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Worldwide Ace » Foreign Exchange – Part II

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Foreign Exchange – Part II

6 February, 2009 (22:55) | Unlucky 13, Women

For context, read
Foreign Exchange – Part I.


“History is an endless repetition of the wrong way of living.”
– Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990)

There are plenty of people who have written about the “Friend Zone” and the problems therein. There are essays by men (many, many essays), essays by women (a few), an instruction manual for escaping, a wikipedia entry on it, a game and at least one amazingly awesome XKCD comic and 8 Sinfest comics. All of this stems from “Nice Guys”, which doesn’t actually refer to nice guys at all, but apparently to assholes pretending to be nice guys. At least that’s how Heartless Bitches (that’s the name of the site, not my chosen designation), wikihow, the Seattle Post Intelligence Reporter, and several rants on Craig’s List among others explain it. Hell, some dude claiming to be a doctor even wrote a self-help book for “Nice Guys.”

I hope I never quite qualified as their type of nice guy, but doing nice things for someone still seems like the best way to show you like them. Of course, it has unfortunately planted me deep in the friend zone multiple times. And as oblivious as I am, I never quite noticed before it was already too late.

Anika’s room was down one floor from Nick’s apartment. After our initial afternoon listening to music and chatting, when she eventually threw me out to do some homework before Monday’s classes, I found excuses to swing by her room on the way to and from Nick’s. I would take the stairs and catch the elevator down from her floor just so I could walk by her room and say hi. As I played around and wrote reviews of CDs at Radio 1190, I would collect albums and burn her mix CDs of stuff I thought she should like.

“Oh, it’s no big deal,” I’d say bashfully as Anika thanked me and flung the disc into the distant reaches of her desk. “I burned myself a copy anyway.” I so totally didn’t.

She’d regale me with tales of her stay in Switzerland and Germany and slip in German phrases wherever she could. Sometimes, I could infer the meaning, but often I just smiled dumbly.

The “Nice Guy” theory states that all the guy really wants is to get laid or have a relationship, and if the possibility wasn’t there, he wouldn’t be either. We went to movies together and grabbed food together, and I admit that I would’ve loved to sleep with her or be in a relationship, but I also just enjoyed hanging out. I never expected there to be either of those things. To me, she was out of my league.

It was late September and I was feeling down. Nick stopped talking to me because he was a staunch born-again Christian and I had made a joke about Jesus being gay. I should’ve known better when he told me his favorite band was the Denver-based Christian ska band Five Iron Frenzy.

SIDE NOTE: “Of course, you realize Jesus was gay. I mean, just think about it. He traveled around with twelve guys, had a cadre of fag hags and lepers worshiping him, and actually preached, ‘Love your fellow man.’ Plus, he was into BDSM. Why else would he tell us to turn the other cheek?” It was a joke I had repeated often, and it drew raucous laughter at the party, but as soon as I had finished, Nick asked me to leave and stopped talking to me. Between that, sucking at the guitar and writing songs, and getting back into his destructive relationship with his on again off again ex, I was about ready to call it a Where-Are-They-Now segment anyway.

Less and less I had a reason to swing by a visit Anika. Our time together waned from nearly every day to once or twice a week at most. In retrospect, it was probably sympathy that spawned the strangest weekend of my Freshman year, but at the time I was certain things were changing.

My dorm phone rang late on Thursday.

“Hey Ben, it’s Anika,” she purred over the campus phone system.

“Oh, hi. How are you?”

“I’m good. I’m heading down to Denver for the weekend. Want to come?”

I was stunned. I was floored. I nearly dropped the phone.

SIDE NOTE: Being stunned, floored, amazed, or stupefied is a regular occurrence when it comes to me and women. Perhaps I’m simply that oblivious. Part of it is that I’m extremely self-conscious and constantly worry about how my actions reflect on me, and part of it is that I’m a guy, and as such, women will remain a riddle wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a very sexy and distracting dress.

“I’d love to,” I replied in my most I-think-I-might-be-busy voice.

“Great. We’ll leave around 4 tomorrow.”

“Sounds good.”

My dreams were coming true. Or so I thought. Here was a gorgeous woman inviting me to meet her parents, her brother, and stay at her house, and we hadn’t even officially started dating! How awesome is that?


We crawled into Anika’s car shortly after 5 on Friday. I had a small overnight bag packed with a toothbrush, a change of clothes, and a newly minted pack of condoms (you know, just in case). We stopped and had Chinese food on the way down. I floated through the whole ride, bouncing and singing to the music and enjoying the warm fall sun.

“I’m so glad you came,” she told me, spraying the words like sunshine from her brilliantly glowing grin.

“I’m glad I came too,” I agreed.

“Listen, I promised this boy I’d meet up with him tonight for a little.”

“Awe… some.” I was half way through agreeing with everything she said, when the sentence finally registered.

Truth, meet brain. You’re going to become fast friends.

“Yeah, he’s cool. I met him at a summer camp I was a counselor for last summer. He’s Swiss and a foreign exchange student this year in Denver, so I thought we might hang out. It’ll only be for a little while. Is that ok?”

“That sounds ok,” I lied.

It was not ok. Not one bit. Here I was, primed for a weekend with this gorgeous girl whom I loved spending time with, and she was introducing a third wheel.

It’s ok, Ben. I told myself. Anika invited you down for the weekend. She wants you here. She’s having a good time. It’ll only be for a little. Yes. For a little, you can handle it.

“Perhaps our only sickness is to desire a truth
which we cannot bear rather than to rest
content with the fictions we manufacture
out of each other.”
– Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990)

To Be Continued in
Foreign Exchange – Part III,
Foreign Exchange – Part IV,
and Foreign Exchange – Part V.