“DO NOT COME HERE AND MESS EVERYTHING UP!” I texted Leo in response to his “Merry Christmas! See you soon!” text that to an outsider is seemingly harmless and generally considerate, but to me was like the first rumblings of a particularly nasty storm headed for shore.
“What are you talking about?” he replied, only a two-second delay between his text and mine.
“You know exactly what I mean, Leo,” I responded, my stomach already forming familiar knots, ones exclusive to Leo and our holiday encounters.
“So I can’t see you? You’re one of my best friends and we can’t get drinks because you’re seeing some guy?” he replied back. “You’re always seeing some guy.”
I laughed into the phone. He was trying to rile me up.
“Don’t put this on me!” I typed. “I’ve got something good going, and all I’m saying is you and I have a reputation of recklessness. I’d like to avoid what happened over Thanksgiving, if at all possible.”
Leo, one of my best friends and most convoluted on-again off-again flings, is by every definition my Kryptonite. We’re close, so close that the friendship we have cultivated over the years occasionally boils over and spills into an area far grayer than either of us would care to admit.
This past Thanksgiving, the narrative didn’t change. We cooked and drank wine and swapped stories of his life in Memphis and mine in Los Angeles, devolving into fits of laughter as we reminisced about the first time we met. We have so much fun together that I sometimes wonder how I spend most of my year without the kid.
During these reunions, when he returns home to visit his family and we inevitably sneak away for a few hours of catch-up, more often than not the warm feelings of deep-seated friendship get so white hot we find ourselves blurring lines with sloshing wine and blurry eyes. (If you know Ke$ha and she wants to put that in a song, tell her my email is in my bio).
It’s on these nights, when we finally kiss after hours of built-up tension, that Leo always says the following: “You’re so good, Victoria, you deserve someone amazing,” and I find myself thinking “Well, why can’t it be you? Why can’t we be amazing together?”
We both entertain the idea for a day or two and then, as these things go, we wake up and remember that he lives hundreds of miles away and we’re not really suitable partners at all. We remember we’re just really good god damn friends and sometimes that feels so great you want to push the warm, comfortable closeness to its breaking point.
Then, when it breaks (which it always does), he goes home and I stay here. Until, like clockwork, he comes home again and upon seeing each other we forget the breaking and only remember the buildup, hungry for that kind of familiar lust again. It’s naive and cyclical and fantastic, but it is always a bit destructive too. Leo and I get a little high on causing trouble in each other’s lives.
So this Christmas, I was determined to draw a deep, straight as an arrow line in the sand, and I was prepared to keep Leo firmly on the friendship side of said line. See, right now I just really don’t need him to blow into town and stir up trouble in my otherwise peaceful romantic life. I’m in the very nascent stage of seeing someone and it’s going well, the last thing I need is to rock the boat in the form of Hurricane Leo.
“You guys aren’t even dating, are you?” He texted me. “If you are, I should meet him.”
I huffed in frustration. Here we go again. Leo is consistently determined to meet my boyfriends, something I have tactfully avoided since the inception of our friendship.
“No, we’re not exclusive, if that’s what you mean,” I replied. “But still, it’s going well. I’m riding the wave on this one,” I explained.
“Okay, so then let’s all go out.”
“You want to go out for drinks with the guy I’m seeing?”
“Victoria, stop being so weird about this. Let’s all go out, I want to meet the guy!”
“Fine!” I replied yesterday evening at 6 p.m. “Tomorrow night we’ll all go out. Bring a date.”
“Excellent, I can’t wait to see you and meet him!!!” he responded, far too enthusiastically for my liking.
So, here I am now. It’s one day later at 5 p.m. and I am supposed to meet both Leo and Jack out at my local dive bar in one hour. Nothing good comes from this dive bar, and I’m certain that’s why Leo suggested it. The place is rampant with debaucherous childhood memories, most of them involving Leo and I in some capacity or another.
I’m sitting here in my bathrobe and I know I should cancel. I know I should call the whole thing off, but there’s something inside me, some tiny little devil on my shoulder, that wants to watch things play out. The tension is already palpable, but I think that’s why I like it. I’m addicted to adrenaline and nothing gets a heart rate going like this kind of trepidatious encounter.
I know there is only one scenario in which this night ends well, and it’s where the four of us cordially discuss our jobs for two hours over a total of 12 collective beers, then retire with our various suitors for an early evening in. There are, on the other hand, about 100 disastrous and far more likely scenarios in which this night ends horribly. Five of which I will list below:
1. Leo’s hot date and Jack immediately realize that they’re better than us, make-out at the bar, and hop in an Uber leaving us alone and confused.
2. The minute Jack sees Leo and I, and what will certainly be some sort of palpable chemistry, he pours a beer on my head and leaves saying something along the lines of, “I’m not your plaything to make your ex jealous,” to which I’ll respond half-heartedly, “He’s not my ex, we’re just friends!” to which the entire bar will roll their eyes.
3. We will all get drunk and Leo and I will start to be flirty with each other, and upon seeing this Jack will try to punch Leo. We will all get kicked out of the bar, and I will cry.
4. I will see Leo and his date flirting with each other and I will get jealous and angry and take too many shots of tequila and Jack will break up with me because he thinks I’m in love with Leo, which of course I’m not.
5. During the course of the evening we will all get along splendidly, take a few rounds of shots, and I will watch from afar as Jack and Leo shoot the shit. I will then get drunk, have an existential crisis, and convince myself that things are going too fast with Jack and panic. Following this moment of panic, I will take Jack outside, break up with him, and walk home alone in the cold.
Now, I’m not saying tonight won’t go great, I’m just saying that there’s about a 98% chance things explode into one of the above five scenarios. I can see it now. In fact, I’m so certain this is a bad idea that I probably won’t even write a follow-up. You can just assume that tonight I will get what I deserve for setting this whole shit show up in the first place.
So I beg of you, take it from tomorrow morning Victoria, nothing good can come out of this type of encounter. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll keep your hometown fling and current fling as far away from each other as city limits will allow. I’d hate to see you make the same mistake I am about to make, so please learn from my complete addiction to mischief and do NOT do as I do. I’m a lost cause, but the good news is – you can still save yourself.
So long, friends, I’m headed for the eye of the storm. I’d say wish me luck, but I probably don’t even deserve that. .