Joey and I had been friends for over 30 years. We used to go to the roller rink on Sunday afternoons, back when roller rinks were at the height of popularity. We even flirted with the idea of dating by sharing a couple of intensely hot, brain crushing kisses. But like all friendships, we drifted apart a few years after high school. And then one night in a fit of boredom, my bestie Alisa and I tracked him down and the three of us rekindled our friendship. We hung out after work on many Friday nights, drinking, laughing and generally acting silly like we did when we were kids. One night, after several glasses of wine, I shot and edited a video of Alisa and Joey doing a dramatic reading of Alisa’s ex boyfriend’s text messages.
Six years ago, Joey decided to pull up stakes and move 2000 miles away to Los Angeles. This decision disintegrated his relationship with Alisa to the point that they no longer speak. I kept in touch with him though. And last summer, he invited me to come out to LA to visit him. ‘We’ll have a great time’, he said. We’ll party like it’s 1999, he said. You can stay at my house and we will kick it hard. I’ll take off time from work so we can do all kinds of stuff. I have tons or restaurants I want to take you to’, he said.
I hadn’t been out partying since my 42nd birthday, so I was game. I bought my plane ticket cuz’ it was gonna be on and poppin’!
But then the bottom started to fall out as warning # 1 appeared.
A couple of weeks before my arrival, he informed me that he was no longer living with his roommate and moved back in with his mother, but would put me up in a hotel near their house so I would have privacy.
Me: “Are you sure?”
Joey: “Oh yeah. I got you. Don’t worry about anything.”
Hmmm, famous last words.
Warning flag #2 begins to wave furiously a week before my arrival when Joey informed me that I was not going to stay at the hotel after all, but at his mother’s house with him.
Me: “Are you sure? Is Mama Louise cool with this plan?
Joey: “Yeah, it’s not a problem.”
Me: (reluctantly) “Ok.”
So on a Thursday night I get on the last flight to LA and no sooner do I get in his car than he has an attitude.
Dude, I just got here. AND you invited me.
We hit Pinky’s Hot Dogs at 1am. Half way through the meal Joey tells me that he has to work in the morning.
Friday morning at 8am, he wakes me to tell me that he only has one client and should be at the office for no more than 2 hours and then we can spend the rest of the day hanging out.
Here is where warning #3 appeared and my excitement turned to suspicion.
Me: “Well, then take me to the nearest mall so I am not just sitting around the house.”
Joey: “Ok. But I’ll be done by 1pm and then we can go to lunch and then the beach.”
At 10:00am, I waved goodbye to Mama Louise and Joey dropped his very hungry friend (me) at the mall and went on his merry way. I chugged a Jamba Juice to tide me over until lunch time.
At 1:00pm, I was hungry again. At 2:15pm, I was “hangry”.
I sent Joey this text in all caps: “THERE’S NOTHING WORSE THAN A HUNGRY BLACK WOMAN”.
At 2:45pm, he finally met me at The Cheesecake Factory, where I was elbows deep into a loaf of warm bread and an Ahi Tuna appetizer.
At 6pm, we were finally arriving at the beach, just in time for the temperature to drop 15 degrees as the sun to slid under the horizon.
Joey frolicked in the surf like a dolphin released from captivity while I alternated between shivering and fuming on the shore.
I flew out here for this? Me thinks not, kind sir!
We went back to Mama Louise’s house where Joey and I discussed going out to a club. He made a call about getting a VIP hook up. I sat and waited patiently until 10:00pm when he started to fall asleep on my shoulder. I nudged Joey not so gently.
Me: “Did you hear from your friend?”
Joey (muttering): “Not yet.”
Then he resumed dozing on the couch as I stared blankly at the TV, which I could have done with $300 extra bucks in my pocket if I had stayed at home in Dallas.
At midnight, I figured our fun night out was yet another fallacy. I ambled into the bedroom to watch some shows on the Investigation Discovery channel until I fell asleep.
At 5:55am, I awakened to the bed shaking and squeaking in a way I had not ever anticipated. An earthquake measuring 3.2 on the Richter scale rumbled beneath me for 5 seconds though it felt like an eternity. I was so frightened that I was going to be engulfed into the earth like that scene in Superman when Lois Lane’s car falls into a crevice and she dies.
At 7am, Joey came in to tell me he had several clients and would be gone ALL day but we would enjoy a great dinner at his favorite Italian steakhouse. Stranded with no car and having watched way too many episodes of ID TV’s show Disappeared to take a chance on one of those driving services where a virtual stranger comes to pick you up, I stayed in the house on the couch with Mama Louise and chatted, well more like politely listened to her talk for 6 hours about Joey’s dad, and how crappy Joey treats her and his son when the pre-teen visits. She even remarked that he wasn’t being particularly nice to me either.
When Joey arrived home at 6 pm, he was irritable and cranky, as was I since this wasn’t the trip we discussed when he convinced me to come for a visit. But I was not going to feed into whatever his issue was so I leapt up from the couch and went to the bedroom to figure out my options for alternate accommodations. A few minutes later, Joey appeared in the doorway, to make a dismal attempt at being nice.
Joey: “You wanna go out for dinner? If so, put on something nice.”
In my mind, I’m thinking, “Hello to you too, muthaf&%#er.” Seeing as he had already ruined my trip, the least I could let him do I take me out for a nice meal. But then when we got where we were going, he suggested my outfit was too grandma-ish and not cool. All I could do is silently count the 15 remaining hours I had left on this awful trip. 15 hours to go and luckily, I would get to sleep through half of them. Yippee!!
The dinner of roasted tomato soup, Italian steak, garlic mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables was the best thing about the entire trip… until Joey offered to give me a massage the next morning before I flew home. He is an amazing massage therapist, so things were looking up.
But alas, ‘twas not to be. When I got up the next morning at 9:30am, I inquired about how soon we needed to leave so I could get ready for my massage.
Me: “So how soon do we need to leave? My flight is at 1:30pm.”
Joey: “It takes an hour to get to the airport so we can leave at 10:30. We can stop by my office so you can see it.”
‘See your office? Uh…what happened to my massage? Oh yeah, that’s right, that was yet another lie leaking from your grill, you jackass,’ I thought to myself, fuming at the waste of time and money on my part.
When he pulled up to the airport two hours before my flight home, I practically leapt out of the car ninja-style while it was still moving. I gave Joey a lackluster hug and power walked my luggage to the skycap without looking back.
Because I have manners, I sent him a text to let him know that had I arrived home safely and I sent Mama Louise a handwritten note to thank her for letting me stay at her home.
I made the decision to add Joey to my list of associates and make space for someone who wants to be a REAL friend, since that role doesn’t appear to interest him.
But it’s his loss, so I’m good. Life goes on.
When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.
ALWAYS have a back-up plan so that once you learn that you have been bamboozled, you are not stuck in a miserable situation.
LIFE…IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE