He never came when we invited him out, so eventually I gave up asking. Then one day I needed to borrow his juicer for a party at ours, so I texted him asking for one, we’ve got some people coming over, and he replied immediately with it’s in the garage.
It was early Saturday morning. I didn’t think anything of the short response. Or that he was letting me in his garage – he only lives round the corner, I’ve gone round before and taken tools, and he’s borrowed my lawnmower – so I texted cheers back, and headed over in the car – I was going to the supermarket after so, no, I wasn’t being lazy – but before I’d got there he’d shot back a response: I’m ill by the way, so I can’t come to the party. Maybe next time. And then a smiley emoticon.
As if I should have asked him. As if I can’t ask for his juicer without inviting him first. Or have a party without him, even though we’ve been doing exactly that for months because he always cries off. As if the party wasn’t for specific people for specific reasons.
So when I got to his, instead of going to the garage, I parked up, got out of the car, went to his front door and rang the bell. I wasn’t being made to feel guilty. I wasn’t in the wrong.
At first he didn’t answer, so I rang again and again till eventually I heard some shuffling behind the door and the turn of the lock. I started speaking as soon as I saw his face:
Where do you get off making me feel bad? I invite you out again and again for months and you always come up with some excuse or don’t even bother to reply. And then the one time I don’t invite you out, you decide to get all pissy. What the hell’s wrong with you? I haven’t done anything wrong.
He didn’t say a word, so I went on: Well? What’s your problem?
Sorry, he said, but I’ve got cancer.