Monday, 19 October 2009

The friendship zone

BY WOLE OGUNTOKUN SOMETIMES, the most amazing relationships have, for reasons that might not be readily decipherable, not always ascended into permanent romantic states.
For unfathomable and sometimes intangible reasons, many have devolved into the friendship zone.
The friendship zone being that dreaded place in which once you enter, all romance dies and it becomes a place of ‘we are just friends’.
There are also chance meetings between the sexes which start off with a mighty spark, earthquakes and reverberations on both sides; each side knowing this will end up being much more than a friendship but then the parties reach crossroads, both taking different unpremeditated turns and what might easily have become the greatest love story in the history of the continent dies with barely a whimper, all that is left of a mighty fire being cold ashes.
All of us, at some point or the other, have looked into or felt the closeness of this friendship zone.
It is like a vault, one in which passion dies and becomes something more staid, safer for all the parties concerned.
It is a place where fire does not burn, where infatuation has no meaning and where long, lingering looks hold no promises of a beautiful future.

There are many who have entered the friendship zone because they were unaware they had come too close to its doors.
Once you enter the zone, there is no getting out; there is no surrender, no retreat, no matter how hard you may try.
If you see promise in a person you have just met or in someone you have known for a while, and you would rather see it achieve its potential, it is important to look out for the things that can lead you to this dead-end zone.
You should not be the one the “passion” you are keen on, tells all his or her love troubles to, at all times.
It shouldn’t be you that is regarded as just a shoulder to cry on. Crying shoulders are good but being labelled an agony aunt should be totally avoided.
You have to be careful you are not singing for the same reasons that made Vanessa Williams’ sing the words of her ‘Save the best for last’.
The words of the song — “All of the nights you came to me when some silly girl had set you free. You wondered how you’d make it through; I wondered what was wrong with you, because how could you give your love to someone else and share your dreams with me”. You might be a crying shoulder for a short while but if you are a sounding board all the time, you are in the zone, whether you accept it or not.
If the person you so admire treats you like one of his or her best friends, and holds no details back from you even before you start a relationship, you are precariously close to the zone.
A little mystique is good for any relationship and you must strive to keep an air of inscrutability at least until you are way past the zone.
When a man playfully slaps you on the back all the time, offers you a can of beer and thinks nothing of belching in your presence or asks you to go out with him and his friends to the places men frequent to get their kicks, you have become “one of the boys”.

SOMETIMES, you choose yourself to enter the zone, to commit romantic hara kiri because you would rather not continue.
Several years ago, the man-yet-to-be-Whisperer met and really cared for this lovely dark-skinned girl.
It was time to be serious, he thought, so he began to pay a lot of visits to her. I had always had an interest in all things artistic but it took a while for me to find a way to make it earn a living for me.
Anyway, while still a “struggling” artiste, I began to see this nice young woman. I liked her and I think she cared for me as well.
One night, we decided to go out and there, I saw her show inordinate interest and give too much attention to another young man who was a medical doctor.
Now, The Whisperer, who already held two degrees in law at the time, was not ‘complexed’ by the other man’s education, but still it offended his artistic sensibilities that a girl he cared for could show so much interest in another.
Love was meant to conquer all but it didn’t disturb her concentration on the other fellow that night. (Artistes really have got the short end of the stick until the world sees them as successful) After that night, I pushed the feelings I felt for her into the zone and there it stayed. I was surprised a couple of weeks ago when someone said, “my sister almost married The Whisperer”.
It took a while to backtrack and sift through the memories (and yes, there are many) and then it struck me. At that point in the past, it had not been apparent that she liked me that much.

A female told me not too long ago that the pain of my previous relationships made me write a certain way. I didn’t know if to roll on the floor laughing or just try to educate her out of ignorance. Pain?
The Whisperer writes about these things today because he feels no pain about them. Sensitivity is one of my virtues or failings depending on your perspective and if I felt pain about an issue, I would be unable to write about it.
What is gone is gone and lightning does not strike twice in the same place, usually. There have been experiences that have caused pain (who hasn’t had them) but there have also been really great ones.
The point is to keep your eyes on the road, and keep going no matter what you face. Feint to the left, weave to the right but keep your eyes on the target. Someday, you will get to the appointed place, God being willing.
Remember, the world can be a beautiful place if you let it. Really.

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