I made a shit load of bad choices in my life; one of them was befriending toxic people. I’m not sure if I wanted to rebel against my happy existence at home, or if I really wanted to help people in need. I thought of a toxic boy that had been in my life from around the ages of 13-16 after watching Rose give a dirty smelly little girl-like creature some change at the bus stop the other day. I wanted to tell her about the lessons I’d learned in my lifetime about people who use instead of give, take instead of help. I didn’t want to make her sad, or take away from the great feeling you get when you help someone out. So I didn’t say anything, I just came home and wrote this:
"I don't care if you're high when you come over, just don't smell like it." I dropped my head into my hands and slumped over between my jean-swathed legs. I was tired of him, tired of his excuses, mostly tired of trying to be this sick boy's friend. I had met him at my Daddy's pharmacy. He was picking up his medication for his ancient disease, hemophilia, and I was in awe of why a 13 year old boy would be at a pharmacy by himself, why he would be anywhere by himself.
He gave me a jovial pat on the back and laughed. "I didn't smoke any...I was just around people who were smoking. You can't get in trouble for just standing there." He flipped a greasy chunk of his black glossy hair off his face and tried to not laugh hysterically at my disapproval. I’m sure he was wondering to himself why I am so much of a square.
I sigh and consider asking him to leave. I had considered it so many times it was almost a novelty. My parents distrusted him, my boyfriend hated his guts and my friends thought he was strange. He made most people uncomfortable with his dingy appearance, his odd looks, his sad and tragic life story.
More than one time I saw him steal things from other people and although I told myself time and time again he would never steal from me or my family, I was still constantly on guard. I would find my eyes rolling to the left or right, watching his hands, other times my eyes would dart quickly around a crowded room to pinpoint his location in it. He was hard to miss, even in a crowd, tall and painfully thin with a mohawk of the aforementioned consistently greasy black hair, a stale black leather jacket complete with studs dulled by age. The jacket was a point of pride for him and he would wear it even on the hottest, sunniest day. He said that the jacket had belonged to his much older brother, but this was never really proven, being that his brother had O.D.ed sometime during the 80’s.
His mouth was too large for his face and he would sometimes drool while in repose, large snaggly teeth protruding, chin oddly melted in with his brontosaurus neck. His ancestors were Native American, his mother in their small dingy apartment drank liquor straight from the bottle like some cliche. His mother was as small as I was and so round it looked like she might topple over at any moment and roll, roll, roll.
“When can we eat, I haven’t eaten for days.” He’s starting to show signs of wear now, often he would be ill for days, not eating, not sleeping, just lying in his dirty bed amongst foul smelling sheets and discarded clothing. Today he was up and about, but I didn’t doubt that he was actually starving. So what made today different? What was it about this day that made me really want to break free from his toxic self? I imagined that it was his smell, my immature side made fun of the stench that wafted from his unclean body all the time. My mature side knew that I was tired of watching him use people and most of all tired of watching him die slowly.
“We’re not eating anything, I’ll give you some money to get something downtown, but I don’t think I want you to come to our house anymore.” I stood now and tried to face him with some seriousness. He made a move to lie down on my bed, he thought I was joking, or didn’t care if I was serious.
There just comes a time in your life when you have to shed weight from your brain. You have to let go of the toxicity and the attachments you make to the people that create said toxicity. I repeated this over and over again in my head and then said out loud,
“Just leave now. Please don’t call or come over anymore. I don’t want to have anything to do with you anymore. You just use me and make me sad.”
He isn’t a proud person. He shrugs and rises to leave.
“Can I have $30? I know you have cash in your change purse.” He doesn’t even look apologetic.
“Ok.” I cross the room, rifling through my book bag for my change purse. After 30 seconds, I hear the front door of my house opening and closing. I listen to the clomping of his giant leather boots and the jangling of the many belts he wore around his concave waist as he disappeared from my street and then out of my life.
I drop the book bag, I know the change purse isn't there anymore.