Kathy and I were friends for many years. When we met we were both the lowest rungs on the ladder in our office and out of the drudgery of that existence a friendship bloomed. We would regularly go out eating and drinking. We helped each other through some bad times and we celebrated the good. Orphans in a big city, we spent some holidays together. We were both single and we were both out there dating, and met up regularly to commiserate about the lack of good people in the pool.
If this were a Hollywood movie, the story would go like this: One night after too many cocktails, the friends tumble into bed. After it being all awkward and stuff, they eventually decide that true happiness has been in front of them the entire time. The credits roll as a catchy pop song plays in the background. However, my life is not some bubbly Kate Hudson movie. Things were a bit messier. The truth is that there wasn’t a single fiber of my being that was attracted to Kathy. She was one of those people who, like a cartoon character, constantly had their own personal storm cloud above their head. She was a severely co-dependent woman whose streak of bad luck had to be more than just coincidence. But she could hold her liquor, which is really all one wants in a drinking buddy.
Things took a turn for the weird when I met the woman would someday become WonderWife™. Kathy's behavior became erratic. She started to lie about things—telling people about places we had been that we had never been or RSVPing for us at parties that I was not attending. She spread false rumors about the state of my relationship with the future WW™. She tried to take over co-hosting duties at my bbq. One night I discovered Kathy, who was armed with a few of my carnal secrets from my dating days, telling a rather ribald tale at a dinner party, where the FWW™ was a guest.
The obvious truth became all too apparent to me. In Kathy’s mind, this was a Julia Roberts movie and she was the plucky heroine who was valiantly trying to sabotage my relationship with the FWW™ because we were destined to be together. My course of action was clear. I had to break up with Kathy.
The conversation was as dramatic and intense as if Kathy and I had been actually dating. She cried and denied her lies, even though I had proof. She refused to understand. The talk lasted for an hour and afterward, I was as drained as a tri-athlete after a race.
Years later, Kathy still pops up periodically in my life, like a stomach flu. And like a stomach flu, dealing with her is every bit as unpredictable and uncomfortable. We work in the same industry, which means that even though I'm attending a convention with 125,000 other people, it's certain that I will run into her. Based on things I've come to learn about her, I wouldn't be surprised if there was some stalking involved. (I wouldn't be surprised if she were reading this right now.) It’s creepy the way she knows everything about me, about my kids, about WonderWife™. She speaks to me in a friendly tone that does not acknowledge any trouble in our past. To her, I am a long lost friend with whom she is eager to be back in touch. She wants to make plans to come over and see the kids, and WonderWife™. I smile and nod and tell her how good it would be to see her, as to avoid any public confrontations, and when her assistant calls to schedule lunch I never call back. Not that it matters. The next time Kathy pops up, she acts the same, as if she was hit with the flashy thing from Men in Black. Like I said, creepy.
Through all of this, WonderWife™ sees the humor in the situation, laughing at my uncomfortableness. She would love nothing more than to run into Kathy someday. Preferably while we’re out with the kids so she can silently show Kathy what’s what.
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