I’m approaching the end of the busiest and most intense two week period since I’ve been at this company. I’ve worked past 7pm every night over the past 2 weeks. I was in at 7.50am this morning. My life consists of one thing. Work.
This evening I went out with my ‘best’ colleague friends. Light relief. Last minute. Unplanned. It’s a while since we’d all been out. We went to a favourite haunt. We anticipated good fun.
Me, my best male colleague, his girlfriend (who is my best female colleague), another mutual male colleague, who if you want to be all secondary school about it, is probably my second best male friend at the company. We’re all around the same age. On the same wavelength. Enjoy each other’s company.
The problem began when the bill came. We are all well paid. Money is a vulgar subject I refrain from discussing if I can help it. But we work for a top end professional services firm that is the number one in its field, globally. We are well paid. It’s what keeps us there. The bill wasn’t very much. Well, it came to £111 between 5 of us (the 2nd best male friend had a friend who had joined us). We divvied up the bill. Me and best male and best female friend each owed £20. I had no cash. Best male friend offered to lend me £20 which I took him up on.
Second male friend has recently been ditched by his fiancée. This hasn’t been pretty. He’s been very upset about it. Emotionally, he’s been all over the place. He and his friend had had a full meal. The rest of us had had chips. The expectation was that they’d pay a bit more. There was some banter. I forgot what I said, exactly. Something like “well you earn more than us anyway” (which is true), but he took that badly and got quite aggressive with it. Told me I was drunk (!?). I’d had 3 beers and was a little tipsy, as we all were. He and I are friends so I overlooked it. I really couldn’ t be bothered.
Conversations moved on. We’d all had a bit to drink. No big deal. The subject of cufflinks came up, apropos nothing. My best male friend said to my other male colleague “you’re not wearing those homosexual ones you like!”. Suddenly all was silent. His next words were, to me “oh my God. I’m so sorry I just said that”. I said “don’t worry about it!”. More silence. He looked, genuinely mortified for having said it. I genuinely don’t give a shit. I’ve known this guy 1 1/4 years. He doesn’t have a homophobic bone in his body. He’s an antipodean, he can be rough speaking. He’s a warm, lovely guy. I did NOT care. But I could tell that he was really, seriously fucked off with himself for having said it. He’s very bright, intelligent, thoughtful. He’d had a few drinks. I really did not care. Heck, I can joke about gay people when the need takes me. I don’t take it too literally. I’ve had close relationships with other straight men in my life who have taken the piss out of me being gay and I’ve given as good as I’ve got. It doesn’t bother me. I trust my intuition. You can sense and tell the difference between a bigoted homophobe and someone who just likes banter. It was not a big deal.
So we left. The girl (my favourite female colleague) badly hurt her foot a few weeks ago, tripping on the street. I believe she tore 2 ligaments. Most unpleasant. She’s been in physio and struggles to walk.
We were walking down the street. The other male colleague (not the one going out with her) was walking arm and arm with her. There was some kind of banter. He pulled her. She SCREAMED at the top of her voice as her ankle twisted again. She cried out in intense pain. It was awful. We all stopped. She had her hand over her mouth, she was in intense pain, shock, and crying. This guy, who had been a bit aggressive earlier, felt terrible, and tried to comfort her. Her boyfriend (the one with the ‘homosexual cufflinks’ comment) told him to back off. The whole thing got unpleasant. Slowly, she recomposed. The whole thing was awful. I wanted the ground to swallow me up. Anyway. She and I are close friends. I told her I needed to go so I hugged her tightly, shook hands with the men and then left, to my intense relief. What happened after that I don’t know. The whole evening was dreadful, in retrospect.
I really wish I had gone straight home from work. Not a good evening in any respect.