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In praise of keeping it platonic

Just Friends — Really



It's hard to believe, but it's now been over 20 years since cutesy-poo Meg Ryan and unrivaled sex god Billy Crystal tried to convince America that men and women can't ever be just friends. In the meantime, we've dealt with hookup culture, fuck buddies, friends with benefits, sexting, Craigslist casual encounters and assorted made-up ways in which young men and women are basically doing it with everyone, all the time, no questions asked. Every so often, there's a moment of moralistic hand-wringing, and it's declared that Romance Is Dead. What's saddening about that, other than the fact it's obviously untrue (people still seem to be getting into relationships, right?), is the implication that romance is the only possible outcome for like-minded, attractive individuals. Chaste friendship, it seems, is genuinely out of the question.

Well, with all due respect to the unquenchable libidos of Harry and Sally, it is possible for men and women to be platonic friends. Every reader more than likely has an example in their own life: Maybe you grew up together, maybe they're ugly (maybe you are?), maybe you're married, maybe it's the significant other of a friend or family member, or maybe it really is as simple as the fact that some people just don't want to do it with each other, no matter how drunk everyone gets. My particular case study is "BJ," a funny, handsome, charming young man for whom I feel nothing but genuine love and affection. And we're just friends. Seriously.

Our asexual best friendship started off pretty awkwardly. We met (1) while drunk (2) in a hotel room (3) with him half-naked, soaking wet and more than a little bloody from climbing the fence to take a late-night dip in the closed pool. While this is obviously the perfect combination for the dirty hookup every trend piece has led us to believe we want, it turns out ... it just wasn't going to work that way. We spent the next couple of days gracelessly trying to figure one another out, as thrown-together acquaintances do, but somehow it wasn't long before he became a near-constant figure in my life. It was never a question of either of us wanting to date, getting politely rejected and "settling" for friendship, it was a real feeling of "this person is amazing and we need to have adventures, all the time."

And oh, the adventures we have had. I can recall an early moment in our friendship when he paid a late-night visit to my apartment. It wasn't long before we were drinking too much, talking too much and before I knew it, we were on the floor: pulling books down from the shelves and reading our favorite parts aloud between bursts of giggling and cigarette drags. We've been ejected from a stage together. I've painted him up to look like a kitty cat. I save his favorite Popsicles and drop them off at his work. He's always ready to help me with a project because I have "weak womanly arms." God forbid, if I ever get taken down by The Man, he would be my one phone call.

Really, I think our relationship can be best summed up by a fairly recent episode. He called me up and asked if I wanted to drive to Clarksville that afternoon. He sounded a little surprised after I agreed. "Well," said BJ, "it's a terrible trip to Clarksville. I had this whole speech ready to convince you to come with me, but you just said yes right away." My question was: Why would I need convincing? It doesn't matter where we are or what we're doing, as long as we're together, I know it will be a great time.

And BJ, my vain little chum, I know you're reading. Consider this piece my valentine, my love letter to you. You're one of the best friends I've ever had, and I'm genuinely looking forward to our continued adventures. The hookup Harrys and Sallys of the world have to deal with jealousies, petty arguments, waning interest, not to mention the worst thing that can happen to a relationship: boredom. I'm never bored when I'm with you, and I promise, the next time we're drunk and in a hotel room, I'll come with you when you break into the pool.

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