Three speeches I would’ve made for closure (if it existed)

(Zero)
Closure doesn’t exist. I don’t believe in it. No one really gets closure when a friendship or relationship ends. People grow up and apart. There’s no particular catalyst that sets off the dissolution. Fondness fades into apathy. Relationships in which people become ambivalent tend to disintegrate slowly over time.

People purposely hurt each other and don’t take responsibility for doing so. They become passive or blatantly aggressive. They play emotional chicken, baiting (daring) each other to break it off first. Toxic relationships tend to fall apart as they began — abruptly. I don’t believe in closure, but if I did, there are three speeches I would’ve made to obtain it.

One
I wouldn’t have survived senior year of high school without you. Neither of us belonged in Alpharetta. We had aspirations beyond suburbia. You sketched and painted. I wrote. Our goal was to get the hell out. You were the smartest girl in our class and my closest friend. Instead of going to keggers with classmates, we spent weekends watching foreign films and listening to indie music.

Though you went to college up north, we would have long phone calls a few times each semester. We hung out during Thanksgiving and winter breaks. During one phone call, you nervously told me you were queer. I didn’t think of you any differently after that. But if I had to pinpoint it, that was when you stopped returning calls or texts as much.

You posted articles about gender being a social construct and the need for LGBTQ safe spaces without heteronormative influence on Facebook. When I called you by your name, you explained that you wanted to be called a male name and be referred to with male pronouns. I did so without a second thought.

The last time we had lunch was a few summers ago. We went to one of the few decent sushi places in Alpharetta. You had just started working for as an LGBTQ advocate, focusing on teens and young adults. Your work was inspiring. I realized that I’d never be able to empathize with you about the struggle you went through in discovering your gender identity. I’d always be part of your past, when you hadn’t figured it out yet.

Thank you for being a great friend when I needed one. I wish we still hung out. I hope you’ve found happiness and fulfillment (or at least closer to it now).

Two
I’m not sure why, but even though I hadn’t spoken to you in five years, you insisted that I was your best friend. You’re the antithesis of everything a woman should look for in a man. When a woman sees you, she should immediately run in the other direction. My friends referred to men like you by your name — you became a common noun synonymous with the worst kind of douchebag.

You knew me best when we rode the same school bus to high school. I was triumphant. After you teased me throughout elementary school, you recognized I was better than you — in academics, besides math and science, and as a person because I was sympathetic to a fault, while you were oblivious to a fault. Yet, every time you would date someone new, you would talk to and hang out with me more. Your mother would harass you when I wouldn’t stop by because you would inevitably fall to the wayside without my guidance.

The last straw was when you expected me to sleep with you when we weren’t together. As if that wasn’t insulting enough, you were still dating your jailbait girlfriend. It was a disgusting plan (even for you). Cutting you off was one of the wisest decisions I ever made. Talking to you just to hear your pathetic apologies was hilarious. It was equally hilarious to discover that you haven’t changed a bit.

Thank you for being the biggest asshole I’ve ever met. I kicked you out of my life for good and everything fell into place. You were the archetype for everything I didn’t need. In being that point of reference, I found the man who is everything that I could ever want and need. I hope you never change, for entertainment’s sake.

Three
You were a two-faced redneck bitch. I knew that when Ames and I met you, but I was naïve. I didn’t trust my gut as much in my younger years. As I’ve gotten older, I discovered that my first impressions of people are usually correct (for better or worse).

You were a fun party friend we met through a mutual acquaintance (your boyfriend at the time), but we ended up hanging out aside from partying. Then we found out that you talked a lot shit — about us. You blamed us for any time you cheated on him or got blackout drunk. You lied to him and said you were on the pill, in hopes of getting pregnant. You were the trailer trash cliché of a woman trying to entrap a man by having his baby.

Thank you for reminding me to always trust my instincts. You inadvertently introduced us to one of our other friends — his ex. I hope to see you on Maury one day.

“K-Mart is a real romantic place!”

My favorite question to ask couples is: “How did you meet?”

The way they respond reveals a lot about their relationship. New couples are hesitant and reticent. Couples who have been together for a long time alternate who tells which part of the story. They exchange smiles. The narrative flow is perfect. Some couples bicker over the details. They argue about who approached whom first and what the other was wearing.

The way a couple shares the story reflects their everyday dynamic. It’s more telling than proposal stories. The majority of proposals are orchestrated. There’s nothing natural about a carefully staged time to “pop the question.” Proposal stories are sweet. But the story about the first time a couple met is usually more magical.

I’ll be sharing the best “meet cute” stories that I’ve been told in this post and in future posts. (I have yet to check the veracity of my coworkers’ stories with their spouses.)

Dusty, how did you and your wife meet?”

“We met after I got back from the Marine Corps.”

“There’s gotta be more than that.”

“Well, I was workin’ on my truck and realized I needed to change out the oil, so I went to K-Mart to get some.”

“Was she shopping, too?”

“Nah, she was workin’.”

“This sounds like the beginning of a Jeff Foxworthy joke. You might be a redneck if — “

“K-Mart is a real romantic place!”

“You were saying…?”

“There I was, wearin’ a white t-shirt with cut-off sleeves ‘n’ ratty jeans — ‘cuz nobody ever wears his nice shit while workin’ on his truck –“

“Some girls are into that.”

” — ‘n’ that’s when I saw her. I thought she was real cute, so I went to her checkout line to talk to her. After tryna flirt with her, she gave me her number!”

“Clearly, your wife liked the greased up mechanic look.”

“Keep in mind, this was after I got outta the Marine Corps. I was in the best shape I’d ever been in.”

“I knew there was a reason you’d wear a shirt with the sleeves cut off.”

“Gotta work with whatcha got.”

In every workplace, there’s always one person that everyone hates.

In every workplace, there’s always one person that everyone hates.

At my office, that guy is intolerable. He’s smart, but makes sure everyone knows it. He thinks his time is the most precious, so he’ll throw projects on my desk at 4:55 PM on a Friday. (Hopefully this won’t happen today.) Unfortunately, he also has job security because he’s my boss’s bitch.

Whenever that guy is on vacation, everyone rejoices. The halls seem a bit brighter. There isn’t a cloud of doom hanging over his office. No one dreads a last minute email insisting a project has to be done immediately because it’s of the utmost importance.

In Harry Potter, there are creatures called dementors. These creatures feed on others’ happiness, thus causing people to plummet into depression or worse, despair. This is why that guy is nicknamed Dementor.

Mike, Dusty, and I have dealt with Dementor the most. Dusty is a self-proclaimed Alabama redneck. He’s unapologetically politically incorrect, but we get along because he’s got a no bullshit policy. The three of us always brainstorm (and sometimes execute) pranks to play on Dementor.

“Well, what I could do is gather some of them mushrooms from the woods –”

“Dusty, we can’t poison Dementor.”

“Damn it, Mike. Ruinin’ my fun.”

“We could put eyedrops or white-out in his coffee.”

“That shit don’t work, Sam. He won’t get diarrhea — his coffee’ll just look weird.”

“I saw that YouTube video of the guy gettin’ tazed who was all, ‘Don’t taze me, bro!’ That would be pretty funny!”

“Great idea, Mike! Let’s do it at the next staff meeting!” Dusty paused. “But you and I can’t do it. The boss man ain’t gonna believe that it malfunctioned if we were usin’ it.”

“That’s true, Dusty.” Mike turned to me, “Sam, I’ll buy you a pink tazer if you do the honors.”

“Guys, I’ve never used a tazer before.”

“Exactly why this is a brilliant plan.”

“We’re totally gonna get fired!” I shook my head. “Wait — there’s that dead roach in the kitchen…”

“Say no more. I’m on it. When he goes to lunch, we’re goin’ in!”

Dementor’s strangled scream of disgust was worth having to plant the dead roach in his desk drawer.

What are you?

A childhood in Alabama
consisted of fielding
ignorant questions daily.

What are you?
Human.
I mean, where are you from?
Born in New York and lived here since third grade.
But where are your parents from?
The Philippines.
Where is that?
Southeast Asia.
Then why does your last name sound Spanish?
Spain colonized the Philippines for centuries.

A brown kid in Birmingham
is a novelty and source
of entertainment.

Say something in your language.
You mean in Tagalog?
Whatever it is.
I don’t speak it well.
Didn’t your parents teach you?
Not really.
Why not?
They didn’t want us to sound fresh off the boat.
I would love to be bilingual.
You still can be — you just have to learn a foreign language.

Blending in is impossible,
but not lashing out is
the only option.

If I could’ve, I would’ve asked,
Are you pale during every season?
Since your grandparents are Irish, do you speak Gaelic?
Is your hair naturally blonde?
Are you actually one-sixteenth Cherokee?
If I could’ve, I would’ve said,
Your English is great,
for someone born in Bessemer.
Enjoy the rest of your life, thinking
Alabama is the center of the universe.

The geography of ignorance

During the break between second and third period, Gaby and I switched our books at our lockers and walked to class together. We rarely lingered for more than a few minutes. We weren’t eager to go to English class; we avoided the guys who had the adjacent lockers as much as possible.

Unfortunately, we had no such luck that morning. The Hunters descended. Gaby knew the two Hunters from middle school, but I could never tell them apart. Their Dixie Outfitter t-shirts and camo hats made them indistinguishable.

“Mornin’ Gaby. Mornin’ Samantha.” Hunter M. tipped his frayed cap.

Politely, we replied, “Good morning.”

Hunter D. leaned on his locker, blocking our path. “Say, Gaby — do you speak Mexican?”

“I’m from Peru. I speak Spanish.” Gaby rolled her eyes.

Hunter M. asked, “Is that near Afghanistan?”

“No, it’s in South America.”

Hunter D. turned to me. “How ’bout you, Samantha — do you speak Mexican?”

“My parents are from the Philippines, so they speak Tagalog. I’m taking a Spanish class now, though.”

Hunter M.’s brow furrowed. “Is the Philippines in the Middle East, too?”

“No, it’s in southeast Asia.” I exchanged irritated looks with Gaby. “We better get to class.”

“See y’all later — we’re gonna review for our quiz.”

One would think that sixteen-year-olds could correctly guess the regions where Peru and the Philippines were located. Then again, the Hunters’ lack of knowledge illustrated why Alabama was ranked the fifth worst state for education.