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What’s Your Friendship Worth?

November 18, 2013

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What really bothered him was that you found out, Rodney. He really felt bad about that.

Chris, that’s like saying, “He was okay with stealing from you, but really sad when you found out it was him!”

Chris and I have been friends for years. We had a pair of mutual friends, Clint and Carlos. The three of them were already friends when I joined the group. I’m typically pretty good at reading people. In this case, I completely failed. The four of us would hang out at Salt Lake City comedy clubs. If you’ve never been to a comedy club, you might be tempted to think it’s like the opening and closing credits of Seinfeld. A room full of people, politely laughing with a comic sharing jokes about clever observations of human behavior.

There are some clubs like that, but it’s not typical. A comedy club is generally in a bar or a coffee shop. If you go to one of the big name comedy clubs, it’s packed. However, the vast majority of comics perform for sparse rooms filled mostly with other comics. And the material is what is politely called “blue.” Foul language and crude humor are typically the norm. I described this a little in The Pedophile, The Comedian And the Englishman.

So, by choosing to hang out with comics in comedy clubs, I knew I wasn’t going to Sunday School. However, I’ve been a fan of standup comedy since my mom used to let me watch old Abbott and Costello films. She said at times, I would laugh so hard that she was worried I’d pass out.

Carlos had been performing comedy for seven or eight years. Clint and Chris had been performing less, but both were regulars at Wiseguys, the most popular Salt Lake City comedy club. Over the course of a couple months we became pretty good friends. Except that I later found out that my definition of a friend and their definition were vastly different.

It was around Christmas time when a family member came to me and explained that Clint and Carlos were both keeping secrets from me. They’d placed their own desires above our friendship and betrayed a trust with someone close to me. The actual “betrayal” was disappointing, but what was worse, was that the betrayal had happened weeks earlier. They had allowed me to go ahead thinking all was well with us, not mentioning a word. A Bob Segar lyric came to mind, “Surrounded by strangers, I thought were my friends.”

Chris was in an awkward spot, since he knew what was actually going on, but was not part of it. With a lot of prodding from Chris, Clint approached me at one of his shows.

Rodney, I’m really sorry. Please tell me the other person is getting through this?

We’ll be fine.

Would it be okay if I came by your work next week and we went to lunch?

Sure.

Was I past being angry? I don’t know. Hurt? Sure. Leery? Absolutely. But maybe, just maybe we could reset our relationship. His friendship was important enough to me to at least give him a chance to make it right. Maybe I would be able to forgive him and move past it.

I never got the chance.

Three days later Clint overdosed and died.

How do you stay mad at the dead?

We all attended the funeral and listened to the wonderful things that are said about the deceased. And that’s the way it should be. People don’t want to remember the drug addict. They want to remember a loving son. A friend. A funny comedian.

But, I wasn’t done hating him.

Was that wrong?

HOW DARE YOU DIE BEFORE I HAD A CHANCE TO FORGIVE YOU!

It’s been three years since Clint passed away. We gathered for a comedy show last weekend with his family and friends. It took several months for me to finally come to terms with him. They say that carrying a grudge hurts the person with the grudge immeasurably more than the person they have the grudge against. How much more is that true when the person you hold the grudge against is dead?

I took the fact that he was attempting to make it right, as evidence that he really did value our friendship. Our friendship wasn’t more powerful than his demons, but considering those demons killed him, I’m not sure anything could be.

As for Carlos? He’s still around the comedy scene. He was there last weekend. All he’s ever said was,

We need to talk about that thing some time.

No Carlos, we really don’t.

We are no longer friends.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

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