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The Worst Person I’ve Ever Met (Part 6) “The Red Squirrel”

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Missed past installments? You can find them here: part one, part two, part three, part four, part five

In this installment, I will cover several of Cathy’s claims about diagnoses she’d received from “a doctor”. Having an invisible illness myself, I hate when people try to prove that patients are faking their symptoms. This, however, is Cathy. You’ll have to forgive me and everyone who knew her for doubting. Mea culpa.

There are also mentions of suicide in this post.

I’m not sure what, exactly, was the acknowledged reason for the breakup of Cathy and Sam’s marriage, because it all dissolved so quickly. One of the factors was certainly the loss of their roommates, who asked Cathy and Sam to vacate the house for the evening so they could have a small dinner party then moved out without notice, leaving behind a note detailing their grievances. Among them was the filth; with two roommates, Sam was able to cut back to one job, but he still didn’t pitch in and Cathy had moved on to an additional reason she couldn’t do any housework: debilitating arthritis.

Despite the fact that the only doctor visits Cathy ever made were to Planned Parenthood for basic gynecological services, she insisted she had developed and been diagnosed with arthritis that was so advanced, so devastating that her knees would “literally hemorrhage” if she stood up too much. This prohibited her from walking any distance (that she didn’t want to walk), working any job besides her occasional tutoring of other college students, or sitting the backseat of any vehicle.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Cathy had a whole host of illnesses and allergies when the situation called for them. One day, while barbecuing, my husband asked her how she liked her steak. “It has to be well-done,” she insisted, with far more vehemence than called for. “I am allergic to anything but well-done meat. I will literally die.” While allergies to red meat are possible (and some people with the allergy can eat red meat if it’s well done), Cathy’s constant claims of bogus medical conditions left us skeptical. “Wow, what will happen if you eat under cooked meat?” I asked, having been to countless restaurants and meals with her before this ever came up. She said she didn’t know, but a doctor had told her about the allergy. My husband stood over the grill and grumbled, “You can just say you don’t like it pink. It doesn’t have to be fatal.” That, in addition to her claim that a doctor told her to never quit smoking or she would “literally die”, and that she should limit all activity because of her dangerously high IQ, her “my knees will hemorrhage” claim seemed somewhat dubious based on the fact that she couldn’t provide details on what type of arthritis she had and she had no idea what a rheumatologist was. Shortly before moving out of the house, one of the roommates, a nursing student, asked her what medications she was on to manage the condition. “I don’t believe in pills. I won’t even take Motrin for it. I don’t like any substance that changes your body chemistry,” she said, taking another drag off her ever-present cigarette. “I’ve learned to live with the pain. I guess I’m just a stronger person than most people.”

On another occasion, Cathy learned about Fibromyalgia. She began telling everyone that she also suffered from the disease, until her nursing student roommate snapped, “It’s not even real. Ask any doctor, they’re going to tell you it’s not real.” Later, the roommate confided in me, “I know it’s real. I just didn’t want her adding to her stupid collection. Just do the fucking dishes, Cathy.” After that, Cathy denied ever self-diagnosing the illness, but continued insisting that “a doctor” told her she had arthritis, didn’t need any medication to manage the symptoms because she was strong, and frequently went to art hops that involved walking miles around the city visit different galleries.

She always wore staggeringly high heels to do this.

It struck me as bizarre that, now that Cathy didn’t have cash rolling in from student loans, she would get rid of her only source of income. Since a job would give her ALS, joint bleeding, and probably Feline Leukemia, she decided she would become a full-time poet. She constantly talked about her book, a collection of poems she was writing. “Oh, like a chapbook?” I asked. No, a full-length collection of poetry. Knowing the amount of spare time she had, I believed this was something she definitely could do, so I encouraged her. A week later, she called me to announce that she’d finished her first book. Thirty pages of poems, many of which she’d written for her disastrous English class. Each was about her body and sexuality, including one particularly self-aggrandizing piece about how motherhood had saved her from the anorexia that had been killing her before her pregnancy. In it, she spoke of how alarmingly thin she had been, weighing under one hundred pounds, no longer menstruating, being able to count individual bones through her skin. It was actually kind of sad; it came off as someone who thought she had recovered using the tale of her recovery to praise herself for being skinny. She compared herself to a concentration camp victim (I suggested editing those lines out, which she thankfully did) and called her son a miracle and her savior.

She still only saw him every other weekend, despite being offered increased visitation time. “I’m really too busy writing,” was her excuse for not spending more time with her savior and “the most important part of her life”. Motherhood, she continued to insist, “defined” her and brought her “as close to being a goddess as any woman could be.” She wanted the title but not the job.

Despite her refusal to work and her expectation that Sam would continue to bring all the money into their struggling household (they were unable to secure new roommates), it was Cathy who initiated the divorce. The only reason she would give at first was that she no longer loved Sam, but as the weeks went on, the reasons began to mount. She didn’t love him when they married but she felt she had to go through with it. She was still wounded over his affair from years ago. She wanted a divorce.

Sam was crushed. He truly loved her and her declaration that their relationship was over was completely unexpected to him. Even those of us who’d placed imaginary bets on the length of the marriage were surprised; one minute, Cathy was head over heels in love, bragging about her perfect husband and how happy she was. How her role as a “housewife” suited her. The next, she was desperately unhappy and felt stifled by Sam’s own unhappiness at achieving his goals.

“It’s just like in The Last Five Years,” she explained to me over coffee. “Here I am, a successful writer, and there he is, struggling to make anything of himself. I was listening to that song Jamie sings at the end, that goes, ‘I could never rescue you.’ All I could do was love him, and it wasn’t enough. I can’t fix him.”

It took a lot to not scream in her face that the reason Sam couldn’t “make anything of himself” was that he was trying to get through college a class at a time while working his ass off to keep them from being homeless. That her “successful” writing career consisted of one unpublished chapbook that she hadn’t bothered to submit anywhere or self-publish. That Sam was in need of rescuing: from her, not by her.

Because she didn’t have the money to move into a new place–and because Sam still loved her and hoped they would patch things up–Cathy continued to live in the house Sam paid rent on. She “got” their bedroom and bed; he slept on the couch, as he couldn’t afford to buy another mattress. A week after the split, she made plans to spend the Fourth Of July with us, only to immediately cancel when another friend, Cecily, offered a better option. Cecily would be going to Lake Michigan with her Dungeons and Dragons group, and one of the guys in that group, Lucas, was Cathy’s sexual target. Though he’d rebuffed her advances a handful of times before, Cathy was certain that spending the day with the group would seal the deal.

Later, Cecily told me the story of what had happened. When she arrived at Cathy’s house to pick her up, Cathy, in full view of Sam, actually did a dance and celebrated with a sing-song, “I’m gonna get laid, I’m gonna get laid!” When Sam got up and left the room in tears, Cathy flew into a rage about how manipulative he was. Once they arrived at the beach, Cathy planted herself on her towel, legs spread to display her “crown”.

“Jen,” Cecily told me, her eyes wide, “Lucas said it looked like she had a red squirrel trapped in her bathing suit.” There was no doubt that he was not interested.

Cathy spent the day making suggestive comments, trying to lure Lucas off alone, and always sat with her legs spread to expose herself to him. He was intensely uncomfortable and eventually left, despite Cathy pouting and trying to use her feminine wiles to get him to stay. After he left, she sat alone, sullen. She spent the night at Cecily’s house. When they left the next day, their route took them past Lucas’s house.

“Stop the car!” Cathy screamed. “Turn around! I have something I want to say to him!” When Cecily refused, Cathy shouted, “No! You are going to take me back there. Nobody turns this down!”

Cecily did not comply, and Cathy spent the rest of the ride fuming about Lucas’s rejection.

A few days later, Cathy called me to tell me her version of the story. Lucas, she informed me, was a really sweet kid, but he came on too strong. “He wouldn’t stop touching me or looking at me. It made me really uncomfortable, but Cecily wouldn’t leave, so I had to just put up with it. Honestly, I felt harassed.” She’d made it clear that she wasn’t interested in sex with him, she claimed, and now she was worried about ever being alone with him.

She went on to describe Sam’s “emotional manipulation” and how trapped she felt by him. She admitted to the premature celebration of her potential lay but insisted that Sam was trying to control her by reacting to it.

“Okay, but…imagine how he felt,” I said, knowing I risked the wrath of Cathy by even bringing it up. “His wife just left him a few days ago, and then she’s dancing in front of him bragging about getting laid. You can’t see how that was maybe a little bit hurtful?”

To my surprise, she admitted that perhaps that had been insensitive. We finished our conversation and hung up.

About ten minutes later, I checked my email and found one from Cathy. There was no subject line, but it had been sent after our call. It was an all caps ramble about how every other one of her friends agreed that I was unsupportive and toxic for taking Sam’s side. That I was jealous of her successful writing career. That I was jealous of her body and unhappy that guys weren’t attracted to me because of my weight. “SAM IS AN ASSHOLE AND HE IS RIGHT ABOUT NOTHING!!!!!!!!” she wrote, and ended by telling me that if I was going to continue to be so harmful to her mental health, she would kill herself.

In a sick twist, as I was reading this email aloud to a disbelieving friend, my phone rang. One of my cousins, who suffered from bipolar disorder, had died by suicide, leaving behind two little boys. I hung up, shaking and numb, and the phone rang again.

It was Cathy.

“Hi…” she said, drawing the word out in syrupy mock apology. “Have you checked your email yet?”

“Yes,” I said, my voice stony.

All she said was, “Oh.” Then, dead silence. I waited. She started talking again. “I’m sorry about what I said. But you need to be aware of how your words–”

“Shut up!” I screamed at her, my knuckles white around the receiver. “I just found out that a family member actually killed herself and I don’t have time for you!”

The next day, one of her friends called me, furious. “Where the fuck do you get off telling Cathy to kill herself?” I didn’t, I stammered. She continued to rage at me that Cathy had attempted suicide after I hung up on her the day before and that I’d told her, “Shut up! Go actually kill yourself, because I don’t have time for you.” I explained what had really happened and told her another person had been present at the time of the call and could corroborate the story. I offered to send them the email Cathy had sent me. They backed down somewhat and admitted that Cathy’s “suicide attempt” had been comprised of holding a pillow over her own face. “That should tell you how much she wanted to die,” I snapped. What Cathy had told this friend about the demise of her relationship was far different than what had really happened. Sam had been physically abusive, often slapping her or pushing her into walls, and that’s why she desperately needed to escape. She had been looking for a roommate and felt hopeless like there was no way out.

When I spoke about this with one of Cathy and Sam’s old roommates, she actually laughed. “Uh, no. Cathy was constantly beating up on Sam. We told him to call the cops and he never would.” She recounted an anecdote about Sam sitting silently, reading a book, and Cathy becoming angry because he wasn’t paying attention to her. Without a word, she’d gotten up and punched him in the head over and over while he cowered from her until the roommate’s boyfriend had restrained her. Another time, Sam had been on the toilet when Cathy became furious with him for no apparent reason and burst in, slapping and kicking him. When I asked Sam why he never told any of us, he said he was embarrassed and that he didn’t want us to think badly of Cathy. He knew she had problems and he wanted to help her. He didn’t think she could survive on her own and worried that she would attempt suicide again.

Against the advice of everyone who knew him, Sam asked Cathy to go to counseling before proceeding with the divorce. She agreed. Meanwhile, the rest of us were looking for an escape. That was when my friend Cristin warned me, “Jen, do not piss her off. I’m serious.” She informed me that once, she’d told Cathy something she’d been sensitive and embarrassed about. “Don’t worry. I would never tell anyone,” Cathy promised, then added, “Unless I get really mad at you. Then I’ll tell everyone. When I get mad, I’m vicious.” For all the years of our friendship, Cathy had been saving information we’d given her in confidence as an insurance policy; if she knew anything at all that could publically embarrass us or harm us in any way, she would use it. I thought back to the night of that ritual, where we’d written down the personal failings or past hurts that had been harming us, and the way Cathy had read each one before burning them. Then, I remembered the spell she’d worked on Sam’s ex-girlfriend and her unborn baby. Cathy wasn’t above using the secrets we’d confided in her to harm us, and she wasn’t above attacking us through spiritual means.

We had no way out.

 

Next time: “Drop The Rope”

89 Comments

  1. Ria
    Ria

    I keep thinking this can’t get any worse. And then it does. Oh my days, what a horrid person.

    January 22, 2018
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  2. While this is reaching truly unbelievable levels of WTFery, I do have to give a virtual high-five to her former roommates for their moonlight flit. Awesome.

    I also want to add that I have been a doctor for over twenty years and I’ve never heard of a type of arthritis that makes your knees haemorrhage. Somehow I don’t think this is because I happened to miss that one in medical lectures.

    January 22, 2018
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    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      Right? Like, I know that hemophiliacs can sometimes develop bleeding in their joints, but that’s one of the few conditions Cathy *didn’t* claim to have.

      January 22, 2018
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    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      I have bursitis in both hips from doing gymnastics in my teens, and doing nothing all day is the WORST thing I can do. I found out the hard way, that if I want to avoid flare-ups, I need to do some kind of flowing movement (ballet, ice skating, yoga) several times a week. The structural damage is permanent, but strong muscles can sometimes compensate, and keep the joints from banging together and getting more inflamed–IF you work the muscles regularly.

      January 22, 2018
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    • I haven’t heard of that one either, despite having osteoarthritis and a husband with rheumatoid.

      …Tbh, not moving is absolutely the worst thing for my body. There are days I need to pay attention to *how* I move, and I’ve replaced a lot of high-impact stuff I once enjoyed (figure skating, running) with lower-impact stuff (ice dance, elliptical), but holding still is a baaaad idea for me.

      January 22, 2018
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      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        Similar regimen here. No jumps on either ballet or ice.

        January 23, 2018
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  3. Autumn
    Autumn

    Holy crap. I’m convinced that Cathy is a distant cousin of a former friend of mine who behaved in exactly the same way. I hope she’s going to get her comeuppance.

    January 22, 2018
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  4. Women like this fuck up feminism for everyone else.

    January 22, 2018
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    • small jar of fireflies
      small jar of fireflies

      Holding a pillow over your own face sounds even less dangerous than drinking a glass of water upside down.

      January 22, 2018
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      • small jar of fireflies
        small jar of fireflies

        …that wasn’t supposed to be a reply, sorry!

        January 22, 2018
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      • Indigo
        Indigo

        This woman sounds awful, obviously, but at the same time it would be nice if we lived in a world where help for your problems could be reliably obtained without having to attempt/pretend to attempt suicide. Like I’m pretty sure therapy would have been helpful here. Yikes.

        January 23, 2018
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        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          Only after she stopped trying to play her therapist. *If* she stopped.

          January 23, 2018
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        • Kate
          Kate

          People like Cathy tend to be really resistant towards therapy.

          January 24, 2018
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        • Dove
          Dove

          In this case, I think Sam needed the therapy more. Cathy is the kind of person who will always be awful once you get to know her and if she puts so much effort into maintaining that, I doubt she’ll change.

          January 24, 2018
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  5. Mike
    Mike

    As I read this, instinctively my brain says ‘no one can be THAT bad, surely…’ but then I remember that I know more than one person who is exactly this bad and then I just get sad. I want so badly to believe that people can’t be this horrible, ignorant, and selfish. And yet there are police reports proving my friend’s ex is exactly like this minus claiming her knees will hemorrhage, so I am not sure why I keep believing that… I want to have faith in humanity but humanity won’t let me.

    January 22, 2018
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    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      “As I read this, instinctively my brain says ‘no one can be THAT bad, surely…’ “

      Yeah, but don’t call her Shirley.

      January 22, 2018
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  6. I swear Cathy is like three different people from my past combined. What a nightmare.

    January 22, 2018
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    • Caitlin Nolan
      Caitlin Nolan

      I’m relieved to see comments like these because I have some Cathys in my past, too, and I spent a long time feeling like the biggest idiot alive for not seeing what sort of people they were from the beginning.

      January 22, 2018
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      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        I think most of us have at least one Cathy in our histories, and part of the value of Jenny’s posts is helping us realize how skilled the Cathies of the world can be at at disguising their true nature when we first meet them. They turn on the charm; they do nice things for us that put us under obligation; when the weirdness starts to show itself, we confuse it with the weirdness most of us experienced when we grew up in a conformist world, and we think we shouldn’t judge them the way we were judged. We make excuses for them, and if we had dysfunctional families, learning disabilities, or anything that made it difficult for us to fit in, we think we owe them another chance, because we would want that chance.

        Then the chances keep piling up. If we had dysfunctional families, learning disabilities, or anything that made it difficult for us to fit in, the Cathies play on these feelings, implying (or saying outright) that we ought to be Humbly Grateful they are friends with losers like us. This worked easily when my Cathy was an older girl who befriended me in Jr. High, but I’m embarrassed to say it’s been tried since then, and I didn’t always resist them right away. We project our own natures onto them; if we tend to do things we regret out of impulse, not manipulation, we suppose the same is true for them. We can’t process the cold-blooded malice because it is foreign to us.

        January 23, 2018
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        • rekhyt
          rekhyt

          ViolettaD, thank you for this thoughtful reply. This really touched a nerve regarding a difficult situation I am in right now. Thank you for the eye-opener.

          January 23, 2018
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        • Caitlin Nolan
          Caitlin Nolan

          ViolettaD, you nailed it. Every bit of it.

          Another thing I’ve learned is that people like Cathy have almost a sixth sense for sniffing out people who will tolerate their horrible behavior. And likewise, we the Cathy-enablers tend to gravitate toward dysfunction because to us it’s normal and we can’t identify the red flags. Ugh.

          January 24, 2018
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          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            I wish I had learned this 1) earlier; 2) easier; and 3) completely. I still do not feel confident that I can spot a Cathy soon enough to avoid being harmed. There have been some occasions where I did distance myself before the inevitable explosion (which I would hear about from others later–often with RELIEF that I hadn’t been imagining things), but not without sustaining some damage.

            January 24, 2018
        • HeidiAphrodite
          HeidiAphrodite

          Yes. Yes. It took me way too long to get out of a toxic friendship, but when I finally did it was final and complete. Looking back, I’m appalled that it took me so long, but you’re right–I made excuses and justifications for her behavior because I couldn’t conceive that she was doing things just to be manipulative and cruel because *I* don’t do that and never have.

          January 24, 2018
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  7. Cat
    Cat

    That is one hell of a cliffhanger! I too, am impressed by the roommates and how they dipped.

    January 22, 2018
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  8. Rebecca
    Rebecca

    Mr. Jen sounds awesome, with that grill story.

    Also, as someone who has had to develop a high pain tolerance due to being unable to take any NSAIDs or Tylenol, and who regularly sublaxes joints including my ribs, Cathy has my most wholehearted invitation to go fuck herself sideways.

    January 22, 2018
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  9. Megan M.
    Megan M.

    I love those former roommates too – good for them! Jenny, I cannot even imagine what more could possibly happen with Cathy. Yikes.

    January 22, 2018
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  10. Katja
    Katja

    I was thinking after the last installment how strange it is that I’m eager to read them when it means that there is more of this person being the worst. My amused fascination is running more and more toward horror, and with this installment…gaddamn.

    January 22, 2018
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    • MyDog'sPA
      MyDog'sPA

      Yeah, it’s almost like a reality show where Cathy’s survivors plot against each other to see who Cathy will release her vehemence on, thus directing Cathy’s ire toward any other person and not themselves, thus saving themselves from the destructive wrath . . . .

      Saaaaaay, there’s a good idea for a reality game show! Who wants to be a contestant on “Cathy’s Wrath?” Anyone? (Jen already played in the first season, so she’s exempt.)

      Better yet, let’s leave that one in fantasy space, shall we?

      /s

      In all seriousness, I have no idea how Jen escaped this destructiveness. All I can say, is “Good on ya, mate!”

      January 22, 2018
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  11. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    I love your depiction of your own growth here, Jenny. The moment your cousin’s genuine tragedy highlights the bogus nature of Cathy’s threats is painful to read, and must have been beyond painful to experience, but it helped you to break that hypocrite’s hold on you. There’s no way Cathy can continue to guilt you with accusations that you’re being selfish if you don’t cater to her imaginary needs, once you realize that your compassion and your assistance were better focused elsewhere.

    January 22, 2018
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  12. I and a former roommate also had to move out in secret. Our third roommate had (finally) been outed for a series of escalating lies (basically, she claimed she’d been sexually assaulted on a train in order to gain the sympathy of an estranged friend). We also suspected she had been using our communal food fund to buy herself clothes and concert tickets ‘n such.

    One weekday, we left the house as if on our way to work, met at a Starbucks, had a drink and waited about two hours, and then went back to the house once we were sure our third roommate was also gone. We packed and moved in about three hours. Left enough rent to cover the next month (to give her time to find other roommates, break contract, whatever), and a note telling her never to contact us ever again. Thankfully, she didn’t.

    And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what it was like knowing her. I could go on and on. Good on the roommates for extricating themselves from a hostile home environment.

    January 22, 2018
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    • Cat
      Cat

      Perhaps you could start a blog to tell us about YOUR worst person ever. Seriously, these stories are so fascinating.

      January 23, 2018
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  13. Raven
    Raven

    “Motherhood, she continued to insist, “defined” her and brought her “as close to being a goddess as any woman could be.” She wanted the title but not the job.”

    I see Cathy attended the Barbara Walker school of paganism.

    January 22, 2018
    |Reply
  14. Renae
    Renae

    Sometimes I wish you had your own FB group so that we could all discuss your posts back and forth in there. I can’t wait for next week’s post! Your posts one the highlights of my week.

    January 22, 2018
    |Reply
    • MayaB
      MayaB

      There’s a forum to this blog. It’s not very active at the moment, but if you make a new topic there about a certain story/blog post and post the link here, I think people would comment.

      Although, now that I think of it, the comment section here does pretty much the same.

      January 23, 2018
      |Reply
  15. Lily
    Lily

    My God, yes, I had a horrible and ridiculous ex-friend like this (who told me to kill myself, such were my crimes against her), but I never heard of anyone attempting suicide by holding a pillow over their own face. How did her friend not burst out laughing when Cathy told her that?

    January 22, 2018
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    • Maril
      Maril

      When I was barely out of my teens I was roommates with a guy, and one night at 3 or 4 in the morning we get a phone call. One of his coworkers, who he thought was a lesbian because she told him she was a lesbian, called bawling her eyes out, saying she’d just tried to commit suicide because she didn’t understand why he hadn’t asked her out. She thought it meant he didn’t like her.

      Her supposed suicide attempt was her swallowing THREE *regular strength* Tylenol. No, she did not have any medical conditions that would have made that potentially dangerous.

      They’re married now.

      I will say it’s very easy not to laugh when the information is fresh. You are caught up in the ‘tried to commit suicide’ part rather than the ridiculousness of the attempt. But afterwards, as long as you know the person is a drama queen, you can definitely look back and laugh :p And then cry a little that someone you used to think of as a friend is now married to someone who would threaten suicide ‘cuz he wished a female friend ‘happy birthday’ on Facebook.

      January 23, 2018
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  16. Caitlin Nolan
    Caitlin Nolan

    “They backed down somewhat and admitted that Cathy’s ‘suicide attempt’ had been comprised of holding a pillow over her own face.”

    That’s some Spanish Inquisition shit right there.

    January 22, 2018
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    • Anon
      Anon

      Nobody expected it.

      January 23, 2018
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      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        What’s next, the Comfy Chair?

        January 23, 2018
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  17. Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)
    Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)

    Oh my god – what a bitch. Good on the roommates for leaving. And I, unfortunately, completely understand fearing a “friend” will reveal something private.

    I hope writing this is a release and brings you comfort.

    January 22, 2018
    |Reply
  18. Zev
    Zev

    After reading the entire post, all I can comment overall is:
    ….Cathy sounds eerily like my brother’s now-ex wife. I’m so glad he got out safely.
    Every time I read a Cathy post, she keeps sounding like different horrible people I’ve known. She’s a real-life composite of horrible-ness, and I am so sorry to everyone involved.

    The thing that made me originally want to comment, before I read the whole post:
    I have a red meat sensitivity. When I eat it, I get symptoms similar to lactose intolerance, and the symptoms go away after three days. I don’t take medication; I just avoid eating red meat. (shrug) I’m not self-righteous, I’m actually self-conscious about it because I’m the only person I know with it, and I don’t want to seem…anyway, “literally die” from a red meat allergy= I call buuuulllshit*. I’m sure such a sensitivity does exist: couched as a symptom of a larger disease! Cathy would be whining about that larger disease, not just the red meat. Ugggh.

    *sincerest apologies if a severe reaction does exist and I didn’t do my research. I don’t like Cathy.

    January 22, 2018
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    • Artemis
      Artemis

      Even if it does exist, I can’t imagine a sensitivity that rare or medium meat would “literally kill” you but well-done meat is absolutely fine and doesn’t give you any symptoms!

      January 23, 2018
      |Reply
      • Cat
        Cat

        If it would “literally kill” you, wouldn’t you just avoid red meat entirely? I have a bad reaction to aspirin (not fatal, sadly, as I’m a common peasant without a Hawkins level IQ) but it is nasty and unpleasant so I don’t take aspirin and try to carry ibuprofen with me just in case since you never know what is in the latest OTC medication.

        Mr. Jen’s grumble about saying you don’t liking it pink, it doesn’t have to be fatal was priceless.

        January 23, 2018
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        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          That or eat it only if you cooked it yourself and could guarantee it hit the required temperature.

          January 23, 2018
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          • Cat
            Cat

            Right? Everything with this woman is so dramatic and so much bullshit. Like how she can’t work or her knees will bleed from standing and walking too much. There are multiple call centers in every city where you sit all day. There are also ADA requirements that mean offices must accommodate wheelchairs. If I’d known Cathy, i would have constantly been asking about disability benefits since she was medically unable to work according to her “doctors”.

            Cathy is just fucking lazy and entitled. I’m super duper lazy but I totally admit it and don’t use it to justify being an asshole to other people.

            January 23, 2018
      • Hello, name twin!

        That’s not something I get to say very often.

        January 23, 2018
        |Reply
  19. Anon
    Anon

    Dying from a high IQ is literally the worst way to go!

    January 23, 2018
    |Reply
  20. Shaza
    Shaza

    My husband was bit by a tick and now has an alergy to non- semian mammalian meat. Diagnosed by a doctor via blood test. It’s hard to diagnose because it’s wierd, has a delayed reaction time of about 6 hours, and is caused by a carbohydrate not a protein. So, before they figured it out he was waking up in the middle of the night with anaphylactic symptoms (hives, difficulty breathing) and having to get quickly to a hospital. The solution has been to cut out all beef, pork, lamb, etc. He carries an epi pen and deeply misses steak. How it’s cooked doesn’t matter.

    As with most food allergies, he will pick foods from restaurants that don’t have what will hurt him and double check with the wait staff. If going to a friend’s house he will tell them in advance and offer to bring a dish to share. Basically, we know it’s inconvenient and try not to force that inconvenience on other people while still being social.

    Tl;dr : Meat allergies are real. Cathy’s still an awful human who was probably lying to get attention.

    January 23, 2018
    |Reply
    • bewalsh7
      bewalsh7

      I have a friend that had the exact same thing happen to her. As someone who has lived my whole life in rural areas of the Southern US, ticks are a serious problem. I’m honestly only surprised that I haven’t been diagnosed with Lyme yet (although my neighbors dog has)

      If anyone is interested in reading about meat allergies brought on by tick bites: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4235259/

      January 24, 2018
      |Reply
  21. Crystal
    Crystal

    I think this might be the saddest instalment so far. Poor Lucas, I can’t imagine how uncomfortable that was for him. Poor Jenny; I know it was a long time ago, but sorry about your cousin. And poor Sam! Even though he has sounded like a bit of a garbage human, he didn’t deserve to get abused by his wife.

    January 23, 2018
    |Reply
    • Kokairu
      Kokairu

      I may need to go back and read other posts, but do have to wonder if Sam had been heavily manipulated by Cathy and as a result his more assholish moments just seemed completely normalised to him; especially given the abuse. Not that it excuses his behaviour but I do feel deeply sorry for him in this entry.

      January 23, 2018
      |Reply
      • Cat
        Cat

        After learning of the abuse Sam suffered, I warmed to him a bit. I’m sure he was brainwashed to a degree by Cathy and a huge target of manipulation. Sure, Sam could have driven his wife to the bar a mile away, but her FRIEND JENNY had said she would do it and the issue here wasn’t getting Cathy to the bar but having Jenny take Cathy to the bar. How can you be such a meanie to my beloved wife? And I can imagine Sam suggesting Cathy clean up a bit but Cathy fully selling him on why other people should do it, especially if those other people caused the mess (even if it was like a year ago)

        January 24, 2018
        |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Right. There’s no excuse for Sam being cruel as well, but it’s understandable if he got so caught up in her delusions while trying to pacify her or coping with the suffering she put him through, that he just stopped caring about other people (and his surroundings… which would explain his refusal to clean beyond being a slob or overworked, although that still doesn’t explain the utter filth that they lived in. Cathy was simply disgusting, but either he had low standards or he just gave up.) It’s quite plausible that she made Sam depressed and depressed people become really engrossed in their own pain. And from this entry, Cathy clearly took out her anger on Sam so it’s plausible that was on his mind when anyone else tried to make her accountable for her bullshit. I truly hope he got some help later on. 🙁

        January 24, 2018
        |Reply
  22. Lara
    Lara

    I’m slightly torn. Part of (a very small, strange part) wants to have a roommate so awful that I have to ditch and move out in the,middle of the night. Stealthily leaving under cover of darkness
    The vastly more intelligent majority of me is thrilled to have never experienced a Cathy in person. A type of person I hope to never have in my life. This woman is a toxic train wreck of horrible awfulness

    January 23, 2018
    |Reply
    • Indigo
      Indigo

      I’ve never snuck out under cover of night, but I can share the following nightmare roommate stories after six years in shared housing. This list is not exhaustive.

      The Criminal
      -locked himself out of his own bedroom; used my other roommate’s sewing scissors to try and pick the lock
      -forgot the front door code one night; got back in by using a ladder from the garage to climb in the window
      -vigourously denied having anything to do with the stuff going missing around the house, including various food and liquor, $200 in cash, and my messenger bag (which contained my computer, two t-shirts and two pairs of my underwear)
      -left when, after his failure to pay his rent for the second month, the landlord said he could go quietly or the landlord would get the cops involved. Again.

      The Creep
      -took ketamine; loudly judged everyone else in the house for drinking beer
      -tried to recruit me into a campaign of sympathy for him over some convoluted romance plot, decided to hate me when I refused to get involved (having known him for about two days at this point) after he called his ex a “psychosexual vampire”
      -routinely bragged about how many women he’d slept with; claimed he could give women orgasms by dancing with them

      The Child
      -laboured under the delusion that I, despite being ten years older than him and holding a degree in philosophy, had never heard a nineteen-year-old male wax rhapsodic about how great drugs are before
      -argued that I was wrong when I said the clitoris and the vagina are not the same thing
      -baked a pizza upside down because the lower element of the oven was broken; predictable results ensued

      The Aussie
      -mostly nice guy, actually, but came home drunk one night, turned on the bath, passed out, and flooded the house at 1 AM.

      The Failure-at-Life
      -claimed you could recharge batteries by microwaving them, insisted that he was right about this because he had “more life experience” than me
      -asked me why women think men are like dogs, badgered me for thirty minutes when I said I didn’t agree with that assessment
      -reacted to bad news about his custody battle by drinking a whole bottle of tequila and saying he was “going out dancing”; when dragged back inside by two other roommates, threw up on himself and had to be stripped and showered by same

      I’m moving out this week and I’m going to live alone. It is going to be glorious.

      January 23, 2018
      |Reply
      • Cat
        Cat

        -argued that I was wrong when I said the clitoris and the vagina are not the same thing

        I laughed out loud at this. I love this sort of argument because the person is absolutely refusing to look to facts, evidence, anatomy, and science in order to be “right”.

        January 23, 2018
        |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          This individual’s sexual technique, or rather lack thereof, must have been remarkable. You can bet he didn’t want to hear about the distinction from any women who were so unfortunate as to end up in an intimate situation with him.

          January 23, 2018
          |Reply
          • Indigo
            Indigo

            I don’t want to mock anyone for being a virgin, but I will ridicule them to hell and back if they’ve never had sex and still think they’re the expert.
            The Child would have been hilarious if he weren’t so exasperating – sort of like a puppy that thinks it’s an alpha wolf. The Aussie, who also lived in the house at the time, said the Child had a crush on me. I said that was ridiculous, I was half again his age and anyway, he clearly had me tagged in his mind as surrogate mommy. Aussie replied, with a disturbingly knowing look, that those things weren’t exclusive for a lot of dudes. “Besides, you’re a teacher. Every guy has had a thing for at least one teacher.” Eugh.

            January 25, 2018
          • ViolettaD
            ViolettaD

            Indigo: Mock someone for being a virgin? Of course not. Mock someone for refusing to listen or learn when a sexual partner clearly states what he/she likes? Someone who isn’t willing to learn about anatomy doesn’t deserve sex.

            January 25, 2018
      • Also I would END anyone who abused my sewing scissors like that. But not WITH my sewing scissors, because those are only for cutting fabric.

        January 23, 2018
        |Reply
        • HeidiAphrodite
          HeidiAphrodite

          BEST COMMENT AWARD. I want to frame this and hang it in my sewing room.

          January 24, 2018
          |Reply
        • Indigo
          Indigo

          When Fashion Roommate told me, “Criminal wrecked my sewing scissors!” my immediate response was to yell, “My knives!” and desperately check to make sure Criminal hadn’t gotten into my kitchen drawer. Luckily he hadn’t.
          Let’s be clear, I’d *never* stab someone with my ice-hardened Henckels. That might damage it. That’s why you keep a couple Wal-Mart specials around.

          January 25, 2018
          |Reply
          • CI-B
            CI-B

            I would do the same! My knives are pretty basic culinary-school-issue but surprisingly effective, and I’d hate to lose them to some thief. However, I WOULD use one of my issued knives for murder if I had to – frankly I NEVER use the 10-inch French knife for anything and I could afford to use it and dispose of it. But not my 8-inchers, they’re my faves.

            What a wanker.

            January 25, 2018
    • Artemis
      Artemis

      I’ve never had to vanish in the middle of the night, but I did have a roommate so bad I threw him out, like, two days before Christmas. He wasn’t even really the worst roommate I’ve had, but definitely the most financially irresponsible–he moved in to our empty bedroom to be closer to work, got fired, and somehow stayed for another 6 months or so after that. I think he gave me about $60 towards rent at all ever? The whole situation sounds so absurd that it’s kind of embarrassing to tell people about. It was very much a boiling-a-frog kind of situation, where things got slowly worse and worse until it seemed like that was normal.

      January 23, 2018
      |Reply
      • Lily
        Lily

        Walked in, heard sex, saw roomie and some guy she’d picked up banging in my bed. Why weren’t they in hers? Why, she’d just changed the sheets that morning, and didn’t want to miss them.

        I made her strip my bed and escorted her to the laundry room and made her wash and dry them.

        January 23, 2018
        |Reply
        • Lily
          Lily

          MUSS, you stupid spellchecker.

          January 23, 2018
          |Reply
        • That is really 100% appalling.

          January 23, 2018
          |Reply
        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          Depending what position they were in, I would have cracked their heads together like coconuts.
          (Dysfunctional Family Tradition.)

          January 23, 2018
          |Reply
  23. small jar of fireflies
    small jar of fireflies

    Hey look! It’s DARVO in the wild!

    That’s an acronym for “deny, accuse, reverse victim and offender” coined in the 90s by a feminist to describe the reaction of sexual predators to an accusation. Cathy uses it at the drop of a hat.

    Cathy’s behavior reads like it’s all harassment or attempted harassment, frankly. Even the sofa period story.

    January 23, 2018
    |Reply
    • Mary
      Mary

      How did I never know about this acronym!? It’s perfect to describe the way sexual predators (and their defenders) behave!

      Thank you for posting that!

      January 23, 2018
      |Reply
  24. Barb S
    Barb S

    I get so excited for these installments.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
  25. Jamoche
    Jamoche

    OK, she’s claiming she got pregnant when she was so anorexicly thin that she’d *stopped menstruating*? I’d ask if she knows how those things work, but I’d bet she actually does – she just sounds like the kind of person who doesn’t let facts get in the way of a good lie.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • DS
      DS

      That shit’s right up there with those people claiming they live only on water and air, even through pregnancy. Like you expect me to believe you grew another human being on nothing but sunshine? Frickin’ liars the lot of ’em.

      January 24, 2018
      |Reply
  26. Verity Trent
    Verity Trent

    Oh my goodness. The great thing about the way this series is written is how it starts off as “lol, this person is The Worst” (the tampon story! the dodgy bachelorette party! the just-kidding thing!), and then “damn, maybe there’s really something scary going on here” (trying to seduce her professor….the student loan scam….abusing spirituality to wish people ill and make her friends pray to her….) to “HOLY GUACAMOLE THIS LADY IS EVIL” (beating up her husband, then leaving him but not LEAVING him and bragging about sexcapades!!!! erroneously threatening suicide over stupid bullshit she created!!!! using people’s private information as a blackmail cache!!!!).

    The story, like the friendship, reads as one of those Boiling Frog deals, and it’s CHILLING.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
  27. Cam
    Cam

    “They backed down somewhat and admitted that Cathy’s “suicide attempt” had been comprised of holding a pillow over her own face. “That should tell you how much she wanted to die,” I snapped.”

    I tried to kill myself this same way when I was a child. Cathy’s an adult, she likely knew it wouldn’t work (or figured it out quickly, as I did), she’s an emotional manipulator who likely just did it (or claimed she did it) for the sake of manipulation, but no, that doesn’t tell you how much she wanted to die.

    Method doesn’t prove it’s a “fake” or “cry for attention” suicide attempt. The fact she’s emotionally abusive does. But someone who tries a “stupid” way can be as deadly serious as someone who jumps off a bridge or shoots themselves in the head; it’s only got to work once.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
    • Mel
      Mel

      I completely agree. My son recently committed what the hospital called a ‘mild’ suicide attempt” by overdosing on his anti-depressants. He’s okay now but it could have been so much worse. As it was, they took him to hospital in an ambulance, took his obs and gave him a psych consult. They didn’t feel he’d taken enough to have to pump his stomach though. What I’m getting at is that no matter how you try it, an attempt is still an attempt. Whether you actually mean it to work or are using it as a ploy to get attention, one day it might just work. And it only has to work once. For the record, Jenny, you sent a chill through me when you described what happened with your cousin, and that’s because my cousin committed suicide in 2005 (she hanged herself) leaving behind two young sons – just like yours did. Weird, right? So sorry for your loss. And I know from experience that time doesn’t heal. I still hear certain songs that remind me of her and feel like bursting into tears. I’m amazed I’m not a wreck right now, as I write this!

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
    • Dove
      Dove

      In all fairness to Jenny, she was quite stressed at the time and what she probably meant is what you’ve said here, but in that moment, that’s the sentence that came out of her mouth. And since that’s what she said, that’s what was written down here.

      It’s true though. All it takes is one success, although a lot of suicide attempts fail simply because the most successful methods tend to be really painful (even some of the less likely ones are) and if it goes awry, the person in question could be stuck with huge hospital bills.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
      • Dove
        Dove

        Er sorry… to clarify, I meant that people will try the ones that hurt less (or seem like they would) and many of those are less reliable than a gun, for instance.

        January 25, 2018
        |Reply
        • Cam
          Cam

          I understand that’s what she said at the time, but she also doesn’t take it back. Her friend says “fibromyalgia isn’t real” and then says “I know it’s real etc.” Jenny in the first part of this series said she was anti-abortion at the time and has since changed her mind.

          I’m not upset she said it. I’m upset she, apparently, believes it.

          January 29, 2018
          |Reply
          • Jenny Trout
            Jenny Trout

            I quoted something I said in anger ten years ago in response to a serial liar and emotional manipulator coopting my family’s tragedy to preempt the consequences of an email she regretted sending. It’s been my policy here for a long time to not misquote myself in order to look like a better person than I am or was. That does not mean I would say it again or defend saying it in another situation. I do not believe mode proves intent.

            January 29, 2018
    • Saint_Sithney
      Saint_Sithney

      I do think the point (besides the extreme stress), is that an adult would be aware that self-suffocation by pillow is pretty impossible without a lot of prep-work. Not a lot of adults are fully aware that suffocating another human being with a pillow is not a particularly good method of killing someone, unless you’re a creepy true crime fan (guilty of this one), but if you’re reasonably aware of what happens with oxygen deprivation, you’d realize that you couldn’t hold the pillow properly… and if you’ve fallen asleep in a weird position, you’d know that you can breathe through pillows with roughly the same degree of efficacy as you can breathe through a gas mask.

      I don’t think Jenny was trying to downplay suicide by method, but if a well-known emotional abuser and manipulator decided to “commit suicide” by a practically impossible method in front of another person, I wouldn’t take it particularly seriously either.

      January 26, 2018
      |Reply
  28. Saint_Sithney
    Saint_Sithney

    Dear Sweet Baby Jesus, I hate allergy fakers.

    I have multiple anaphylactic allergies. Two of them are airborne. One is to lavender, and the other is to capsaicin – which aerosolizes while peppers are being cooked. I have “literally” come close to dying more times than I can count from things like laundry detergent that didn’t get properly washed out of clothes, or someone cooking something with paprika near me. And the allergy fakers make me feel like such a drama queen and a fraud, even though I know perfectly well I truly have these conditions. Even though I carry around four EpiPens and a bottle of liquid Benadryl, and have a health advocate who accompanies me to potentially dangerous environments.

    I had one friend’s ex-husband accuse me of being a self-aggrandizing hypochondriac, but I had a lot of weird but serious symptoms before I was diagnosed with anything. Turned out he was just jealous when anyone paid any attention to anyone other than him. Which is a charming class of horrible people, but I will say at least he never pretended to have a debilitating illness to get attention.

    And is anyone else thinking “Mississippi Squirrel Revival”?

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
  29. Elsa Doom
    Elsa Doom

    What a heinous, disgusting individual. Thank you for talking about this, Jen. I don’t think there’s a lot of discussion out their about abusive friendships and I think more folks need to open their eyes to how it plays into relationships in general, how this kind of manipulation can leak into our romantic partnerships, workplace dynamics, etc.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
  30. DS
    DS

    I’ve heard people talking about looking like they’re smuggling spiders while in bathing suits but a whole squirrel takes the cake! What a train wreck this person is/was. I’m pretty much speechless.

    I’m sorry about your cousin though. I hope the children are doing well.

    January 24, 2018
    |Reply
  31. Mel
    Mel

    Ugh. Just … ugh. I can’t even conceive of how i would handle someone like Cathy if I was unfortunate enough to know them. I have known a few toxic people though – hasn’t everyone? But Cathy takes the cake. A few years ago I probably would have made excuses for someone like that, and struggled to disentangle myself, just as Jenny did, but now I’m older, my tolerance for bullshit and drama is at an all-time low. I’ve found as I’ve phased certain people out of my life, everything is so much simpler and I’m far less on-edge. It’s also a relief because, when I was being lied to, and knew it, I felt like they thought I was a gullible idiot who would believe anything. That feeling disappeared as soon as I confronted one of my former friends and pointed out that I knew she was lying and thought it was pathetic that she had to make up stories to make herself seem more important.

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
  32. Adam
    Adam

    I’m so sorry about your family’s loss and the fact that you ever had to put up with someone like Cathy. She just sounds awful.

    That email and her actions afterwards in particular sound utterly insane. Especially the part where she accuses you of being jealous of her “successful writing career.” You. Several times published author. Jealous of Cathy. Not published at all. Could she get any more delusional?

    Also, is anyone else glad that Cecily didn’t let Cathy out of the car when they were driving past Lucas’s house? Considering how we know she was treating Sam at this point, combined with how badly she handles any kind of rejection and her anger issues, I dread to think what she might have done/tried to do to Lucas if she had gotten to him.

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
  33. Patrick
    Patrick

    Your Cathy story reminds me of a few people I’ve known, but the one I keep thinking of is a college friend I’ll call Toshiro. We had a class together and bonded over our mutual love of gaming and The Venture Bros. Sometimes, he’d tell weird stories about girls who’d hit on him, then tried to mooch off of him and shit like that, but I believed it at the time. When he first asked me what kind of girls I was into, I told him I was gay and replied, “What kind of guys are you into?” I still appreciate that. Because, as any queer person can tell you, the first time your sexuality comes up around new people can be pretty awkward.

    I don’t have time to recount every weird thing Toshiro ever did. He was Japanese and would frequently complain about the treatment of Asian-Americans in our media (fair), but if I asked him if he was a fan of, say, the playwright David Henry Hwang, he would look at me funny and say he had no idea why I would bring that up.

    The breaking point came when he invited me to the see The Avengers with him at a midnight showing. I had to drive for over an hour to get to where he was (I had moved since graduation), but he ignored me the whole time, and after the movie, he brushed right past me (we had been seated apart because the theater was so crowded by the time I arrived, and he had not bothered to save a seat for me) without even asking how I’d liked the movie. A few weeks later, I left for grad school, and when I came back, I texted him to ask if he wanted to hang out, only to find that he’d changed his number without telling me.

    I have a feeling that I will run into Toshiro again. But we won’t be meeting as friends.

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply
    • Patrick
      Patrick

      Just to flesh things out a little better, Toshiro had a passion for the theater. He’d complained about not getting into a playwriting class taught by an Asian-American playwright he’d respected and had seen me in several plays. So for him to turn around and act shocked because I’d asked him about Hwang (who is Chinese-American, and whose most famous play is about Westerners’ tendency to exoticize and feminize the East) was deeply bizarre.

      January 25, 2018
      |Reply
  34. Mary
    Mary

    You’re amazing at telling this story. I know I’ve been manipulated by toxic people in the past, but I could never remember it all in detail, in order, to make sense of it the way this does. Way to be.

    Also, please someday do a Last Five Years review.

    January 25, 2018
    |Reply

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