Rejection. Pt 1: Battle of the Jeffs
When I was young and in elementary school, I became friends with this one kid in my class. We would hang out during recess on the playground and generally have a good time, swaying on the monkey bars, or climbing up the slide. Making friends was never my strength. It seemed like whenever I did, they usually ended up moving out later the same year. And so having any friend seemed important. Eventually this kid became my best friend.
Things were great until one day when we were joined by a third. His name was also Jeff. But we called him Jeff D. To all in my class, I was Jeff C.*
The day that Jeff D. came to play was a day filled with darkness and loathing. It wasn’t merely because he had the same name as me. It was because the day he joined us on the playground, he claimed that my best friend was his best friend. I looked to my best friend for affirmation of our special friendship, but never received any. Instead, my best friend stood silently between us, possibly weighing our strengths and weaknesses against each other. The playground became Jeff D.’s and my Colosseum, and we fought like unconscionable gladiators for the prize. Each day, the three of us would head out to the playground, where Jeff D. and I would display our strength, dexterity and wisdom through made-up games and contests. We would climb something not meant to be climbed, quiz each other on our mastery of 3rd grade math and history, leap from the swings, and anything else we could think of. In these contests, Jeff D. and I were nearly equals. It was like battling a twisted mirror version of myself. His mastery of science was great, but my vast knowledge of dinosaurs was comparable. He was a fan of Star Trek. I was a fan of Star Wars. Neither of us were particularly adept at the monkey bars. Yet, as the year progressed, I felt my best friend slipping out of my grasp.
But it didn’t matter. Later that year, my best friend rejected us both by skipping ahead a grade and leaving us behind. I didn’t see him very much after that. I don’t even remember his name anymore.
(*There was also a Jeff S. in my grade, but he was built like a twig, and frail, and didn't play on the playground like the rest of us, because playing on the playground meant the probability of a horrible death involving the swings or the rope ladder.)