For a number of years before I became involved with the character known as “Andrew,” I knew him as a bartender and local small business owner named Sam. I didn’t really know him, of course. I just saw him from far away once and thought he was sexy AF. In fact, I actually did think his name was Andrew until someone corrected me. He was not a person I ever interacted with in any meaningful way, and he definitely wasn’t a person I considered to be my friend.
When I began developing the character of Andrew, it amazed me how quickly information about him began to drop into my lap. Everybody and his mother wanted to talk about this guy. To them, he was literally the greatest thing since sliced bread, and they found any excuse possible to bring him up in conversation. Aside from the adorable collection of childhood stories provided by his mother and the description of how much cool stuff he has provided by the janitor, most of the conversations I had about him went something like this:
“Yeah, well, I know the Owner of Bloody Mary’s Bar. He’s a close, personal friend of mine.”
Something about the way he said it completely rubbed me the wrong way.
“So what?” I said. “I know the Owner too. Everyone knows the Owner. We live in a small town.”
“Not everyone knows the Owner,” he argued. “Besides, Sam and I are friends.”
“Okay. So? If you’re such good friends with him, why are you bragging about it?”
“Uh, Betsey, I don’t think you understand how strategic it is to have a guy like that on your side when it comes to matters of business.”
My eyes practically rolled out of my head.
“So you’re just using him then, huh?”
“No, he’s my friend!”
“Well, I don’t think he’d appreciate you talking about him that way. He’s a human being, not a chess pawn. If you were really his friend you wouldn’t need to brag about it to everyone.”
“Fine,” he snapped. “Geez. Why do you care so much anyway?”
“I don’t,” I said flatly. “I don’t care about him at all. He means nothing to me in real life. Nothing at all. I swear. He’s nothing.”
The social-climbing snake laughed at me and shook his head.
“Sounds like you’re another victim of The Whoremonger.”
“So it would seem,” I answered sadly. “So it would seem…”
From that day forward, I was careful to distinguish between Andrew’s Friends and Andrew’s Close, Personal Friends. I was weary of those who bragged about being close to him and chose instead to observe the people Andrew actually interacted with regularly. It was only then that I noticed Andrew was constantly surrounded by the same people who bragged about him to others. It was as if he already knew who they really were and kept them especially close to him in order to monitor their behavior. That was the moment I realized just how meaningful the great distance we intentionally kept between us actually was.