It occurred to me lately that I’ve been on an unusually large number of duo road trips alone with platonic female friends. Normally this doesn’t have to be a problem, but it started becoming one when I realized that every single stranger we encounter assumes we’re in the midst of a shitty, loveless relationship.
It began when we were at the Grand Canyon and asked a stranger to take our picture. Of course, we stood the obligatory two feet apart and looked coldly indifferent towards each other as we smiled at the camera. The camerawoman lowered the camera.
“Uh… are you two dating?”
“Us? Oh, no! Not at all.” ”Ha ha, no. God no.”
What a blasphemous suggestion!
But the seed was planted in my brain, and suddenly I felt the oppressive eyes of judgement from everyone we would encounter from that point forth…
What a terrible boyfriend! He won’t even pay for her ice cream.
Look, they’re not even holding hands. How much longer do they have? A week? Two?
Split checks? What’s this world coming to? When did chivalry die?
She should dump his ass and find herself the prince she deserves! Poor thing.
And so on and so forth.
Of course I should just let the public think what they may and carry on with my own business, right? Why should their assumptions matter to me?
That’s easier said than done. It becomes evermore awkward when you get a motel together.
“One room, two adults.”
“Would that be one bed or two?”
“Two! Two. Definitely two.”
And then of course there’s the situation of us meeting up with my friend at a bar.
Friend – “Hey, Quack, she’s definitely a cutie. Good job, buddy. Nice find.”
Me – “Uh… well… we’re not together.”
Friend – “Right, sure. You want me to help you out with that?”
Me – “No, I mean… we’re really not together. We’re just friends.”
Friend – “Whatever you say, bud. Anyway, I brought three hot single ladies on the prowl to set you up with tonight, but I guess you won’t be needing my help.”
Lady 1 – “How long have you known Quack?”
Girl – “Uh… five years?”
Lady 2, 3 – “Awww! How cute!”
Girl – “If you say so.”
But what get especially aggravating are the pseudo-romantic situations we encounter that, with anybody else outside of a pre-established mutual friend zone, would be so endearingly special (if I may say so myself). For instance: when I built a snowman on the hood of the car during a rest stop in a blizzard as my definitely-platonic lady friend watched from within the blanketed warmth of the vehicle.
…Of course, for any healthy platonic relationship, the Sum of Net Romance (SNR) must equal zero, so off I drove, letting the snowman smash to the ground – “Ha ha! Die you bastard! Die!” And all was right with the world.
And then there’s the wordless stroll together, alone in the desolate beauty of Manzanar – the snowcapped Sierra escarpment at our sides, the wind blowing gently against us…
“…Tee hee. I farted. …oops.” You know, just to let her know I’m not getting any ideas.
SNR -> 0
I love my platonic female friends (you know, in a bro-love kind of way), but really – why can’t I share these experiences with someone with which romantic tension can burst forth into something lasting and beautiful rather than having to keep whatever fiery embers there aren’t drenched in the wet, lifeless sludge of reality? Why does the opportunity to share such lovely, memorable experiences always seem to realize itself under the requisite of being such platonic, memorable experiences?
I’d like to think of myself as a nice guy, but as time goes on, I get less and less sure of what that means. What is a nice guy? Is he a guy that’s sensitive to your feelings? Is he a guy that listens? Is he a guy that buys you nice things and thinks of schmaltzy Valentine’s Day excursions?
A lot of guys blame their ineptitude with women on being too nice and claim that women always find assholes more appealing. But how can these guys claim they’re nice when they just want what everyone else does (i.e. sexytime)? Is it because they selflessly slave away for their unrequited beloved? Is it because their clumsy advances make them seem innocent? Idol-worship out of lonely desperation isn’t being nice, it’s being a lunatic (a lunacy in which I have taken part myself).
Sometimes I feel like being a “nice guy” and being successful with women are mutually exclusive. There’s something innately predatory about the dating scene, and it seems like the older I get, the faster the dating process must be, and therefore the more meticulously calculated the predator must be in arranging his house of cards of romantic ideals in the face of an impatient woman whose biological clock is ticking faster and faster. Nice guys are nice because they are passive and oblivious, not because they are nice. Jackasses are jackasses because they know how to use the system to their advantage. I can’t blame them. I would too if I knew how.
But I don’t know how, and that’s why I’m a nice guy: because I’m clueless, and oblivion is often mistaken for innocence. The moment I figure out what I’m doing, I will no longer be a nice guy. That is, unless I don’t apply my knowledge and remain benevolently lonely until some pushy alpha woman comes along and decides she wants me to father her children, coercing me into a reluctant relationship I’d be too afraid to end.
Perhaps being an asshole isn’t a bad thing after all. At least they’re true to themselves and their desires. Perhaps the world would be a better place if we were all more in tune with our assholish selves.