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Idle Worship

Emily Flake

By Mink Stole | Posted 1/29/2003

I've known Tony since we were gay boys together in a redneck country town. He was beautiful; I was plain. He was outrageous; I was shy. He was my gay mentor and protector, in a way, and I basked in his friendship, but I always felt kind of insignificant around him and was constantly trying to win his approval. I knew I needed him more than he needed me, but I idolized him so much that I was willing to accept that as the price of being his friend. Obviously I had some serious self-esteem issues, but at the time I was just grateful that he even noticed me. We stayed friends even after we got older, but when Tony met his lover, Warren, a few years ago, he stopped paying much attention to me. This hurt me, and I tried to make friends with Warren, but he never liked me and eventually Tony also started to get abusive. He's always had a nasty streak, and I put up with it for a long time because I convinced myself he didn't really mean it. I don't feel that way anymore. I've been in therapy for a few years, where I must have finally gained some feelings of self-worth. When Tony recently invited me over, I refused, because I didn't feel like dealing with his hostility. This provoked a stream of hateful e-mails in which he told me that I disgust him and to stay away from him and his friends. I e-mailed him back, saying that I would always care about him, and I offered to meet and talk about it. He said he wanted to, and that he still considers me his best friend, but then I heard from some mutual acquaintances that he's been saying dreadful things about me behind my back. Should I meet with him and try to patch things up for the sake of our long friendship, or is it time to cut the cord?

Leftover Love

Dear LL:
The problem with erecting idols is that if you turn away from them for even a short time, when you look back they're invariably covered with bird shit. Now that you've moved far enough out of this man's shadow to get a good look at him, you can see that the defects in his personality are as deep and ugly as anyone else's. The problem for him as an idol is that he's taken your adoration for granted for so long that he can't accept the change--even though he may not realize it, he views your growing sense of self-esteem and independence as rejection and betrayal, and he cannot tolerate it.

Letting go of people we love is difficult and sad, but this man has a lot of growing up to do, and until he's ready to accept the changes in you, it's a good idea to stay away. You can still care about him--after all, you have history together--but from a nontoxic distance. The next time he calls, tell him you wish him well, and want only good things for him, but that you're just not interested in getting together. Be calm, firm, and mature on the phone, and after you hang up, treat yourself to a good cry and a pint or two of Cherry Garcia.

My three cats have lived together in harmony for six years. A few weeks ago my next-door neighbor got a cat she calls Prince Charming. I call him Satan. He loves to sit on our windowsill, and whenever he does, my two neutered male cats go berserk, hissing and spitting at him, then, in their fury, attack each other. It has already cost me quite a bit of money in vet bills. The only way to prevent this is to keep our curtains drawn day and night (my cats are always kept indoors). I have spoken to my neighbor, but she thinks neutering a tom or keeping a cat indoors is barbaric. I'm sure I have no legal claim, but would I be wrong to ask her to help pay the vet bills?

Kat Krazy

Dear KK:
Neutering and spaying our cats and dogs is not only not barbaric, it's the kindest thing we can do for our beloved pets, whether we keep them inside or let them play outdoors. A non-neutered male cat on the loose is a real nuisance. He'll spray, howl, fight, and impregnate stray females, adding to the already huge unwanted animal population. Unfortunately, although your neighbor is an ignorant, selfish moron, there's no law to make her act responsibly. Which also means that, even though she's been a willing contributor to the problem, most likely she'd be an unwilling contributor to the cost of the damages. In other words, by all means ask her--just don't expect her to whip out her checkbook.

But you and your kitties don't have to be such victims. Keep a squirt gun handy, and when you see the cat coming, let him have it. It won't hurt him, but he won't like it. And for when you can't stand guard, get yourself some sticky flypaper and cover your windowsills with it, so the next time the little devil jumps up, he'll be in for a very unhappy surprise. Eventually, little Satan will think your house is a hell on earth and he'll stay away, leaving you and your kitties free to live in the sun again.

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