Flames, friends and flings (2024)

In moments of taunting reminiscence, I find myself once again sitting on the Cheese Board median, allotting more mouth time to flirting with this almost-stranger than to devouring the heavenly parmesan pizza sitting between us. This was my first mistake during my fling with Mr. Fortnight. Sailing further back in time: I’m with one of my best guy friends in all of Berkeley, who lived down the hall. We’re watching Finding Nemo, and for some reason, we’re sort of cuddling. He asks me if I believe Dory and Marlin are purely platonic. By the film’s end, my face is mere inches from his.

Flames, friends and flings (1)

“I don’t want to do anything that will ruin our friendship, you know?” He nods unconvincingly. In the next second, our heads clash together, neglecting my initial reservations.

This was my first mistake with Dorm Boy.

I had three “relationships” freshman year, so I can’t forget High School Dude, as people often do. Ever heard long-distance relationships are a bad idea? Haters gon’ hate, right? When all of your college friends seem to be either doomed to old-lady cathood or oppressed by some arbitrary text-messaging ratio, your loving long-distance relationship seems pretty ideal.

That is, until your significant other is very tangibly thousands of miles and three time zones away, routinely interrogating you and demanding your attention.

Unfortunately, my long-distance relationship with High School Dude didn’t go according to plan. When blessed with half an hour of free time, I found it increasingly difficult to choose between a trip to CREAM with my new friends or a Skype date with my boyfriend. Alas, by winter, we were no more.

Enter salty tongues at frat parties galore. Enter Dorm Boy and Mr. Fortnight.

Their faces are already fleeting in memory, and once they are gone, there is not much distinguishing one from another. In fact, my respective displays of foolishness were almost identical. I had attempted to defy a law as absolute as gravity: College kids don’t want relationships.

Well, I certainly wasn’t having any of that. After almost four years in a devoted relationship, I instinctively committed a few faux pas so catastrophic to early relationships that anything I say on the subject might be completely erroneous.

After High School Dude, there was Dorm Boy. He gave me classic lines about being emotionally unavailable, so we weren’t a couple. But he didn’t want me to kiss other boys. But we weren’t a couple. Makes sense, right? Soon, I’m falling asleep in his bed and waking to a pair of feet in my face. Warning sign No. 1, right? Well, not for me. I proceeded to buy him a bouquet of candy for Easter. And who the f*ck gives presents for Easter? It became sufficiently awkward, and in the end, I don’t care that I got hurt. What sucks is that I lost a friend.

But I didn’t worry long before moving on to Mr. Fortnight. Unlike with Dorm Boy, I didn’t know Mr. Fortnight at all before we launched into flagrant fits of flirting and a series of cute dates. He was so gushingly sweet and unbelievably adorkable that I fell for him in about two seconds. We walked like

a duck, we quacked like a duck and we looked like a duck. But we never were a duck. I don’t know what the hell we were; I don’t even know if we were friends. With no foundation, it swiftly disintegrated — but not before I would so guilelessly fashion him a get-well card out of a DailyCalifornian newspaper.

Here lies an interesting catch-22: You ought not to date your friends, because it screws up something great; but you ought not to go head over heels for someone you barely know, because it creates the illusion of something great.With Dorm Boy, I lost a friend. With Mr. Fortnight, I lost a good bit of time and a whole lot of regard for my own intelligence.

It gets a bit nerve-wracking, and I can’t definitively advise on a proper course of action. But I promise you, the stress and compromise of sleep is usually not worth it. If someone makes you feel like you’re inadequate as girlfriend material, get out. Conversely, if you are committed to someone for the long term, be wary of a relationship that stifles your college experience within respectable boundaries. Don’t let anyone stop you from having fun with your friends. Don’t let anyone keep you from focusing on your grades. Maybe this sounds selfish, but during this time in your life, that’s kind of the point.

Go slowly, keep your head straight and heed the warnings. Don’t hook up with your best friends. Because I confess, it’s not that I got the fuzzy end of the lollipop. Neither Dorm Boy or Mr. Fortnight did anything other than what was to be expected. I picked the lollipop from the floor knowing it’d be sandy, craving that momentary rush of sweet cherry while secretly hoping for a long-lasting bubble gum core.

Welcome to the candy shop, freshmen — full of questionable-looking treats from around the world. Choose carefully, don’t spend too much money and anticipate a toothache or two.

Flames, friends and flings (2024)
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