I was engaging in conversation with a fine looking female friend the other day when I inquired if she would like to go out for a drink. Now I meant it innocently, thinking we could just continue our lively discussion at another place. She took it though as an invitation for a date, to which she replied “Honestly Joey, you are intellectually intriguing but just not physically.” It was on that note that I realized once again I was meeting up with an old enemy, the friend zone. For those of you who know the pains of the friend zone, it is a hellish encampment that I probably would not wish on my worst enemies. For those unaware of this place, it is one of lost dreams and false hopes where a woman/girl dooms a man she analyzes as just a friend. Usually the man/boy dreams of greener pastures where he is dating this fine female but instead she “friend zones” him and he is relegated to servitude in hopes of one day breaking free. If you’ve ever been told “Let’s just be friends” then you are in this boat and welcome aboard, I will be your captain as we sail through depressing memories and fond recollections of denials.
It was after the conversation I spoke of earlier that I began to analyze my history with the friend zone, and to my dismay discovered that it has kicked my ass. I have a long and troubling history with the friend zone that dates back to grade school when I held the coat of my crush and her friends at the 8th grade dance (clothes hanger is just one of the many skills you will develop in the friend zone). It was with a heavy heart, and some Bud Lights mixed in there somewhere, that I compiled the “greatest hits” from my times in the friend zone. Please enjoy the “tales from the friend zone.”
Stated earlier, my earliest recollection of the friend zone was my impersonation of a coat rack in 8th grade. Once I got to high school though, the friend zone became more treacherous and entertaining to a degree. Females became more aware of their power over us boys, and we were helpless to their charm……..yeah, charm. I can remember being heavily interested in this fellow bowler we will call Megan. I became close friends with Megan, but try as I might I was always relegated to the friend zone. There I was forced to listen to her constant complaints of how worthless and horrible her boyfriend was but how she couldn’t leave him, guys please stop me if you’ve heard that one before (I see most hands raised in the room). But on the often instance that they would break up for a few days I would be called into service as de facto watchdog as she went out on dates with other guys, in essence I was a glorious third wheel. The most inspiring tale from this year was a trip to Stonybrook movie theaters where she arrived with her date but quickly grew tired of him, to the point where she did not want to drive him home. Well guess who came to the rescue and drove him across town, running out of gas soon after dropping him off. That would be this guy, and what might you ask was my reward? A thank you text and a promise to never let it happen again. This was the same female who turned down my senior prom offer to go bowl in a tournament. Ignorance and stupidity reign supreme in the friend zone.
One of my next encounters came in the form of a casual friend, one I never really pursued and actually became quite complacent with being placed in the friend zone. What elevated this situation to pure hellish status was that she was secretly dating two of my friends, with neither of them being aware of it. I became her confidant on the matter and in true friend zone fashion was always willing to discuss it at any time, even being awoken at 3 in the morning. She ultimately could not decide on either one, so she wanted to dump both, a fine decision in my book. But she could “not bring herself” to tell them, so instead she begged and pleaded me to call them and inform them. After 2 hours of nagging and begging I ultimately caved in and placed those morose calls to the unsuspecting gentlemen. Willpower is not a trait of the friend zone.
That was not the only time I was ever asked to mislead or end a man’s quest of a female. I became quite infatuated with another female my senior year, who we will call Becky. Becky had a couple of ill-suited suitors, each well above her age bracket and quite creepy when thoughts even drifted to a possible relationship. She could not bring herself to turn them down, so I was implored to handle the situation in a CIA-style with numerous sabotage attempts. I was given the green light to do whatever was necessary to end their pursuits of her. Attempts included mentioning she was a lesbian, she only liked younger men, and that she was currently involved, all blatant lies. My reward was her accepting my offer to senior prom, but only after 3 weeks of asking/begging. We had a wonderful time and it ended at 3 am when I dropped her off at her house (ok, I can’t lie, prom sucked and I have no great stories from it).
The worst friend zone story I ever can tell though is that of a girl I will call Mary. She was my pursuit between Megan and Becky. I thought I had a realistic shot for once but instead received the cruelest treatment. We would talk for hours online and on the phone, me being supremely encouraged that a female would want to engage in conversation with me for that long. I became alerted though when conversation would ultimately come back to a mutual friend we will call Jerome. Mary would often ask about Jerome, his likes and dislikes and such of that nature, and I never put it all together that Mary was using me for information. That was until I got up the nerve to ask her out and she blatantly told me that I stood no chance and she was asking out Jerome that night.
Other chart-topping hits of the friend zone included staying up to tutor someone until 5 am the morning of my 8 am final when her’s was not the next day until 3 pm. Playing bodyguard for your chosen female and her group of friends is also a characteristic trait of a friend zoner and I have often been employed in this role at parties and public gathering like a trip to Churchill Downs. The friend zoner is the warm shoulder where she will complain about her horrible boyfriend and you will nod attentively and listen carefully because you just appreciate the sound of their voice. My favorite is the “utility club” where the guy becomes a chair, rain-deflecting device, or whatever is needed to shield his girl friend from mother nature.
The friend zone is where pure ambitions and innocent love goes to die. It is an eternal resting place for the nice guy who was not enough of a douchebag to catch the eye of female he covets. Instead of quitting his pursuit, the guy hopelessly continues with thoughts of “maybe once she dumps him” or “she’ll come around someday.” It is a place of blind ignorance, shattered hopes, and diabolical devotion. A place where you cannot rescue yourself with quitting, as only the female has the power to successfully set you free. It was the friend zone that killed any motivation I had for a social life, as countless re-entries into it finally convinced me to quit trying altogether. Now I know there are success stories out there, and I congratulate those men on their perseverance, but you will not find any of those stories here. If there is anything you take from this article, it is to buy the next friend zoner you encounter a beer, because God only knows how many he has already bought the girl he is accompanying.