I sit, the blank digital page of the screen shining against me in the dark, take a sip of water and sigh. Looking down, looking up again, I finally take my fingers to the keyboard.
For those who don’t already know me, I am Allison and the Maid of Honour today. Claudia and I know each other for fourteen years now and I am touched to be standing here today on one of the most special days of her life. This wedding is double special for me as the groom has grown over the past year to become a very close friend of mine too.
I have known Claudia from just about the age where boys started to play any role and have accompanied her through all her ups and downs, loves and heartbreaks. There are many funny memories I cannot share in this censored environment. Instead I’d like to focus today on clearly the only one relationship that ever mattered.
When it comes to Sandeep and Claudia’s relationship, I had a front row seat in the movie theatre premiere, having been there from the earliest days. I remember Sandeep’s fierce courtship and Claudia’s denial, hesitant to lose a wonderful friendship. But it’s perhaps just that hesitance that made this relationship even greater when she finally gave in. Because when that first kiss was shared on our living room couch, it wasn’t just a steamy moment but a sweet promise of all that would eventually come.
There are two key moments I remember thereafter:
February 2013, the visit to Singapore
The day you, Claudia, came back from visiting Singapore and Sandeep’s family for the first time officially as his girlfriend. You were all smiles telling me how much you loved it there, how wonderful his mother was, taking you in her arms like you were her own daughter. I never told you this, but that day I cried alone in my room, in happiness and sadness. Happiness because I knew you had finally found the one. Sadness because I knew that it was the end of an era for you and me.
June 2013, the proposal preparation
When Sandeep messaged me asking me to meet him in the nearby pub in the City, I knew it was serious. I didn’t dare say anything but already knew what he was going to ask.
“I want to steal your roommate from you,” he said half asking as if requiring my permission. From this day on, I spoke to Sandeep almost every day, planning the proposal, collaborating on secretly measuring Claudia’s ring size, discussing when and where the proposal was to take place, even suggesting he should practice going down on one knee, making sure his trousers don’t crack. The highlight of it all was that I was allowed to be a part of that very special moment, right there in that romantic setting of their favourite French restaurant where Sandeep was so nervous he couldn’t get the ring out, while Claudia was gasping and in tears.
Another fourteen months have passed since that special night. Although you are husband and wife for the first time today, I know your hearts and souls have merged already long ago.
Now, I invite you all to stand and raise your glasses in a toast to Claudia and Sandeep, wishing them ever-lasting love and happiness in their new life. To new beginnings!
I put my fingers to rest. I read over the draft and save it as “Claudia_wedding_speech.doc.” I open a fresh page, sigh once more and type away again.
I know this must be coming as a shock to you but I cannot hold it any longer. Today, I am writing you to request terminating our friendship. We know each other for over a decade and have been sharing a flat for half of that time and so it may seem irrational of me to request such a sudden end.
But truth be told, for the longest time, ours was a marriage of convenience, me having a two bedroom flat and you being a clean person to live with. When you started to refer to me as your ‘best friend’ or ‘soul sister,’ I was taken aback. To me, you were nothing more than a person who lived in the same square-foot space who paid me regularly. And yet, like a weak-willed man giving in to an overbearing girlfriend, I gave in to your neediness and have a couple of years ago even decided to upgrade your status in my mind and call you a friend.
However, after a long personal effort to seek more in this arrangement, I have come to the conclusion that it just is not meant to be. As you know, I am juggling a fulltime job, along a distance learning degree and other serious commitments such as preparing for a marathon. What little time is left for socialising, I need to share with people who add value to my life in one way or another.
And that’s wherein the issue lies: you, Claudia, add absolutely no value to my life, apart from cleaning the house, which is in economic terms £9x3hrs=£27 per week if I were to replace you with a cleaner (I have checked a few providers online in case you decide you wanted to move out following my letter).
In order to add value, one has to fulfil at least one of these conditions: be exceptionally beautiful like a piece of art to look at that your mere visual presence is a positive addition to space; be extremely intelligent or knowledgeable to be admired from an intellectual standpoint or be (and this relates to the previous characteristic to some extent) interesting, quirky if you will, leaving a lasting impression like a blue cheese or vintage port wine whose lingering bouquet will be long remembered after the warmth has vanished.
You, Claudia, are of very average beauty. Now, people may say beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and that is probably true for your oh-so-boring fiancé (who lost his spine before entering our flat) but apart from him, I assure you, you don’t shake anyone’s tree. Having you around me, does not add to my public value (you’re not the sexy girl that will help us grab anyone’s attention in the pub, visibly showing signs of being over the hill), and looking at you doesn’t brighten up my day.
You are neither intelligent nor knowledgeable and if anything, have dragged my image of the LSE down by having managed to be accepted and graduate from there in International Relationships, all the while thinking Madagascar is situated right next to Sri Lanka.
As for your hobbies, what is of note is that if you were never interesting in any way, you have dulled out and faded even further in the past year. Anything that remotely resembled an individuality was probably dissolved and washed away in the many hours you spent lying and sharing your filth with above named boring fiancé (whose name you may have forgotten by now only calling him “my teddy bear” followed by kissing noises) in your endless bathing sessions.
Still, I have put up with this (and more, especially the craziness that is embodied in your manipulative brain-damaged mother) over the years, in exchange for £850 regularly paid into my account. It is your upcoming marriage with the teddy bear which has made me realise this is not worthwhile pursuing further. Because if there was one thing valuable in you, it was the entertaining stories you provided in your failed pseudo-relationships.
I shall recall two special incidents that brought me exceptional joy:
Winter 2004, the Norwegian drilling machine
For a brief time, you had a fling with a Norwegian rowing team student whom I only remember for his height and his almost white blond hair and the incredible noises he managed to bring out of you (clearly heard by all of us as you regularly failed to close your door properly. I’d like to take this opportunity to ask whether you’ve done that on purpose). With my bedroom just below yours, he impressed through his construction drill-like intensity and speed. The highlight was when in one night of passionate love making, you broke that Ikea bed frame. It was youthful enthusiasm that led you to move the mattress to the ground and just carry on with your physical exercise. It’s a shame I wasn’t there myself that weekend but the phone call you gave me afterwards was the best I had during my reading week, especially as you asked my boyfriend to come over and help you repair the bed.
Sometime in 2007, the pirate
You told me about this incident years later but this has been an invaluable source of entertainment. You were an intern at an investment bank and had a one-night stand with a senior colleague. When you shared your indiscretion with a few female colleagues they looked at you in shock.
“You slept with the pirate?” What you hadn’t noticed in that one night is that he had a prosthetic arm.
“Haven’t you realised how he always hides his hand in his coat?” One of them asked.
You replied “I thought that was some sort of Napoleon complex!”
To this day I wonder how you could have missed noticing your lover had an arm missing. Was he that skilled? Or are you just that insensitive? Given the many men who have taken you to bed but never returned for a second round, I suspect the latter is true, resulting in you not being much of an interesting partner in bed.
Thank you for those memories, I shall keep and tell others for many years to come.
Now, however, even those stories are of the past and you share a bed with a man who barely makes you squeak (at least nothing that reaches through the wall to my bedroom). Worse even, you cannot even joke about it in any sort of way. When we reminisced about our university years and the human-sized cardboard Spike figure from Buffy we used to have, I asked you whether if Spike would show up right now and would want to sleep with you, would you give in.
You looked at me, solemn-faced and said “No. I would never sleep with anyone else than teddy bear. He’s the love of my life.”
Thank you for clarifying you would not cheat on your fiancé with a fictive over 150 year-old vampire.
Now I could have just waited for this relationship to fade, to go its way as you move out and build your life with teddy bear. However, your marriage has burdened me further with your request to be your Maid of Honour, giving a speech at your wedding. It is at this point that I have realised I shan’t invest any more energy into this relationship and am ready to cut my losses now before I find myself lying on your most important day.
You are of course welcome to remain my flatmate for the remainder of the duration until your wedding (Who are you kidding with that anyway? Do you think anyone cares whether a worn-out almost 30 year old woman lives with her boyfriend “in sin”?), as I will still welcome that extra income. However, knowing what an emotional mess you can be, I shall assume you will choose to leave at an earlier stage following this letter.
Wishing you the best for the remainder of your dull life.
I lean back and save this word file with the title “Claudia_termination_of_friendship_request.doc.”
I see the two word file icons next to each other, one marking an end, one a beginning, acknowledge the terribly twisted person I am and ponder which one will remain a draft.