Over more than a decade, I forged a firm friendship with her. We called each other best friends, yet there was little practical evidence (besides the statement of the fact) to support that claim. No long hours on phone, no random home visits, nor any of the things people do to spend time together; no, not even skydiving. I must admit a bit of a social handicap. But there were many letters to and fro, and texts without number.
In the spirit of openness, The Ex learnt from me that my Best Friend was a lady. This was in the days before she became “The Ex”. She audibly suspected that something was fishy about a ‘so-called best friend’ of the opposite gender, resulting in high drama one time; “too many messages,” or something insecure like that, followed by half a breakup. Luckily or not, the Ex has never had occasion to meet the Best Friend and have words - or more.
I think it is possible (and wholesome) for a dude to have a close and trusted lady friend who is not a girlfriend, but I can’t back that recommendation conclusively without indulging hypocrisy. Because one day I fell for the Best Friend.
Things like these are not supposed to happen! That’s why you go the extra mile to forestall such crises. You learn the meaning and applications of the word “platonic” long before your age group catches on to its existence. You become deaf to the body language of attraction, even becoming unconscious of your own reflexive come-ons, because this is your Best Friend in the whole wide world! And so you just can’t spoil the good friendly thing you’ve got! and so nothing funny was allowed to happen.
While allowing nothing funny to happen, a lot of space emerged between us, and time marched on. We met ever more rarely and chatted ever more briefly. Suddenly, it behooved me one day to inform her that we were no longer Best Friends in real world terms. We had drifted too far apart to claim the honors. According to my (jealous) calculations, I had become more marginal in her life than anyone who met her in class every day. Best friend my foot. Fortunately, it was a short and painless conversation: she shared my disagreeable views – so she said. Fine. We shrugged and moved on to mutual neglect.
Losing a best friend is a mental transition above anything else. Nothing really changes besides the lenses through which you look at the situation. Perhaps a little crankiness for the first few days. Inevitably, the Best Friend and I forgot that we were no longer best friends. We reverted to telling everyone about our opposite-gender best friend, even if we did not talk to one another as much as we talked about one another. But one day, we outgrew all this foolishness (I don’t remember who it was that initiated contact), and decided to catch up with a visit. My place.
The natural tendency for platonic friends to overdo reconciliation was our undoing. And we were alone all by ourselves and close together. Somebody spell trouble. It certainly occurred to me – I had already fallen for the Best Friend as soon as we met, at the instant of reunion. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. That day my brain forsook all the platonic things therein and all understandings thereof. (It had been a long absence.)Yet, somehow, I kept my head and maintained my bearings. The visit had no incidents, really. I barely fled temptation only because I ceaselessly exhorted myself, in many fervent 'asides', to behave in a manner befitting a platonic friend.
Afterwards, I started thinking twice about the far-fetched silly-sounding concept called platonic. One or both parties must regularly asphyxiate the natural tendency to fall for the other. And spend their time hiding the fact that they already fell for the friend they weren't supposed to fall for. Third party observers see right through these self-delusions, but their insights are always rebutted with lies as blatant as "It's not like that." One easily tells the platonic best friend a million things one could never breathe a word of to one's romantic partner. Sorta confuses up the ratings: who's supposed to be the special one?
The worst part? The romantic partners of both platonic friends must depend on the shaky trust that funny feelings towards the friend will be stifled, without fail, EVERY TIME they materialize.