Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Choosing Sides

I’ve been through it a hundred times before. For as long as I’ve had friends, I had friends who were together as a couple, until they break up. It was fun, and convenient for me, to hang out with the both of them while they were still together. I was friends with her, and I was friends with him. But then they break up, and I have to figure out which one I am going to still be friends with.

It’s inevitable that I end up picking a side. I listen to each describe the injustices that the other committed. But eventually I end up picking one of them to remain friends with no matter how hard I try to be fair and to treat each of them equally. It’s an uncomfortable spot to be in, as I often find myself outraged at the stories I am told about cruelties committed by one of the members of the marriage. Then I side with the one who had suffered the most in the breakup as a show of support.

Just weeks before Todd and I got married a friend of mine called me up to tell me that he and his wife were divorcing. He asked me if we would help him move out of their apartment and into his bachelor pad—which we did, just three weeks before our own marriage was to begin. After the divorce I tried staying friends with his ex-wife, but it didn’t work out. I felt too strongly about her role in causing the divorce, and had to choose. It wasn’t too hard of a choice, as I was friends with him first.

Just last night I had dinner with a friend who was visiting from out of town. He took a job out of state that eventually contributed to his own divorce. I met the both of them at the same time, so I didn’t have a natural way to choose a side in this case. Instead of politely listening to his digs about his ex, I said “Hey, let’s talk about the future instead of the past, eh?” He acknowledged that I was right, and told me about new developments in his bachelor life—which was way more interesting than his anger over the ex anyway. But I am still outraged at how he was treated by her. And though I still want to be her friend too, if they were both at the same party I’d probably hang out with him more. Side chosen, again.

Then tonight it happened again. I sat at the bar and read while I waited for Todd to join me when I looked over my shoulder and spotted another friend of mine who is going through a separation. She pretended not to notice me, but the man she was with looked at me and it was entirely obvious that she had probably said to him, “Don’t look, but I know that woman over there.” The menu was propped up on their table, and they crouched behind it slightly. I turned my attention to my book, but was drawn to looking past them at the door while I waited for Todd. I met them as a couple as well, but I had already sided with her husband only because I hadn’t seen or heard from her in awhile.

Todd walked by her and joined me at the bar and I whispered, “Sandy is here. She’s sitting over there.” He turned to look, but Sandy was firm in facing the other way. We walked by her table so that we could get seated at dinner. She practically dove under her table. It was completely obvious that she didn’t want to be seen by us, but also completely obvious that we’d seen her and that she knew we saw her. They moved to another table, out of our line of sight as we sat down.

Todd grew annoyed, “We haven’t seen her in months, and this is how she acts? I thought she was my friend, you know?” He distractedly fidgeted with his fork and his water glass.

“Obviously she doesn’t want to see us. Let’s just let her be.” I tried to distract him with the menu and talking about my day.

Eventually he got up, went to their table to say hello. I trailed behind and kissed her cheek and told her she looked great. She did look great. And we met her friend, who was obviously uncomfortable. We stayed for a few moments, and then gave in to her awkwardness. We were clearly intruding as they sat close together.

Sandy’s husband has been invited to our house for Thanksgiving already. I doubt that Sandy will come too. Again, side chosen. And I hate doing it.

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Anonymous Taoist Biker said...

Seems like Sandy was tacitly acknowledging that you had a reason NOT to choose her side.

November 4, 2009 at 9:40 AM  
Blogger BJ Knapp said...

You're right, TB. It makes me so sad. Some friends who are closer to Sandy than we are very hurt by her behavior. The same exact thing happened to another friend of ours, and I could tell he was sad about it. I mean, she changed her cell phone number, and everything.

Cleaning out the friends closet sucks. Especially when you're not the one deciding which friends will go and which will stay.

November 4, 2009 at 10:48 AM  
Blogger Ginny said...

The friends should be clearly divided in a pre-nup. No muss, no fuss.

November 4, 2009 at 4:52 PM  
Blogger BJ Knapp said...

Ginny, that's a great idea. But can I still choose, even though my friendship is already laid out legally? LOL.

November 4, 2009 at 8:38 PM  

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