Tuesday, August 9, 2016


I have a small group of friends that I refer to as the "Fortified Inner Circle."

FIC, if you will.

There are exactly 4 of them, and I have known each of them since at least 1985, so you know they've earned their medals. People come and go--these people came and stayed. Here's how the 4 break down:
  • Two men, two women
  • Two "conservatives", two "not conservative"
  • One openly gay person
  • Three are current or former radio people and one should have been a media personality and totally missed a calling
  • One of them has seen me naked (several times...) Two others wanted to in the past, but never did.
  • I have lived with three of them, separately, for short periods of time in my life (but for some reason, never lived with the one who saw me naked...hmmm...)
  • One teacher
  • One beer drinker
  • One whiskey drinker
  • One dad
  • One mom
  • One dog owner
  • Two cat owners
  • Three Vikings fans
  • Three of them never married, one married 3 times, and one is currently in a 25 year relationship that puts the rest of our various relationship bullshit to shame
  • Three of them live in Minnesota, one moved somewhere warm.
  • All of them:
    • Make me laugh
    • Are smart
    • Are creative
    • Get me
    • Respect me (while still gleefully giving me shit about anything and everything)
    • Have hauled my drunk ass home a time or two
    • Did I mention make me laugh? Yeah...that's important. It's probably THE most important thing.
Those are my people.  My core. My sanity.

Oh, I forgot...there is one thing they all have in common: They all know that one guy who really messed up my head for a few years during college.

They were there, pulling that bottle out of my hand (or putting one in it, depending on the scenario...) when it was happening.

Two (perhaps 3) of them still refer to this person as "Fucking (his name here)" or some variation thereof, and 30 years later, still throw up their hands at the mere mention of him, even though none of us have seen or spoken to him in at least 20 years.

All of this disgust is because...they were there, and they loved me, and THE ONLY THING I wanted in my life at the time was that guy, and, that guy was not to be obtained (by me, anyway), and therefore he was out of compliance with Rule #1, which is "Shelly gets what she wants." I had a good number of friends in my life who abided by that rule, but...not him. Of course, that only made him infinitely more attractive to me.

I'm just going to take a short break right now to say I'm really glad I didn't get what I wanted, but we'll talk more about that some other day...

There is a line from a song that goes, "There's only tension between two centers of attention," and that is as near as I will ever get to describing those years. I was a diva, and he was a diva. I still am, and as near as I can figure, so is he. It would have only been a complete disaster.

Oh, who am I kidding? It was a complete disaster. Think college: Hanging out a lot, followed by much speculation on the part of everyone, followed by "what are you guys talking about? We're not doing this!" followed by drunken make-out session(s?), followed by ignoring each other, followed by "maybe we should try this," followed by "I'm not doing this," followed by "what the fuck are we even doing?" Nothing was ever resolved except that we were both dreadfully unhappy with everything.

Drag that out over the space of a couple years. Lather, rinse, repeat.

We were idiots.

That's the back story.

Last weekend, I was at the home of one of the FIC. I drank wine and she drank Long Island Teas and we had a great evening sitting out by the fire, but in the morning, with the creeping headaches, the real work of the weekend began. When my brain needs re-alignment, I go to her. She is incredibly thoughtful, and honest. She lets me vent, then gently puts me in my place. When you are an arrogant, aggressive loud-mouth like I am, you need someone like that. I need it because I still expect to get what I want in many situations and I get stressed out if I want something and don't get it--somebody has to smack some sense into me, sometimes.

I whined about my latest bullshit and together we tried to determine if I was crazy or if someone else was being an asshole.

For those keeping score at home, the answer was the same as usual: "both are true."

Then, because we were talking about my general demeanor and how it messes me up sometimes, That Guy's name came up. We virtually never talk about him--no reason to--but something going on in my life right now is similar enough that I brought it up as a point of reference for her.

As if on cue, my friend threw up her hands and said "Fucking (his name here)."

I laughed.

For 30 years, I've been watching her do that. For the first 5, I didn't like it because I was sad about it--I considered the whole thing a huge failure on my part. I laugh now because it's in the past, so I can laugh. It was stupid and I was stupid at the time--I no longer care. You can't give this kind of thing any ongoing power.

But, you know what?  That dude? The one that caused so much confusion for young and stupid me? He may have single-handedly created the Fortified Inner Circle. He definitely strengthened the bond, if nothing else. For the 4, he became, not a common enemy, but really the only thing they all four had in common, besides me--a joke they could all share just by uttering his name, even though they all knew him in different ways. Of course my reaction to him sent me running to my friends time and time again. 30 years later, I still go running to them when something feels even remotely similar to how I felt back then.

I'll give him his due--he did wield a lot of power, and to an extent, he still does, though it's not really him. He turns up every 3-4 years or so, in the form of some other guy, or some other situation, and I'm reminded to turn tail and run for my life.

I hope he has friends like mine. It's not easy being difficult; I should know. We arrogant loud mouths need people to talk us down sometimes, and there's no one better than an old friend, for that.

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