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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Tolkien Boy

My first conversation with Tolkien Boy took place because I misread something he posted on his blog. I thought my misunderstanding rather hilarious, brought it to his attention in a chatbox embedded on his blog, and went on my merry way believing he and I would never interact in real time again. 

But I was blessedly wrong.

My own personal superhero, The Great -L-, coerced me into talking with Tolkien Boy the day after my birthday a couple of years ago, and I believe there have been few days since when I haven't had the honor of hailing, or being hailed by him online, on the phone, or in person. 

Tolkien Boy, because of his willingness to be present often in my life, and to hear me say ugly things, has had some dubious privileges in our friendship that few others have "enjoyed." He is probably the first person I told the nasty truth about my cousin's treatment of me. In a few of our first conversations I allowed him to ask questions about my relationship with Darrin--and I actually answered them--not something I usually do. He was a necessary partner when I worked on learning how to direct my dreams away from the chronic nightmares I often have, and with his help I was able to manage that part of my life better. And he has had the singular experience of eating lunch with the man who raped me. 

I remember a time (although I'm not sure when it happened, exactly), when I began to feel that TB was becoming far too important to me, that he knew too much about me, and those two things were unacceptable. So, as was my custom, I spoke to him and suggested that perhaps it was time to stop being friends. I've done this before with grand success. I thank the person for the ways they've helped me, tell them I appreciate their friendship, then let them know I'm really busy, and honestly, I feel we need a break from each other... Without exception, the response has been one of general agreement--the person to whom I'm speaking is busy, too. They understand the need for space and time. And I always get the feeling they're glad I'm addressing this, because they really do want to get away from me. 

Tolkien Boy, however, was not amenable to my request. In fact, I believe he was rather insulted that I would assume I could just say when and where we would stop being friends. Some of the things he said made me recognize how ludicrous my request was, how arrogant my assumption--and by the time our conversation was over, I thought maybe this was a real friendship, not just an association to be briefly enjoyed and then terminated. He had me believing I wanted to be friends with him forever. That's NEVER happened before.

I understand that in writing this I'm admitting my defectiveness as a friend. This is no secret. In fact, AtP and I created a Facebook Group called "Defective Friends." To our immense surprise, it has not been a popular group. Only one other person has joined (thanks Uncle Arthur), and I believe he did so because he felt sorry for us. Surprisingly, AtP and I are the only people in the entire Facebook universe who are defective friends. However, I believe in freely admitting the weaknesses of life on my blog...and this is certainly one of my greatest. But I digress...

Since that fateful conversation with Tolkien Boy, I've been trying to figure out how to be a better friend, not just with him, but with many others. I don't think I've made a conscious effort to ditch even one friendship simply because I felt too exposed and afraid. As is often the case, something he said made a lasting impression on me. I believe it went something like this:

me (unbelieving): You want me to stay?
TB: Yes.

Up to that point, I'm pretty sure, other than Darrin, no one's ever told me that. Since that time, multiple people have let me know I have a place in their lives, but the truth is, I wouldn't have believed them if TB hadn't insisted I consider the possibility that friendship should be lasting and beautiful. Because I am who I am, I had actually mapped out the general time frame when people I loved (like Sully and a few others) would grow tired of me and leave, unless I beat them to the punch and suggested it first. 

Does this sound crazy to anyone but me? You have to admit, I've come a very long way, even if the progress has been fairly sporadic and slow.

Where is all this leading (because I always have a point, it just takes me ages to reach it)?

Well, because of his amazing tenacity, endless patience, and determined reminders that not only does he love me, but someday I must learn to love myself, I have invited Tolkien Boy to attend my next counseling session with me. So--he'll get to meet Therapist and see me at my worst as I talk about crap that bugs me, and feel sorry for myself, and rage at life, and argue with the person who is right 99.9% of the time. I'm not sure why TB actually wants this privilege, but I think it's because I've made Therapist into quite an icon, and TB needs to see for himself that Therapist is, indeed, a simple human being (but he's not--I swear to you, if I didn't already have my own personal superhero, and if Therapist wore tights and a cape, I might let him have the honor).

So, we were sort of talking about the upcoming therapy visit this afternoon and without warning, the conversation took an unexpected turn and I found myself saying perhaps the most peculiar thing I've ever said.

Tolkien Boy:  When's your appointment?

me: 11:00

Tolkien Boy: Okay. I think Ginsberg’s leaving early.

me: That's what he told me. So--after he leaves I will snatch you away and take you to a mental health utopia.   And no doubt you will find Therapist charming, elderly, and sort of cute, which is good since everything we talk about will probably be a rerun of Tolkien Boy/Sam conversations.

Tolkien Boy: Elderly?

me: He's my age.

Tolkien Boy: Oh, yes. Doddering.

me: We compare walkers and discuss which company manufactures the best canes. Occasionally we swap dentures--just for fun.

Tolkien Boy: Please don't do that when I'm around.

me: What??  I look stunning in Therapist's teeth.

And there it is. I'm not sure I'll ever top that one. Probably, I don't want to. But that is the beauty of talking with Tolkien Boy. Wherever the conversation takes you, there you are. And unless he tells me I'm wrong, I expect to be going places with him, conversationally and otherwise, for a very long time.


  1. What a blessing to have someone like that in your life … and what a generous gift to share it with the rest of us.


  2. Silus Grok said exactly what I was going to say. What a blessing.

  3. I sort of DO feel sorry for you,but that's NOT why I joined.
    Ask anyone that has known me for a while,(longer than 10 years)
    and they will agree,I am not the most reliable of friends.
    When my personalities behave like the sun and moon in some sort of eclipse,
    then I am the best friend you will ever have.
    But both lunar and solar eclipses happen all too infrequently.