herald

Tuesday 26 September 2017

WHY I'M SETTING MY SELF FREE FROM THIS PANTOMIME OF A FALSE FRIENDSHIP

One ear is twice the size of the other. I've spent the day listening to a friend who doesn't need a friend. She needs an audience. By the time her diatribe was over I could only offer her my left ear, the right gave up listening hours before.

We were away for a day trip catch-up but I know what dolphins feel like in tuna nets. Wrong place, wrong time, definitely suffering.

There's a reason you don't meet someone for two years and they all came up on my alleged sales-shopping break.

We met at the cafe of the National Art Gallery to have a scoot round. Or that's what I thought would happen. We had boyfriend trouble at our late breakfast and her examination of that went on until the first of the lunch breakers came in.

"Should we not get something here," she asked, "just in case?"

By the time we left, with the last of the lunch timers, I felt like I had done time, except I paid for my jail food and hers. I would have felt sorry for her but she was keeping me from the 70pc discount rail with tales of how wrong he was and how great she was. The pictures would have to wait for another day.

Outside Monsoon, my absolute favourite shop, she was still talking. She was still talking about what a drip he was and how great she was and how he didn't see her, she was just invisible. I fantasised about him lending me his instruction booklet.

I saw a teal knit being bought by a woman and I guilt tripped for the lack of sympathy and avarice I was feeling while making noises like the kind you hear at the monkey enclosure at the zoo to sympathise with her.

Finally, she saw that I was going to go in. No matter what. So she stood aside.

I was faster than Usain Bolt into the bargain corner and doing nicely, working through my anger at the consistent nattering and reasoning that it isn't easy to be walked out on, even though he hadn't walked out, he had just gone to work annoyed with her.



Salvation

Was she always this self-obsessed? Had she always been incapable of expressing interest in others? Did she realise she lived in Dublin and could access the rails anytime she liked but this was the one day I could? I found salvation in a couple of beaded bags for e10 each and was feeling enough humanity to show them to her with a smile again when she reached out and took the nicest one.

"This will go very well with . . ."

She didn't get any further. I told her I was happy for her to have second favourite, but not favourite. This was the sales. The reason for sales is you find stuff you can't afford and you can have it.

"I don't want the other one," she sniffed and walked off. Five happy minutes later, I noticed she wasn't there anymore. She was outside with her arms folded, looking skyward. And all her strops came back to me. We never got through an evening without me telling her how fabulous she was. We used to call her Mrs Incredible after the Incredibles movie came out. I remembered that every time one of us who knew her had a problem and tried to discuss it, she would say: "I'm doing great at the moment."

And I knew this was sayonara. This was the last time I would sit in the audience of this panto and wish for my money and time back.

We went through the motions for the rest of the afternoon and it wasn't painful because I knew I was free and I have a suspicion she realised this.

"What about you?" She asked quietly.

"Oh same as ever," I said, wondering if she would even know what that was, if she ever knew.

Suzanne's biography Heartlines can be ordered in bookshops or online from Londubh Books

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