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This week a guy I was friends with in school from 2nd grade to graduation found me on a well known social site. Rather than contact me via the site, he knew I own a local business and called me at work. It was great to catch up with him.

During the conversation, he asked me if I belonged to a certain organization. I told him that I no longer am involved with the organization. He then invited me to meet him there at their next gathering. I told him I could not make any promises, but I would consider it. To me, that was Southern Belle speak for, thanks, but no thanks. I didn't want to insult his affiliation with the organization by telling him that I want nothing to do with them, at least not at this point in my life. When I attended meetings in the past, they were relentless with challenging members to bring in as many guests as possible. And I suspect maybe that is what is going on now. (It's nothing financial, there's no monetary reward for bringing guests.)

He called yesterday and left a message on my voice mail reminding me of the date, time and address.

I emailed him last night, and told him I hoped he would understand, but I would not be joining him. I didn't give specific reasons. I don't feel I should have to. We have not been close in 25 years. My reasons are personal. Very personal. I told him I would love to do lunch or coffee with him sometime.

This morning he replied by email that he got my email, and he still considers me a dear friend, but that he would still call me every day to remind me, in hopes that I will change my mind. So far he's called twice today, and I haven't had the stomach to listen to the messages. It just causes me so much anxiety when I try to be as polite as possible to someone, regardless of the situation, and they just act as if my decision doesn't matter. It almost feels like being bullied. But I know that is not his intention for me to feel that way.

I would really like to get to know him again and meet his wife and children. He was the only guy in school who I truly liked as a friend, and just a friend. For whatever reason we never had any romantic tension between us, it was just a pure friendship. We had so many great times together.

So, does anyone have the words I need to tell him to lay off once and for all, I am NOT going with him to this gathering, without insulting his association with the organization? And remember, he and I are true Southerners...Bless your heart and cherry on top.





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