To all the boys I’ve dissed before (but one in particular),
I am sorry for calling you an egomaniacal sea anemone on Twitter. Alas, in my futile attempts to amend or justify my actions, I am forced to conclude that neither option will aid me in putting out the inferno of bridges I’ve left in my wake. My words, which I guard carefully and fling haphazardly, have cast me into the junk drawers of your opinion, and for this, I apologize profusely.
Had I prioritized wisdom over wit, I might have said what was on my mind. I might have expressed something akin to the truth. For my assertions were false — you do not, in fact, resemble a sea anemone, not in the slightest. Nevertheless, plagued for lack of a metaphor, I settled on that biting, albeit unspecific diss.
I have never claimed to be a beacon of poise and kindness, but as a general rule, I avoid verbally decimating people on the internet without cause — especially when the decimation in question would coincide with their birthday. I should clarify that the timing, while unfortunate, was not intentional. I have never harbored you ill will in the past, nor do I now. So please understand that this vitriolic verbal venture came from a place of deepest hurt.
You cast me as Audience Member #2.
I’m aware that it’s a petty thing. Perhaps some context ought to help me plead my case.
I met you in an acting class; we worked on a scene together. I was aware of your existence, I suppose. We were a part of the same theater organization, so you were always, well, around. Your work was consistently impressive. You were a fantastic director. I admired that, and convinced you to work with me on a show. I didn’t choose to work with you because I was in love with you. That came later. I chose to work with you because, simply put, I respected you. I thought I could stand to learn from you.
Like most things in the past year, you caught me by surprise. The boy I had once made fun of for walking like a penguin started spending an inordinate amount of time in my head.
I never assumed you reciprocated my admiration. After all, if someone is interested in you, they tell you. You expressed nothing of the kind. Nevertheless, I found myself taking on project after project, task after task, because you asked me to. I convinced myself that you only spent time with me because you appreciated my talent; I didn’t allow myself to think anything else.
Unfortunately, that logic quickly crumbles when the person in question, the person you assumed kept you around out of necessity, no longer needs you.
In a fickle game of theatrical dibs, you made an effort to get me on your team once more. Only to shove me aside to the inconsequential role of Audience Member #2.
I am a mature adult, and I know that bellyaching about casting gets one nowhere. I am a mature adult, so I shut up, made an excuse and turned down the role. I am a mature adult, so I immediately vented my grievances to the void, i.e. my 23 followers on Twitter.
To omit the rationale for my Twitter tirade seems more trifling than the tirade itself, hence I bare my soul in its entirety. You made me an afterthought. You used my talents for personal gain; exploited my writing, my acting, my time and my connections in your ploys for praise. Perhaps your opportunism was unintentional, but nevertheless, there is something to be said for someone who only texts you when they need something. All words have a price, and yours turned out to be extraordinarily cheap.
My words shoot to kill, so I use the best of them sparingly. Instead of showing my cards from the get-go, I utter forth the trivial, the inconsequential. Like many a fifth-grader, I insult where I mean to compliment. When you leave that much unsaid, you lose control over which words escape. They are rarely the ones you intend.
For the better part of that year, I shut my mouth. I pushed personal feelings aside to preserve our friendship. I wrote a play, directed another, stayed up for hours when I didn’t have hours to spare, picked up the phone while I was at work, created meme after meme as an excuse to talk to you, made fun of myself constantly and hoped every day that I would just get over it — for you.
I wanted to tell you how badly I missed seeing your face and how much it meant to me when you asked me dumb questions about the books I was reading or the podcasts I was listening to. I wanted to argue with you over why your taste in philosophy was subpar. I wanted to tease you for the way you walked and the way you started off every announcement with “Alright, folks.” I wanted to tell you that I insulted you to keep myself from yelling your name from the rooftops like a deranged leading man in a cheesy rom-com. I wanted to admit that despite my best attempts to be there as a friend and nothing more, the truth of it all, the one I never had the guts to utter forth, is that you are nothing like a sea anemone. In fact, you are the most beautiful goddamn thing I’ve ever seen.
I wanted to and didn’t. So instead I said mean things on Twitter that inevitably got back to you. I guess it’s nice owing you nothing but apologies. I just wish I could say precisely what I meant the moment that I meant to instead of saying something I didn’t mean far too late.
In hindsight, I’d rather have you laugh in my face and break my heart than simply ignore me. Maybe that’s why I was so needlessly cruel. It’s impossible to break me if I break you first. All words have a price, and the ones I used cost me a friend.
It’s the price I pay for publicly calling you an egomaniacal sea-anemone on your birthday and not meaning a single word.
It’s the price I pay for meaning to say that you’re the best person I know and saying nothing.
Daily Arts Writer Darby Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.