Content warning: Coarse language and sexual suggestion
“Come on, man, why don’t you want to come out with us?!?” My friend Antonio said from the bar stool with his Cuba libre in his hand.
“Look, Pardeep isn’t here, there’s no point in me going out to the club.” I became an official couple with my co-worker Pardeep on this trip in Varadero after a roller coaster of “situationship” for several months. Pardeep took a flight in the morning because her brother, Akshay, had developed a severe reaction to a mosquito bite. He was annoying the whole trip, he kept by his sister’s side so we couldn’t have sex. I mean we did anyway. Beach sex, definitely a lot more comfortable on beach chairs than in the sand. One more thing checked off the bucket list for me.
Antonio is sitting with Tatyana, he looks disappointed that I don't want to go out to the salsa club with him on our last night in Cuba. Tatyana looks uninterested, she and I didn’t get along. When Antonio and Athena were a couple, Tatyana and I would have to hang out with each other in order for someone to avoid being the third wheel. At this point, Antonio was cheating on Athena with Tatyana, Tatyana was never interested in me and it always left me jealous and resentful.
“Forget Pardeep, come out with us, it’s our last night”.
This really set me off. Athena was a nice girl and Antonio was always cheating on her and bragging to me about how he would do it. He showed me the numbers of girls in his phone that he changed to guys names in case Athena ever checked her phone.
“Look, you guys are going to end up f*****g anyway. You don’t even need me there, so what’s the point?” I was drunk, and I finally let it out.
We had built up resentment. I never spoke up about how his cheating bothered me. I think deep down, Antonio knew how I felt about it. He was afraid he would lose me as a friend because he was the type of guy that didn’t make friends easily. It would always surprise people that we were friends. I thought he was funny, the type of person who said what people were afraid to, I wanted to be like him.
Antonio’s eyes got wide, filled with shock, surprise, and hurt. Before I know it, he flips the bar stool and our drinks spill on the ground. I tense up and step to him, I wasn’t going to back down. I had enough.
I was so drunk I don’t even remember what we said to each other. All of a sudden, patrons started fleeing like a fight breaking out in the school yard. Tatyana started to get a worried look in her eye, as if she was going to have to break up a fight.
Finally, as a low blow, I insult Antonio on a deep level I knew would hurt him, I insult his Portuguese heritage. Before I know it, he lunges toward me and I’m in a fight. I had never been in a real fight. Antonio always bragged he knew wrestling, I never believed him.
He goes to take me down, I try to keep my balance by grabbing the bottom of his shirt. It rips, I then grab his rosary he’s wearing to hold him off. The beads break near the empty drink glasses. Antonio gets me in a full mount position and is choking me with my own arm.
“I f******g love your nonno!! I would never insult him or your family. I don’t need this stress, not from you!! He was foaming at the mouth with his rage.
He cocked his fist and told me to apologize.
“Do it”. I bluffed him, which as a dumb move but I already felt emasculated and needed to save face.
“You guys are both idiots!” Tatyana yelled, as security came running over.
Security breaks us up. My shirt is ripped, as is Antonio’s. Antonio goes to shake my hand, I turn away from him, and head back to my room.
I felt a weird rush. I felt like crying but I felt exhilarated. I had an excuse to break off my friendship with him, it was a long time coming. I go to sleep, trying to justify my feelings with a strange sense of satisfaction, validating me losing a fight.
I wake up the next morning, head to get some breakfast, with two screwdrivers. I was tipsy, leaving huge tips for the waitresses by accident.
I head to the pool with my sunglasses and headphones on. Antonio approaches me with Tatyana.
“Yo, I’m sorry about yesterday eh?”
I was still embarrassed that I lost the fight so I hid behind my sunglasses and pretended not to care.
Then, Antonio starts crying and breaks down.
“You know this head thing has really been getting to me lately” Antonio never apologized to anyone, not even his family. He broke down and was vulnerable in a way I had never expected from him before.
A few months prior, Antonio told me about a cyst that was growing near his frontal lobe in his brain from a CT scan. He was complaining of headaches, irritability, and mood swings. The CT scan revealed a cyst the size of a baseball, doctors were determining whether surgery was warranted. At the time he didn’t seem worried about it. I didn’t even really believe him at the time because he was such a chronic liar, I just didn’t know how to react.
He was genuinely crying, then finally I broke, I started crying, tears running down my sunglasses as I took off my headphones.
“In the future, don’t be like that, trust me, it’s not good”. I wasn’t sure if Tatyana was patronizing me or trying to help.
I didn’t care either way. We took pictures together and we were joking around and happy. Antonio even kissed me on the forehead. Everyone was “happy” again.
Antonio and Tatyana got pretty drunk before the flight home. During the flight, they passed out. We left the airport. I was happy I was home. I knew that was the last time I would ever talk to Antonio. I was going to chiro school in a few months and I knew I was going to move on and not see him anymore. He was dragging me down, he was an anchor, I was jealous of how girls liked him even though he treated them like trash. It looks like he needed me as a friend more than I needed him.
He texted me that night, but I didn't reply. He called me a week later, but I didn't call back. He then texted me and said, “Hey, what’s going on?” It felt strange not replying but at the same time, it came easy. He then drunkenly messaged me on fb a few months later, he sent a GIF that said “ u mad at me?” At this point, I was ready to move on.
As a guy, once you lose a fist fight, the loser feels emasculated and afraid should another fight break out. This motivated me to take Brazilian jiu-jitsu as I always wanted to, I wanted to be able to protect myself and be able to avoid a fight by speaking my mind in an assertive manner. After all, the best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injury.