sure.

“Look,” Matt said after putting the laundry in his trunk. Ted could see Matt had a few other items from his room in his back seat. It was like he was already moving out. “Jordana and I have decided to move in together. We found a place in West Newton, so I’m going to be moving out at the end of August. If you want to stay here, you should probably start looking for a new roommate now.”

Ted stepped in front of Matt to prevent him from getting into his car. He could feel his heart rate picking up as Matt’s words processed. “Wait. What do you mean you guys already have a place? How long have you been looking?”

“A month,” Matt said.

“Why the fuck didn’t you say anything to me?” Ted said, his voice getting louder and aggressive.

Matt got closer to Ted, sensing Ted’s anger and becoming angry himself. “What? I have to ask you for permission before I do anything?”

“No! But it would have been a little considerate if you had told me you were doing this before now. You’re leaving me high and dry you fucking asshole.”

“Considerate? No, you did not just accuse me of being inconsiderate. There’s no fucking way you just said that.”

“You are!”

“You want to talk inconsiderate? Huh? How about keeping me up all night when I have work in the morning? How about eating all of my goddamned food and leaving your shit all over the apartment for me to clean? You don’t think that’s inconfuckingsiderate?”

At this, Ted made a face, brushing Matt’s comments off. “Oh give me a break,” he said. “I barely touched any of your food and anything I ate, I replaced.”

“No!” Matt yelled, his neck and face beating red. “No, you didn’t! Every time I went to make a sandwich, I was out of honey mustard, or ranch dressing. You always ate my food and you never replaced it, so don’t tell me you didn’t.”

“So you’re moving out because I used some of your goddamned honey mustard? Seriously?”

Matt stormed back into the apartment, went into the kitchen and then turned, shooting Ted a blazing look while holding his arms out at his sides. “Look at this shit,” he growled. “It’s a fucking mess in here. I’m tired of cleaning up after you. I’m tired of listening to you come home late and scream and yell with your friends, and I’m tired of all your bullshit. I’m moving out. Get over it.”

Ted followed Matt back out to his car, yelling at his back: “Good luck keeping your relationship together. Jordana’s got her work cut out for her; I hope she can deal with your crazy OCD bullshit!”

“Go fuck yourself, Ted.”

Matt drove off and was gone for a few days, but he went back to the apartment sporadically to sleep, take a nap, or to watch TV. He even started going out at night since his schedule changed again, but he never invited Ted, and Ted gave up asking where Matt was going since anytime he asked, Matt would say: “What are you, my mother? Don’t worry about where I’m going.” By the end of the month, Matt was taking the last of his things out of the apartment, and Ted was getting ready for his Labor Day weekend in the Cape.

They both parted without saying a word to each other. When Ted returned from the Cape, his friend, Jon, had moved all of his things in and started to put some pictures up on the wall.

“Looks good!” Ted told him, checking out Jon’s set-up. It was strange looking into Matt’s room and seeing someone else’s bed, dresser, and clothes. There were posters of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, The Allman Brothers, and Bruce Springsteen on the wall that reminded Ted of the concerts he and Matt went to during high school. Ever since he started dating Jordana, Matt stopped listening to classic rock and turned to country, the one genre Ted could not stand. As Ted stood in Jon’s room, he had trouble piecing together his year living with Matt. How had he changed so much in so little time? What happened? Was it possible that he and his best friend were actually incompatible but never realized it until they were forced to? He decided not to worry about it for too long. Ted figured that since they weren’t living together anymore, things would cool off and eventually go back to normal. They never did though.

Four years had passed since Matt moved out. Ted was still living in the same apartment, although he had gone through two more roommates – Jon moved in with his girlfriend two years after moving in with Ted, and his latest roommate, a random guy from Craigslist, just up and left without any notice. Ted felt like it was time for him to move out as well but wasn’t sure where to go or who to move in with. Most of his friends either had places or lived with their girlfriends. He scanned through the contacts of his phone to see if he could find someone who might want to move in with him. When he got to Matt’s name, he stopped and wondered how long it had been since he spoke to him. They hung out a handful of times over the years, Matt always telling Ted about work and how he never had time to go out, although Ted always heard through other friends about concerts, parties, and vacation spots that Matt went to with Jordana and some of their friends from work. Ted considered calling Matt, just to catch up and tell him about the weirdo that had moved in and then left unexpectedly. It would be a story Matt would find hilarious, Ted thought. He stepped outside – it was a beautiful sunny day – and hit the call button on his phone. It rang a few times then went to voicemail. Ted thought about leaving a message but when he heard the beep, he hung up. He stood outside for a while, enjoying the warmth of the sun and listening to the sounds of dogs barking, kids playing, and traffic commuting. When he turned to head back inside, he was in a surprisingly good mood. He was ready for a new beginning. He grabbed the mail on the way inside and flipped through the handful of envelopes. When he got to the small, sealed letter with fancy handwriting, he stopped dead in his tracks. He threw the rest of the mail on the counter and tore open the envelope, frantically pulling out the invitation like it was an urgent note from a missing person. He stared at the invitation, reading over the names and the date. September 13 was only three weeks away. How long had they been engaged without me knowing, Ted said out loud. His stomach felt nauseated, like his heart had swan dived into it. He felt so betrayed and alone. Ted always told his friends, especially Matt, that he was never going to get married, but he always told himself, that if he did, Matt would be his best man. Even after all the fighting and the separation between them, he couldn’t think of anyone more deserving. They had been friends for almost twenty years, after all, and spent nearly ten of those years side-by-side. Matt was more of a brother to him than a friend. And yet, Ted knew, looking at the invitation in his hand that he was not going to be Matt’s best man. Not even a groomsman. He was just…a guest.

Ted couldn’t help but laugh a little, quietly, to himself, because what he really wanted to do was cry and scream, but he was too shocked for tears and anger. He could have called Matt. Asked him why he was left out. Asked him if he still considered Ted to be his best friend. Or even a friend at all. But what was the point? The invitation answered all those questions without Ted even having to ask them. It was a clear message. Matt had moved on, Ted should do the same.

Ted walked over to the fridge and grabbed the last beer. It was cold and the humidity in the house made the bottle sweat. When he sat on the couch, he placed the invitation on the coffee table, took a big sip from his beer and put the beer on top of the invitation. Droplets of water rolled down the neck of the bottle and collected in a small pool at the base of the bottle, causing the ink on the invitation to run. Ted flipped through the stations, but found nothing of interest. A bunch of mental diarrhea, he thought. He grabbed his beer, pursed his lips around the mouth, and tipped it back, gulping it down while staring at the invitation below. The bottle had left a perfectly round circle that was bleeding out from all sides like the fire from the sun. It’s far too nice to be inside, Ted said aloud to himself. He slammed the beer down on the invitation, smearing the names and date, and left his apartment.