There are many things in my life that I wish I could take back: those hurtful, angry words I threw at my father when I was seventeen; kicking my seven year-old sister in the stomach (when I was eleven); that pink flowered shirt from Dolce & Gabbana. Those were things done in the heat of passion, when my emotions and good taste were out of control.
Often, I would look back and tell myself, if I had only kept my cool, that retail queen would have refunded my money, especially since I had worn that D&G shirt only twice. I even made sure I didn’t get it dirty, which is a feat considering there weren't really any clean places to lie on in the backroom at the Manhandler.
There are e-mails I wished I hadn't sent. One of the drawbacks of having instant communication is that we could 'say' things that aren't what we really meant. E-mails, instant messaging, even blogging puts things out before we've considered their effects. Things we would never say to somebody’s face while they are sober and with a knife in their hand.
Oftentimes, the act of writing a letter by hand, of putting point of pen to paper diffuses our emotions that by the time we get from salutation to closing, we have already resolved our feelings or at least cooled down to a point where there is no need to actually send the letter. In the past, I have stood at a mailbox ready to drop a letter but pulled back at the last minute, throwing it in the trash instead.
Now, we type unmitigated rants on our keyboards, like high-speed machine-guns, attach nude photos of our ex-boyfriends taken in more trusting times and send it to everyone in our address books, all in a click of a button. Our volatile emotions now has an outlet that is just as unfettered.
I had written a string of e-mails like that to my friend Patrick once, a back-and-forth of recriminations, emotions running high. Afterwards, I looked into my sent mail folder and read some of these e-mails. I was aghast. Even if the emotions were true, it was not 'the truth.' And though I thought I tempered my tone, the only thing the e-mails reflected was my anger, not my good intentions. How do I take these words back? Should I write another e-mail? I decided to leave it alone. Our friendship would either survive this blow or fall by the wayside.
A year has passed and now I am battling Sean Hayes*, star of Will & Grace**, for custody of Patrick as a friend. I kid you not. It's been very ugly, like the bickering of the girls on MTV's Battle of the Sexes 2. One takes a friend for granted until a TV star comes by and swoops away with them, plying them with top shelf liquor, weekend getaways and celebrity games of Monopoly where the only property on the board is Park Place and everybody stays in hotels.
Patrick reported the morning after one of Sean's parties that he had a faaabulous hangover. He’s never had a faaabulous hangover at my parties. He just couldn't stop talking about how good the cocktails were. Is he subtly telling me he knew I had been filling up empty Grey Goose vodka bottles with Skol?
If I could turn back time, could I make things right? Or could a different Cher song express my feelings? It's a very hard question to answer, one I would have to dig deep into my underwear drawer for. Even if I could change the things that I have done, I cannot change who I am: a regular guy, with a regular job and a cabinet full of cheap liquor.
* not his real name
** not his real show