Stephen Pimley | Friends,Memories,Thoughts | Saturday, February 28th, 2015

It still amazes me how some of the most powerful and influential memories can be buried for years at a time only to bubble to the surface in crystal clarity when my mind is meandering through totally unrelated topics. The particular memory that came to light last night is that I never had more than one real friend at any one time from the first grade through sixth. There were about five boys during this time period and some of them really stood out from the others in how awful they were and how weak I was for putting up with them.

I have always been particularly inept at standing up for myself and so I ended up in situations where I could spend afternoons for months straight with someone from whom I felt immediate relief upon making an excuse to go home and do homework (AKA watch cartoons alone). At the same rate I guess they helped to shape my life because they highlighted traits that I never wanted to reflect in my own mind from a very early age. This is also a good reminder that my own trait of the standoffish observer started long before I can think of an obvious reason or trigger.

The second to last friend during this period is a standout example. He was a pathological liar to a degree I have never witnessed before or since. Almost every time we weren’t just watching TV or playing games he was busy spinning tall tales about the most ridiculous shit. I don’t understand what he got out of it because I never believed him. At first, I probed him for more details hoping his web of deceit would unravel and he would just admit it was all bullshit. Oddly enough he doubled down at every question. Here are some beloved examples that you might find hard to swallow:

One afternoon he was playing with a butterfly knife trying to learn how to throw it properly against a wooden fence. I asked him where he got it from because I was amazed his parents let him have one (my mother by contrast wouldn’t even let me have a capgun because she thought they were too violent..). He unfolds this story about how he found it embedded in the fence with a chunk of human scalp and skull still attached… He removed it then used his outdoorsman training to follow a trail eventually catching a murderer that was on the loose. The police rewarded him by making him an honorary officer. He was given a badge but this was mysteriously never around for him to show me. Even more odd was the fact that they let him keep the knife which he claimed was evidence in a murder case.

I was (okay, still am) a huge nerd for books about ancient warfare everything from the 1600’s to the Trojan War era. I started telling him about the weapons I was reading about in the books I was always checking out from the library. Instead of either showing no interest or saying that’s cool he actually tried to one up my story by claiming to have all of those weapons in his attic. Supposedly he was in Baltimore with his family and a ship carrying priceless artifacts began to sink in the harbor. He dove into the water dozens of times to retrieve weapons and dump them on the docks before returning for more. The owners were so grateful to him that they let him keep a musket, ballista, cast iron cannon, and so on. All of these were safely stored in his attic. He said he would have to ask his parents to let me see them but he wasn’t sure if they would let us.

A summer day spent at the pool was a barrage of him pointing out which girls were “sluts” and which ones he had “fucked three times”. Mind you this is a chubby little 11-year-old boy talking about 15-18 year-old girls as if there was anything remotely redeeming about himself they would be interested in. Looking back I feel particularly bad about letting him talk about strangers like this but I’m not sure there was anything I could have done to change his ways.

His stories never stopped, no matter how ludicrous they were or how pointless. It is given that he was oblivious to how poorly received his bullshit was. Or maybe he suspected, and it was some kind of sick game to him to see how high his fantasy could fly while I stood there not caring enough anymore to call him out on it?

Even to this day I don’t exactly know what it was about me that I couldn’t just tell him I didn’t want to hang out anymore. I guess being constantly bored and annoyed was more palatable to me than standing up for myself and facing that conflict. In the end I ended up hanging out with his little brother and ignoring him for a few weeks. I guess he was so hurt he stopped coming over to my house to ask me to play.

This really makes me wonder if most kids had such odd personality traits at an early age and I am just making a lot out of nothing. Is it possible these boys turned out perfectly normal? Do you think that life itself would have turned this boy around to redeem himself?

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