Now, once upon a time, I was friends with these two gals, Lauren and Joanne. I met these two initially through a couple of random people that I saw frequently at the arcade that I used to frequent a lot in the past: Round 1. Just to give you a little bit of background regarding Round 1, it’s more of a bowling alley and karaoke place that happens to have an arcade section, a bar that serves alcohol, and some designated but small sections for folks to play billiards and ping pong as well. You can think of it as an “all-in-one” entertainment venue for the whole family sort of place. Anyway, I met them through other regulars that frequented the place at the time. Initially, I had no interest in befriending Lauren because she struck me as someone who is a tad bit more childish than I’d like but as it so happens, I did become her friend out of sheer random circumstances and close and frequent proximity. Originally, when I saw Joanne, I knew it in my gut that this was the next girl that I wanted to pursue. At the time when I met her though, she had admitted right at the get-go that she was already taken and so, at the time, I was okay with just being her friend. I surmised that a relationship that spawned out of nowhere (or what I perceived as spawning “out of nowhere”) as soon as I expressed interest in her wasn’t going to last and that it was just a matter of time before it dissolved into nothingness. Harsh, you might say? Well, most relationships that start out in the early days of college rarely last long-term. Not to say that it can’t happen but the statistics are strongly against it happening.
Let us move on. Since I didn’t really know her at the time and I didn’t really know her for the “real” her as of yet, I was okay with being her friend. So I spent the better part of a year and some change getting to know her. Bear in mind again that she was with her significant other while I was building this friendship with her. To go on a tangent for a bit, I’m not the type to just “date anyone” and hope our personalities are compatible through dating. For me, I’d rather start out as friends first to see if our personalities are compatible. If the friendship level worked out well, I would then take it to the next level by confessing my feelings and see where that takes me. OR, if I happened to have noticed that there were definitely some “problem areas” where our personalities clashed, I would “friend-zone her” and move on to the next gal. As it so happened, we did share some things in common but we also had a lot of things where we were incompatible. In effect then, she fell into the latter category. Nevertheless, I guess I was feeling daring and I suppose I also felt I had nothing to really lose, save for the friendship, should things go south after confessing my feelings. At the time, I had a fairly good idea that the scale of success versus failure tipped 30 to 70 at roughly the one-year mark. Meaning, there was a 70% chance that IF I had confessed my feelings to her that they would surely be rejected versus a 30% chance that it would “somehow” work in my favor. Again, as it so happened, my feelings were rejected. We had, however, agreed to remain friends after-the-fact. In the aftermath though, I did not speak to her with as much frequency or enthusiasm as I used to before. I wasn’t gungho about putting any more effort into maintaining this friendship than was needed. Plus, by that point in my life, I was content with the number of close friends I had already fostered and developed over the years. I was also content with the number of “hang out friends,” “intellectual friends” and everything in between by that point in my life. In other words, I didn’t really feel the need to acquire one more friend amongst my long list of friends already under my belt. Is that such a bad thing? I think not.
A month had blown by and I hadn’t seen her in person ever since the confession, which was fine by me. But at the one month mark, she popped up at Round 1 once again out-of-the-blue but acted awfully strange around me. By strange, I mean she acted as though she wanted my attention. She acted “interested” and “flirty” for lack of a better word and I had no idea why she was acting that way. Since we had agreed to be friends a month earlier, I figured whatever amount of attention that I did give her already despite her strange behavior was “enough”. In effect, I kept things friendly but I wasn’t about to invest unduly amount of time and effort into keeping her entertained other than the usual pleasantries. Not to say that she wanted to be entertained but I suppose what I’m really saying is that I don’t want to invest my time and effort into something that won’t amount to much more than friendship. If she wanted to just chat me up and shoot the breeze, just do it. No need to do all the miscellaneous things that are more suggestive of “flirting” and “sexual come on’s” rather than “chit-chatting” and “catching up.” I did, however, humor her for a little bit.
For the rest of the night though, I spent the vast majority of my time with her best friend Lauren. Now Lauren is another bag of worms. Around the time when Joanne rejected my feelings, I had been spending the majority of my free time with Lauren ever since. I didn’t think we (meaning, Lauren and myself at the time) were anything at the time but we did flirt a lot with each other and she kept me entertained whenever I spent time around her so the relationship we had was, I think, mutually beneficial. Lauren liked the attention I gave her and in return, she entertained me by being her usual kiddy, childish self (which is ironic, considering that when I first met her, I found her childishness something that I did not particularly like about her and that I felt our personalities would not mesh well). In hindsight, it was her childishness that I found really appealing about her because it made her spontaneous and outgoing. She always had so much to say. She was a real chatter box. It was just very entertaining being around her.
Getting back to Joanne though, at the time when she acted strangely, I did not know that she and her boyfriend had already broken up. That news did not travel down to my ears until another month after this strange incident. In hindsight of it all, I realized that this was the reason why she acted that way. Why else? Nothing else made any sense. At some future point, I did confront her about it and that ultimately led to the breakdown of our friendship. I reasoned with her that she was on the rebound and that what she did was “human” and that I didn’t blame her for it. In other words, she was feeling down and needed to feel “wanted” or “desired” again and I was conveniently her target at the time. There were certainly other men around at the time that she and I knew mutually and that were also interested in her but for whatever reason, she seemed to have devoted a lot more energy and time into getting my attention that one night. In any case, after confronting her, in one fell swoop, our friendship came to an end and rather abruptly, might I add.
Looking back on it, I think the age gap might have played a role in the level of maturity between us. She was 19 at the time and I was 29. I’ve had two long-term relationships lasting 5 years and 4 years respectively and I haven’t had another one ever since. She, on the other hand, had just gotten into her first serious relationship and that came to an abrupt end a year after. I knew all of this beforehand and yet, I gave her the benefit of the doubt that maybe she is more mature than what she made herself out to be. I guess I had overestimated her maturity level. She was exactly who she made herself out to be. I guess wishful thinking and the love bug got the best of me this time.
Going back to Lauren now, I wasn’t really planning on falling in love with Lauren but I guess close proximity and frequent hangouts led to that inevitable shift in feelings. Originally, I had already “little sister-zoned” her roughly a few months into our friendship. Plus, I do recall asking her, out of sheer curiosity, if she was interested in anybody and she said she wasn’t really looking for a relationship. Now, when I asked that at the time, I was not interested in her at all but because I’m naturally a very curious person, I asked her anyway to satisfy a curiosity. Fast forward to just the recent past, March of 2014, in fact, I ended up confessing my feelings on the weekend before my birthday. And the resultant effect spelled the end of our friendship. Well, not exactly. More like she decided to tell me that the guy she had been talking to for a long time, “Tony”, and that she had been insisting was just a platonic friend to me all along? She decided to make things official between the two of them. Shortly after she told me that, I broke off our friendship and told her that I couldn’t remain friends with someone who I had feelings for. Roughly a day later, my rational mind kicked back in and I didn’t want things to end so abruptly this way so I had planned to make an apology to her for the abrupt “ending of the friendship” over Facebook. I did apologize to her in person and I thought we had made up but as it happens, things did not quite go that way. As it happens, she was not interested in remaining friends with me ever since she got with Tony and she went ahead and told everyone about it so, as a result of that, everyone decided to give me the cold shoulder. Why? I have no idea.
So I disappeared from the Round 1 arcade scene and apparently since then, she and Joanne had been actively spreading more nasty rumors about me amongst the arcade community ever since. I did not anticipate that this would happen but it did and it has happened and continues to happen. I am a bit upset about it in hindsight of it all and after hearing about it indirectly through a mutual friend who was a neutral party who felt that it was the right thing to do by telling me what was going on. I appreciate that guy. Good guy. Good friend and I don’t even know the guy that well either. I just didn’t know all this was going on when I had disappeared from the scene and finding out about it through a neutral party is just flabbergasting. I’m not sure how else to put it. It caught me way off guard. He came to me to “clarify” what had happened and to pass the message along, which he did. I don’t know what actually happened from then on out but I’m not terribly worried at the immediate moment. That was back in April of 2014. I had already moved on by then. Now it’s May of 2014 and my life still goes on.