The Plush lobby, like my Sunday afternoon, is refreshingly empty. Heather and I sit, swap stories, steal sips. Our mouths shake out, emitting lil’ gossipoids about Daily Wildcat things and copy writing and 20Somethingings. It’s nice.
I hone in on my Blue Moon, prime to go beastmode on the garnish orange slice. Nice. I pop succulent sections past my Usher lips, then proceed to stretch the peel above the glass. A butterfly-spray shoguns across the froth, adding a bit of extra spark to my citrus flavored brew. It’s a trick I picked up from a Japanese manga about bartending, so I feel like the Manganese Chef.
Across the bar, I eye a lady who resembles a lady she is not. My past self, like a teenybopper Linda Hamilton, is not privy to important future facts. So I stare.
As it turns out, this lady is not the lady she resembles. Unfortunately, eyebeams have crossed. I try to keep my eyes on Heather. Sending goo goo gos would betray fresh commitments; dust off old proclivities best left undisturbed. Oh, but the ego. Curious to see if I’ve piqued another person’s attention, I creep peeks.
“I think that girl’s looking at me.”
Heather lurks. “Lucky you.”
I study her conversation partner. His back is turned, but his posture is…intentional.
“I wonder what his game plan is.”
“It could be nothing,” Heather quips. “You don’t have a game plan.”
The grotesque little goblins from Cloud City must not have fixed my kinderdrive, since I fail to make the jump to nicerspace. “Naw dog,” I think to myself, “This broseph’s definitely in the FriendZone.”
I could tell you about the first time I heard the phrase “FriendZone,” but that would be false flavoring. It would be a sultry anecdote, justified by my creative non-fiction degree sensibilities, bolstered by my audience’s succulent ignorance about my personal life. Seems like a waste of taste, though. I’ll simmer my credibility for juicier topics. Promise.
I do know that no one had to explain it to me. “FriendZone,” I mean. The phrase is typically only applied in a sitch where its meaning is evident, after all. Painfully evident. I don’t know, maybe you were one of the lucky ones.
Throughout college years this phrase served as the crush’s black spot. Co-eds avoided the FriendZone like hairy kids avoided a Star Pass pool party. Once the binds of FriendZone descends, ne’er shall they be hoisted. So sayeth the prophecy.
However, as much as the FriendZone was a curse, it was also a banner. Undergrads from all walks of life could sympathize and trade anecdotes about the crush-in-proximity. We were all Gordos and they were all Lizzie McGuires. And, of course, we were always getting an earful about Ethan Craft.
4th Avenue helped. No one, it seems, goes out to bars to make friends. You go to the bar with the friends you already have to meet people you’d never boned before or to just dance or whatever or maybe both. Depends on the drink specials, lesss be rrreal.
Real life helped. It’s difficult, near impossible, to get FriendZoned at your 40 hour. Besides, they have a new phrase for that now. It’s called “co-worker.” It’s kind of like FriendZone, but if you make things weird you just get fired. As a result, feelers are sent out clearly, calmly, and with obvious intent. Pussyfooting is hard to justify with pink slips on the line.
Perspective helped. A few years removed, it’s hard to register the “FriendZone” for anything more than self-induced denial. Selfish chicken soup for the libido. Sex-centered personal deceptions. What else would you call a propped up platonic relationships, baited so a crush would eventually realize their obligation to your worth? What was the game plan? A bad breakup, heart and head turned on to your long suffering efforts at romantic subterfuge? A realized Taylor Swift song, topped off with a dreamy simultaneous orgasm?
Come on, Michael.
Blue Moon tides begin to creep, and I sense the hour to cast off. One more glance at FriendZone bro, but I correct myself. Maybe Heather is right.
Maybe they are like us. Maybe this guy and that lady are enjoying the atmosphere and the simple pleasures of good company. Maybe, with the dawn of our 20s past, we have abandoned the platonic predications for good. Oh, how “maybes” linger.
Fantasies and feet planted, I walk the redhead outside. I hold the door, because she is my sister and love to shower her with courtesies. We are friends, and there is no zone to behold.