I have a friend, his name is Nate but we call him Meinzer, and his girlfriend just had a baby. That surprised me; I thought he was a different kind of person than that. Not better, just different.

"She's not mine, she's a date rape kid."

Life has a funny way of teaching you the meaning of phrases that you'd heard, but didn't really understand. I learned what it means to "eat humble pie." He didn't know, I didn't say anything. But there's a half second when your perspective changes and you see them in what you think is a more accurate light. And then you realize: reality is rarely, if ever, what you think it is.

Roll with me, Henry.

An ex-girlfriend of mine had an abortion years before I ever met her. She didn't tell me for a long time. She was afraid I would think differently, think worse of her.

I am pro-choice, insofar as I believe that everyone has the right to choose how to live their lives. I don't condone abortion, I don't agree with it, but... how does that saying go? I will defend to the death your right to it. Pardon my slaughter of an insightful aphorism.

I wish I could say that she was wrong, that her revelation didn't change my view of her at all, but I suppose that would be lying. I held it against her only once, but that was more than enough. Amply more.

We were in a parking lot, and she spotted a young couple. Well, I say "young," but they were probably our age. That's young enough. The girl was carrying a child in her arms.

"Ha ha, they have a baby."

My parents always taught me to refrain from passing judgement on others if I could help it, but that struck a nerve, her blatant mockery of the pains someone else took to birth and keep a child. I lost it. I snapped at her, and said five words that I regretted as soon as they were in the air.

"Ha ha, you killed yours."

Roll with me, Henry.

There's never a good way to ask forgiveness from someone. Things will never go back to exactly how they were before your malfeasance. The person whose trust you violated may one day forget, on some level, but there will always be the tiniest bit of venom, the smallest hint of vitriol.

I guess that, like everything else in life, there are exceptions to this. I once had, as the object of my affections, a woman who not only did not share my feelings, but seemed to take perverse pleasure in toying with them. I was young and stupid, and I blindly forged ahead, absolutely resolute in the conviction that one day, this young lady (if the word "lady" could be used to describe her) would come to her senses and we would be happy together forever.


She would find the most hurtful or damaging thing she could say or do and inflict it upon me. I would get offended, of course, but she would apologize later and, sincere or not, it was enough to make me forget about the incident.

Roll with me, Henry.

I have another friend, his name is not Nate. Not Nate, but Lance. Lance has been around for a long time; he shares a lot of my insanity, but he can be a voice of reason when I need him to be. He warned me, or tried to warn me, that this girl -- who, as a matter of fact, had fixated her attentions on him -- was no good to bare my heart to, that she would just put a dagger in it.

I didn't listen, of course, though I wish I had. Nobody ever listens beforehand, and then there is a sickening revelation after the fact, "Damn, I could have saved myself a lot of trouble if I had just listened to the people who knew what they were talking about."

There were, I guess, a lot of times when I snubbed him over her. He wouldn't, he refused to be around her, and so I'd let him do his own thing while I fawned like a simpering idiot. I don't know for sure, guys are pretty good at hiding feelings when they want to, but I think it probably hurt him a bit.

Roll with me, Henry.

One of the most powerful things about a best friend, a real best friend who will care for you no matter what, is that they are always there to fall back on. They'll wait patiently on the sidelines while you go out and try new things and make an ass of yourself, and then be there with open arms when you come limping back, all scraped up. If you're really hurt, they won't even say "I told you so."

I came limping back, and he was waiting. I don't remember if he said "I told you so" or not, but it didn't matter. I was older, wiser, and more battle-scarred for the experience, but I was alive and he was there.

I guess that's the real reason why we're here, why anyone is here. You live, you learn, you love a little, you die. It's not as depressing as it sounds, really, unless you want it to be. I had someone tell me once that if, in your life, you touch one person, just one person, and affect them in some way for the better, that makes the rest of your time spent worth it.

Roll with me, Henry. We only got one shot at this, so roll with me.
Food for thought.

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