“she’s just a friend,”
i might as well have signed
to the josh duhamel looking guy
fighting with “i’m blue (da ba de)”
for the millionth fucking time that Starry Night.
hayley’s just a friend, which is why,
when i danced with her,
i didn’t dance with her.
i put her in a bubble
like she was sick.
like “you’re out of your damn mind
for taking your friend (who just got his first girlfriend)
to the prom and expecting a slow dance,”
it took three years of high school
for me to break out of
the friend zone. i’d spent
so long there each time
that it eventually felt like my own country.
filled with everything that made me happy:
the tortoise and the hare, goldilocks and a bear,
it even had its own trading currency.
every “are you okay?”
got a smile,
every late night study session
got a hug,
and every virginity lost to some dick boyfriend
felt like a betrayal,
but not hers. no, that guy,
always “that guy,”
let’s call him rumpelstiltskin.
some time after i’d broken up with my first girlfriend
for the third time,
i heard she’d lost her virginity to another immigrant
from the friend zone.
and i thought that no, i own that place,
i built it, i get to make the rules.
like every trade had the condition of sex.
sing a josh groban song,
thirty minutes of sex, you get to call me whatever name you want.
sit through a ryan reynolds movie,
forty five minutes of sex, and you better not call me ryan reynolds.
tell your mom that her snot-covered cannoli is divine,
and i’d get to make your knees weak and always regret that you weren’t mine.
i saw it in allie’s eyes after that third time,
“you sour fucking human being,
this isn’t a game,
love isn’t some end goal,
based on the exchange.”
i get it.
when i started to get tired of being good,
i ended up focusing on the reward.
anything else was a waste of time,
that could’ve been better spent
not knowing what i wanted to do with my life.
someone had to owe me something.
a year later, i heard that she was locked in a closet
by that same boyfriend;
of a boy with a history
that two girls before her
never saw coming.
nothing happened to her.
she was let out of the closet
into the stained
room – colored in minutes
with streamers and balloons.
hell, that guy that’s walking
a little too close behind you on the street.
look to your left,
look to your right,
you’ve heard it before,
one of those men might
be one of those two.
we’ve all heard it before.
but it’s stupid, right?
the idea is real,
but not as real as all of us.
it was tough to see
on that night with hayley
how easily i’d become part of the problem.
but a fairy tale won’t stop being a fairy tale
until you’re willing
to see it reflected in someone else’s eyes.