People You've Known
You know those friends you had when you were in high school? They were always real cool when it was just the two of you together -- like you could've been best friends. But in mixed company, they acted mean and shitty to you, to impress the other person.
Believe it or not, some people still act like that as adults.
This fella was a paragon of masculinity, you better believe it! He did it all according to code: the regulation haircut, the no-nonsense clothes, the rigorous weight-lifting routines. No one was gonna mistake this guy for a faggot. And, just in case there was any confusion, he'd often point out -- loudly, for all to hear -- how much he hated the homos. It just made him sick that two men would want to fuck each other. It just made him sick. If he saw someone in a bar who looked a little queer, you always knew he'd start some shit with the guy.
At night he would go home and masturbate furiously, bitterly, imagining himself with other men. He would lay boiling, waiting for sleep, disgusted to the marrow with the thought of those goddamn faggots.
She was bubbly and optimistic, always smiling. It seemed that every week she had a new "best friend." You never asked about the last "best friend," or the one before that, or the one before that. At some point she would just stop talking about them, and you knew there had been some kind of falling out, and that would be that. Hey, as long as she's happy, right?
She was so easily taken in, she fell for everyone. Anyone with an ounce of cool or charisma would pull her into orbit like a little moon. Amazingly, she was completely sold, every time out. "BFF!! Best Friends Forever!" You would just smile and nod. The relationships were hollow and fleeting, based on nothing real.
Every few months she had some new plan for her life. A new passion, a revelation. And some type of rationalization for why the last thing didn't work out. You knew she was just whimsical, and grabbed for anything that looked promising, anything that would allow her to abandon the last pursuit. None of her plans were carried to fruition. In a matter of time she would just lose interest, and latch onto something and someone new, chalking it all up to "fate."
After awhile you stopped listening to her.
When you met him, you knew he'd always been there and always would be there. He was as eternal as the sea, as corny and cliche as that sounds. But it was true; his strength was as calming and dependable as the sun, or some shit like that. His self-sufficience never ceased to awe you. His abilities were a combination of talent and hard work, and, astonishing as they were, you were never surprised to discover them, one after the other.
Everything he said was truth. His humor was brutally spare. He could sum up a person, place or thing with a lightning-quick, devastating one-liner. His delivery was flawless and crisp.
You were honored to be his friend and you hoped that some of his qualities would rub off on you. He made you want to be better
He was squirrely and dishonest, but he hid all that under a smokescreen of phony joviality and hearty laughs. He had a lot of secrets in his life. You started noticing that he didn't have any old friends; he always ran around with ephemeral characters that existed solely in the present. He could never hold onto a job. You got the feeling that he had burned a lot of bridges and run off quietly in the night.
He smiled to your face but you knew a confrontation was coming...
What a fat, bloated, life-handed-to-him-on-a-silver-platter piece of shit this guy was. He was a good ol' boy, one of those people who never had to struggle a day in his life and has absolutely no perspective on the real world. His rich daddy handed him a big cakewalk job in his giant company. He married some submissive little Asian trophy, who he objectified constantly. When she wasn't in the room, he made joking, racist references to her and bragged about his sexual conquests with her. When she was in the room, she hung on his fat arm and smiled blankly. She never had a thing to say.
This triple-chinned, upright slug had the world by the tail: more money than you could imagine, an ostentatious house which was, of course, far too big for just him and his tiny wife. He collected expensive gadgets, top-of-the-line everything. The wife was just another piece for his collection.
He embodied all the worst tendencies of the white, rich, racist Republican, forever protected in the womb-like bubble of wealth and suburban contentment. What the fuck did he care if some niggers in the city didn't have jobs? Throw 'em all in jail and get me another cigar, will ya? Heh-heh.
She was the ugliest girl in the third grade, maybe in the whole school; it was almost like a title she held. Kids teased her mercilessly and their cruelty was monstrous.
One day I saw some kids walk by her in the cafeteria, pointing and giggling. She spun on them suddenly, and said "I know I'm ugly, so what? Why don't you leave me alone?"
She had more guts already than any of those little shits ever would in all their lives. I hope she's rich and happy now and eating people like that for breakfast.
He was a bartender with a deep, contagious laugh. He was the kind of bartender who'd start pipelining you free drinks after your first round. He was a bit rough-hewn but as far as you could tell, he had a heart of gold and some real smarts, too.
It was a bummer to find out that most of his friends were total losers -- violent, sexist, racist, homophobic drug fiends. Guys who were in their forties and still picked fights with people in bars. Real pieces of shit.
He let them get away with everything, even though he knew better -- he could have set them straight on some shit, but he always let them slide. At the end of the day, he was just as guilty as they were.
She was one of those "punker-than-thou" types. If you didn't know the names of all of the Dead Boys, then you were a total fucking idiot. But even if you did, you'd never be as "punk rock" as she was. Like that means anything.
This worthless dirtbag probably couldn't even name the last ten presidents of the United States, but oh well, who cares? She spends all her nights rotting in bars.
This dude was weathered. I don't know how old he was but I suspect he looked much older than his actual age. His face was cavernous and deeply lined. All his front teeth were broken out. He looked like he'd wrestled with hard drugs for a good chunk of his life. He looked like he'd hit depths you and I couldn't even dream of. An intense looking cat.
Despite all this, he was the most unselfconscious guy on the dancefloor, bar none -- you could always see him out there under the strobe lights, shaking his ass and smiling broadly with the ladies. He wasn't ashamed of a goddamn thing.