You know the kid that everybody bullied in elementary school? It’s nine years after we last made eye contact, and he friends me on Facebook and we start talking. Chatting with him is a unique and novel experience, and a contrition opportunity as well. In retrospect, I felt terrible about the whole picking-on situation. Actually, if memory serves me, I was the nicest to him among the 14 or so dudes in our class (but that memory might just be self-serving). So naturally I feel sweeping waves of empathy and penitence, especially since most of me imagines that Mr. Victim is just as I had left him so long ago. Perhaps the only thing that snapped me out of it was his replacement of dirty playground words with more mature curse words.

It's a conflicted and confused encounter, but he shows no indication of bad blood. In fact, he wants to hang out. I don't really, but subjected to the overpowering novelty of the whole thing, and after sidestepping his invites a few times, I gave in. Dimly present in me was the concern that he had approached me bereft of real friends. Maybe he really WAS still that kid from elementary school.

He was. But just talking and walking proved to be a lot of fun - he being the proud owner of a slightly strange and overactive sense of humor, just like me. The interests of his adult form included cars...and more cars. He tells me I'm the first former classmate to accept his invitations "so far." Others have been busy time after time...pushing "never" back by weeks, months. "I don't really care," he shrugged, "I can always make new friends."

The more he talks, the less we have in common. He tells me about run-ins with the police, how much fun it is to grab electric fences, his car accidents, and that terrible thing he did to his girlfriend when he found out she was cheating on him. I laugh every time, the same way you do when someone makes cracks about their own weight (which he also did).

Soon, the walk has taken us back to our starting point and he wants to go for a drive. I acquiesce, mainly because I hadn't heard the crash stories just yet - those were told in the car while the speedometer stretched like a waking lion. He drove for a while, I felt really freaking uneasy, and then I had to go. It was funny though, because hanging with him really was a pretty good time.

So now what? The kid keeps texting me and I've deleted all of it. Was he, is he, reaching out to me? I definitely have my fair share of friends. Was I reaching out to him? Does he need me? His persistence, his insistence, makes it seem so. I'd like to file it as a "random encounter." If I agree to hang out with the kid one more time, I'm locked in. Such a friendship sounds dangerous. He said too much- time spent with him, eventually, would have either of two exhaustive results: I would die in a crash or get arrested. Believe me.

Empathy surges yet again. I delete his latest text. Some people never change. I still can't reach out to this kid.

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