“Do You Want to Kiss Me?” “Let Me Think About It.”
We had a party at my house last night. Shortly before it started I discovered I wasn’t feeling very well, in that way where you’re not quite “sick” but don’t feel normal and just want to lie down. I couldn’t really deal with small talk or drinking, so instead of raging like I normally do, I spent most of the party sitting on the sofa, languidly interviewing people for this blog and writing things down in a little reporter notebook. I’m like a sixteenth-century sonneteer who has no mistress but his muse. I hope you people are happy. Also, a love connection did get made at my house, but it doesn’t really count because it concerns two people who have already been written up in these pages. Here’s what I have instead: a hot transatlantic summer fling.
“Cordelia” is a native Midwesterner who first met “Frederick” five years ago, when she was an undergraduate doing her year abroad at Keeble College, Oxford. Every college at Oxford University has its own pub, and one night at the beginning of term she was out at that very pub, drinking and chatting with her new classmates. She was sitting at a large table and happened to catch the group’s attention by telling a dirty joke. It was about a hooker who could give blowjobs and sing at the same time, and it turns out it’s because she has a glass eye. Cordelia claims this is the only dirty joke she knows. Frederick, one of the native Oxonians, noticed the joke and struck up a conversation with her. It got late, people started going home, and the two went back to her room and talked for a while. Just in a friendly way, though. They continued to hang out during her stay in Oxford. I asked if they ever became more than friends, and she said no, that she’s the type of person who’s strict about not getting involved with someone once they’re established as a friend. Shocked, I exclaimed “You’re one of those people who friend-zones people!” Heterosexual guys totally live in fear of this kind of woman. You can be friends with them for, like, one day, and forever after you’re in the “friend zone” and they can’t see you any other way. She says Frederick is of average height and average-looking and of average height, so that’s probably how he got there in the first place.
Fast-forward to this summer, when Cordelia returned to England to do archival research at Cambridge. She thought she might as well meet up with any of the British friends she still kept in touch with, so she sent Frederick an e-mail that said the equivalent of “hey, I’m here, I should see you.” He lives in London, and they picked a day for him to take the train down and visit her. When the day actually approached, there was some logistical reason why it didn’t work for him to spend the day there and leave in the evening. Cordelia was staying with a couple of married professors, and they suggested that he should just spend the night — they had an extra bedroom to offer and weren’t implying anything salacious.
Cordelia and Frederick spent the day just doing regular stuff, walking around Cambridge and seeing the sights. Actually it sounds pretty romantic, what with the river and the Medieval buildings and all. She still didn’t have any romantic intentions, though, because of the friend-zone thing from five years earlier. I would suggest to men that they can avoid this problem by “pulling the trigger” (as the pickup artist community would say) the first time you meet a woman, when it’s much too early to be thought of as a friend. However, some women hate this, and will feel all violated if you kiss them too soon; while others will assume you’re gay if you don’t fuck them on the first date. I don’t really know the solution to this problem, but I suspect it involves alcohol.
Finally, the situation started getting flirty later in the evening while they were having coffee together; they got talking about past relationships and recent breakups and stuff. They returned to the house late at night, when Cordelia’s host family was asleep, and tiptoed into the bedroom, where they lay on her bed and listened to music (Rilo Kiley, she thinks). At this point you’d think that the sexual tension would be just unbearable, but Cordelia says it wasn’t at all awkward. Finally (finally!) he turned to her and said “do you want to kiss me?”
She considered it for a minute (not in a coy way, but like she was actually thinking about it), and then went ahead and kissed him. The curse of the friend zone had been broken! She was wearing an orange strapless dress from J. Crew, which was noteworthy in that he liked it so much, he wanted to fuck her in it. This was a slightly unusual desire on his part — I know Cordelia pretty well, and she doesn’t wear a lot of tight or super-revealing stuff, so it was really just a regular dress. You don’t need to be picturing this encounter as some kind of freaky American Apparel ad (although you can if you want to).
So later, they had a conversation in which they decided that “this isn’t gonna be a thing” because they live on opposite sides of the ocean. They kept seeing each other for a few weeks, and she spent a long weekend at his London flat. Now that she’s back in the States, she needs to find someone to take his place; it seems he has caused emotional and libidinal turmoil by entering and leaving her life so quickly. In general, though, I think this is a positive story about what can happen if you break out of your comfort zone. Not only was Frederick average-looking, and an old friend, but get this: He’s a Tory! “Which is not as bad as a Republican, but still.”