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Worldwide Ace » Battling the Wizard – Part I

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Battling the Wizard – Part I

17 February, 2014 (06:44) | Growing Up

The following catalogs the turmoil that led
to my sudden move to Nederland
 at the end of January.
It’s extremely long, though each part is reasonable article length.


I pecked away angrily for forty-five minutes as I tried to perfect the words I planned to say. But in that time, my anger waned. It always does. And slowly, as I read over those words, I realized they couldn’t be perfect; not all of them, at least.

I highlighted, deleted, edited, and rewrote, carefully crafting my message, trying hard to convey my emotion, my needs, and the finality of it all without slicing and dicing a great friendship. In the end, though, the message wasn’t enough. It opened communication just long enough for me to learn that no matter what I said, he was incapable of expressing empathy or truly thinking beyond himself when I was involved.

And I had known this all along.

I can’t remember when the Wizard and I met. It might have been before I traveled the world, or perhaps shortly thereafter. Regardless, we had overlapping interests and he seemed a nice guy, smiling and amiable, playful and generous.

“I was raised on cartoons,” he’d like to say, his ornery, antagonistic, East Coast persona a comfortable and entertaining one for the Bostonian still alive within me. “You know, like Bugs Bunny. Sometimes I just channel that. It’s comfortable for me.”

As our Tichu group slowly split off from the Games group, the Wizard was a core component. We’d get together once every few weeks, vaporizing high quality pot that he or our host provided, and play cards. The Wizard wasn’t the strongest player, but he was learning. At least one other player didn’t seem to have patience for his mistakes, so I became his regular partner.

We’d banter through the night, both pumping each other up with compliments and tearing each other down with underhanded insults. More often, we’d turn our East Coast mentality on our less equipped opponents. When they did get a rib in back, it was always better and stronger. We were firing rapid small bullets, but the frequency and caliber of the comebacks were fewer and larger. In all it was even amusement, and the Wizard and I made an excellent team when it came to the banter. He was Hardy to my Laurel. He was Costello to my Abbot.

“I once spent a week walking around with that horn like Harpo,” he said, referencing the Marx brothers. “My girlfriend couldn’t stop laughing,” he chuckled, “but by the end of the week, she hated it.”

That was the essence of our relationship: two East Coast Jews working a shtick.

And I loved it.

Any card night goes beyond the game. Conversation delves into deeper topics, jokes and good-natured insults fly, and we, as men, are given the opportunity to explore emotions a bit more deeply than normally acceptable, whether it’s because of the substances we’re using or the confessional of the card table. We talked about our lives, our jobs, philosophy, religion, sex, politics; no topic was taboo. The Wizard often regaled us with tales of his roommate problems. Always, I felt like he was getting a raw deal. I heard about the roommate who turned out to be a late-night drunk, stumbling home from the bars at wee hours of the morning until the Wizard could take no more. I heard about the couple with the cute blonde with whom the Wizard flirted. I heard about the roommate carousel, with one after another coming and going. It wasn’t a constant barrage of information, but it struck me as disappointing that the Wizard had such terrible roommate issues.

In my own experiences, I had perhaps been blessedly lucky, having the support and camaraderie of my housemates at just about every turn. I wasn’t without my conflicts. I was verbally and nearly physically assaulted by a roommate’s friends in college over a loan I had given him that had come due. Just before I left for my world tour, my roommate of two years began to rearrange my things and replace them in common areas with his own, as if the announcement of my departure were grounds for a hostile takeover. When I first moved back into Boulder after my travels, my one-month roommate was going through a rough patch and blasted meditation music at two AM on multiple occasions. But, in all, these are a few isolated incidents, and, quite frankly, small potatoes. Just a few more days, I would tell myself, and then the problems would fade or disappear. One of us is leaving soon anyway, I would remind myself. I can deal with just a little more, I promised.

It was at the end of my time at Shady Hollow, a place I had lived for three and a half years, that shit finally hit the fan. Our latest roommate, who had moved in a month or so before, received some alarming news: he had a 12 year-old son who was asking about him; a 12 year-old son he didn’t know about until that moment. As a recovering addict with some leftover legal problems, he didn’t take the news well. When we interviewed him for the room, he seemed on the mend, someone who deserved a chance. And those first few weeks, he proved again and again that he really was doing better and working hard. But with the news, he spiraled back into bad habits. He would fight loudly with his girlfriend. He would drink incessantly. I avoided spending time in common areas if he was home, if only to avoid the long, repetitive conversations. It was the first time I felt uncomfortable in my own home.

Apparently, it was worse than I knew.

Continued in
Battling the Wizard – Part II