Saturday, October 2, 2010
Frenemy, not nemesis. There's a difference.
I'm listening to This American Life on NPR and it's all about the mysterious phenomenon of frenemies. It got me thinking about my own frenemies. Frenemies are different from nemesises (nemesi?). There are no illusions about having a friendship with a nemesis. You just don't like each other, but you have to interact for some reason so you act civil with not-so-subtle undertones of utter bitchiness. A frenemy is someone you might kind of like, but the relationship is not healthy for some reason or another.
Two of my frenemies came to mind when I heard this story on the radio. The first was in high school. We were both on the swim team. She was a better swimmer, a better student; better at just about everything, but she had an urge to compete with me constantly and bask in her superiority, which in retrospect was pretty lame. It's like making a to-do list of things you've already done and then crossing them off. I didn't really care. I wasn't that competitive. One time on the bus we had a contest to see who could stuff more cheeseballs in their mouth. (Unbeknownst to her, that is one competition I can't lose.) I got thirty-three balls in my mouth and nobody else could even come close. Not even my frenemy, even though she was motivated to maintain her utter dominance over me. She was pretty upset at losing the cheeseball-stuffing contest and was a little huffy for the rest of the day, saying snide things about what a big mouth I have, blah de blah.
Fast forward to our ten-year class reunion. I was newly married, it was late, she was drunk. She was shamelessly and obviously hitting on Mitch. He was afraid of her. She was too drunk to notice. She had him cornered against a pool table and was rubbing her obnoxious boobs all over him. He crossed his arms in front of him and sort of stuck them out to create a space bubble for himself and was showing the first signs of panic. I stood next to him and watched the whole thing and was highly entertained. Who's the loser now? Bitch.
The other frenemy I had when I got my first real teaching job. I was pregnant, she was pregnant, and we were both English teachers. Yay! A friend! We hung out a few times and it didn't take me long to figure out that she was weird. She was constantly trying to convert me to her strange brand of Christianity, or get me into scrapbooking, or whatever. I felt more like a project than a friend. When I had my baby (Sam) I was sicker than a dog from the anesthesia they used in the O.R. I was puking all day. She and her weird husband came by the hospital and sat in two chairs at the end of my bed and stared at me for about an hour and a half while I puked over and over in a kidney dish. Fun for everyone!
Over the years our frenemyship continued, but got weirder and kind of scary. Mitch thinks she was in love with me but hated herself for loving another woman (god hates gays) so would punish herself (and me) by doing nasty, passive aggressive things to me.
One time when she popped in I was cooking dinner which included some sort of meat and I got a lecture from her for a long time about how SHE isn't eating meat anymore because it's so unhealthy and she doesn't want to eat anything with a face, and don't I know how awful turkey farms are? A few months later she got new leather furniture. I'm pretty sure the cows who contributed the yards and yards of skin for her couch had faces.
One time she had me cornered on my porch (I learned not to invite her inside because more than once she came in and walked all over my house with dog shit on her shoes. Not kidding. I don't think it was an accident either. Yes, I actually think she purposely stepped in piles of dog shit when she knew she was coming to my house.) So anyway, she was talking to me about her Volvo which was making a funny noise. Just then, Mitch happened to get home from work. She said, "Mitch, maybe you could help me, my Volvo is making a funny noise," and Mitch actually said:
"Sorry, I don't want to talk about your vulva."
And then he walked in the house. My frenemy turned a thousand shades of red and I pretended I didn't hear what he said, and she was too mortified to repeat it. Thanks, Mitch! (Actually, it was good because she was so flustered she left right after that.) Luckily we moved and that pretty much ended my sick relationship with her. She sends a mass Christmas letter every year, and last year there was some allusions to an "almost" affair she might have had and how she's learned to appreciate her family. OMG, TMI!
I don't have any frenemies now. I have a nemesis, but not a frenemy. Any takers? (just kidding)
Do you have any frenemies?
***Best comment ever: "BTW...I think it is VERY important to always use the entire term "cheeseballs" when discussing how many of them you can fit into your mouth."