A quick caveat: this post contains some content slightly more mature than my usual fare. I know that I have younger followers, and I don't want to catch you unaware. You have been warned.
Last year, during my final year as a competitive speaker (and debater), I went out on a limb and asked Calvin to do a duo interpretation with me. If done well, duos are the most amazing thing ever. Two people act out a piece of literature without the aid of costumes, eye contact, or physical contact between the two.
Calvin is a pretty incredible person. He is funny, creative, musical, and I guess people would say that he's good looking. I don't really remember registering that because I don't buy into normal ideals concerning beauty/attractiveness. You could say he fits into the iconic "tall, dark, and handsome" category. Least you get too positive impression, he does have his faults: Coca-Cola may well be his Achilles' heel. I don't think I've ever seen him turn a bottle of it down, and have memories of him carrying a two-liter around with him at tournaments.
Overall, he's a pretty neat guy. As duo partners, we ended up spending quite a bit of time around each other - both at coop and sometimes on the weekends. I remember joking once that "you know your social life is messed up when you invite your duo partner over more than your close friends." Don't get me wrong: I enjoyed hanging with Calvin, and did indeed consider him a good friend, but the fact remains. I saw him more than pretty much any of my friends.
I never directly experienced this next detail of my introduction, but Wrath, Calvin's younger brother (also a friend of mine) would recount to me how multiple people had asked him (Wrath) if he(Calvin) and I were dating. Why? Because every week at school we'd cloister ourselves in a staircase to work on the speech. No more, no less. It is at this point that I should mention the gratuitous endearments in our piece: "Sweetie-lambkin," "Darling," "Angel" and "Precious" all make frequent appearances in the piece.
I found these reports, and the funny looks from girls (who felt who-knows-what about these disappearances) rather funny. While Calvin wasn't in a relationship at the time, the mere idea that two such people as ourselves would ever be "compatible" was laughable to the extreme.
But let me add on final element to this introduction, and it shall be complete. There is a long-standing tradition (or at the very, least, a firmly established predilection) that duo partners of the opposite sex and entirely unrelated to each other tend to: a. be seeing each other and/or b. will eventually get married.
And homeschooling mothers doing what they do best (A wedding?! When? Who? You don't say! How exciting!), both Calvin and I inevitably had to face certain ... pointed inqueries from parents in the league. To this day, I am left wondering what they thought of a match between a tall-dark-and-handsome guy and a short-blond-and-not girl...
My usual response was something along the lines of this: "Calvin? Oh no, we're just friends. I mean, come on, we'd kill each other within a week."
I hated having to say "we're just friends." But let me put any skewed interpretations to rest. I wasn't pining away in a corner, hoping that one day he'd look my way or whatever mindless drivel you think I meant by that statement.
We're just friends.
As if there is something dishonorable, diminishing about that fact. As if, the worth of relationship would suddenly increase if you add a little snogging to the mix.
"Just Friends" implies a certain contempt for purely platonic, unadulterated (in the most literal way possible) friendship between chaps and chapesses. I mean, we already get a great level of brainwashing in regards to any young woman'sworth.
If you pay attention to the pressure of mainstream society, women (ie, teenagers and twenty-somethings because they're they only women that matter and count anyways) are only good if the fulfill these criteria:
They're well-endowed (perhaps artificially), promiscuous creatures who go through boyfriends faster than I can tear a hole in my nylons. Their worth is found in seducing brutish men with animal like instincts (seriously, men, you can take *a little* time on your personal appearance and not come off like a sissy). They finally conquer "the system" by living with a boyfriend who acts more like a boy than a grown man. They're not afraid to show off their bodies to the best possible advantage, by which I mean altering the appearance of their faces with heavy cosmetics, squeezing themselves into uncomfortably tight clothing and practically starving themselves all for the sake of a few passionate nights before they hit the mundanity of middle age.
If a girl like myself chooses she doesn't want to date around and enjoy this amazing utopia of youth, and instead wishes to enjoy honest friendships with quality young men, she is regulated to the dust bin of the "just friends." How demeaning is that?
Oh, you're not good enough for that guy? You're only friends with him. Must have left the push-up bra at home when you met him. Just not girlfriend material, I'm afraid. Too bad. We'll have to do better with the next one. Learn from our mistakes - always be prepared in case of an emergency.
How can friendship be despised like this? Why is a relationship, not based on sex, so -- well, threatening, in a way - that people must belittle those who don't bring seduction into their equation?
Since when is a coarse twice-over a good substitute for a genuine smile?
Why is a random, five minute flirtation with a mildly good-looking stranger more valuable than a good hour spent with an ugly friend?
Why should a relationship be measured by the depth of a french-kiss than the depth of the conversation?
And since when do I, as a young woman, need to demean myself and my body to a group of lascivious, lecherous, lewd, and carnal punks in order to gain any sort of self-fulfillment?
The people in my generation must be incredibly prosaic if they feel they have no other basis for a relationship other than the biological fact that one is a boy and the other, a girl. Can we really find no other common ground, no starting spot for friendship, than biology?
Friendship is more than a mere placeholder until a more salacious relationship. I have major issues with the phrase "we're just friends," because, as an idealist, I strongly and firmly believe that a friendship is innately beautiful, in and of itself; that the worth of a relationship is measured in how much I can encourage and support my friends; and that the worth of a friend is found in their being, not their body.