Sex + Love

Three Is the Loneliest Number

Being friends with JJ was like having a superpower. But it was also like being invisible. (Which is also, come to think of it, a superpower.)

Illustration by Marjainez

This is a true story; some names and identifying details have been changed.

It seemed impossible from the beginning. There was no way he would like me. Guys like that always liked JJ; everyone always liked JJ. When male humans even talked to me it was generally to find out something about her—or inevitably the conversation would turn to them dropping hints about how much they liked her, assuming I would instantly parrot their compliments back to her. I did, of course, because we were best friends. Though instead of the breathless relay of their opinions it was mocking imitations, usually, followed by JJ cackling until she almost peed her pants.

Men: your worst fear about what teenage girls are doing behind your back is totally correct.

You couldn’t blame everyone for being in love with JJ—she was effortlessly nice but not in a gross fake way; you would hang out with her once and want to be friends for life. She was pretty but didn’t rely on it. She was tough and had tattoos and looked like a “bad girl,” but she was incredibly sweet. Being best friends with a girl like her, having a million stupid secret jokes with someone so popular and radiant, feels like having a superpower—but it’s also kind of like being the vice president. You are also invisible. (Which is also, come to think of it, a superpower.)

I got used to being invisible. There was no reason Josh would like me—I wasn’t exactly hot property standing next to JJ. We had all met at the same time, after an Esoteric Napkins show at Neon Cave—everyone went back to the band’s rancid little house, made spaghetti, and watched a Simpsons rerun. I drank a beer and tried to act like it was something I kicked back doing all the time. JJ regaled the boys with tales of our band’s worst shows—an open mike at the flower shop with our old singer, who thought he sounded like Eddie Vedder but was definitely more the cat-in-a-blender type. The band dudes were enthralled, laughing at all her jokes. JJ was my passport out of high school, transporting me into a life that was lived un-boring ever after.

That’s when I saw Josh. He walked in and for some reason sat down right next to me. He had messy black hair and was older and cooler than the dudes in the band. Typical mysterious bad boy—except somehow he wasn’t typical at all. He leaned over and made a joke only I could hear, making fun of one of the band dudes. I made one back. We had an instant allegiance. All night I kept checking to see how he looked at JJ: Was she showing up on his radar? Was he leaping up to light her smoke or asking dumb questions about her drum kit just to make conversation? Even though he wasn’t, I figured it was a matter of time until I got an FB message from him asking for her number.

After that night our band started opening for Esoteric Napkins whenever they played an all-ages show, which meant hanging out with Josh, who despite not being terribly friendly, was in charge of selling their CDs. I would hang out behind the merch table and we would make fun of bands and talk about records while I kept my arms firmly locked to my sides in the hopes that he wouldn’t notice how just talking to him made me sweat like I was in the desert. After every show, JJ and I would run the play-by-play as we loaded our gear into the trunk of her car, trying to find sure signs of regular like or like-like.

And then it happened. An awkward confession fueled by half a beer while we stood on the porch of the Esoteric Napkins house, which turned into a kiss, which turned into two weeks later we couldn’t stop saying “I love you.” I started spending all my time with him, and would only see JJ at band practice.

Fast-forward past the summer, past a winter that was mostly spent practicing or partying at the Napkins house and a few torrid, jealous fights with Josh that continued from the porch, to texts, to insane epic emails and back to the porch again. I would tell JJ about it during our smoke breaks at band practice, but feel weirdly ashamed—we still had our band, but I had nearly dumped our friendship for this bad boy who was maybe a little too bad, and now I expected her to understand. But that is how best friends are—they get it. I realized she understood when she looked at me and said, “Boys don’t matter.” It was her way of saying our bond was deeper and more serious than even my and Josh’s love.

In April, after I caught Josh doing coke, JJ was the one who told me I deserved better over and over again until I believed it. Josh begged me, crying, not to break up with him, so I said it would be “just a break.” I hoped it would just make him see he needed to get his life together. He promised me he could. He was going on tour with the Napkins for two weeks, and I hoped he would miss me so much that he would realize that I was more important than partying. Then we would work things out and continue happily as before.

And somehow, one night, in the van after a show in Madison, he confessed his heartbreak to JJ, who had started half-managing the Napkins, and they started commiserating on all the ways I had hurt each of them. And how I was too young to understand how partying wasn’t that big of a deal. And then, suddenly, they had a bond only they could understand—and it was based on talking shit about me. Somehow, this didn’t stop them from taking a bath together and then hooking up for the whole rest of the tour.

I knew something was up because his calls were suddenly no longer tearful; they were two minutes long, and then magically he had to go. Once he got home from the tour, there seemed to be nothing to work out. I tried to convince myself it was just another one of his depressions, even though I sensed it wasn’t. I tried to talk to JJ about it and she bit my head off, telling me I was too judgmental and I should just break up with him if I had so many problems with how he was acting.

Her reaction put all my random fears in order. I hadn’t let myself see it before because I thought there was no way. There was no way my very best friend, whom I had told all my secrets and all my crushed-out goo-goo about Josh to, would betray me. The next day, I did what I always swore I wouldn’t—I wouldn’t be one of those girls that goes through her boyfriend’s texts. Apparently, Josh didn’t think I was that type of girl, either, because he hadn’t even bothered to delete all the ones from JJ. And there they were. Months’ worth. Stuff about me, stuff about them, words and phrases that burned into my brain. There was no way to unsee them.

My confrontation with Josh was brief, real “To the Left” style—it went something like “Fuck you! How could you do THIS?!” then his pitiful explanation about how he was so heartbroken and she came on strong and he missed me so much it was hard to say no, and then me deleting him from my phone on the way out the door.

My confrontation with JJ was three hours of screaming and crying and then screaming some more. She begged my forgiveness; she didn’t have an answer to any of the hundred times I asked “Why?!” I could only talk to her on the phone because I couldn’t even bear to see her—it was too much. She had broken my heart more than he ever could. ♦

This post is generously sponsored by MTV’s Awkward. The content is produced by Rookie.

18 Comments

  • Susann June 27th, 2012 3:15 PM

    This was a nice read and I must admit, JJ seemed like a person I wouldn’t want to be friends with from the beginning.

    Fashion in Pepperland

  • katrinaexplainsitall June 27th, 2012 3:27 PM

    How sad. People can be real douchebags sometimes. By the way, I love how this is sponsored by Awkward. That show is my life.

    http://www.katrinaspice.blogspot.com

  • a-anti-anticapitalista June 27th, 2012 3:31 PM

    I almost cried reading this :c thanks for telling your story, and telling it so well.

  • Moxx June 27th, 2012 3:35 PM

    I really enjoyed this piece as well, and while I agree with the person above me, I feel like it’s the sort of thing that you think you’d notice and stay away, but it often happens that you do it anyway…
    Like you’re not exactly comfortable with the person, but you ignore this and go against your instincts because somehow they bring something to you like attention or inclusion in a certain group, and so you forget about it and someties feel miserable about it and then tell yourself “but hey, at least this means I get invited to stuff…” until something happens which makes you break off everything and run away, just like you should have done since the beginning.
    It’s a tricky thing.

  • lilghostie June 27th, 2012 3:43 PM

    ma this story just made my heart sink. this is probably the shittiest thing of all times. feels ya gurl.

  • LeatherStuddedFae June 27th, 2012 3:52 PM

    This is a great article. It takes us up to the reality that… *sigh* even the best of friends can betray you. It’s not bad to trust someone but… that’s just it. We really don’t know what will happen to us.

    http://leatherstuddedfairy.blogspot.com/

  • Impybat June 27th, 2012 4:35 PM

    Gah, this story made me cringe. With friends like that, who needs enemies? Thanks for telling this so beautifully.

  • susie bean June 27th, 2012 5:41 PM

    Thankyou for sharing this. My best friend is exactly as JJ was described. Shes always been prettier, funnier, more outgoing and more popular than me. Im a very shy person, and in many ways she is the exact opposite to me. Ive known her for 11 years, and ive always felt sort of invisible when im with her, but because im shy, its always been easier to just coast along in her shadow. She’s moving across the other side of the world in a month, and at the moment im not really sure what to do with myself. I feel like ive just been thrown in to adulthood all at once. She truly is a wonderful person, no matter how bluntly I just described her, and will always be one of my best friends. Life just kinda sucks sometimes!

  • Meaghan June 27th, 2012 6:20 PM

    Hmmm these situations are always horrible for everyone involved. And I certainly know what it’s like to be the vice president to your best friend’s commander in chief. I often fear that too man best friendships are based in this dynamic. I have to say though, if esoteric napkins is the identifying detail that has been changed, I can’t imagine what the real band’s name was.

    Oh and just one question, how can this post specifically be sponsored by Awkward? I’m not sure I get how that works… Isn’t just Rookie as a whole sponsored by them? Thanks for the transparency though.

    • Anaheed June 27th, 2012 6:45 PM

      MTV bought a banner ad and also a couple of sponsored posts.

  • fizzingwhizbees June 27th, 2012 6:42 PM

    My best friend in high school was exactly like JJ. I never had a boyfriend for her to steal, but every other aspect of this piece could’ve been written about us. Not surprisingly, I don’t talk to her much anymore.

  • pinbacksandplatforms June 27th, 2012 8:51 PM

    Something very similar to this happened to me once, except that, lucky for me, “JJ” wasn’t a very close friend. It’s funny though, because they never end up together, and you figure out all this essential life-changing stuff about yourself. And they just stay the same..crappy. I like to think there’s a sunny underside to the story for you too, Krystelle.

  • jess June 27th, 2012 9:32 PM

    It feels like I’m going through a similar struggle with my ‘best friend’ at the moment. It’s scary how similar it is actually. I was that hurt that I thought our friendship meant more than meaningless boys, but the part that hurts the most is the idea that we may never get our friendship right again.

  • missmadness June 28th, 2012 9:41 AM

    Just my opinion, but if your “best friend” let’s other people think of you as invisible, they’re probably a shitty friend.

  • Unibrowsmith June 28th, 2012 11:27 PM

    This story is very similar to something that happened to me my senior year of high school. It broke my heart that someone I thought was my best friend would do something like that to me. I haven’t been any good at trusting people since. That was 9 years ago.

  • planethostile June 28th, 2012 11:48 PM

    JJ sounds like such a terrible friend, but I could definitely see myself being friends with her. I’d be Vice President over a wallflower any day. And having someone that close to you, platonic or not, is so priceless. I hope JJ learned something from this, and became a better person when she realized how much she hurt you.

  • Mags July 10th, 2012 9:13 PM

    That last line about how she broke your heart more than he ever could hit me so hard. I’ve been there and it’s the worst.

  • Hadar August 28th, 2012 9:03 PM

    I honestly can relate to this too much…. for me, it was the worst thing I could have ever gone through in my life. It made me question and doubt every aspect of myself, which was the worst part. It’s not exactly over; I don’t talk to him anymore, though we were close even before our relationship began, and she and him still hang out and are always seen together, even though they promised to end everything once I found out and expressed my feelings about it. So it goes, I guess.

    Thanks for this, by the way. It always feels better to know that there is someone out there I can relate to.