Ryan and the Technicolor Wardrobe
Short Stories and Essays

The first time I hung out with Cameron was probably about 10 months after I met him.  We had shared many a lunch break together, but we had never taken things outside the confines of the mall that we worked at.  As shallow as it sounds, the event that finally tipped the scales, was Cameron getting a Nintendo Wii, right after it was released.  I spent many weekends searching in vain for a Wii, so I finally had my reason to want to stop by Cameron’s abode.  Cameron was more than willing to have me stop by to check it out and my friend Jason decided to tag along to check out this revolutionary gaming device.

We stopped by the apartment on a Saturday night and Cameron played the gracious host while his wife sat quietly at the kitchen table.  He offered us a beer from his well stocked refrigerator, he showed us his cats, and then gave us the tour of the apartment, ending at his brand new entertainment center in the living room, the same entertainment center that housed the much sought after Nintendo Wii.  I also noticed a small computer tower within the entertainment center, and decided to ask about it to make conversation.

“Oh is the computer there acting like a media center?” I asked.

“Yeah, that’s where I keep all my porn.” He proudly responded.

Jason and I shot each other a quick look of disbelief, and I think Cameron interpreted that look as one of confusion because he decided to elaborate on his previous statement.

“You know, I download it with BitTorrent.”

The admission that Cameron enjoys pornography was not the reason causing Jason and I to feel uncomfortable.  It was his cavalier attitude about it.  I didn’t imply that I knew anything that would cause him to tip his hand, and Jason had literally just met him.  Plus, his wife was within earshot, making things even weirder, and while the collection of pornography might be hers as well, I don’t think she would’ve recommended her husband make it part of the house tour when guests arrive for the first time, but since we wanted to play on the Nintendo Wii, we decided to get past the awkwardness.

Outside of that incident, Cameron and I had a pretty normal friendship.  I would come over, we would eat pizza, drink beer, and play video games.  We would goto the occasional hockey or baseball game, and we’d grab lunch at work.  He came from a well-off family so he would be quite generous to me.  When he upgraded from an Xbox 360 to an Xbox 360 Elite, he gave me the the old Xbox and its controllers.  When he decided that he didn’t want to have an iPhone, just months after it came out, he let me have his after I found it sitting in a drawer.  I appreciated these things tremendously but I later found that these gifts came with a hidden price tag, he expected me to never criticize him.

I would find this out during a game up pick up roller hockey.  We had both taken up the sport to get in better shape, but Cameron’s unhealthy diet was making it extremely difficult for him to make any progress.  After a particular game, I recall him wanting to go to Jack in the Box afterwards so he could order a double bacon cheese burger, large fries, and a soda.  I had told him that would negate any sort of positive from our hockey game but we ended up at Jack in the Box anyways.

The time I burned the bridge, however, I had called him out  to skate back and play any defense.  He was tired, so he started to stay in the offensive zone, waiting for the rest of his teammates, including myself, to fish the puck away from the other team.  After a while, I got fed up and shouted at him “You’re not a scorer, so why don’t you get back and play some defense?”  He shouted back that he didn’t appreciate me berating him in public, and while I didn’t back off on my stance, I didn’t try to escalate things further, I would just reaffirm my previous sentiments.

I didn’t think this was any sort of a big deal.  I was showing him some tough love, not just for his benefit as a hockey player, but as a person who wanted to lose weight and get fit.  Skating was going to help him burn calories, not standing around waiting for the puck.  I honestly thought it would blow over quite quickly, but that was really the last time I ever hung out with the guy.  Apparently, he would tell mutual friends of ours that he demanded an apology, but he never got it from me.  It’s not because I wasn’t willing to, but because I wanted him to communicate that to me directly instead of through other people, which he never did.  I had discovered some less than functional aspects of our friendship and realized that there might be too many to overcome.

Sure, I could’ve gone out of my way to apologize, and I could’ve made a stronger effort to “not berate him”, but somewhere along the line, another conflict would’ve been bound to surface, and we’d have to play the same roles: I’d probably say something to try to help him, he’d take it as vicious criticism, and I’d have to hunt him down to apologize again.  While it was pretty harmless on a free recreational roller hockey rink, that hypothetical next time, could’ve be on a road trip, in Vegas, or somewhere where a spat could’ve left me suddenly without a place to stay or without transportation, so it’s probably for the best that we parted ways there.

I wonder if I would’ve gotten a similar reaction if I had questioned why he needed to introduce his box of porn to us when giving us the tour of his apartment.  It sounds silly, I know, but it also sounds silly that he would stop talking to me because I gave him a hard time about being lazy during a roller hockey game.  Perhaps, I would’ve found out sooner that he wasn’t going to take kind to opinions that conflicted with his and I wouldn’t have spent so much time investing in a friendship that was going to combust quite quickly.  I guess I can’t consider the whole experience a total bust.  I did end up with an Xbox 360 and iPhone.

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