• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 03
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First came the smoke. Then the fire. Or, should I say ire? I had left the chicken in the oven about ten minutes too late. Too focused on Facebook and comparing myself to BT – my Frenemy. Living my real life now in Stuttgart, I get strange looks when I use the word. “You know, when it’s a friend but really, you are competition and sometimes, this ‘friend’ is like an enemy?” Europeans stare at me like: why the hell would you be a friend with someone like that? And I think: well, it’s because … because… if you come from a kind of society where networking is something you do and not a technical term, then you gotta have these frenemies, eh? Well, it’s like …. like…work colleagues maybe? The nemeses at work whom you might be super-friendly with, even go out with but, you’ll get thrown under the bus when it comes time to cosy up to the new boss, right?

Alone with my burnt dinner, I feel ridiculous. Why would I be friends with BT? I scroll through my FB “Friends” list and cut off all his connections. Fuck, yeah, why should I continue this so far away?

Amid the frantic de-friending, memories waft and swirl. It happens here too. They call it “mobbing” – a kind of bullying at work that happened to someone I know. The Germans in his unit didn’t want an auslander, an interloper. He got piled with work, criticized for not doing it on time, shunned at lunch. Everything about high school comes blowing back in adult situations.

I’m now fanning the oven trying to get rid of the smoke. Opened all the windows in the apartment. I’m sure I can save it. Maybe I’ll start some soup stock, strip the chicken and re-make dinner.



My old workplace was Frenemyville. Hard smiles with the “how ya’ doing?” People used to exchange recipes when they heated up their lunches or dinners (sometimes working late). Clucking about real estate prices. Renos to the bathroom. The latest in sink faucets. Steel, tile, wood but at work, plastic.

BT was particularly good. Slithery.

“Hey, really cool shoes!” or whatever. The compliments were always coming.

“You’re so out there. It’s so great what you’re doing.” My latest podcast.

“Hey, let’s go together to that restaurant you told me about.”

He was seasoning me for the Kill. All the time, whispering behind my back to co-workers: she’s a disruption, she’s too loud ... UNstable, he hissed.

Surfing his profile – Head of Content. Married with a wife and a baby. All the fixings.

Taking the partly-burnt chicken from the pan to the cutting board. The parsley n’ onion stuffing mitigated the cuisine catastrophe. Slightly overdone.

Back home, my corporate life was on the broil. I had the tinge of success, the bouquet of a winner. They flocked to me for my ideas and I was plucked bare of my fanciful feathers.