Can boys and girls be just friends?

I call up my old friend Sander, somewhat distraught but mostly just annoyed.

“So Fred tried to sleep with me,” I say as soon as Sander picks up.

“And you didn’t see that coming?”

For the past 12 years, Fred had been that platonic older brother figure that I went to with all my life dilemmas and queries. Fred was the guy everyone thought I was supposed to be with, but who together with me would knowingly shake his head and tell them, “No, we’re not together.” Fred was the old friend who’d been dating his girlfriend for five years and knew all about the guy I was seeing, and the friend who I yelled at to dump his dumb girlfriend who everyone hated, but who I would never date myself. Fred was my Dawson.

“Well, that must have been awkward and disappointing,” Sander continues.

“I thought he was over it by now,” I huff. “This Fred and Irene peas-and-carrots business was so high school.”

“What happened?”

What happened was that I had just moved to New York and was loitering while I considered my real estate prospects. The day of the incident, I was concerned about crashing with Kaz—a guy I had almost dated back in 2008 but never did because I ended up working in Korea for two years (Read more about the demise of that here)—because I was convinced by then that Kaz figured we were picking up where we’d left off, which wasn’t my intention at all. I mentioned my apprehension to Fred, who offered his apartment as the “safe” alternative.

“Then he attempted to hook up with me. Twice.

“What a smooth maneuver,” Sander says. “Sex or just hook-up?”

“I’m pretty sure it was sex.”

“If it’s sex, it must mean it went rather far.”

We decided to stay in that night, even though it was a Friday, I start to explain. Fred wanted to drink, so we got some soju and beer and poured for penalty shots while playing board games. After a while, we started getting sleepy, but Fred, who had offered to sleep out on the living room futon and let me stay in his bed, wouldn’t leave.

“So you let him stay?”

“He seemed to want to just crash in his bed, so I was like, whatever, we’ll just crash on opposite ends.”


After a while, Fred started pulling my head onto his arm, stroking my own arm the whole time. Then suddenly, he leaned in for a kiss.

This can’t happen, I said immediately, before he could land one. You have a girlfriend and I have my boy.

He stopped making his advance.

After a brief silence, I started speaking again, slowly. I know you’re having issues with your girlfriend, but I don’t think I’m the one you want either. I’m not going to be that girl.

You’re right. I’m sorry, he said, seeming to genuinely mean it, then left the room.

I was pretty upset, and shook my head, trying to make myself forget what had just happened. I told myself to just go to sleep and forget about it.

It would have worked, because I fell asleep quickly afterward, but I woke up half an hour later to realize Fred had come back and was now sleeping with his arms around me.

“Persistence, assertiveness. That’s hot isn’t it?” Sander laughs.

“I hate you.”

The second go-around, Fred was more aggressive. One hand stayed wrapped around my waist, while the other hesitatingly but surely approached my right breast. I woke up to the wet sensation of a tongue on my earlobe.

This time I placed a hand on Fred’s chest and gently pushed him away. Stop, I pleaded. Think of our significant others.

He responded by leaning in for another kiss and reaching for my crotch.

You have to stop, I said, firm this time, and pushed him aggressively.

We both lay on our backs for a few minutes.

Well, this is awkward, isn’t it? Fred finally broke the silence.

No, I lied.

I know you’re just trying to be nice, Fred said, sitting up. He looked down at me, then said, I know I give you a lot of shit in general about how you talk and act, but I really do think you’re a good person. He stayed there for a few seconds, then finally stood up and left, this time for good.

“So you let him lick your ear and stroke your boobs?” Sander laughs harder this time.

“No,” I protest. “I was asleep until he started licking my ear!”

“Well, that’s really unfortunate. For Fred as well, as the maneuver is very pathetic.”

“It really was.”

“Well, it happens to the best of people—some, more often than others…”

I decide to ignore his comment. “I didn’t think he’d stoop so low. Plus, he made me feel like crap for the rest of the weekend.”

“He’s being snappy and irritable? Or just what happened makes you feel like crap?”

“He invited me out to his birthday celebration, and the entire time we and his friends were hanging out, he was dismissive of everything I would say or sometimes straight out ignored me.

“It’s unjustified,” I continue. “I think I was very nice about his hookup attempt crap, even though I thought it was super sheisty of him to pull that crap off, twice.

“Well,” Sander muses, “twice in one night, that almost counts as one.”



6 thoughts on “Can boys and girls be just friends?

  1. Pingback: High school game is tough « Love Games, or the Lack Thereof

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