The best date I ever went on I went on by accident.
I judge all my dates by how much self-loathing there is afterwards, and the only time I can remember there being no self-loathing was when my friend Jack asked a girl named Brie out to a Mexican restaurant.
Across town, I was at a graduation party. Someone’s uncle was talking about his vasectomy in lively, vivid detail, and I thought, “I don’t really like how lively and vivid this man is detailing his vasectomy.” I texted a girl and said, “I’m at a graduation party. Someone’s uncle is talking about his vasectomy in lively, vivid detail. Would you like to get drinks?”
She said yes, I think, because I remember telling her to meet me at Samuel’s Sports Bar. Jack and Brie were there after dinner at the Mexican restaurant. Then I was there. Then the girl never came, so I had beers with Jack and Brie and asked them how their date was going. They didn’t really answer, which is probably because you’re not supposed to analyze a date in the exact middle of it, but I didn’t know this rule, because I had not been on many dates. I also thought you weren’t suppose to describe your vasectomy during the public celebrations of milestones, so social contracts seemed to be out the window at that point.
Eventually, I got the impression that I had overstayed my welcome. Maybe I should let them have some alone time. But I was trying to forget about a casual acquaintance’s recently operated on scrotum, so I decided to stay for one more. Plus I wanted to be in young love’s embrace. Plus Jack was being pretty democratic with his tab.
From where I was standing (between two college sophomores dry humping), the date looked like it was going well. That was strange, because my dates never seem to go that well. Whenever I’m on a date, I do an impression of how I think a confident person might behave. It seems to mostly work, since my only real goal on a date is to prove that I’m not a murderer. Like if her friends texted her and asked her how it went, and she said, “Alright, I guess. He wasn’t a murderer or anything,” then that’s a win. Anything else is extra.
Once I met a girl online because I guess that’s what people do now. When the moment felt right, I said, “I think this is the part where I tell you I’m not a murderer.” I thought it sounded fun and flirty, like something a confident person might say. Then I reread it and thought, “Oh. That sounds a lot like something a murderer would say, if he was trying to prove to someone he met online that he wasn’t a murderer.” We didn’t end up going out, probably for some unrelated reason.
Jack and Brie’s first date led to them dating, and that was the only date I’ve been on where there was no self-loathing after. So that was my best date ever.
Truth be told, though, there were two years between Jack and Brie’s first date and when they actually started dating. There’s a difference in those two words. But they’re dating now, and that’s all that matters.
The first date set a precedent that I would feature prominently in their relationship.
Jack and I have been best friends since 7th grade. We’re such good friends that—along with our other best friend, Sam—we won the Chandler, Ross, and Joey superlative for the best three male friends in the 8th grade yearbook. Sam won’t make an appearance in this weekend, but he remains our other best friend into the present, so credit where credit is due. The Chandler, Ross, and Joey Award is very likely the most significant achievement of my life, which means that I have very good friends, and hardly any accolades. Fourteen years later, who corresponds with who is still a hotly debated topic. We all silently agree on one thing: a life as Ross is no life at all.
Brie accepts this friendship. She even embraces it. She still lets me go on their dates sometimes, but I’m sure she classifies those nights as “hangs” and not “dates.” Jack probably owes her a date night for every time I’m around, so they have infinity dates scheduled for the future. It feels less intrusive than it probably sounds, since their relationship borders on comedy routine, like Abbott and Costello, if Abbott and Costello had consensual sex and went to each other’s family parties.
Brie makes a snide remark, probably about Jack’s oversized left elbow, which got infected and filled with puss during a boy’s weekend on the Cape. He ended up going to the hospital, but it’s good now, aside from the sizeable sack of skin that’s permanently bunched over his joint. Jack rolls his neck around and responds through gritted teeth when she says something about his alien elbow; he holds the hard “ie” in “Brie” with mock anger and disdain. “Brieee, do we have to about this now?” or “Can we go ONE NIGHT without bring that up, Brieee?”. I laugh because they really are very happy together and almost never fight, except for one time in Newport when a bouncer punched Jack in the face, but that was only because a third-party-Marine-friend said that the bouncer hated America. Brie was pretty upset about Jack’s behavior, but it was a matter of national defense, really. I was eating a calzone with my little sister while all this was happening.
Simply put, Jack and Brie are my friends. My very best friends. And I love them dearly. Unlike most couples our age, they still have single friends who want to be around them, they never steal away in corners to fight, and they never leave early on account of their co-adopted dog. Their love is a triumph, so much so that I usually forget I’m even with a couple when I’m with them.
Unless, for example, we are at a small barn-turned-bar in Brewster, Massachusetts, where there is a dance floor, flirtatious summer air, good music, and better beer.
Which reminds me that, one night this summer, we happened upon a small barn-turned-bar in Brewster, Massachusetts where there was a dance floor, flirtatious summer air, good music, and better beer.
Jack and Brie remember they’re in love somewhere between the Woodshed’s $2 Budweiser special and a cover band playing Michael Jackson. Jack pulls her to the dance floor, and I am left standing stiffly next to Hannah, who is attractive, desirable, and infinitely eligible. I have made a point not to be alone with her all weekend. This is only partly motivated by my crippling fear of attractive, desirable, infinitely eligible girls named Hannah.
I am left in the one place I did not want to find myself. Jack is Judas, and Brie is Benedict Arnold. If I were to step outside of my blind rage, it would really be quite a scene—Judas clumsily twirling Benedict Arnold. Benedict Arnold looking up and laughing lovingly at Judas’s bad jokes. Judas and Benedict Arnold swaying, stealing kisses, lost in the perfection of an early June evening.
But I don’t step outside my blind rage. Instead, I want to burn their love to the ground and dance on the ashes.
Jack asks me to go to his parents’ Cape house for a weekend in early June, and I say yes because I always say yes when Jack asks me if I want to go to his parents’ Cape house for a weekend in early June. His parents will not be there, because they are somewhere else, and not because they died in a boating accident.
He tells me it will be me, him, and Brie. The triangle.
Great, I say.
and Hannah, he says.
Great, I say. And I mean it, I think. I’m pretty sure that that it will be great.
Hannah is Brie’s best friend. She’s never been on one of Jack and Brie’s dates, so she’s probably a less good best friend than I am. I’m willing to trust Brie’s judgment, though, because Brie likes me and I like her and we both like Jack, but I’m not sure which one of us likes him more.
I don’t know much about Hannah, other than that she played soccer in college and has an ever-present smile. We’ve only been around each other on a handful of occasions and never talked much on those handfuls of occasions. I’m not so good at talking to new people, anyways. What I like most about my friends is that I don’t remember becoming friends with any of them. They’ve always just been around. It’s comforting. I wish I could do that with everyone: skip having to get to know them and jump straight to talking shit about strangers. It’s a terrible burden to ask someone what they do and if they have siblings and whether or not they like seafood. Those are conversations a Ross would have, and a life as Ross is no life at all.
But Brie was new once, and that’s worked out swimmingly. She fills in Sam’s place nobly, now that he lives in Boston. She’s like our own little Phoebe, except for when her and Jack hook up. Then she’s Monica, and he’s Chandler. And I’m Joey, I think, but it’s all very complicated.
Theirs’ is a nice example of how to ease in to adult relationships. I never feel very adult, probably because I’ve been hanging around the same 10-or-so people for the last 15 years. I think my friends that act like adults are faking it. Jack is a self-described oversized man-baby. Most of our social circle is made up of oversized man-babies. Brie gives that group a modicum of stability, but she still says things like “I’m on team drink a lot tonight” and “If we keep drinking, I think you’ve got a chance.”
It let’s me know that we don’t have to grow up all the way, at least not yet. It’s possible, in spite of our retarded progress, for a nice girl to love an oversized man-baby.
And that’s why I think it might be nice to have Hannah around; especially if we end up at a bar-turned-barn in Brewster, Massachusetts where there is a dance floor, flirtatious summer air, good music, and better beer. Then Brie could be Monica, and Jack could be Chandler, and Hannah could be Jennifer Anniston, and I could be the counterpart in any number of Jennifer Aniston’s failed relationships, which is better than I normally do.
I daydream about pretty girls and early summer. Or early summer and pretty girls. I can never really separate the two. I love summer, and I love the beach, but I am likely more suited for the two weeks in early-to-mid fall when I can comfortably wear Bermuda shorts with a hoodie. I carry between 7 and 12 pounds I probably shouldn’t, and I’m only average at throwing a football. Maybe below average. Probably below average. There is nothing about me that would make a beach girl say, “Damn, I gotta cut me off a piece of that Grade-A beef.” (Admittedly, I have a foggy understanding of how girls talk to one another).
Hannah, on the other hand, has a natural crop of blonde hair, and a trim, fit form, from years of elite athletic competition. Her cheeks are often flushed a charming red and stretched over the aforementioned brilliantly white smile. There is something in her face that shines, and she carries herself with a confidence that I want say is understated and beautiful, but more likely comes from the knowledge that anyone on any beach would agree to have sex with her.
Summertime suits girls like Hannah.
…to be continued.
Billy is a feature writer and content workhorse, fluent in English. His career highlights include a Twitter favorite from Matt Nathanson, and sitting a few rows behind John Kerry’s hair at a Bruce Springsteen concert. Recently, Billy has played with the idea of getting a dog, but realized that might be too much responsibility. Check out more from Billy on Twitter and at billyrosenbeck.com.