Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dating: The Friend Zone

During the 14th century, a man by the name of Dante penned an epic poem about the nine levels of hell. In his narrative, he described the sins committed that would take one there and the torture they would surely endure once they arrived. He called this work of descriptive horror "The Inferno". It is a beautifully written piece of literature. However, it is not complete. In his efforts to expand his readers' minds and take them on a journey that would ultimately lead them to God, he neglected the tenth level of hell. This level, with all it's confusion, agony, and sorrow, is the level that all other hellish levels bow down before. It is the place that more souls are banished to than any other. Here, in the not mentioned tenth level, I (and many others) sit and lick our wounds while we try to put the pieces of our dignity and self esteem back together.

This level is called the Friend Zone. And it is the epitome of hell.

The Friend Zone is the tenth level of hell that I have become all to familiar with. It is here that men constantly banish me to. Within this torturous level, I am forced to listen to my various crushes describe their ideal woman. I sit at the foot of the lake of despair while my idea of Mr. Right tells me he wants to settle down, but how it's so hard to find a good woman. As I frustratingly pace back and forth from "just friends" to "friends with a little bit of benefit", he sweetly tells me how comfortable I am. He takes my hand, while I try real hard not to punch him in his left eyebrow and yell that what he desires is right here, he explains how I am the perfect fit for him.....As a friend.

Awesome. I'm a golden retriever.

I have always had a knack for making friends. I've been blessed with the ability to make people laugh and, therefore, make them comfortable around me. Girls like me because they can tell me about that one time they embraced their inner slut a little too much and ended up taking it to skank level proportions. They tell me these wild tales because they know I will not judge them. After all, I've embraced my inner slut a time or two myself. We are old friends, my slut and I. Hell, I even bought her a Christmas present last year.

His name was Bill.

Guys like me because not only do I know the score from last night's game, but I also realize had the laces been out, he would have easily made that field goal. I can also discuss all this over an ice cold beer.

Or, we can comfortably chat about that chick you banged last night. Bless her heart. Was she really that bad?

Normally I am OK with being the gal pal to the guy that most women would kill to hook up with. These types of relationships give me perspective into the male mind that normally I would not be privy to. I appreciate a platonic relationship between men and women just for the mere fact that it eliminates that awkward walk of shame the next morning. There's no need for wondering how long you have to wait until you contact the person.

And it's more sanitary this way.

My Friend Zone nightmare occurs when I try, the best way I know how, to tell the guy that I long for that I desire more than a common interest of sports to bring us together. Shyly, I try to convey the message that I want to converse about other topics as well. How was his day? Can I cook for him? Does he need a back rub? I give a great one.

Unfortunately, my version of "I want to get to know you" usually comes out as "I want to see you naked." And, no, when this phrase is uttered, despite what you may believe, passion and orgasms do not ensue.

A few months back, I received a telephone call from a "buddy" of mine. I have known this guy for a while. He's what is the closest to my type of guy that one can get. (I don't really have a type.) He's smart. Funny. Laid back. Can discuss various topics openly. He makes me sigh when I speak to him.

Anyways, his phone call was to specifically talk about the previous night's football game. As I am driving to work, he's going on and on about how the ref made a poor call. He then proceeds to tell me that I am one of his "best buds". No. Scratch that. I am actually one of his best GUY pals. I tried in vain to explain that I couldn't possibly be a guy pal. I informed him of my correct gender. I even went a step further and described my girl parts to him.

"I promise you," I said. "I have boobs. Granted, they help me sweep the floor when I take my bra off, but I assure you, they are there."

He remained unconvinced.

A guy that I hang out with here and there approached me late one night. He was upset and said that he needed a friend. Someone he could trust. A shoulder to lean on. And me, being the woman that I am, made myself readily available. I am here for you, I informed him. Talk to me. What do you need? Do you desire a warm embrace? An uplifting word? Dinner? A back rub? Come hither and let me take care of you.

You know what that idiot needed? Advice on how to ask a girl out.

Friend Zone - 2. Wes - 0.

Not too long ago, I became friends with this other guy. A sweet guy.  We'd gotten to know each other over the past few months and I realized that I had developed a small catholic-school-girl-grab-the-wooden-paddle-made-for-porno size crush on him. As per my usual form, I tried to tell him.

His response? "You're so funny." Yeah. I'm freakin hilarious.

So, not to be easily discouraged, I pressed further. Trying to get to know him and see if he was more than a handsome face and nice body, I initiated further conversations. And still got nowhere.

So, I eventually tried my hand at the direct approach. However, my "I want to get to know you better" in Oreo speak is loosely translated into "I want to see you naked and do wild things to you that may cause you to seek counseling later" in normal people language.

Yes, I know. I need to work on that.

After more tap dancing, I took an even more straight forward approach. I just came right out and asked him why he wasn't interested in dating me. Now, I did pose this question to him after he asked me to help him wright a personal ad for a dating website. But, what the hell I figured, my dignity left on the south bound train a long time ago.

His response? "You're a great friend."

Yeah.....I'm gonna need you to take that knife out of my heart and help duck tape the pieces of my fractured ego back together. Thanks so much.

Don't get me wrong. I love the fact that these men see me as their friend. Honestly, I am thrilled that they choose me to confide in. I listen to what they have to say and it stays with me. I coach them through whatever it is. Nod my head. Smile pleasantly. So, I am a-OK with not being "The One" for the guy that I have an animistic craving for. I just would like to know when my vagina turned into the guy equivalent of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

Not too much to ask. 

So, here I sit, in the tenth level of hell that Dante neglected to mention. The Friend Zone. I can't help but wonder why it is that I keep getting sent back here the same way a humiliated teen is forced to sit at the kiddie table at Christmas. Is it because I like watching sports? Could it possibly be due to the fact that I am more at home in jeans and a t-shirt instead of a dress and makeup? Does it have anything to do with the fact that I worked my ass off to make sure that I can solely provide for my family, thus needing nothing more than a companion in my life instead of  a knight in shinning armor to come in and save us from starvation and homelessness?

Normally I would not put this much thought into it. Dates have come and gone over the years. I have come to realize that my Mr. Right may take the form of a best friend instead of a passionate soul mate. And I am OK with that. What makes me pause and reflect is that although the men that I have dated are from different backgrounds, race, religion, and so on, they all have one thing in common. Me. I am the common denominator in this heart break equation of love. I can not help but think that there is something wrong with me other than the fact of my sheer quirkiness.

Unfortunately, I don't have the answers to any of these questions. Nor do I know if my theory that I am too different to ever find a true match is conclusive or just hog wash. But, I do know if I were to go back and re-read Dante's Inferno, the answers would not lie there either. He probably never mentioned this unholy tenth level, aka Friend Zone, because he spent quite a deal of time there himself.

He was probably just as baffled as I am.

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