When my bar pal’s girlfriend sent me a solicitous message through an online dating site I tried to straddle the line between excessive involvement and laissez faire friendship. I sent Jackson a friendly email inviting him to watch football on Sunday; and Samone received a dispassionate reply to her email indicating that she must have forgotten the moment her boyfriend introduced us and that I looked forward to seeing him for drinks later in the weekend. I thought I had struck the best balance available but I still wasn’t necessarily eagerly anticipating our Sunday meeting.
It was just before halftime of the smash mouth game between my Pittsburgh Steelers and the carpet-bagging Baltimore Ravens when Jackson mentioned that Samone was going to join us later. At that point, my beer must have been the most interesting thing in the room because I focused on it until words formed in my brain.
“Jackson, I need you to let me talk for a minute.”
“This is one of those times when I really wish I didn’t have to say anything…”
“Is this about the message you sent to Samone’s old dating profile? She told me about that and trust me it’s not a big deal.”
I was being handed another opportunity to keep my pie hole shuttered. Determined to take it, I replied “Well, I’m glad you two talked and everything’s everything.”
“Dude, we’re all cool” were Jackson’s (and I hoped everyone’s) final words on the matter.
I suspected that Samone spun the story to have me initiating contact and I was determined not to care. This is their relationship; Jackson is a drinking buddy not a friend and more importantly there is no graceful exit for me. Still I had no desire to be party to certain fraud when his girlfriend arrived, but no plausible reason for leaving with my Steelers on TV. I tried not to consider the eventual and hoped Samone wouldn’t arrive until after the game.
Jackson and I talked football in general and this game specifically as the two defenses yielded almost nothing to the opposing offenses. Going into the fourth quarter my Steelers were down six points and Samone walked into the bar – not sure which bothered me more. She greeted both of us warmly and sat to Jackson’s left and placed her arm round his shoulder.
Idle chatter was interspersed with random shouts of “Go,” “Hit that guy” and other football expletives. The game was going down to the wire – along with my patience for this situation – but my Steelers and my patience were winning. The rookie Ravens quarterback who has played over is head the entire season had no more magic in his arm and the final play was intercepted. When the cheers had quieted Samone punctuated the moment with “I’m so glad the three of us can sit here and enjoy an evening together in spite of the potential awkwardness of the message you sent me, Refugee.”
“Me too, if you two will excuse me for a moment, I’ve been waiting to go to the men’s room for the last 45 minutes.”
I returned after a few minutes to settle my tab and exit for more friendly environs.
“Samone, Jackson, I’d say that this has been a pleasure but I don’t want to compound the lies of this afternoon. Jack, I just sent you an email wherein I forwarded the original message your girlfriend sent me. You and I have never been great friends and I don’t imagine that this is going to improve things. But you needed to know the truth about how this went down, and you should also know that even if Samone was my type – you know, faithful – I would never have tried to poach her away from you. Good luck to you both.”
While my words still hung in the air, I said good bye to the bartender and most likely a bar pal with whom I won’t be drinking again.