A real friend doesn't move until the middle of August, ensuring temperatures in the low 90s and a humidity that turns boxers into moist balls of ruined cotton. They scout out the perfect time of day ensuring that the relentless heat jerkifies your dehydrated mass and leaves you with sun burnt bones. You aren't helping your friend move, you're roleplaying as a sugar plantation field hand.
A real friend tricked you into spending your Saturday here. They used the sort of well-honed subtle guilt tripping lines that only a mother has perfected, lines like "I mean, you don't have to help" or "I guess I'll be fine by myself." They will say, "next time you move I'll totally help," and you will both know that this is a lie. They will spice this up through petty deception. European settlers purchased huge tracks of land from Native Americans with little more than handfuls of glass beads. It's good to see that you're keeping the same level of trade alive and well by lifting ~3k pounds of furniture for the chance to drink a few lukewarm Miller Lites.
A real friend hasn't even begun packing yet. You come to start moving, and they're just now throwing crap in boxes like the Nazi's are banging on their door. Because how else would you rather spend your weekend than to wait for the opportunity to lift their junk through the scorched heat of hell? And what few boxes they have finished are so overloaded with garbage that they reach bank safes weight. They're filled with books, free weights, air condition units, rock collections, all stuffed into whatever battered and grease covered containers they could pilfer from the grocery store, ensuring that your back cracks like bubble wrap and your shirt smells like the butcher floor.
A real friend needs to use your vehicle. It doesn't matter that you don't own a truck or a hatchback or even a car. Your physical body is not a big enough sacrifice. They will load your two door to the brim. They will scratch your paint and tear the cloth ceiling. Sure, this move has been scheduled for months, but if it weren't for your car they just expected to strap their trash to your back and just whip you across town.
A real friend will spend, like, an hour trying to get the bed springs up a flight of stairs when it is blatantly obvious that it's not going to fit. You can stand at the bottom, hoisting the wood frame as high as you can, feeling your life force slowly slip away, while they try to defy the laws of physics. They will turn it, rotate it, they will twist one axel and spin the other. There is no talking them out of this, and you must not cry out when you have all ten of your fingers smashed against the banister at the same time.
A real friend hasn't opened the boxes months later. You come over to visit and everything you carried for them collects dust in the corner. These boxes will be left untouched for a minimum of three months and a maximum of forever. Though your body is covered with enough bruises to classify you as Non-Caucasian on any census form, it was all a huge waste. And, no, when next August comes around and it is time for you to move, you will get no help from here.
After years of being misunderstood, I had hoped we finally had "our" story. I was wrong.
He had a yellow inflatable tube around his waist, the kind with a comical duck head. There was a tiny fish in one of his hands, and a trident in the other. In the background a squirrel wearing shades was water skiing.
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