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My Friend

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by Italian_Stallion, May 15, 2008.

  1. Italian_Stallion

    Italian_Stallion Active Member

    I received an e-mail today from a buddy who is going through some shit with his girlfriend. It's a weird situation. For the first time, I spilled my heart and told him what I thought of how he's been living his life these last few years.

    I met David when he took a job as the graphic artist for the publishing company where I once worked. That was about seven years ago. We hit it off from the start, with me following him home one day and asking if he wanted to get a beer.

    He was an interesting guy. About 40. He has no kids, and he'd just split with his wife of about nine years. His father died of a heart attack in the driveway when he was 16, and his mom died of cancer just a few years later. So he hasn't had it easy.

    When I met him, though, he had moved to town after losing a job at his last company when they were forced to make cuts. I saw a guy with lots of life in him. In his spare time, he ran a Web site where he reviewed ambient music. He received lots of CDs in the mail from all over the world, and there was some strange music included. It was interesting. I found him witty and smart. We had all of the same political beliefs and so forth. I had all these friends from high school who I knew would always be part of me, but none of them had the rapport with me that David had.

    Then, being a college town, the bars beckoned. Soon, David was going out most nights. Before long, he had latched onto a 20-something blonde. She's a strange bird. I've heard stories about how she took her pet rat to high school and let it run through her hair. She was the complete opposite from David. She has no interest in anything outside of her small world. She probably doesn't even know the name of the vice president or why we went to war in Iraq or that the housing market crashed. You get the idea, I hope. She also seems to have an interest in other girls, and she now has that pot smoker's hazy thinking.

    For about two years, David and this girl have been shacking up. He makes the bulk of the income and pays all of the bills. She worked a few blocks from his house at her father's pawn shop. She also has a kid, who apparently spent a good six months in another state with his grandmother at about the time they met. The kid, who is 8, has since moved in, and I think he adores David. I'm not sure how David feels about being a father, but I assume he plays that role much of the time.

    To my knowledge, there's never been much talk of marriage or anything of the like. Since they've been together, I've watched my friend change. He no longer works out. He shut down his Web site. It's like he's just idling. He's been in the same house for seven years, and he still doesn't have a stove. I've told him dozens of times that he should just buy a stove and install it. But it's a rental house, and he doesn't bother with it. The place had a stove when he looked at it. Now, he uses an electric skillet most of the time. I think he also has some sort of toaster oven contraption that looks like it probably came from a 7-Eleven.

    So, when he told me today that he and his girl are on rocky footing and that she's cutting him off from sex and spending a lot of her time at her dad's house in the country, I finally let him know what I thought about his lifestyle, his decisions, etc.

    I repeatedly pointed out that he's idling. It was a point I wanted to push. Here's a guy who makes $35,000-$40,000 a year and drove a beat-up 1988 Ford Escort until it broke down last year. The kid has almost no long-term expenses. I bet his monthly expenses total no more than $1,500. I had told him a million times to buy a new car, and I think he has the money for it. He just doesn't bother with it. Instead, he wastes his money on video games, Netflix and liquor. Probably $300 a month goes to those three.

    So, I'm sitting here waiting to hear back. This is a strange spot for me. I've been the guy who gives advice since my junior high days. And I think I've done a relatively good job with it through the years. But I've never confronted a friend like this. I might have called out a friend for being an asshole when we were 18. But this is me, a 35-year-old man, telling his 40-year-old best friend that he needs to change how he's living. I'm rather nervous. I don't know what to expect. I want this to go well. But part of me is worried that he'll have a terrible reaction and do something drastic, even if that's just refusing to talk to me. Or maybe he'll have almost no reaction at all, and the two hours I spent writing my letter this morning will have been wasted.

    So, I guess I just wondering whether anyone can relate to what he's going through or what I'm going through.
  2. Sounds like your friend's got some aspects of depression. I'm no pro, but I think you did the right thing. Now follow up. Don't just lecture him and vanish. Find a way to keep prodding at him. He sounds worth the effort.
  3. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member


    I think you have the best of intentions, but I wouldn't give a friend advice on a girl or the purchase of major appliances or automobiles unless he asked or was bumming a road or using my griddle.

    Can't you just support him, be his friend and needle him every now and then about how his girlfriend really seems to have a ratsnest in her hair today or something?
  4. forever_town

    forever_town Active Member

    What you're talking about doing is something best friends should do. You're confronting someone who's close to you about the life he's living. As long as you're not trying to give advice about what kind of car to get or what kind of appliance to get, I don't see it as trying to be a salesman or anything of the sort.

    Even if he cuts you off and never speaks to you again, you've done and sounds like you're doing what you need to do. But remember that you can't change his life for him. He's going to have to do that himself.
  5. qtlaw

    qtlaw Well-Known Member

    I'm going to come at it a little differently.

    Your heart is in the right place, but in my experience, giving unsolicited advice about significant others rarely gets the desired effect, the "oh man thanks for saving me" effect. I've told some of my closest friends about how I heard their SIs were cheating on them and all I got was the blame the messenger treatment. I've found its better to just sit back and wait until if and when they ask for your advice/view. In fact, some of the best times are when you reflect back with that buddy and you both say "man that girl was lame." I have been in a couple of lousy relationships and it really does not matter what your buddies say.

    You've said your peace, now let him decide. He's 40, he's lived, he knows what he's doing.
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