Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dead End Friend Zone

Annual youth social Sunday.
The scene was a hall, during a lunch-break that interrupted the day's program which entailed sports, games and "socializing".

Amidst a sea of "socializing" youths, I stood alone, chewing absentmindedly with loaded plate in hand. My eyes watched the way Anita moved amidst the crowd with a keen awareness of her own presence, her gestures deliberate but graceful. I was lost in the moment. Meanwhile, a mutual friend of ours was staring at me as I stared at how Anita occupies space. I briefly averted my stare for some reason, and my eyes landed on Loise, who was staring hypnotically at the intensity of my staring. Mildly embarrassing.

After waving to acknowledge Loise, I went right back to my study. Across the hall, Anita stopped herwinding travels briefly, to converse with a group of tracksuit-clad personalities. One guy in particular seemed just as enchanted by her dynamic charisma as I was from afar. Their words were a distant murmur, but their laughter rang out all over the hall, mingling with the general chatter.

Loise came over to join me. During the brief, narrow silence that still separated us, her teeth churned food mindfully, mine mercilessly. It was a perfect pairing: two party-wallflower types keeping tenuous company while they wait for the food they are chewing to drain into their bellies.

Loise swallowed first, heavily. And then: "If you like her, tell her." And then smiled nervously, because I turned to search for signs of insanity on her face.

"You know better," I said at last.
"I know she likes you!"
"You're not supposed to tell me, she is."
"Can she really tell you? You two are scared of each other."
"So you get to play matchmaker, is that it?"
"Yeah!" she smiled indulgently.

I smiled despite myself. Clearly, Loise didn't understand,but she was confident enough to air her presumptions. Fortunately for me, I didn't have to explain anything to her. I changed the topic. Explanations are exclusively available to readers of my blog.

Critical pondering lately revealed that my friendship with Anita is a dead end alley, and the brick wall at the end of it reads "Friend Zone - No Through Way". But I refuse to stall here admiring the graffiti artist's dexterity in scribbling those words. I have decided on a tactical retreat - hence the increasing lengths of time between increasingly accidental meetings. Call it bracing for the inevitable crash.

She's in the prime of her youth. I won't delude myself: lots of male attention comes her way, aggressive concerted attention that vies for her heart's affections. She's probably thinking of settling down too; many of her female age mates are either married or single parents by now. I have no such ideas in mind. Soon enough she'll show up flaunting an engagement ring and we'll laugh about it but the laughter won't reach my eyes because I laid the foundation by acting brother while the iron was still hot.

There was never any "thrill of the chase." Instead, since we began, a comfortable familiarity borne of firm rapport defined our interaction. The depth of her mind and the warmth of her character have been so rich that even our platonic conversations are rewarding. But naked desire died of neglect somewhere along the way. The moment was repeatedly lost in the multiplicity of words.

All or nothing. Looks like it'll be nothing then.

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