Friendzonistan

“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,”

sick.

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;

an imp

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.

rumpelstiltskin.

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.

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