For a long time, I considered Mike Marketti, who used to draw cartoons for The Southbridge Evening News, a good person and a friend.
Then something happened, going back to February, which lasted three weeks in a row:
He hounded me to sign a petition to change the form of government to a Town Meeting form of government. He got incessantly more aggressive and annoying in bugging me to sign it, even showing up at my house unannounced when I wasn't home.
In my job, I travel a lot. In February, I was in Puerto Rico for a week. The day I came home, I had four hours to spend with my family before heading out to Seattle for a week, then two days home before heading to Toronto for a week. Despite telling Mike this, he didn't seem to care or want to believe it. I sure as hell wasn't going to sacrifice my limited free time at that point for him instead of my family.
Finally, after returning from Toronto, he emailed me, telling me I "owed" him, and that I needed to sign his petition. He was right, I did owe him. Several years ago, when he wasn't as jaded as he is today, he went to my daughters class and talked to them about being a cartoonist. The kids loved it. My daughter didn't think (rightfully so) that the kids would want to hear about the exciting world of sales. She's right, no ten year-old would want to hear about a day in my life. Most 40 year-olds don't want to, either.
So I agreed to meet Mike at Dunkin Donuts in Southbridge, and when he arrived, I could tell he had a chip on his shoulder. I was pleasant, trying to make small talk, but he didn't have time for that. He pulled out a new petition for me to sign, so that my name would be on the top of the sheet. He then tried telling me that my wife owed him, too, which is where I drew the line. My wife had nothing to do with our arrangement, and I sure as hell wasn't going to ask her or force her to sign it. She had already told him no when he showed up unannounced at my house.
I tried asking some questions, innocuous in hindsight, but important to a degree, such as:
"How many signatures do you have? How many do you need? Do you realize you don't have time to get it on the ballot"?, to which he responded, "why do you care?", telling me it wasn't my business.
I just signed your petition, I was candid with you and told you that I didn't support the petition, but would sign it nonetheless.
You would think one would appreciate honesty, but apparently not.
The following day, when I was once again back in Toronto, I received a call that he published a cartoon of me. I looked at it online, and wasn't bothered by it, because I couldn't tell who the hell he was supposed to be spoofing. It was badly drawn in my opinion. When he wouldn't return my calls, I called the publisher, and told him that I didn't want Mike to lose his job, but he owed it to me and the readers to be honest in his cynicism.
After chasing me around for weeks, and then whining the day after I signed his petition, he portrayed me as stomping on it. Marketti has never answered as to why, if I was such a stooge, it was so damn important for me to sign his petition? His site has a whiny diatribe that no one can respond to, calling me Caesar, because I said he stabbed me in the back, and I called him Brutus.
The point that Mike can't seem to draw (no pun-intended) is that you don't chase someone to support your cause only to criticize them the following day for signing something for his cause, knowing full well they don't support your cause. That's disingenuous and seems to follow a trend of using his former position as a bully pulpit.
Ironically, he seems to have given up on his petition, when, according to him, he had more than enough signatures. So either he was lying about the signatures that he had, or simply gave up, and it was easier to blame others for the latter. If he was committed to it, it could still go on the ballot, but why bother when you can blame its failure on three people? By the way, the petition, even if it passed, would have failed. As I told him, you can't revert to something that doesn't exist. It could have been done correctly, but it wasn't. Even the people I have spoken to that supported it agree for the most part that it was a pipe dream that was poorly written.
I don't know the whole story as to why he's not drawing anymore, and I used to care, but not anymore. I thought he was a talented person. But after re-reading his whiny, one-way writing on his site, I thought it was about time to set the story straight.
It's sad that he appears to have shot himself in the foot. I'm sure his opinions of a colleague, published on this site, didn't endear him to certain people. As a person who has been on the top and the bottom of the mountain, I can tell you it's much more pleasant on the top. I spend more time there now, and I am pleased as punch to know that I've bridged more gaps than I have built walls.
At a point in most people's lives, they have to understand that you can't keep pushing people away, unless your goal is to have no friends, just your family. I know a Town Councilor that currently fits this mold as well. Underhanded tricks are not the way to make a difference in this world.
The difference between me and these two individuals is that I can admit it when I'm wrong, and focus on changing to avoid it happening again.
If I can open up dialogues with people I've had issues with in the past, anyone is capable of doing the same.
Ironically, I have no interest in doing this with either of the two people I've referenced above, since, sometimes people do things so nasty that it's not worth scraping the bottom of the barrel just to set things straight.
2012 will be the year that two former friends stabbed me in the back, something I can forgive, but never forget. More importantly, 2012 will be the year that I decided who was, and wasn't, worth my friendship and time.
These two friendships are over, but many more have already begun. From that viewpoint, I'm the only one of us coming out on top, as the winner--not the whiner.
No doubt, Mike will respond to this posting, anonymously, something that he ironically doesn't afford his handful of readers on his site.
Look for his writing style. You'll know it's him, since he seems to be the only one that still cares about The Three Stooges.
I'll say a prayer for you both that you move on, and stop assessing blame. But in the end, its up to both of you which path you choose.