Dallas BBQ Friday's

April 8, 2020
Fall 2013
a screengrab of the Dallas BBQ location this story centers on, courtesy Bing Maps Bing Maps I talk about my experiences as though I've always disliked the individuals I criticize with abandon. It wasn't always this way, and up until the events of 2015, I trusted these people with my life. I didn't begin to see this as a mistake until I tried to make independent choices. One of those choices I attempted to make when we spent a Friday night out in Manhattan. Several of us crammed into a minivan that clearly lacked the capacity for all of us. I was forced to sit in between the two detached seats in the middle row of the Grand Caravan.
"While this isn't as bad as you putting me in the trunk space of the [Chevy] Express [in 2003], this is still uncomfortable." [#a3r64c] said, "I'm not going to sit and listen to you complain this whole trip." I said, "My complaint is valid. I'm uncomfortable. Why did you pick these small vans?" [#a3r64c]: "Because we can't just walk to the garage and pick whatever vehicle we want. Be grateful and stop complaining." I didn't stop. I began to annoy some of my peers, who started scuffling with me halfway through the trip.
We finally arrive at our destination in Midtown, and we park in a nearby basement garage. "Finally," I say as I get out of the cramped space I was in. [#a3r64c]: "Your complaining was really getting on my nerves, and I found it difficult to focus on the road in front of me," in an attempt to make me feel guilty. It worked. "When you put it that, way, I guess I went too far." We enter the establishment and take a table at the upper level of the restaurant. [#a3r64c] uses much of the time to gossip about things, and she brings up my Havens Cottage flings, which made me irate inside, but for some reason, I went along with it.
"I'm pretty sure you haven't stopped screwing around with men since you left that place. Oh, Eric, you did photography up there. Care to take a photo?" She hands me her company flip phone. "This won't cut it," I said. "It's just for me." Good lord. I take the photo. "The lighting in here sucks, and I don't know if this phone even has a flash on it." Please note: I hadn't handled my own smartphone until 2013, so this was indeed a new experience for me, but here I was, the tech kid, being talked down to. Humbling indeed.
We exit the restaurant and start heading back to the garage. I ask [#a3r64c] if I can take the train back home, citing that "You won't have to hear me complain, and you'll have more room in the van. I did bring my debit card with me, and I have enough for tickets." [#a3r64c] immediately objected. I didn't see her objection as sensible despite her past complaints. I was confused. Realizing I was on 42nd Street, I said "You know, Grand Central isn't a very far walk. " She continued to object. I started to walk away from the lot, but she grabbed my arm and would not let go. Unfortunately, when I broke free, [#a3t78m] grabbed on.
This was the moment I should have realized that staying in the company of these people was a huge waste of my time. They embarrassed me in public, interfered with my ability to make a perfectly reasonable decision on dubious grounds. I lacked the situational leverage to break free then. I was too dependent, and I realized that. This partially played a role in my assent to the circumstances. I don't regret how I conducted myself that day, but if given a second chance, I would not change how I reacted.
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