he caught me on Facebook chat.

i have all the balls and forthrightness of Piglet when it comes to cutting conversations short. my mother raised me polite to a fault, especially with people who make me uncomfortable. but this conversation got ugly fast. by the time i managed to pull my parachute and eject, he’d already covered at least three or four mutual friends and acquaintances.

the gist?  he’d apparently like to hit them. and not in the vernacular sense.  twenty minutes of who owes him money and who he’d like to beat up.

what a charming way to reconnect, i thought.

i never knew him well. he wasn’t a lover, not even really a friend. in any other life, we’d probably never even have spoken to each other. but one year, in an expat bar far from home, he and i wiled away many a smoky hour at proximal tables. we knew each other surprisingly well for people with almost nothing in common but Canadian passports and a year of birth.  we knew all the same people.  i knew who he went home with, those three and four am pickups, and was baffled by his popularity.

some girls must like to listen to litanies of people a guy wants to beat the shit outta. or maybe he found different things to say to those girls: i was never sure. he called me Bonaventure, the biggest word i ever heard him use.

he bummed more cigarettes than anyone i’ve ever met.

he was the Don Cherry of our circle.  he wore snakeskin shoes with a hockey jersey, usually. he had a mullet. in 2001. i don’t know if he still has it: his facebook profile is a picture of a monkey.

fitting…sure. cheap jokes are easy, though.  i always thought he was limited, or…conversely…at least that my understanding of him was.

i begin to wonder.

which one of us spent twenty minutes on FB chat entertaining himself? and which one spent twenty minutes trying not to offend someone who’s built an entire identity out of being mildly offensive?

i ask you: which one of us is the fool? ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

i am drained and tired these days, choking on my words. these are all i have, in lieu of a hundred things that really matter. all i know is when i put my son to bed half an hour after escaping that ridiculous chat – that chat that ate the luxurious few minutes of me-time Dave granted by taking both kids upstairs for a bath – Oscar lashed up at me, both fists swinging. uncharacteristic, for him. one of his stories had been rescinded. but each little punch was a question more than an expression of anger.

his eyes watched me, sage and distant, learning. what will happen if i do this?

i took his hands. i said, we don’t hit. we talk. it’s a better way to express your feelings. it helps other people understand you, rather than just feel hurt by what you DO.

and then i prayed a faithless little prayer that i am right.

anybody know where i might get him some miniature snakeskin shoes, if i’m not?