We were best friends, William and I, all through college and I had hoped we would be friends all our lives. Long ago, when we were 18, he wanted me to be his girlfriend and I wasn’t ready to be anyone’s girlfriend, I was scared and emotionally immature. We went to one formal dance together, he arrived holding a dead, limp, rose.
True, his smile could light up the darkest day and to me he was an absolute beautiful, and handsome man, blond hair, brown eyes, someone I could trust and talk to but he talked with his mouth open revealing a mound of mashed potatoes. To this day, I can picture that sight.
If it was now, I would say, “Dude, where are your manners?” but at 18, what did I know? I didn’t know one single thing. I did know that we made a pact that if by a certain age we weren’t married to other people we would marry each other but I would bet a million dollars Billy wouldn’t remember that.
Everyone called him Billy or Bill even now I would refer to him as Bill but during the glory years of youth he was my William. People in our dorms were sure we would get married. After we graduated I wanted to move to Boston, mostly because I thought William was going to live there. I moved, he didn’t.
What finally made me wake up and truly understand William and relieve all the guilt that I had (he had made me feel guilty for years) for not dating him was when he called me, years after we graduated and said he would be driving to Boston and he wanted to visit. I said “YES, ” absolutely and he would stay over at my place.” This was it, once and for all I wanted to see what we had between us, obviously it was something.
He said he would come on a Friday afternoon, sure I was a tiny bit nervous but excited. I waited for him all day and night. This was long before cell phones. I didn’t hear from him, he hadn’t given me an exact time or day so I thought for sure he would arrive on Saturday.
Saturday and Sunday came and went, I was worried, very worried that something had happened to him, a bad accident, he was involved in a serious collision…something serious must have happened for William not to have come or call.
Or so I thought.
I literally waited all weekend for him to show up but he never did, never called, first I was very disappointed and after that angry, very angry.
The man I had trusted and loved, through and through, yet not wanted to date when I was merely 18 just changed his mind and didn’t think about letting me know. I had finally reached him during the middle of the week and he said “Yeah, I didn’t think about calling, I changed my plans.”
Who was this guy?
Apparently this was the guy that deep down I knew existed, or some part of him that I didn’t like. This was hard to take, for me, but for him, maybe he wanted to punish me or maybe he really was just the guy, across the table, with no manners, eating with his mouth open, full of mashed potatoes.
He came to my wedding, after that, I never saw him again. I finally realized he was never my best friend, he just made me think he was. I still remember his birthday but I let go of him a long, long time ago.
*Name changed to protect the guilty.