“I guess Tim Riggins banged the balance right out of her.”
Slut. Whore. The slings and arrows of the outrageously jealous rain down on Tim Riggins’ Crippled Best Friend’s Girlfriend as she deals with the fallout caused by the actions she took to try and mend her own heart. Alienated. Alone. An entire school, nay an entire town, against her.
Sensing CBF’sG’s solitude Riggins sits with her at lunch, like a man trying to save a sinking ship who doesn’t realize his own weight is dragging the vessel further below the surface of the sea.
“What are you doing? Don’t you know you’re sitting with the school slut?”
“Let them look… I don’t care.”
“It’s different for girls. You can sleep around all you want, and people think you’re cool. I make one mistake, and it was a mistake. Tim, you’re making it worse. You can’t be here.”
It is different for girls, dear reader.
In a school hallway TR’s Blonde Ex-Girlfriend looks into his beer bottle green eyes and realizes what we have known for so long, “You’re in love with her…” It is a brief, fleeting moment. But it is one thing to know in your heart that you love a person you shouldn’t and it is another to have a woman who once held your body recognize it without your saying a word. Sometimes it is different for boys too, dear reader, and to be in love when you’re known for being broken can itself be a burden.
But love without burden is like fire without light, so Tim Riggins stands outside his Crippled Best Friend’s Girlfriend’s house in the rain, not to make some grand gesture in an attempt to win her affections, but to encourage her to face her adversaries (which, granted, really means encouraging her to show up at a cheerleading competition, but is not the whole world a battlefield?). And that, dear reader, is exactly what she does.
(Sidenote: Tim Riggins didn’t actually drink in this episode of Drinking With Tim Riggins, but he made up for it by standing in the Texas rain.)
Everyone in town now knows that Tim Riggins has been banging his Crippled Best Friend’s Girlfriend, and everyone is quick, as people often are, to sit in judgement. As if they themselves have never fallen folly to the pratfalls of the human heart. As if they themselves have never betrayed a friend.
Under the cover of darkness a band of TR’s teammates gather to teach him a lesson, attacking his already beat-to-shit pickup with baseball bats while our hero sits in the cab. The windshield of his beloved truck crashes over him, but Riggins doesn’t say a word. A stoic, beautiful, Texas Arthur Dimmesdale. (Really? Fine.)
Later, while Tim is vacuuming up the wreckage of his mistakes, his Blonde Ex-Girlfriend, whom just last week he was fucking in the back of a Stop and Shop, marches up to him and strikes his glorious face. “Anybody but her,” she spits, proving that the rules of love are an unreadable map for everyone save the brokenhearted. Still, Tim Riggins is silent. Finding a fierce, forceful forgiveness, a forgiveness he cannot find within himself, in the violent acts of others.
But penance doesn’t mean you stop sinning, dear reader. And forgiveness doesn’t mean you forget. As always, the lesson to be learned is this: The heart is an animal.
And Tim Riggins’ heart cannot survive in a cage.
I want you to think back to your greatest moment. Do you remember how it felt? Everything, even your worst mistakes, blotted out of existence by your own brilliant glory? Do you remember how you walked that day? How everything came so easy? Do remember thinking to yourself, “isn’t this the way life’s supposed to be…”?
This is where we find Tim Riggins, high on the heady heat of his recent victory. Sober and amazed by his own potential. A swagger born out of work, not whiskey. And there she is. TR’s Blonde Ex-Girlfriend, looking the way only ex-girlfriends can look when all mistakes seem to be forgiven.
Minutes after she smiles at him Riggins takes all of that energy, all of that confidence, and puts it inside of her while she clings to his shoulders in the storage closet of a Texas supermarket.
But, much like sex in a public place, the high of success cannot last forever. Eventually you’re just standing in a dirty room under fluorescent lights with your pants off but your shoes inexplicably still on. This is how Tim feels when his Crippled Best Friend’s Girlfriend shows up at his door and tells him that his Crippled Best Friend knows of their infidelities. The harsh fluorescent lights of shame only get brighter as his Blonde Ex-Girlfriend comes out from the shadows, and TR watches CBF’sG realize, well, not so much realize as remember, that his passions are not always of the heart.
The subject of TR’s family comes up while he and his Brother are at a neighbors’ house for dinner. Tim defends his shit bag of an absentee father because he understands the hardships of being human. But there is what you say about those you love who have hurt you, and there is what you feel, and those fluorescent lights of shame burn bright in our main man’s eyes as he fights to remember what he felt so good about in the first place.
“Parents did a number on those kids, that’s for sure.”
“Everyone’s got a sad story. Doesn’t excuse anything.”
Tim Riggins and his brother beat each other like Lone Star State Cain and Abels. Our hero’s sober, unrepressed emotions are crushing him. And there is always further to slide.
Tim walks up to his Crippled Best Friend with lies on his lips and a smile on his face, knowing that CBF knows, but not knowing what else to do. (If you say you have never done something similar I say you are a liar.) But CBF is ready, and he delivers the punch that Tim so rightly deserves. A punch that, perhaps, Riggins has been hoping for since the first time he ravished his Crippled Best Friend’s Girlfriend on the hood of her car. The fluorescent lights of shame in TR’s eyes burst open like the veins around the orbital cavity of his skull; and thus, with an earned black eye given to him by his wheelchair-bound best friend, Tim Riggins returns to his own wheelchair of alcohol dependance.
I want you to think back to your greatest moment, dear reader, and now I want you to remember how quickly we fall.
“I don’t know how to talk to you when you’re like this. I mean, God it’s not even 7 o’clock and you can barely stand. You can blame me if you want, Tim. You can blame the whole world for all I care, but if you think being drunk all the time is gonna make this any easier, you’re wrong. It’s not cool or charming. It’s just pathetic and gross and I feel sorry for you. I really do.”
Tim Riggins stares back at his Crippled Best Friend’s Girlfriend, says her name in a whisper as tender as his own lips, and then swan dives into a blue solo cup as she turns away.
When we left TR he was embracing the fact that he could no longer stand in the way of his friends’ love. But it is one thing to be noble for a night on the banks of a Texas lake, and it is another to carry around guilt-ridden desire every god damn day. Where do you turn when there isn’t enough alcohol in the world to crush your own heart?
With those words Tim Riggins tosses an unopened beer back to his Brother and does his best to fill his empty hands with redemption.
Our hero’s inner-turmoil must have release though. There must always be a valve. Without his familiar bottles, TR turns his inexplicable self hatred into grueling self improvement. Weights. Running. He breaks against himself over and over again, building upon himself until he leads his brothers to victory and remembers his inner-greatness for one brief, shattering moment.
But this taste of glory only excites us, dear readers, because we can smell the storm.
“So, you’re done with me?”
Tim Riggins draws an ice cold beer out of his cooler while his Crippled Best Friend’s Girlfriend explains that the time has come to set their animalistic passions aside. As Tim sips on his bottle, CBF’sG offers to accept full blame for their actions, which of course brings our main man little consolation. No one should ever treat love like a mistake.
But fuck it, dear readers, because there is no love more important than the love of friendship. As TR loses his Crippled Best Friend’s Girlfriend he regains his Crippled Best Friend and, for a brief moment, himself. In a heroic act of brotherhood TR breaks his CBF out of the hospital and takes him and CBF’sG (showing that we are all capable of growth) to a lake. Water. A place where legs don’t matter and hearts become buoyant. And it is there, at the lake, that Tim Riggins realizes that he is in love with his friends’ love, and that it is his duty to do nothing more than sit, bottle in hand, and champion their happiness.