3 years later, in high school, we were reunited. It started off slow. He still didn't care much for me. I thought he was OK. But we gradually became good friends and for 2 years he was one of the best friends I ever had.
And then he started to change. Weird things began to show up in him. He'd show me a drawing and say "I created this. I made it up." I'd look at it and immediately recognize it as a copy of something I'd seen before. I'd say "I've seen that. You copied that from ..." whatever he copied it from. Then he'd confess. Yeah, he'd copied it and claimed it as his own creation. He did it with songs, too, trying to impress girls by singing songs and saying "I wrote that." They always busted him. They always knew the song and that he didn't write it. It was obvious.
He was highly intelligent in a memorization sort of way. He could remember anything he'd ever read. His brain was like a vault for memory. But I began to realize that as far as creativity went, he had absolutely none. I also began to realize that he resented the living hell out of my creative abilities.
He destroyed an original drawing I had spent hours on and then rather glibly apologized. "Oh, I'm sorry. You worked hard on that. And it was pretty good, too." It was more of an I'm-sorry-that-you-have-the-ability-to-do-that-and-I-don't than a real apology.
A few years later, he and I both had taken up the guitar. I was trying desperately to learn to play like Jimmy Page, a super lead guitar soloist, and he was trying to master classical guitar. I never understood why. But he did learn all the rules of music far better than I. As I said, anything he could read, he could remember. A few more years later and he asked me to come jam with this local band he was in. I told him I'd be glad to, but that I only knew the songs that I knew and he'd have to show me the rest if he wanted me to join in. He assured me he would.
And then I said, "I don't know how to play in key, like E or A, right, I just know how to play a song after I hear it and pick out all the chords and stuff." He said that was fine. No problem.
I arrived with my guitar and amp and sat down with him and the band. The first thing he did was say "let's play 'LA Woman' in A. And they began to play. He was looking at me and playing and singing, knowing full well that I didn't know that song and didn't know anything about what he was doing, so I couldn't join in. I blew it off, figuring he'd have his laugh and then I'd join in the next one. But it kept on, song after song, he showed me nothing, never asked what songs I knew or I wanted to play, simply stuck to what he and the rest of the guys had rehearsed and left me hanging there. So I got up and left.
Years later, I'm writing things on the internet. I acquire a small following, nothing much. I tell him and the rest of our mutual friends at a reunion of sorts with him and a circle of friends that we both hung with back in school. So our friends get on the computer and look up my writing. They tell me they are impressed. And then they all begin their own webpages, too.
A few of them were as popular as I was. And by popular I mean they had more than 10 people who followed them. The rest were only followed by the group itself.
And then there was my old friend. He began writing in 2005. The things he wrote were dry, to say the least. It was not what you'd call creative or entertaining. He's been writing non-stop ever since, and most of his writing consists of something along these lines:
"Here is a picture of me in Paris. See me? I am there because I am important at my job and they sent me there."
I'd say that's about 90 percent of what he has written over the years - 'here is me in some city. See me? I am important.'
Another 5 percent would be a quote from someone else, some deep thinker or creative person. He'll quote someone else's thoughts and then say "this makes me think. What does it make you think of?" And no one leaves any comments. After 6 years you'd think he'd stop asking "what does it make you think of" because no one is responding, but it doesn't seem to register with him that no one is there. Or perhaps it doesn't matter?
The remaining writing is about his family. He is proud of his family. I can't blame him for that. He has a nice family and they seem very happy as far as I can tell. It's certainly something to be proud of.
His then-wife set up a forum for all of us in this group of old high school friends to talk to each other. We'd talk about this and that, joke around. It was fun. And then he'd post something, and it would be totally inappropriate. It would go something like this:
ANN: I am really struggling these days, but thank God I have all my friends around me. :-)
KAREN: We all love you. We'll be here for you.
HIM: You probably wouldn't struggle so much if you weren't such a slut.
THEN-WIFE: My God, what the hell is wrong with you that you say things like that?! Stop being such an asshole!
I'm not joking. He would make comments like that, cutting comments that were obviously intended to carve his closest and oldest friends into pieces. And he would say it to all of us. Everything that came out of him was either a direct or back-handed insult.
I know his ex-wife or used to. She began the forum, after all. We talked after their divorce, after I tried to reach out to him and received what I'd have to say was the oddest responses you can imagine. She told me there were problems, not the marital kind but the kind that related specifically to him. I had suspected as much. Beginning when we were about 17 I began to notice him transforming from the greatest guy I knew into a strange petty, untrustworthy person that I didn't recognize. It was worse in college. I didn't know who the hell he was anymore.
I'm just rambling here. I don't have a deeper point. I just ran across him, just now. He was posting about where he'd just been again and reminding whomever happened to pass by that he is important. It made me think about all the oddities. I think it's odd to have absolutely no original thoughts, no creativity whatsoever. But then again, I know another guy, a great guitar player, who once told me that he was impressed by my ability to write what I considered stupid but original songs. He said he could play anything anyone could write, but he could not write his own music. So maybe it's not that uncommon? I don't know. To me it is odd. Zero original thought. Zero creative ability.
I should take a step back. Before my old friend began to change, he WAS creative to some degree. We once sat down together and wrote a story just off the top of our heads, winging it and laughing at the stupid things we were creating with no plot and no clear ending in mind. It was fun. I still have that ability. But I don't think he could do that again if his life depended on it. And I don't understand that.
I also don't understand the constant need to say "see me? I am important." It's not just his personal webpage that he does this on. It's everything. It's Facebook and professional links between us which I know his employer sees. If he's updating his status on anything it is generally to say "here I am in Helsinki. I am important." I realize that he is more successful than I am. He makes twice my salary, or did before they laid him off. But he found another job, once again working at a high level of management and making something similar to what he made before. So it isn't as if he has suffered for having no creative talents. But why the constant need to say "See me? I am important!"
Do you see me? Hardly anyone reads this blog, yet I really like the handful of people I've met here. I am not important, but I am creative. You might not know it from the posts I write here. They're mostly about my workouts, but that's not all I write. It's just most of what I write here. And I don't need to tell people what I do, how much I make doing it, or demand that they acknowledge that I am important. I guess I don't understand people who do. I guess my old friend transformed into my polar opposite, and I don't know what to do with that.