When Your Friends Turn out to not be Friends


What actually happened here would be very amusing were it not personally offensive, and hadn’t destroyed several friendships.

We accept our friends the way they are.     Or so I thought. the good outweighs the bad. Some consistently make bad decisions, or decision we would not make ourselves, but what we get out of  our interactions with these people usually out weighs what is annoying about them….right?

Back around September, after my roommate had returned from a business trip,  he resumed getting bitten by insects.   He’s always getting bitten.  This had been going on  for weeks, and I felt it was because he had not changed his linens.    I think it’s a ‘guy’ thing.  I blogged about this (Roaches, Bedbugs, Fleas, and Biostatistics….Dec.13, 2013).   I was getting bitten,  but no more than usual.  I suspected possibly fleas, or spider mites.   However, he had  returned days earlier, and decided to capture some specks on his cushion.  He sleeps on the couch ( long story— there is too much stuff on his bed).  He had been doing some research as he had heard that bedbugs were a  epidemic in Chicago. Indeed, living in an inner city neighborhood, with much multi-unit housing, you see furniture put out on the street all the time—sometimes with  signs taped to them:  BEDBUGS.  We live next to a large multi-unit building that I know has an ongoing problem.  Why ongoing?  With that many people, you can’t  make them get rid of ALL UPHOLSTERED FURNITURE.

In any case, roommate captured  these specks with tape.   I put them in a bag, and I gave them to a friend (Elaine) who volunteeers at the Field Museum of Natural History.  They have insect experts there.  Unfortunately, they turned out to be  Bedbug nymphs—immature bed bugs. We never found an adult.

I informed my roommate, who immediately stripped not just the bedding, but the slip covers off the  couch, and threw them in the wash.  Then, we  put everything in the dryer. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT.  Washing—even in hot water, kills nothing.  It does not disinfect, and the amount of bleach you’d have to use would tear up the fabric. YOU MUST  PUT THE STUFF IN THE DRYER AT 140 FOR AT LEAST  HALF AN HOUR.

We also steam cleaned the rugs & floors, took down the curtains, and I bombed the room as well—afraid it was also mites. The dogs never scratched.  My other friend, Karen, who owns a 6 flat that did have a bedbug problem, gave me  names of several exterminators, and I did some research on my own.  All the exterminators said they’d do  VISUAL INSPECTION.  No black light (which is what a veterinarian will do when you think a dog might have external parasites).  They all said they would just look at the walls, look at the folds in  the  furniture upholstery, and that’s how they’d determine if we had an infestation.  I did not feel we had an infestation. They also suggested putting all out clothes and all our linens in the dryer for at least 1/2 hour.  We did not have tenants in out lower flat when all this was occurring.  It was empty.

Having had a dog die of lymphoma due to pesticide exposure about 15 years back (sighthounds—-with no body fat—are very susceptible),after spending $3000 on chemo to try to  get him onto remission,  I  wanted to be conservative.  I had no trouble spending $1000 if we had an infestation, but  I didn’t think we had.  I felt we had taken appropriate action. Things were tense for a few weeks. I asked my roommate at least once a week if he was still getting bitten. After 4 weeks, he felt  sure he was not, that his  itching was from old bites.

I get together with Elaine—and Karen—- who has the 6 flat that had an infestation—- about  twice a month—-at Elaine’s apartment.  Karen, was  relentless and obsessive, but  I would not discuss it with her. I felt I had taken  appropriate action.  We were not getting bitten.  It did not affect Karen.  It was my building.

I clean my  apartment once a week, and I was also in the process of rehabbing my kitchen. I had wanted to host Thanksgiving, for all our friends, but the kitchen was not totally finished. Karen  decided SHE wanted to host Thanksgiving…but her motives were selfish:  Not just was my kitchen not finished:  she, apparently, did not feel safe coming to my apartment due to the bed bug issue.  She hosted Thanksgiving—and  my roommate and I were invited— but she wanted us to put our coats & shoes in a bag if we came over to her house. In fact, she told me that many of our mutual friends were not comfortable with me. Yes:  she gossiped about me and the bedbugs.   None of our ‘mutual friends’  asked me  what was really happening.  I have no idea who she  discussed this with. My roommate was insulted and refused her hospitality, and asked me how I could be friends with Karen.

I had often asked myself this:   Karen is manipulative  in so many ways. We had a break years before.  She’d call ME to make plans to get together, & suggest we talk closer to the date…and when I’d call to finalize logistics, she tell me the plans were tentative and she had something else to do. Many times.  I finally  just stopped calling.  She will often just disregard others feelings.

This was not on my mind at all. My other friend,  Elaine will proudly tell you she never bathes, and she doesn’t own a vacuum cleaner.     She has also gotten kicked off medicare several times for not paying  the monthly  bill—but she  won’t allow automatic withdrawal from her account.  Another ‘friend’ has taken the time to get her reinstated several times. You accept your friends the way they are. Why should this bother me as long as I can’t smell her and I don’t have to spend time  fixing her laziness and immaturity?

I went to Viet Nam  on vacation the last  two weeks in February.   My roommate picked me up at the airport. I asked how things were, as  right before I left, the washing machine had broken and I had also needed car repairs.  Just the day-to-day stuff that affects the lives of people living together, and…”While you were gone, Elaine and Karen came over and asked me to schedule the bug sniffing dog, They said they’d pay for it,” roommate told me, matter-of-factly.

What?

Yes.  Apparently,  both Karen and Elaine had been bothered by this lack of financial proof (i.e. a receipt) that we did not have bedbugs, and  hadn’t felt comfortable socializing with me   since  before Thanksgiving, even  though we had gotten together—gone out for brunch, in my car or Karen’s car, and socialized at Elaine’s at least  four times since Thanksgiving. Worse, it came out, Elaine had gotten bitten by something in her apartment. That’s right–the lady who doesn’t bathe. She was so angry with me, and took the sample of whatever bit HER to the museum, but as soon as she was told that what bit her was not bedbugs—-a miracle occurred, and  she stopped getting bitten.  So, they decided—while I was out of the country, to preserver OUR FRIENDSHIP, they would ask my roommate to do this and pay for it.  Generous of then, right?

& guess what? No bedbugs.  I have a receipt (and roommate has a photo of the dog!).  & Karen, who owes money on her credit cards, is,with Elaine, out $175.    Is this about bedbugs?

Karen’s cat died  of old age several weeks ago, and she had told us all she was not sure she wanted another pet.  She  was getting old and didn’t want to clean the litter box.  I understand. When my Saluki died last year, it really made me think about getting another large dog.  So I did not.  Then, suddenly, Karen reports that a friend of hers who volunteers for a  pet rescue brought over a cat (surprise) for her to foster…no warning.  “Did you  ask her how long the average pet stays in foster?”  I asked Karen.  “No—but that’s a good question.”  End of discussion…. except I guess that Karen thinks because she allowed someone else to take advantage of HER, it was ok to make a decision for me.

If I laugh this off—it never ends.   It’s like me saying, “I am sorry I  do not meet your high standards.  Please run my life and fix my life for me. I am immature and irresponsible”.  & in fact, the friend whom I  went to Viet Nam with told me I was too old to look the way I looked, and I needed a makeover.   Never mind her tenants haven’t paid rent in two months, and she’s admitted to over $50,000 in credit card debt.  I need a new hairstyle and better clothes.   Yes—-all these ‘friends’ think they are  telling me I need to change—for my own good—or because  they can they feel they’ve accomplished something.

I feel like  3 people whom I  spent the most time with have died.  I had such a good time with them, but they, apparently were not having such a good time with me all these years:  I  aggravated them by not doing  what they wanted me to do:  getting  my car detailed, my hair cut, getting a different job.  All sorts of things.  Oh, well, I guess that’s life.

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