Mrs. G. has been pretty lucky in her choice of friends, platonic and otherwise. She's been crossed a few times and suffered a heartbreak or two, but all in all she's wandered through life enjoying solid, decent and loyal relationships. Except for Barb. Barb, Barb, Barb. Twenty years later, it's still hard to say. Barb.

Mrs. G. met Barb her sophomore in college. They met in a theater class, and for Mrs. G, the connection was straightaway and deep. Barb was petite. Barb was pretty. Barb was self-possessed. She was one of those girls who could walk in a room and own it before she walked out ten minutes later. She was witty. She was smart. She was a cool cat. That Barb.

She wore vintage cardigans and cowboy boots. She rode an old Schwinn cruiser with a wicker basket on the front. She cruised around campus, her blond hair flapping in the wind, a daisy occasionally tucked behind her left ear. She tossed out exotic words like existential and Spanakopita. She drank kefir.

Mrs. G. couldn't get enough of her.

They became friends and rarely spent a day apart. They were inseparable. No kidding, Mrs. G. would have taken a bullet for her.

Eight months into the friendship, Mrs. G. woke up one bright and sunny morning in her studio apartment and thought it was the perfect day for a picnic on the Willamette River. She called her boyfriend Adam to see if he was game. His roommate answered the phone. No, sorry, Adam took off early and headed to Ashland for the Shakespeare Festival. No biggie. Mrs. G. called Barb. Her roommate answered the phone. No, sorry, Barb took off early and headed to (wait for it) Ashland...for the Shakespeare Festival. They came home two days later, smug and holding hands.

You might have seen it coming, reader, but Mrs. G. didn't. She was blown away.

The truth is Mrs. G. could give or take Adam. They weren't that serious. He was replaceable. The real blow was Barb. Just like that, the friendship was over. Done. It took Mrs. G. well over a year not to think about it every day.

By nature Mrs. G. is a forgiver and a forgetter. Her anger comes fast and loud, but it doesn't stick around. She's lived long enough to know hanging on to hate is a huge waste of time. She wouldn't have even brought Barb up if she hadn't received an email from her over the weekend — she tracked Mrs. G. down through an old mutual friend. The email was nice enough: It's been a long time, wondered how you were...a page long update on her life (actress, big city, single, no kids, happy enough) and here and there news of old college buds. No mention of...you know.

Mrs. G. has started ten different responses. Good Lord, it's been two decades; They were both young. But many of you know how Mrs. G. feels about the female code. She gets a little het up. When it comes to sister solidarity, she's unyielding and rigid. But still...twenty years? Come on.

So Mrs. G. sat down on her bed this afternoon and meditated on forgiveness and love. She sat quietly and tried to channel the lessons of Jesus and Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela through her hard heart. She dug and dug. After about twenty minutes, she noticed that three words kept floating through her body, kept swirling around and double backing to her brain. Three little words:

Dirty Dog Whore.

Nope. Not there yet. She'll keep digging.

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Reader Comments (189)

You are not alone, Mrs. G. I have a Barb from my past who has also tried to contact me in various forms over the last 18 years and I have this to say about it...I would not cross the street to piss on her if she were on fire.

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTootsie Farklepants

Barb is done, she's over for us now. I hope she has some nice secret boyfriends (of her own) to keep her company.

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSaucy

Interesting that I have had some intense betrayal from a Barb in my past also... I did decide on the forgiveness route in the end... but jury is still out on if that was the best thing for me to do... I do know that forgiving is a whole lot easier than forgetting, that's for sure.

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

I adore you so, Mrs. G. Yes. She's a dirty dog whore and - to share a recent comment about a woman who has been a thorn in my side as of late - she could easily go up in flames at any moment because you know the makeup that bitch wears is cheap.

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCha Cha

Mrs G. do not think about forgiving the bitch. Period. Leopards don't change their spots, and Barb does not belong at the Womens Colony.

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJan

Truly, I'm not eaten up with hate. This was written slightly tongue in cheek.

But I'm not writing her back.

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMrs. G.

Why do I feel like I'm back in high school? (Wait, it was college, wasn't it?).

Anyway. Loved the ending. LOVED it.

And Lauren is SO right. Forgiving much easier than forgetting!

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJane @ What About Mom?

Sometimes forgiveness is the thing that gives people peace, but it sounds like you already found peace by leaving her behind.

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBeverly

You can forgive and forget. Forgive her. Silently. In your head. Not in an email reply. And then forget her.

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCheri @ Blog This Mom!

I think I would answer with silence, if only because I cannot fathom why I would want to resume a long-dead association. We're none of us who we were, and I don't believe in looking back...just pressing on and muddling through as best I can. A real friend keeps up, and doesn't break the code, even if the man in question is her soulmate...it just isn't done!

Although I might muster up a "What on Earth are you thinking???" in response...

Shade and Sweetwater,

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKyddryn

Love you.

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterK.

I'm laughing till I have tears in my eyes and my husband is just rolling his . . .I'm a Scorpio and we NEVER forget!

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVintage Mommy

Some people are just toxic. Perhaps your lack for words is something deep down that's giving you a warning signal. It's telling you not to let this woman back into your life.

You don't really need to respond to her-she knows she was a skank. Who knows why she's decided to do this after 20 years? Maybe it's a 12 step thing. Do you really care? Sometimes, Panora's box is better left closed.

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRudee

And that's Pandora's box.

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRudee

Slut! Whore! I hate your Barb! Maybe I'm projecting a little from my own past? Hmmm ... maybe.
Nonethelesss, she broke girl code.

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTwenty Four At Heart

Yeah, so I had a super BFF-type gal-pal 20 years or more ago and we had some sort of overly dramatic high school falling out but I realized that she just wasn't the right friend for me. When she contacted me a couple of years ago and said she moved near me (from a few states away), I just kind of let it go. Now she has moved away again and I just feel better for not trying to force a friendship that had run its course a long time ago. No bitterness or anything, just knowing that we are most likely the same people, magnified into our adult selves, and there was no obligation to give it a try again for old times' sake.

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKristen M.

Uh, oh no she di-int!
-some women..That Barb.

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLisa


The only problem I see with that response is that it doesn't quite convey your eloquence and vernacular of the written word.

On the other hand, it is very concise and clear.


October 28, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbrneyedgal967

Perhaps she is suffering from a terminal illness and wants to . . . I dunno . . . say sorry?

I wonder if she is seeking forgiveness or coming back for seconds.

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy

Sometimes it's best to not pursue a long-ago relationship.

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkcinnova

I had a Barb that I kept staying friends with, over and over, even after she hurt my feelings many times. It finally took a huge effort on my part to sever ties completely. I would still think about her occasionally and think, "I'm a forgiving person. Perhaps I should call her and be nice." And then I would think, "How many times do you need to take back your abusive ex-boyfriend?"

And that was all it took.

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLarue

Perhaps you could have your current BFF send her an anonymous link to your blogpost?

-or, perhaps . . .just maybe - she wanted to apologize and make amends.

*sigh* we'll never know, now will we?

October 28, 2008 | Unregistered Commenter~ Angi :)

She has a lot of guts contacting you 20 years later without an apology somewhere in that message. WTF?

I've made the mistake of trying past friendships *one more time* out of ~~forgiveness~~ only to have it bite me in the ass.


October 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMarketing Mama

Barb is an appropriate name for her isn't it? Almost prophetic.

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterplanetnomad

On a day when I have cried enough to fill a river your post was just the tonic I needed.

Like a carefully wrapped and funny present from a friend.

Thank you.

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbluemountainsmary

There is only one person to whom I have actively refused to talk when previously we were good friends. On the day I announced my engagement, and in response to my telling her, she accused me of having been messing around with her boyfriend, at a party which took place more than a year previously. A party both she and Cowboy attended. Her "evidence"? Someone who doesn't know me told her they saw us. I have no idea why they would say that and to this day I am mystified.

It turned a happy and joyous day for me into an exercise in WTF and written defence of myself and queries of how she could think such a thing of me (I need hardly tell you it was completely untrue), and how she could choose THAT DAY to bring it up. She's tried to get in touch many times since, but I'm not going there.

The truth is she wanted to spoil someone else's happy day. To echo Rudee, some people are just toxic. I'm glad you're not writing back to her!

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterUrbanCowgirl

I don't really have a "Barb" in my history book of friends as much as I have a "Bob".
When something happened many moons ago that absolutely broke my heart and pissed me off to no end, I told "him" that he would be forgotten way sooner than forgiven. 17 years later....I still get angry. So much for forgetting, huh?
Write two letters....one that is on the surface nice, send it and see where it goes. Another one, write from the heart and let her have it. Then burn that last one. (I've burnt many a letter...it helps a little!!)

And yeah...dirty dog whore...that'll work!

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdkuroiwa

Mrs. G you don't need to respond she remembers what happened as well as you do.......she was toxic and still is so why invite trouble avoid her

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterKaren Junking in Georgia

That was horrible...even dirty dog whores can grow and change though...maybe she has? I hope so.

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMary Alice

ah this post made me feel.

admiration for barb, she of the flower and the funky bicycle. then horror at what she did. and then complete solidarity with you for your reaction twenty years later.

no need to assure us you aren't eaten up with hate. we know that. that's not your style, and that wasn't the message of the post.

but i'm with you. i would not forgive her so readily either...especially when she writes you so blithely and obtusely.

we all had friends when we were that age who betrayed us in one way or another. (ask me some time about my two Ayn Rand friends.) i think because of the age we were at the time, and the innocence of our trusting souls, and the fact that it was, most likely, the first such betrayal, those feelings just don't go away.

later betrayals, yeah, we're hardened. but those early soft years...

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterlaurie

mrs. g.
you will never know if she has changed unless you give her the benefit of the doubt.
at least SHE will see that YOU have moved on and she doesn't even merit being mad at now...
that advice sucks.
she's a dirty dog what you said,

but for the sake of your readers.....

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterClippy Mat

Leave it alone. There is no rule that we have to answer every knock on the door, phone call or e-mail. Ignore It.


October 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersee you there!

there are people like that....
one would hope they change as their brains (hopefully) mature. But there is something about our dominant culture that encourages that kind of behavior

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdebra

I get you Mrs G. It's a tricky one. I'm thinking she's gotta clear the air first. It's her sisterly duty. Blokes would just have a big punch up and then go out for a beer.

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterM @ EasternMax

i love a good ending!! you have to find out what happened don't you? if not for your sake for the sake of your readers!

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterShawn Borror

You are not alone. My Barb was my roommate I came home one night to find her in the arms of my then boyfriend. To do this day I can't say her name without getting huffy and oddly protective of my husband.

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterveronique

Ah, I bet most of us have a Barb back there somewhere.

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterThe Other Laura

Just because she sought you out doesn't mean there is any obligation to respond. Doesn't seem like you want to keep in touch with her or make a second attempt at friendship. This was HER agenda, not yours, so why bother writing back? She's part of your past, leaving her there is no reflection on your character.

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterArli

Oh, Barb. So cool. So cruel.

I wouldn't write back, either. What's to catch up on? Devious people are lost causes.

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRachelle

LOL, makes for a super post ... and I agree, the whore!

But I know deep down you will forgive (not forget)because who knows ... what if you married the cheat and missed out on Mr G?

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterNancy

Well, I was Barb -- or close enough. My good friend and her boyfriend had recently decided to start dating other people.


I knew it was against the code, and I did it anyway. It wasn't about the guy. It was about my extreme lack of self-worth and feeling that dating the boyfriend of someone I loved and admired would somehow make me as special as she was.

It was all part of growing and learning and changing and becoming, and that's painful sometimes.

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLaura/CenterDownHome

She's not worth your baby toe, Mrs. G - I have my own Barb, the circumstances of the betrayal were different, but the hurt? Still there. Probably always will be, somewhere down deep.

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBadness Jones

I "broke up" with a woman that I had a deep commitment to. I still miss her...even though the relationship was only good when it was all about her. I figured you signal when you break up with a guy, right? Why not a friend who has meant a lot to you and just no longer recongnizes you. Dumb?

So that's a topic I never hear discussed.

But two...woman, you can't forgive her. You feel she done you wrong. If you said you faorgive her,you would be lying...so...what you do is ask for a miracle. Be willing to forgive her, and let forgiveness be done for you.

And ask for no compromise, no bargains, nobody loses, everybody wins.
I swear it works beautifully.

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCamellia

Silence is the best answer, my friend.

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjenontheedge

You go girl. I am done with Barb.

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMental P Mama

Ha! I saw the Barb/Aaron/Shakespeare Festival coming, but not the Dirty Dog Whore! LOVE IT!

I wouldn't be able to resist writing her back, though. I am a glutton for punishment that way.

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRachel

Wow - I feel your pain. Although my "Barb" did not steal my man, she did a lot of other mean, manipulative, backstabbing things.

Once I went to the bathroom late one night and on my way back to my room I overheard a conversation between her and another girl in the house. I couldn't help but to eavesdrop since I knew it was about me. I couldn't believe the hurtful things and lies she said about me.

I've come a lot closer to forgiving her, but I'm still not there yet....

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjustjuli

And here you are, with a gaggle of adoring fans, none of whom would ever dream of stealing your Mr. G or his secret sauce.

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteri am very mary

I think I would have felt differently if she HAD mentioned Aaron and what happened.

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSandy Feet

Always forgive, never forget is my motto. Otherwise you'll just eat yourself up with bitterness and also open yourself up for more hurt. Call me cynical, but people like that don't change. If I happened to bump into "Barb" at the supermarket I'd certainly be civil, but I wouldn't encourage anything along the lines of taking up where we left off. ~annie

October 29, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

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