The Ballad of Barry and Johnny: True Love Gone Bad

News item : Obama and Boehner offered dueling speeches on the deficit Monday night.

Johnny and Barry had been eyeing each other across the lunchroom since the beginning of the semester.  They sat with entirely different crowds.  Johnny was with the jock bunch — smartly dressed, wisenheimers, smokers. Barry sat with the intellectual, bound-for-the-Ivy-League group. (Come to think of it, Barry smoked too. A laid-back, cool kind of smoker.)

And never the twain shall meet.

Like Romeo and Juliet.

Then, one day, Barry sauntered over to Johnny’s table. His buddies first elbowed each other as Barry approached; then they stared down at their lunches (they bought hot — Barry’s mom packed him some kind of sprouts on tofu).

“Want to go to a movie sometime?” Barry asked casually.

“Sure, why not?” Johnny responded, equally coolly.

Next thing you know, they were going at it hot and heavy. Necking behind the field house.  Holding hands in the hallway.  Eating lunch at their own separate table — laughing, gossiping, touching.  (But we didn’t think they went all the way.)

Came prom time, and everyone figured they’d go together.  Barry bought two tickets.  When anyone asked Johnny who he was going with, he just smiled and puffed on his cig.

And — then — disaster.  Johnny was heard asking around his locker if anyone needed a prom date.  With nary a word, Barry returned to the “brain table.”

What went wrong?  The rumors were that Barry never introduced Johnny to his friends (how would that have gone?) — didn’t think he was smart enough.

For his part, Johnny bowed to peer pressure.  He was smoking with the boys behind the field house (yup, the same one where he used to canoodle with Barry), and they were ragging him something fierce — “Johnny and Barry, sitting in a tree. . .”  You know how boys are together!  Johnny just turned on his heel and walked off in a huff.

Afterwards, no more lunchtime liaisons.

Of course, each one tried to control the spin. “I just got tired of his smarter-than-thou attitude — and did you ever notice how weird his friends are?” Johnny told anyone who’d listen.

For his part, Barry never missed a beat.  Couldn’t tell that anything was amiss in his neat little world.  It wasn’t so much that he put Johnny down, as that he smiled and nodded at him in the corridors as though they were former chess partners.

What would ever have happened if they actually would have made it to the prom together — pinned on their corsages, danced together in the moonlight, went — ahem — somewhere after the dance?

But it wasn’t to be.  Too wide a gap to overcome.  A good tan and cool can take you just so far together.

Stanton Peele

Stanton Peele , recognized as one of the world's leading addiction experts by The Fix, developed the Life Process Program after decades of research, writing, and treatment about and for people with addictions. Dr. Peele is the author of 14 books. His work has been published in leading professional journals and popular publications around the globe.

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