Q. What’s happening now?
Q. Anger? On the part of whom? And over what?
A. If you’re going to drill me with multiple questions again like you did last time, please know that I am not in the mood.
Q. What mood are you in, then?
Q. Did I offend you?
A. No, it’s not you. You merely annoy me. I’m angry at these two guys who ghosted me.
Q. Friends of yours?
A. Yeah. Or so I thought.
Q. What makes you say they’ve ghosted you?
A. Because they haven’t gotten back to me, no matter what. I even sent both of them heart-felt apologies, and they didn’t have the courtesy to even reply.
Q. For what did you apologize?
A. Now you’re getting personal.
Q. Isn’t that my job?
A. Never mind. I apologized for — well, bad behavior on my part. It was different stuff with the different guys. One of them I’d been buzzing a lot on Twitter, hoping he’d converse back with me. But he kept ignoring me. So I finally blocked him.
Q. You blocked him? And not the other way around?
A. That’s right. I blocked him because I didn’t feel I had the power to stop over-buzzing him. And yet, he hardly ever replied. Every now and then I got a simple “howdy” from the guy. Then I got my hopes up, and thought we were actually going to have a conversation. But after five or ten more buzzes, I would realize that he still wasn’t going to get back to me.
Q. Five or ten?
A. Hm, well – maybe, thirty or forty.
Q. Wouldn’t that have annoyed him?
A. Doesn’t seem to have. I mean, when he did get around to saying a word or two, he seemed pleasant enough.
Q. Has this been a pattern in your friendship?
A. Only since Twitter. Hence the block. I figured that if there were no way I could buzz him incessantly, then we’d have to figure out some other form of interaction. In fact, I’ve always looked forward to our occasional phone calls. They are much more even-ended than the imbalance of the Twitter Direct Message Phenomenon.
Q. Then why don’t you just call him?
Q. Of his reaction?
Q. Do you fear that you have offended him?
A. Yes. I can feel it. All the way from a thousand miles South of here, I feel it.
Q. But did you not apologize to him?
A. I apologized to both of these guys, like I said. And they ignored my apologies completely — as though I did not even matter to them.
Q. How long ago did you apologize to these guys?
A. Oh I don’t know. Two or three weeks ago, maybe.
Q. So you figure they’ve ghosted you?
Q. How about calling them up and finding out for sure?
A. Takes courage.
Q. Why do you lack the courage?
A. I did that once before — back in 2013 actually. I called a friend I hadn’t heard from for a while, wanting to see if he’d like to have lunch. He hung up on me immediately, and I’ve not heard from him since.
Q. But that was in 2013, wasn’t it?
A. Yes, but so what?
Q. Isn’t that a little different than someone having “ghosted” you three weeks ago?
A. You’ve got a point.
Q. And besides, why should an isolated event from way back in 2013 still have so strong an impact on you?
A. Because of the way I took it at the time. It hurt so much, that —
Q. Drowned your sorrows, eh?
A. As a matter of fact, I did!
Q. Has it ever crossed your mind that perhaps you have never really dealt with that hurt?
A. Um – yes. But I did do something the other day that helped a bit.
Q. What was that?
A. I texted the fellow who had hung up on me in 2013. I told him that while I was confused about it at the time, I now fully understand why he hung up on me. The way I was behaving back then was much different than the way I behave nowadays. So I told him I understood, and that I don’t hold it against him, and wished him well. After I did that, I felt a huge release. I was suddenly no longer mad at that guy who hung up on me back in 2013.
Q. Do you truly believe that your behavior toward this fellow was so bad that you deserved to be hung up on the phone and never talked to again?
A. No I don’t. A lot of it was probably his own stuff. I mean – I was shocked when the guy hung up on me. Couldn’t believe it!! But still, there was something very liberating about sending the text in which I totally turned the other cheek, and completely let go of the need to correct the other fellow of his wrongs.
Q. When did you send the liberating text?
A. About two weeks ago.
Q. Are you going to wait seven more years before you send a similar text to either of the friends whom you feel have ghosted you recently?
A. Only if they don’t talk to me for seven more years.
Q. How about talking to them now? Today? I mean, why not?
A. There you go again.
Q. Well, really? Why not?
A. Obviously, I’m afraid of getting hurt again. I’m afraid that if they scream and yell at me, I won’t be able to take it.
Q. Have you screamed and yelled at them?
A. At some point along the line, I believe so, yes.
Q. Say, how long have you known these guys?
A. In the case of the Twitter guy, I believe I first met him on New Years Eve of 1978. The other guy, it seems we first connected in 1987, after both of our wives had left us.
Q. And you have remained friends with these guys since 1978 and 1987, respectively?
A. Yes, I have.
Q. And yet, you are afraid to call them because they did not return your emails of apology?
A. Afraid that they’ll get pissed off at me if I call them. Afraid and — well, angry. I cannot even IMAGINE receiving a heart-felt apology from someone I cared about, and then just blowing them off. The only people who do that are — well, people who want to be one-up on you. Who get off on believing that they are BETTER than you. If I wanted to be around people like that again, I would go right back down to California and die in a gutter.
The Questioner pauses.
Q. Say, uh — how much do you value these friendships?
A. I value them immensely. Why do you ask?
Q. Why do you think?
A. What are you driving at?
Q. I don’t understand — WHY do you value these friendships?
A. I don’t know. Friends are hard to come by, I guess. I figure if I’ve managed to stick it out with somebody for forty or fifty years, then it’s valuable.
Q. So — you gonna call these guys?
A. I don’t know. Maybe not.
Q. Why not?
A. Well, you know — if somebody repeatedly refuses to return your messages, even well wishes and apologies, doesn’t it stand to reason that they might not want to talk with you?
Q. Where’s your courage?
A. Discretion is the better part of valor.
Q. So you’re choosing wisdom over courage?
A. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.
Q. So you’re letting go?
A. If you love someone, let them go. If they come back, they’re yours. If they don’t . . .
The Questioner is silent.
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