March 15

I have been SO HUMILIATED I can’t stay here. I can’t. I could punch someone! FUCK! there’s no way to make this right, and this is all YOUR fault, all of you who nagged me and prodded me and pushed me into a job that wasn’t ME. Well, here I am! There you go! And before you say I’m twisting things again with my “tendency to exaggerate”, Dear Friend, here’s the story, plain and simple. Just the FACTS.

The CIO, G____, loves me, he’s taken me under his wing, we got that, I’ve told you a billion times. So, yesterday evening, he and I were hanging out at the office, on what happened to be the night of this reception for investors/board members etc., which I’d barely even registered was happening, and which it had never occurred to me we underlings weren’t welcome at. Cool. The CIO and I get takeout, and after we’re done eating we go walking up and down the event hall, we’re talking, after a while the VP of sales shows up and joins the conversation, and eventually the start time for the reception rolls around. And I swear I’m still totally oblivious. Then in comes Mrs. S____, the ultimate 1%-er, with her banker husband, and her doofus daughter all “boho”d up, and as they walk past me they stick their high-class eyes and noses in the air, and since that whole species rubs me wrong way, I wanted to peace right then and was just waiting until the CIO could extricate himself from their moronic small talk, when my friend, that girl B____, came in. Since my heart always lifts a little when I see her, I figured, heck, I’ll stay, I went and hung around behind her chair, and I noticed after a while that she was being a lot less open than usual and kind of awkward towards me. That struck me. IS she just like the others, after all? I wondered, and that hurt, and made me want to leave, but I stayed, because I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt, and I couldn’t believe it, and I kept hoping a switch would flip and she’d be nice again, and — whatever. Meanwhile, the crowd was filling in. Deputy Mayor F_____, in the same horrendous suit he’s been wearing since 1970, our event planner, R__ — excuse me, Chief Happiness Engineer, R__ — with his deaf wife, etc., and let’s not forget J___, the walking fashion crime, thinking his Kanye glasses will make up for his 80’s shoulderpads, they’re all piling in, and I’m talking with a few of the people I know from the company, who are all veeery short with me. I thought…okay, and just focused on B____. I didn’t notice that the women at the end of the room were whispering to each other, that it was filtering through the men, that Mrs. S____ was talking to the CIO (this is all stuff B____ told me later), until finally the CIO came over to me and walked me over to a window. “You know our friendship is a bit of an unusual thing,” he said, “and I’m getting the feeling this crowd is a little uncomfortable with your being here —” “Oh my god,” I jumped in, “I’m so sorry! I totally should have picked up on that earlier, I hope you won’t hold it against me; I was actually about to head out ages ago, but I was — part of me was just being dumb,” I added, smiling. We shook hands, and he squeezed mine with a warmth that said it all. I jetted out of there, hailed a cab, and drove out to the E___ R_____ pier, where I watched the sun set over the water while I read that great bit from Homer about how graciously the dear old swineherd welcomes Odysseus into his house. And then it was all good.

That evening, I walked back into midtown and got a drink at a bar a lot of us go to after work; it was pretty empty, just a couple people in a corner playing games on their phones. Then Aiden came in, this really nice guy from work, pulled off his beanie when he saw me, came over, and said to me quietly, “Are you okay?”
“Why wouldn’t I be?” I said.
“The CIO threw you out of the reception.”
“Are you fucking kidding?” I said. “I was glad to leave, I couldn’t breathe in there.”
“Okay,” he said, “well, I’m glad you’re taking it well. I’m just bummed that’s the story everyone’s telling already.”

That’s when it started eating away at me. Every person from work who came in and stared at me, I kept thinking, you know why they’re looking at you? THAT’s why. I was…not in a good place.

And the way everyone keeps texting me now to say how SORRY for me they are, and everyone feels the need to tell me how my haters are all patting themselves on the back saying, “Finally, someone put that little kiss-ass back in his place, thinking he was so special, like the rules didn’t apply to him,” and all this other bullshit — it makes me want to stick a knife through my heart; because sure, whatever, “inner peace”, but I want to see the guy who can be zen when people are putting him down and they actually have the edge on him…when it’s just talk, then fuck it, let ‘em talk.

March 16

And it just keeps going. Today at work I bumped into B___ in a hallway, I couldn’t keep it in, I had to talk to her, and as soon we found an empty meeting room I told her how hurt I was she was acting so distant all of a sudden. “Oh, Werther,” she said, so heartfelt, “how can you think that’s what this is, I just didn’t know what to do, but I mean, you know me! It’s been killing me, ever since I walked in and saw you there. I saw the whole thing coming, I was this close like a thousand times to telling you. I knew S__ and T___ would rather quit the board than stay in a room with you; I knew the CIO couldn’t afford to burn bridges with them — and now all this drama!” “Wh— what do you mean?” I said, fighting down the panic rising inside me; because everything Aiden had told me the day before went shooting through my veins like boiling water. “I’ve been through so much already…”, she said, starting to cry. I almost totally lost control, I practically collapsed in front of her. “Please, what are you talking about?!” I screamed. The tears started running down her cheeks. I was freaking out. She wiped them away, not even trying to hide them. “You met my aunt…she was there, she’s on the board, and…oh my god, when she saw all that…Werther, last night I got a whole lecture on my relationship with you, and again this morning, and I just had to sit there and listen to you being put down and insulted and I… not even being able to stand up for you…”

Every word she said was like a bullet through my heart. She couldn’t see how much kinder it would have been to keep that all from me… and then she went on about all the other gossip flying around and everyone lapping it up: how people are saying this is karma for my being so stuck up and looking down on everyone, and passing around this Condescending Werther meme… God, Will, hearing all this from her, all in this saaaad sympathetic tone — it broke me, and I’m still raging inside. I wish one of them had the balls to tell it to my face so I could put a knife in him; seeing some blood would help a lot right now. Eugh, the number of times I’ve grabbed a knife, to give this heart a little breathing room… I read an article about this special breed of horses, that when they’re badly overheating and they’re being ridden too hard, instinctually bite open a vein to let in more oxygen. That’s how I feel a lot, like if I just opened a vein I could be free forever…