The One With Friends Who Hated Me
I dated Sam for the first time my junior year of high school. He asked me to homecoming and I said yes. The dance was great and Sam was such a gentleman. He was the star pitcher for the baseball team and had these amazing abs. I remember getting drunk after the dance and just sticking my hands under his shirt so I could feel his stomach. He loved the attention and I loved the fact that he was letting me do it. Anyway, despite my incredibly stupid behavior post-homecoming, Sam still asked me to be his girlfriend the next Monday at school. I said yes.
Part of Sam's appeal was the fact that he was in a gang. Not a real one, just a fake one, but this still made him a bad boy. And, as I know most of you can attest, girls always fall for the bad boys even when we know we shouldn't. It's part of who we are as women and just something we learn to live with. Like menstrual cycles. Anyway, Sam's gang had some ridiculous name and was comprised of him and four of his friends. They all came from the North East Portland and that was pretty much the basis of their union. It was purely for fun and we all thought it was hilarious.
Anyway, skip forward one week and I had changed my mind about this new relationship. I didn't like Sam as much as I thought I did. His abs could only take me so far. But we were friends before we dated and I didn't see why we couldn't be friends after we broke up. We had only been together for seven days so not much harm had been done, right? Wrong. Our mutual friends, all of whom were guys, took the breakup worse than Sam and practically declared war on me. My name as scribbled on desks right next to such colorful words as Bitch, Skank, and Ho, or any combination of those three. It hurt, but I got over it. I had hoped they would as well.
The second time I dated Sam, we had just finished our freshman years of college. I was at Santa Clara, he was attending Oregon State, and we were both back in Portland for the summer. He came to a party at my house. Remember the one I told you about where Michael tried to make amends for what happened? Yeah, Sam was there too along with all his friends who used to hate me. Sam and I flirted for most of the night and while his six pack abs had been replaced by a beer belly, he was still kinda cute. His large nose made up for his gut.
After my very intimate talk with Michael, Sam pretty much assumed that I would be getting back together with my ex and ignored me for the rest of the evening. Of course, I didn't understand why until he admitted as much later in the summer. I explained what had happened and Sam looked as if I had just given him the best present in the world. We started dating about one month before school started again and things were great.
When it came time for me to drive back down to California, leaving Sam wasn't as hard as I thought it was going to be. Turns out I function well when in a long distance relationship, rather strange considering how much I don't like talking on the phone, but it worked for us. Luckily, I didn't have to wait too long before seeing him again. Sam surprised me one day by making the twelve hour drive from Portland down to Santa Clara and showing up at my front door. He, of course, brought his friends. Now, I think almost all the guys had gotten over what happened back in high school. All but one and his name was Hero. Hero had a major chip on his shoulder, not necessarily against me, but against the world in general, and took every opportunity he could to be mean to people. I was no exception and the fact that I had broken Sam’s heart once before gave him a license to treat me like the horrible person I was.
So there we were, me and my three roommates, my boyfriend and his three friends, all squeezed into this tiny two bedroom apartment, sweating our assess off because we didn't have air conditioning. My friend Eric had asked me about my new boyfriend and I had immediately told him that he was in a gang. All of the 'members' had gotten tattoos upon turning 18 which read: NEP (standing for North East Portland). The only problem was that the P looked like a D so to anyone who didn't know better, they now all had NED tattooed on their chest or arm, what was commonly assumed to be a boy's name. Eric and I found this to be endless entertainment.
What I didn't find to be entertaining, however, was when Eric threw open the door of our apartment at 3:00 am and started challenging the gang to a fight. He thought it was all in good humor, Hero was about to pull a knife. Sam and I managed to calm everyone down but Hero was done with California at this point and announced they were leaving. So, an entire nine hours after they had arrived, they were on their way back to Portland.
When I had seen the boys arrive at my door, I had planned on their stay being somewhat eventful, seeing as Hero and I always managed to start drama whenever we were together. What I didn't plan on, however, was falling in love. I was completely amazed at how Sam was able to keep his cool during the whole Eric/Hero fiasco. Don't ask me why this made me fall in love with him, but I was just really impressed. I decided not to tell him about my feelings because I was pretty sure I would scare him off. It had been less than two months since we had started dating and he didn't seem like the kind of guy who fell in love easily. So I kept it to myself and told him to drive safely, I would see him in a couple weeks.
As our relationship progressed, so did my feelings. I couldn't believe that I had broken up with him the first time as I was now completely convinced that we would be together forever. Sam was shy and kind, yet moody and harsh when necessary (I still had my bad boy). The best of both worlds, so to speak.
Over Winter break, I decided to tell him that I was in love with him. We had been dating for five months and I just felt that it was time. Even if he didn't reciprocate the feelings, at least he would know how I felt. New Year's Eve was my night to do it so sometime during the party I dragged him downstairs.
"What's going on?" He asked, kissing me in that wonderful way that only he could do.
"I want to tell you something," I started. "I want to tell you that I love you and I know that you may not be ready for this but I thought you should know."
Sam smiled and kissed me again. And then again and again. I got the feeling he was stalling.
"That's a lot to take in right now, baby girl," he said eventually. My heart fell into my stomach. "But thank you for telling me."
"You're welcome," I sighed. "This doesn't make things awkward, does it?"
"Of course not," he promised and kissed me again.
But it did make things awkward. So awkward. Our phone conversations became fewer and fewer once I returned to school. He was spending more and more time with Hero and would always make me talk to him whenever I called. I couldn't believe how quickly things were spiraling out of control for us. Finally, after three days of unreturned phone calls, I texted him and told him to call me immediately, or else. Can I just say that I hate giving ultimatums, but it had to be done. I couldn't break up with someone's answering machine (because I knew that's what would happen we finally spoke). It was going to be hard enough to do it over the phone.
Finally he called.
"What's up, baby girl?"
"Why haven't you called?"
"I've been busy," he said and I could tell his mouth was full of food.
"Well I've been worried."
"Worried about what?"
"Worried that I'm more into this relationship than you are. I can't be with someone who ignores me all the time. We need to talk...on the phone. That's the only way a long distance relationship works."
"So what are you saying?"
I took a deep breath, hoping that he would respond to my next statement with the words I wanted to hear. "You need to either stop ignoring me and start treating me like your girlfriend or you need to break up with me so I can move on."
There was a long pause and I knew what was coming. "I think we should break up."
And my heart was broken...again.
"I guess that's the best idea. I'm not dealing with the distance very well."
"Neither am I."
But I didn't think the distance was what bothered him. He wasn't telling me everything but I was too upset to speak to him any longer so I said goodbye and hung up.
A couple days passed before I spoke to him again. He called to check on me, just to see how I was doing. I wasn't doing so well, but I didn't let him know that. I was drinking...a lot, and kissing almost every boy who showed me any attention at all in the hopes of getting over Sam. But Sam wasn't that easy to get over and apparently neither was I. We ended up speaking more and having better conversations after we broke up than while we were dating. We would talk for hours and hours (guess who was finally, if only temporarily, cured of her phone issues?) and I knew that we would be getting back together after one very interesting conversation.
"Do you miss me?" Sam asked.
"Of course I miss you."
"We're going to hang out during spring break, right?"
"I didn't think I would miss you this much," he admitted. "But I guess we're even now."
"Well, you broke up with me once and I broke up with you once."
I was shocked and very ready to hang up the phone. Is that what this had been about? "If you wanted to get back at me, you could have broken up with me before I got so attached, Sam. What the hell..."
But he didn't let me finish. "It wasn't about that. I don't know why I said it."
I don't know why he said it either. It confused the hell out of me so I didn't respond.
"I just love..." he started to say but then stopped, causing my heart to pound out of control. "I just love that I get to see you in a couple of weeks. That's all."
"I'm excited about that as well," I sighed and quickly ended the conversation.
So going home that Spring break, I had it in my head that Sam and I would get back together. We missed each other and still cared for one another so one thing should have led to another. But I had Hero to contend with and things weren't going to just fall into place.
Sam decided that we were all going to go camping. Well, Sam and I would be "camping", everyone else would be staying in a yurt.
"Why don't I get to stay in the yurt?" I asked, completely opposed to the idea of camping at a place you didn't have to hike five miles to find. Anything else just isn't camping – it’s sleeping in a tent next to your car.
"Because I'll be staying in the tent and I want you stay in there with me," was the answer I received.
"Oh." I thought about this and it seemed like getting Sam alone would be a great time to hook up with him thus rekindling our relationship. "All right, then."
I drove Sam down to southern Oregon in my minivan and we met up with the rest of the group. Hero was there along with his girlfriend and two other guys from high school. The weekend started out well, although I don't think Hero can help the fact that he was an absolute asshole. Unfortunately, I was sick, as in dehydrated, coughing, head about to explode sick and almost lost it when he started making comments about how bad I looked. I knew I shouldn't have gone in the first place, but the idea of getting back together with Sam was stronger than the fatigue I was feeling.
That first and only night was the beginning of the end for me and Sam. I turned in early because I was feeling so shitty and then had to listen to Hero bitch about my being along for nearly an hour. Sam did little if nothing to stop it. He joined me in the tent a couple of hours later and tried to have sex with me. Like that was going to happen. But apparently my refusal to open my legs for him was a bit of a wake-up call and when Hero opened his mouth the next morning to sling another insult, Sam was quick to shut him up. Hero didn't take it well. At all. In fact, he grabbed a bottle of booze, his car and his two friends, and fled the campsite leaving me, Sam and Hero's girlfriend to entertain ourselves. Luckily there was a town about half an hour down the road so the girlfriend and I indulged in some retail therapy.
Four hours later and the three of us were back around the yurt, Sam and the girlfriend trying to start the fire while I was lying in the tent feeling about as miserable as I could get. That's when Hero came back and took the drama to a whole new level.
"Get up!" I could feel someone was kicking the tent.
"No,” I moaned.
"Get up! I need your help."
"Go away, Hero!"
"You need to get up and see what I’ve done."
I rolled my eyes and sat up, unzipping the tent and glaring at him. "I'm not getting up. Go away."
"But I need your help."
"With what?" And where the fuck was Sam to keep this kid away from me?
"I killed a turkey and I need your help cooking it."
The fact that he had killed a turkey didn’t seem as bizarre as the fact that he assumed I knew how to cook it. "How the fuck and I supposed to know how to cook a turkey?"
"You're a girl. Girls know how to do shit like that."
"Where's your girlfriend?"
Hero shrugged and unzipped the tent the rest of the way. I reluctantly got out of my sleeping bag and followed him to the campfire. A couple of feet away was his car and he opened the trunk to reveal two very dead, very wild turkeys.
"Where did you get those?"
"I shot them in the woods."
I blinked. "Where did you get a gun?"
Hero smiled. "Some guy sold it to me at the gun store."
"The gun store?"
"The gun store," he confirmed.
I blinked again. I knew we were miles from any sizeable town, but this was getting a little too redneck for me. "Didn't they have to do a background check?" We all knew Hero wouldn't pass one of those.
"Not for a shotgun," he smiled proudly at me and grabbed one of the turkeys by the neck, swinging it out of the trunk and trying to hand it to me.
"I'm not touching that!" I screamed at him and he frowned.
"Why not? You'll have to touch it if you are going to cook it."
"I'm not cooking that thing! And who in their right mind would sell you a shotgun? I can tell from a mile away you've been drinking."
"Like it matters," was his response. "Now cook this turkey!"
I hated that he was ordering me around but I had never cooked a turkey before and knew that if I returned to the tent, I would never have any peace. So I called the one person I know who has killed, feathered, and cooked a turkey. My grandmother.
"Grandma? It's Lydia."
"Hi, Diddy!" Diddy is my nickname and probably always will be because when I was younger I couldn't pronounce my own name. Lydia came out as Diddy. Don't ask why because I don't know.
"Grandma, I need your help. I have a recently dead turkey lying in front of me and I don't know how to cook it."
My grandmother became very serious and Sam sat next to me, offering a little support. "Where did you get this turkey?"
"Um…” I had to think of a lie because she wouldn’t like the truth, but I couldn’t. Maybe I could distract her with a question. “Will the turkey's previous location matter when we start to cook it?"
I paused because I knew she was waiting for an answer. But I'm her only granddaughter and she's pretty protective of me so I didn't want to upset her by explaining that my ex-boyfriend's drunk-ass friend bought a shotgun and killed a wild turkey.
"We got it from a turkey farm."
"A turkey farm?"
"Yeah, they have those in southern Oregon." Sam gave me an incredulous look and I could only shrug my shoulders.
"Did they take off the feathers at this turkey farm?" My grandma asked, sounding as if she believed me.
"You should demand your money back then."
"No, Grandma. They don't offer refunds."
"Well you'll have to feather it then. Is the head still on?"
I stared at the bird who was staring back at me. Creepy. "Yes."
"I'd cut that off first."
Oh, gross. "And after that? How do I get the feathers off?"
"You have to boil some water and then soak the bird in it for a few minutes. The feathers will loosen up and come right off. But make sure to get all the down off as well."
"Right. Remove all the feathers. And then?"
"And then you remove all the insides, baste it and put it in the oven."
An oven. I looked at Sam who gave me an apologetic smile. I turned and glared at Hero. "We don't have an oven. Can we roast it?"
"If you have to."
"All right. Thanks, Grandma."
I quickly hung up and thought about throwing my phone at Hero. What had this asshole gotten me into? I instructed the boys to drive to town and get a big pot, large enough for water and the bird. Our turkey cooking was underway.
I flat out refused to touch the bird. It had been alive less than an hour ago and I felt incredibly strange about the entire thing. So the boys boiled the water and managed to get all of the feathers off the bird and only dropped the thing on the ground twice. Yes, they still wanted to cook it. And yes, Hero was still drinking. He had an entire bottle of Jack Daniels which he would only share with the turkey. He would pour the whiskey into the bird through the neck, claiming that he was marinating it.
“Stop pouring Jack into that damn bird!” I eventually screamed at him. The thing was almost overflowing at this point.
“And what the fuck would you know about it?” Hero asked. “Let me cook the bird how I want to cook the bird.”
“You would still be pulling out the feathers if it weren’t for me,” I reminded him.
Hero glared and picked a piece of meat from the outside, stuck it in his mouth and frowned. “This doesn’t even taste like Jack Daniels yet. Guess I should add more.”
He poured another shot into the bird and I rolled my eyes. “You’re going to make yourself sick. You shouldn’t be eating it before it’s cooked all the way.”
I guess that pushed him over the edge. “Shut the fuck up! Just go sit in your fucking tent and leave me the fuck alone.”
This guy really, really didn’t like me. And I’m a very likeable person. Honest.
“Whatever,” I said, glancing at Sam and then walking to the tent to collect my things. “I’m leaving.”
“You’re going home?” He looked concerned as he followed me.
“I’m sick and I’m tired and I really can’t deal with this anymore.”
“Are you sure, because I can…”
“No, Sam. You can’t. You won’t say anything to him and you’re letting him be such a dick when you know I don’t deserve it.”
“You’re provoking him.”
“I’m not!” But I wasn’t in the mood to argue. “Look, we can talk about it later. Are you coming back with me or are you staying?”
He thought about it and I knew this choice would be the choice. He would finally have to choose between me and Hero.
And that was that. I saw Sam a few more times that spring break but I knew that hope of reconciliation was long gone. I couldn’t compete and no longer wanted to. A girl just shouldn’t have to compete with her boyfriend’s friends.