Several years ago, some friends and I played dress up at a bar and became superheroes for a random Thursday, complete with handmade fabric logos. There was Little Red, because she was, well, little and red and often underestimated. There was the Captain of the Whores, our undisputed ringleader in crime and punishment. We had a Homewrecker and a BFF, since their relationships with guys seemed to fall into those respective categories. And then there was The Pink Bat, who swung both ways, and actually carried a pink bat. They rightfully dubbed me The Life Ruiner.
If you are introduced to me, your life is ruined. I just ruined it, just there. Did you feel it? It might take a while to creep in. You will.
That's no exaggeration, either. I am always comfort and tension, right and wrong, fixed and broken, hero and villain, romance and satire, Atticus and Yossarian.
On many occasions, I've had good friends--nay, best friends--tell me that I would never be invited to their wedding should they ever choose to get married.
Why the fuck not?
Is it because I spend half the wedding sitting in the parking lot drinking PBR out of the trunk of my car?
Is it because I yell things at Wools, the bride, like, "So is everyone congratulating you? Because I'm not fucking gonna. So there. You know what? Fuck you and your wedding, and your 'getting married' or whatever. Oh, I'm so happy for you, you goddamn slutbag," and the like? Wools thought it was hilare.
Is it because I spend my time watching my friends destroy their lives and do nothing to intervene, and instead sit there and laugh and enjoy the show so I can mercilessly mock them the next day?
Is it because I regretted my choice to remain uninvolved? The begatting began, and I sat in the back yard of my friends' house and sobbed for hours with a Siberian husky for company, "Why can't we just be like dogs? You guys--you know what's up. Fuckin' dogs are the geniuseses of the fuckin' secrets of like, life. You know, Ozzie? Ozzie? LOOK AT ME. Even you won't look at me. Fuckin' dog. You know, don't you? You know I'm a horrible person and you hate me just like I hate myself."
When I stop friends from doing something they'll regret, I get yelled at, insulted, and ignored for months at a time. Especially when I'm willing to go to extremes. So I suffer the criticism, and I'm not sorry at all, because I know that I always do what I can, and as long as I try, I won't regret.
Of course, I'm asked to never again intervene, never to enter business which is not my own. I'm told that I can't control people, can't change people, that I'm not God. As if they truly believed my intentions were to suit some personal agenda (which of course is true if you count "wanting my friends to be happy" as a personal agenda).
So I don't get involved. And I ignore it, nearly encourage it, and boil in turmoil for sitting back and watching.
I can't sit back and watch, I just can't. I'm not capable of it. Not anymore. I must get involved, I must try to fix things, I must try to save them from whatever it is they're doing to hurt themselves and the people around them.
Perhaps this sounds far more drastic than necessary. Is it really, though? We all know I have a fixing-things complex.
But here's the where I get all Joseph Heller: once I do as they ask and keep my nose out of their affairs, everyone is upset that I didn't do anything.
I hear, "why did you let that happen?"
So when I enter business which is not my own, I'm unwelcome and asked never to return. Then when I'm not there to stop the insanity, I "let it happen." Logic, right? Because the person behaving like an idiot is not to blame.
Although that could be an unfair reaction, they're entirely correct. My hypocrisy was intentional, their idiocy was drunken. I did let it happen.
It is my responsibility to watch out for my friends. Likewise, it is their responsibility to watch out for me. Although sometimes I feel like some friends are blind, they'll learn to spot when I need help, just as I'm learning to notice when they need it. That's the point of friendship.
The obvious rebuttal is, of course: Ross, you can't be responsible for all of your friends' stupid decisions. People must own it themselves.
Well, no fucking duh. They need to be able to fail to grow, to learn on their own, to support themselves. They will never be able to do things for themselves if others are constantly doing it for them.
But once you've realized that they've given up on themselves, what kind of friend would you be if you watched it happen, and did nothing to prove that you still believe in them? And where do you draw that line between their autonomy and their dependence?
And this is how I will ruin your life:
As my friend, that line doesn't exist. Your business is my business once you've allowed me a glimpse. I will point out when you do stupid shit, and I will tell you why it was stupid, and make you feel like crap. Then I will try to help you fix it, and I won't be all nicey-nice once I've niced enough niceness. You have to admit the problem, and then we have to shoulder it together.
If you cannot claim responsibility for the people you love, what is the point of loving them at all?