Saturday, October 22, 2011

An Open Letter to Brian, Regarding the Passing of an Old Friend

Dear Brian,

We have had our differences in the past. So much so, in fact, that I find myself posting this open letter to you on my blog, as I have no doubt you have blocked my email in order to avoid any direct contact. I happen to know that you monitor my online presence, however, so I'm sure this will eventually make it to your eyes. If not... oh well. It still needs to be said.

A close mutual friend of ours passed away last week. He died young and unexpectedly, and left behind a wife and daughter. Those who knew him and cared about him were devastated.

With the service planned for the following Wednesday, I volunteered to help contact all of his old friends to see who could attend. Having known him since High School, I was able to reach out to those he had lost contact with, those with fond memories of an old friend who had tragically passed away at the age of 36. I contacted everyone I could think of that might have even indirectly known him, on the off chance that they would want to come and pay their respects.

I did not attempt to contact you.

You were one of his closest friends back in the old days - practically joined at the hip, as is proven by numerous pictures and videos the two of you took back then. Thick as thieves, some would say. But I made no attempt to contact you with the news. Not because of the animosity between us now, or out of any fear of confrontation or personal grudge. I did not attempt to contact you because, in my honest opinion, you did not deserve to know.

I was informed by some mutual friends of ours (the ones you have childishly told you can not associate with as long as they are still friends of mine), that they felt you should be informed. I disagree with their judgement, but can forgive them for the error, as they still feel some weird affection towards you, like the ghostly pains of a phantom limb. They only see what used to be there. But, their hearts were in the right place. So they informed you of our old friend's demise, and invited you to the service.

You said you were sorry to hear about his death, and that you would send a card or something, but that you would not attend the service. I predicted as much before I was told. You have spent most of your adult life isolating yourself from old friends one by one, using excuses of moral outrage and logical wariness to rationalize your disdain for exerting undue effort on behalf of anyone but yourself. But you couldn't just say you were busy, or had to work, or didn't want to travel so far. You already knew that these cop-outs would not fly, that other friends who had not seen him in years were taking time off work and traveling for hours on end to say farewell to someone they cared deeply about. So, you fell back on an old standby. You blamed me. I am much too dangerous, you explained, and you have to protect me from your family.

I did not invite you to the service because I felt you did not belong there. But you were invited anyway. And you proved me right by refusing to attend. I am not upset that you did not attend our friend's funeral. You gave up your rights to consider yourself a friend in mourning when you turned your back on him and his family, not only making up excuses to avoid visiting, but cutting off all communication with him out of some strange aversion to other people's problems, an impulse that none of your other former friends have been able to fully comprehend or explain. For someone whose family constantly rubs his old brother's successes in his face to imply his own shortcomings, you have an awful disdain for the weaknesses and faults of others.

I almost believe that our dearly departed mutual friend would agree. He had eventually caught on to your little game of Silent Treatment, and in the past years both he and his wife had expressed to me their displeasure with your attitude and judgement. But I have a feeling that, were he alive today, or if he is in someway witnessing all that has transpired since he died, that he would ultimately forgive you your transgressions and welcome you back as a friend. He was a kind person with a heart bigger than most, and a far more forgiving soul than me. To him, your presence at the service would probably have been seen as a blessing, rather than the insult that it would be.

No, I am not mad at you for not attending our friend's funeral. I'm glad you chose not to attend. You proved yourself to be as shallow and vain as I had predicted. But I take issue with you scapegoating me as the reason. Too cowardly to just say you can't be bothered to honor the memory of a childhood friend, you hide behind accusations that I am a "Dangerous" man, too wild and unpredictable to allow access to you and your family. I will admit that I am a large man, and stand strong and vindictive with my passions and beliefs, sometimes often stubbornly so (as this open letter undoubtedly proves). But you would have to travel far and wide to find those who can honestly claim they have been harmed by my hand or through my intentions. I am no Mother Theresa, but it would take a fair amount of creative enhancement of my actions and deeds to paint me as any kind of imminent threat.

Besides, what is this "family" you are so eager to protect me from? You have spent most of your adult life running away from your immediate family, rightfully eager to distance yourself from parents and siblings that have done little more than look down on you since your childhood, always treating you as an inferior and a disappointment. You've succeeded in this escape on many levels, apparently, since even your own mother doesn't have a single picture of you on her Facebook page. Plenty of your older brother and his family, but not a single one of you. She even has one of your wife, although I'm assuming that was because she liked the dress. I know this, by the way, because your mother was on our dead friend's Facebook Friends List.

If I am indeed dangerous to you, than I am a danger to your heightened self-image, and the rationalizations you use to build walls of false logic and moral superiority between yourself and others, intricate facades meant to obscure the truly selfish and emotionally lazy reasons you have for your treatment of people you somehow refer to as friends. You select and eliminate friends like a child in a schoolyard, assuming that your approval or disapproval means something about the intrinsic worth of others, that your imposed rankings and presumptuous bartering of friendship as chattel ("I can't be your friend if you are his friend.") carries an weight or substance, as if such prepubescent posturing has any place in the complicated world of adult relationships.

You turned your back on our friend as you did countless others, and always with hypocritical reasoning. You turn your back on a friend because of his less than wise personal life choices, then sink money into a house on a flood plane now worth half what you paid, at best. You reject a friend because of his educational career choices, only to drop out of NYU after a solid week because you couldn't handle it. You shun friends because they are having drug or alcohol problems, only to become a closet drinker yourself, sneaking cases of wine into your bedroom at night while your parents are asleep. You criticize friends for breaking the law and not respecting the property of others, then illegally enter your neighbor's vacant apartment on New Years Eve as a joke. You eliminate friends from your life with smug self-justification, then hold a bitter grudge when one of those friends becomes famous after forming a band he didn't invite you to join.

I guess we do still have our differences. But at least we both agreed on one thing: you didn't belong at our old friend's funeral. Too bad you had use me as an excuse. Since you weren't there, however, let me assure you that you were not missed. Get used to that.


An old, former friend.

P.S. No doubt, you will react to my communication with you as you have in the past, by threatening to submit it as evidence of some sort of ever-increasing imaginary threat I pose to the safety of you and your "family." In order to facilitate the process for your local authorities, I have included below a complete list of my alleged transgressions:

*Allegedly (without any evidence or proof to support such accusations) making copies of your wife's LiveJournal posts in which she said nasty things about her in-laws, and then mailing those unfortunate public statements to your parents via the postal service.

[I must point out that this event took place before our mutual falling out, after which I was suddenly blamed. Before our falling out, all accusations regarding the mysterious LiveJournal Copies were directed (also without evidence) at your former upstairs neighbor in the house rented to you by your parents, whose apartment I witnessed you enter illegally on several occasions.]

*Calling you two days after the birth of our dead friend's daughter to chastise you for not calling to congratulate him, and then erupting into a fifteen-minute rant in which I said many ugly, nasty, horrible things about you and your wife.

[Guilty as charged, as the audience of coworkers who giggled uncontrollably while watching me will readily contest to.]

*Inviting you and/or your spouse to a dozen or so online social networks over a one-year period, including MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and several others that are most likely defunct by now.

[Feel free to attach your itemized, dated list of these invites, which you sent me once as proof of my "harassment" of you. I'm assuming I'm not the only person on the list of unwanted invites, however, since even your mother doesn't have you as one of her Facebook Friends.]

*Writing a short parody of the Saw film franchise as a Pledge commercial, in which I inadvertently gave a character the same name as your wife.

[An honest coincidence, which I attempted to correct by immediately changing the name of the character. Later, realizing how stupid the accusation was, as there was no similarities whatsoever between your wife and the character beyond the name, I went back and restored the original name of the character in the piece, which can still be read here.] 

Add this open letter condemning you for your cowardly and selfish actions in regards to an old friend's passing to the list, and I think that brings us up to date. Wow, I really am dangerous, aren't I?
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