By staff writer Nathan DeGraaf
January 10, 2007
Ashley: You can’t lie to her about her boyfriend.
Nathan: Yes I can. He’s my friend. I have his back.
Ashley: She’ll find out eventually that she’s dating an asshole.
Nathan: Maybe, but it won’t be my fault.
About a year ago, I helped a buddy of mine get laid. I was drinking at the bar in a popular Tampa restaurant when I spotted my buddy Big Mike with a beautiful young woman. She seemed like the prissy type (ribbon in her hair, pressed shirt, angry look on her face), and as I watched their body language, I could tell that she wasn’t buying Big Mike’s bullshit. Mike would make jokes, crack a smile, and she would look at him with her pouty little mouth closed. Mike’s body language was inviting (his arms almost always open, his face eager to smile) while her body language was distinctively closed (arms crossed at her chest, legs closed, bored eyes). The entire date was cringe-worthy. And I couldn’t stand watching my friend suffer at the hands of a girl I didn’t know.
So I did something. I walked over to their table, ignored the girl completely, turned to Mike and asked, “My friend, how are you?”
“Good,” he said. “And you?”
“Fine,” I replied. “How’s your family?”
“Great,” he said. “And yours?”
“Much better, thanks to you,” I replied. “Look, I know you said it was nothing, but for all you’ve done for my mom, could you at least let me pick up your dinner?”
Mike waived his arm dismissively, said he wouldn’t think of it, and told me that just knowing we were doing well was all the thanks he wanted.
“Seems like the poor girl got hurt because of me, I said. She wasn’t the first, Nate.”
I thanked him, gave him a hug, and went back to the bar.
That night, Mike fucked that little girl. I like to think I was part of the reason.
Fast forward to a couple of months ago.
I was sitting in a bar in Ybor City, waiting on a friend of mine who owns a store down there, when I saw Big Mike’s girlfriend, Melissa (the girl from the restaurant). I sat down, said hello to her, and asked for a drink. She smiled, made the drink, brought it over to me and said, “Hey Nate, can I ask you a question?”
She was still holding my drink when she asked this.
“You just did,” I said (I think I’m funny).
“You’re not funny,” she said. “I need to know if Mike really saved your mom’s life while you were away from school….”
“Oh yeah,” I said. “She would have drowned if not for him.”
“He told me he saved her from a fire,” she said.
I noticed she was still holding my drink.
“Yeah,” I responded. “She had jumped into a lake after her lake house caught fire and Mike jumped in and got her, but then he had to go back through the burning woods to get her out of there so I guess whether he saved her from fire or water all depends on how you look at it.”
The look she gave me asked point blank, “How the fuck stupid do you think I am?”
Thankfully, she set down the drink.
Not so thankfully, she said to me, “If you two had never lied to me that one night, then I would have followed my first instincts and left him at the restaurant. I thought he had some special, hidden sensitivity or something.”
She started crying. I hate it when girls cry.
“I can’t believe I wasted six months on that lying, cheating asshole,” she said.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I was just….”
“Being a good wing man,” she finished.
“Yeah,” I said. “He’s my friend.”
“Fuck men!” she said very loudly, before stomping away.
Later, when my store-owner friend showed at the bar, I told her what happened. She’s an old friend of my family, so we’re kind of beyond really judging one another.
“Do you think I was wrong?” I asked her.
“No,” she said. “You were just being a good friend. I mean, you know what they say about the road to hell being paved with good intentions, right?”
“Yeah, but still. Seems like the poor girl got hurt because of me,” I said.
“She wasn’t the first, Nate,” said my family friend.
Sometimes, I swear to Christ, it’s just too easy to accidentally screw up someone’s life. But oh well, life is very messy.
And, to borrow a phrase from my step dad, “I ain’t no damn maid.”
In case you were looking for it, this story has no moral.