The Friend Zone
(Twilight Zone music: Di-di-di-di-di-di-di-di, di-di-di-di-di-di-di) You unlock this terror with the key of romance. Beyond it is another dimension; a dimension of joy, a dimension of laughter, a dimension of happy devotion. You’re moving into a land of both substantive beauty and childlike wonder; But then your hope is turned to fear as the relationship rug is pulled out from under you and you realize that the feeling you’ve just crossed over into, resides in…The Friend Zone. (buhd-oo-bud-up!)
Written by Terry Allen Cummings on 11/10/19
Brought to you by: Cous’n Cumm’ns Entertainment
Featuring: The Ghost of Rod Serling
Episode 12: Back in the Friend Zone
Ghost of Rod Serling: Express elevator to the thirteenth floor of a twelve floor dating website. Carrying Mr. Terry Cummings on a most prosaic, ordinary run of the mill errand: to find a date. Mr. Terry Cummings, on the thirteenth floor, specialty department; looking to date a unique woman. Odds are that he’ll find her. But, there are even better odds that he’ll find something else. Because this isn’t just a dating website. This happens to be…the Friend Zone.
Seven years. It’s been seven years since the starry walls of The Friend Zone have held me in her grasp. I’m not writing a story here about a ‘search for love’. I’ve been around enough to know that search is fruitless and only leads to a focused neurosis. This is an interlude as I re-join the dating world.
I’ve learned to trust my instincts over the years as I’ve found when I do, I’m capable of damned near anything. It’s not a psychic ability, I don’t believe in that anymore than I believe in ghosts. It’s just a feeling I get about situations and people, like when a cop gets a ‘hunch’. When something is right, it almost feels like I just completed a Lego castle; put the last brick in place, y’know? I get that feeling of accomplishment, but before anything has been accomplished. It’s low level, but if I concentrate on a decision I have to make, or a person I’ve just met…I can feel it. If it’s something bad, I’ll feel anxiety…sad almost; although there’s no reason for it. I usually recognize this when I catch myself feeling down for no reason and I’ll quickly change my course because I know something isn’t right.
I recently met a woman on a dating site who gave me that feeling of accomplishment…bigly. I felt like I’d just completed a huge Lego castle. More important than her looks which, I mean…wow; she’s unique. I like a woman who’s self-aware and let’s be honest, you have to be a little bit broken to have reached that self-awareness. I know this because I know myself. It’s SO fucking hard to find that in a woman these days. But this woman is honest, smart, caring of her family, and a touch dark; witty, confident, talented and hurt. I see these things just in her profile, without knowing who she really is; I could be completely off, but my lego castle stands tall and unshakeable.
She’d just gotten out of a relationship this year, like myself, and was curiously checking out this dating site. She wasn’t necessarily looking to go on a date. She was a tourist; I heard that, I did. But I wanted to know her; my gut told me that I had to. My narcissism told me that I would; like Frank says in the attached song: “You think you’ve flown before, but baby you ain’t left the ground.” SUCH an asshole, me.
In every other instance where I initiated contact with a woman on a dating site, I was just rolling it out there: “Eh. She gets back to me or not, no big whup.” I’m doing fine, I’m on a few personal missions of self improvement, who needs it. Sure, I’ll throw the line in the water, but I’m really playing candy crush as fish swim around the hook. But not this time; that perception is talking to me.
Clumsy, grasping at nothing as I tumbled off a cliff…I reached out to her and my stomach sank into self-doubt at what I’d written. Was it clever enough? Was it different from what she’s likely heard before? Was it enough? I assumed that she would be able to smell desperation in my initial text and I wouldn’t hear from her, but nothing gets done if you don’t try. ALWAYS. Fucking. Try.
I hate the text/email communication through these dating sites. I end up sending something and then bashing my head into a wall, gritting my teeth and saying “WHY did you say that!”, as I wait for some acknowledgement of my douchebaggery. In the case of this girl…I did that for two days after I’d sent that initial message. Typically, I’ll just delete the thread after one day, and not think another thing of it. Who cares? But divination was pulling me towards hope; and hope is the downfall of commonsense.
I don’t ever send a second text if the first one goes unanswered. Now you’re in the area of text stalking, which is never a good look. Desperation times 100. But, in my first text, I directed her to my blog and she followed me on Instagram. She could have only followed me on Instagram if she’d read my blog, and why would she follow me if she didn’t maybe like what I wrote? I’m SO in my own head. I’m really disgusted with myself sometimes.
In any case, I sent a second text and to my surprise, she responded after I’d gone to bed. When I got up in the morning and saw that she sent some innocuous message, only acknowledging my existence and nothing more, I did the ‘Rocky’ dance around my apartment while shouting ‘YES!’, ‘YES!’ and throwing my fist in the air. SUCH a douche; you’d think I never talked to a woman before. I responded with too much information in a message that was way too long and immediately began bashing my head into the wall again after I’d sent it.
But she responded again; she told me that my writing was a bit too vulgar for her, but she didn’t dis it, and she continued to engage. Hmmmm? I couldn’t tell you why I wanted her to see my blog. Let’s face it, it’s a bit much. It’s not something you lead with, and when I read those stories from seven years ago, the word ‘Cringeworthy’ comes to mind. I haven’t directed any other woman to it since joining the dating sites. I guess that I wanted her to know that I wasn’t just some rando out here, shooting her a line. By now she must have gotten thousands of those. I’m not a passenger waiting for life to drop me off, and if my blog relays anything, it’s that I’m not afraid to ever say what’s on my mind. I guess I wanted her to know that because I thought it might set me apart.
Luckily, I’m at a point in my life where I don’t need validation. This blog is more for me to get things out of my head, than it is for you. Way cheaper than a therapist. Even so, when she said it was a bit vulgar, I tried to backtrack and explain my writing…never a good idea. That does NOT come off well, but it was seven years old and a lot has changed in my life, including my writing style (Only 17 f-bombs here!) But that’s how I felt back then, like this is how I feel now. Not going to apologize for either, and let’s be clear, she didn’t ask me to. She was woke enough to acknowledge that she doesn’t have to like the way I write to talk to me.
We messaged back and forth and I sucked at it. I was trying to sell myself instead of just having a real conversation with her. I was monologuing instead of dialoguing, but to be fair, that dating site messaging is tough to negotiate. I am NOT into it. I gave her my phone number twice so that we could communicate outside of the god-damned dating site because we were messaging way out of sync. We never chatted at the same time, always responding to the other hours later, giving me time to contemplate my idiocy as I poured over my last message like the Zapruder film, making my blood pressure so high that it moved to Colorado and opened a dispensary.
I can’t stand me, for fuck’s sake. I’m confident. No, I am, really. I see something I want and I go after it. I was homeless in my youth; dicarded by my mother in favor of her addictions, unknown by my father. I whined and felt sorry for myself until I realized that nobody was going to change things for me. I worked hard, got my GED, took the ACT and received a full scholarship to college. I picked a flight school because I couldn’t imagine anything more opposite of being homeless than being a fucking pilot, so that’s what I did. I’ve always tried to accomplish what I set out to accomplish on my own.
When my ex left earlier this year, I didn’t turn into a blubbering mess, though I still reserve that right as this will be the first holiday season I’ve spent alone in a while. I don’t have a family support system to lift me up, so instead of dwelling on the inadequacies that led to her leaving me in such an embarrassing fashion (that’s a whole other story), I did something about it. I paid off my credit cards and got approved for a home loan; Now I’m looking for a house. I started Transcendental Meditation to help focus my resolve; I started working out twice a day and eating healthy to lose weight. I gave myself goals to distract from thinking about her and as with anything, time has made me realize that her leaving was for the best; as it sometimes happens, our relationship had lost its dynamic pentameter and had become stagnant.
The point is, I see that something is wrong and I change it. I see that something is right, and I go after it. That will always be me. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not full of self-doubt.
The girl from the dating site eventually pulled a Casper and friendly ghosted me (an ‘unfriendly’ ghosting would be if she told me to fuck off and THEN dipped out; making this shit up as I go along people, work with me here.) I’m sure because I came off as patronizing or thirsty. I didn’t mean to be those things and if we’d just talked or real-time communicated, I feel that I might have been able to come off better. Who knows, I don’t really know that woman, she might have hated me no matter what, but that’s the control level of my neurosis. I start at feeling hated and have to work my way up. If I’m being honest, I need a fucking editor for my long-form messaging too; I mean shit, I’ve just written 3 chapters about a woman I communicated with, maybe four times? But damn …that gut feeling is still there, and clairvoyance can be a mother-fucker (‘Clairvoyance Can Be a Mother-Fucker’ was my band’s name in high school.)
Let me tell you people, and I feel like we know each other, so believe me when I say that this woman has a video on Instagram of her playing the ukulele, and she sounds like a sad angel who’s so concerned with earthly matters, she doesn’t realize she can fly. It’s captivating; she’s captivating. If a woman ever played a ukulele for me, I’d fall in love with her. That’s it, game over, life complete. Is there anything more intimate than a musically talented woman playing a song just for you? I perceive that there is not.
Anyway, I romanticize things, that’s just what I do and who I am. Who wouldn’t want love, who was denied it so completely in their youth? I’m back; for now just looking to date and see where it goes. No pressure, never that. I’m not saying I want kids or don’t; I’m not saying I want to get married or never will. Every situation is unique and we’ll see where the night takes us. For now, I just want to bring a woman to laughter who doesn’t do so easily. I want to see the eyes of a woman as she realizes she’s known me for a long time, though we’ve just met.
I have my flaws as any man does, but I also come with some perks. I’m honest, direct and bold, but I use humor to deflect from my feelings of inadequacy; that can be a plus when milk is shooting out of your nose, but the impetus for my recent ghosting might have been that I joked myself out of her concern.
I’m self aware, but I can exhibit a sense of entitlement because I’ve earned my station in life. I’m empathetic because I’ve been through some shit, but I don’t like the nonsense of people who complain without examining solutions. I take all responsibility for my actions, be they good or bad and I expect others to do the same. I don’t believe in ‘fate’ or a ‘higher power’, but I respect others belief in whatever gets them through the day; the day can be tough. I believe we bend, hammer and shape life to our will, not the other way around. I can easily see through bullshit and won’t be lied to. And as J.B. Books said “I won’t be wronged, insulted or laid a-hand on. I don’t do these things to other people, and I require the same from them.”
As for self-improvement, I’m currently looking for a house with a fenced yard, fireplace and soaker tub; those are my non-negotiables as I’ve given them to my real-estate agent; yeah, I take baths; I might even drop in some bubbles and smoke a cigar while wearing a bowler hat. Burn THAT image in your mind’s eye. I’ve lost 37 pounds since July and I continue to lose. I cook better than yo’ mama, and I’m an excellent listener. I truly believe that everyone could get through life a lot easier if they just had someone to listen to them. I think outside of the box when it comes to dates and anniversaries; I endeavor to surprise.
So that’s kind of me. I mean, it’s really hard to sell yourself on those dating websites. Profiles are all snapshots, and I prefer a moving picture.
Maybe the girl from the dating site will read this. Maybe she’ll be uncreeped as I wave my magic blog; but I doubt it. My feelings rarely bare the fruit of their precognition. Like the Cassandra metaphor, I’m cursed to know what should be, but powerless to make it come to pass. Shame that; I would have liked to have explored that lego castle with her; it’s got a moat and e’rything:)
Ghost of Rod Serling: Terry Cummings, in his normal and natural state. A translucent man who thinks he has interesting things to say; and maybe he does…in person. But on a dating website, Terry Cummings takes on the characteristics of a thirsty creep who might not be as loathsome as we think. Maybe he’s someone as normal and as flesh and blood as you and I. but it makes you wonder, doesn’t it? Just how normal are we? Just who are the people we message our ‘hellos’ to as we attempt to communicate in this impersonal computer landscape? A rather good question to ask, particularly…in the Friend Zone.
Reach me at:
@GeneralDbag on Twitter
@generaldouchebaggery on Instagram
follow me on Instagram; if I get 200 followers I can apply for ‘Raya’, the celebrity dating app – imagine a ‘celebrity’ Friend Zone?