The Unintended Consequences of Being a Good Friend
I woke up bleary-eyed, hair-matted, sun shining intrusively through my curtains, an angry red 8 – 5 – 0 flashing at me from my alarm clock. It took a full 30 seconds for my brain to catch up with my body and remind me it was Friday morning, I had to be at work in 10 minutes and I was uncomfortably hungover and more than likely still a little drunk. First things first, after the obligatory cold water splash on the face and gag while brushing teeth routine, pick up the shambles of my life strewn around my room. As I went to grab my ATM card, wedged underneath my book case, remembrances of how many times it was swiped at the various bars the night before flooded my brain.
Just 13 hours earlier I was happily perched on my couch with a cup of tea, tears streaming down my face as the latest Biggest Loser episode tore at my heart strings from my TV just 10 feet away, when I received that terrible text message. That miserable, guilt-ridden, expensive text message that says, your friend was just dumped, a week before her birthday, time to take out a personal loan, put on some tight jeans and a neon tank and cowboy up, because it’s her unalienable right to call in your funds and good humor to bring her back from the brink of depression.
Much like higher taxes on the wealthy, stricter immigration laws and environmental regulations, something as seemingly easy as being a good friend has far reaching and imposing unintended consequences.
The depleted bank account flashing before my eyes that morning on my computer screen was a reminder that economic factors do not have a part to play in being a good friend. The duty of the ex-boyfriend is to leave the girl inconsolable, full of self-doubt and vacated of self-confidence. The duty of the friend is to buy and ply the girl with shots, go out until all hours of the night regardless of personal health or want and ensure feelings of self-loathing are completely removed.
Just when you have resigned yourself to the fact that you will not have the excess funds for personal grooming, indulgent shopping or possibly your cable bill this month, because all must go to the elusive Good Friend Trust Fund, the oversight of which is comparable to a grand Cayman bank account, you are relieved of your duty. However, the shock of this is not as pleasing as you kept hoping for at the beginning stages of the grieving process (she for her lost relationship, you for your lost finances and freedoms).
It will inevitably happen as you are putting the finishing touches on your grandiose Saturday morning- forget your worries itinerary. Jam packed with a boozy brunch, pottery painting, a local art exhibit, segueing into a sweaty dance party at the local “yes we are single, that’s the only reason we are here” club. You will get a text that she is at his house and they are “working on things” and instead of being flooded with relief, your head fills with the terrible trash you talked about him to her to help her wound her broken ego. They are back together and you are left enjoying your anonymous part in the “healing process”, nursing your wounded bank account with hours of reality TV to catch up on.
And a month later the cycle repeats, perhaps with the same friend, perhaps with another. And you are always there. If I have learned anything from working in Washington D.C. it’s that you cannot please everyone, and there will always be an unintended consequence stemming from something seemingly so helpful and selfless. The only trick is to get dumped first.
You can read more from Melanie Condon on her blog.