The Self Induced Friend Zone and why “Can’t Fight This Feeling” is the greatest song ever!
Defined as [Clean version]: a platonic relationship wherein one person wishes to enter into a romantic, i.e. sexual relationship, while the other does not or [Gangsta Rap version]: one person trynna f#ck, while the other ain’t trynna f#ck, the “Friend Zone” is a town in which most of us have passed through at some point in our lives, many have made multiple visits, and some have taken up permanent residence.
The FZ always existed, but it wasn’t until a 1994 ‘Friends’ episode where Joey called Ross the “Mayor of the Friend Zone” (Season 1, Episode 7), that the term became popular and is now a part of our daily lexicon.
The FZ has since evolved into a rite of passage. In fact, it is rumored that in certain rural Trailer Parks in West Virginia, a girl does not reach motherhood until she has Friend Zoned her brother (or at least until he turns 11, or when she can no longer outrun him….. whichever comes first).
There are so many layers in the despair dip of the FZ that there is no way I can taste them all in one sitting. Instead, I will focus on what I believe is the thickest, most populated stratum; the ‘Self Induced Layer’, which focuses on the poor plebeians who exiled themselves there by their own volition.
This is the most torturous area, where excruciating emotions and maxed out credit cards lay. If there ever was a theme song to encapsulate the mindset of these feeble FZoners, then no tune can dethrone REO Speedwagon’s mournful, oppressing “Can’t Fight This Feeling”. This song my friends, may be the greatest Friend Zone song ever.
Now don’t be making that ‘WTF face’, which is defined as the facial expression one makes when one walks in on their girlfriend bobbing for apples around the waist area of a shadowy figure ..….. Only there are no apples.
First, I am fully aware that my choice is 100% subjective. It’s the same ideology that makes every mother think that their daughter is the most beautiful girl in the world, when to others, the world that she is referring to is the one inhabited by The Goonies, and their repugnant daughter is one lost tooth away from Sloth. All that is missing is her gnawing on a Baby Ruth bar.
The lyrics of this song alone should be evidence enough, but to further provide some insight and much needed resonance of this definitive FZ tune, let me twist the blinds of my life a bit, and allow you to peer into my past as I provide a personal narrative in accordance with just the song’s first verse.
After all, the last time my opinion had any weight was when I recommended to my Attorney to take the plea bargain because there was no feasible way I could explain what a Mexican family of 4 was doing in the trunk of my rented Ford Fiesta.
Line 1: “I can’t fight this feeling any longer”
We get right to the point. No beating around the bush here, as we have direct penetration. The singer can’t fight the feeling of wanting to molest his bestie; to fondle the parts of her anatomy that is obscured by clothing.
I too, had such a friend. (This would be the time to think about your own parallel life story) To protect her identity, let’s call her “Pookie”. Pookie was cute, and had nice robust lips that would suck a popsicle down to splinters, but I was dating some emo chick at the time so I didn’t notice Pookie’s potential as someone I would face suck.
We were like peas and carrots. We would spend long hours on the phone talking AC Slater and Kelly Kapowski, and we would page each other ‘hello’ on our beepers. I was her Cory and she was my Topanga.
One day, while shopping for acid washed Sergio Valenti jeans, Pookie was raising her arms to try on a neon scrunchie at ‘Forever 21’, when I suddenly found myself gawking at the 2 perky molehills protruding from under her turtleneck. The adherence of the cotton/polyester blend gripping her tender 32 B-cup almond joys intoxicated me.
I quickly stared down at my Converse hightops dismissing the blossoming boobies, and attributed that momentary attraction on puberty, as my balls had just finished sprouting a full head of curly hair days prior.
That night, my emo girlfriend took me to her emo friend’s hotel party. While she and her friends were discussing the best brand of razor blades to cut themselves with, I stood next to the mini-fridge in my Cross Colours jeans and Bacardi Breeze and …….. thought about Pookie …….. And her almond joys……
You know you are falling for someone when they enter your mind sporadically, and images of Pookie were starting to cloud my thoughts at the most random moments. I would be in line at Sarku Japan, pondering whether I should splurge the extra 99 cents for double meat, when little Pookie faces would appear in place of the chicken samples on toothpicks being thrust in my face.
Needless to say, I eventually broke up with emo chick, stating that I couldn’t date a vampire who dances with glow sticks.
Pookie then got her first job at Sam Goody, so we wanted to celebrate at a high class restaurant. We were at our table talking about the latest cassette singles when the Applebee’s waitress came and took Pookie’s order of a house sirloin, and a side salad with ranch dressing.
Contrary to what online porn portrays, people do not fall in love after getting a rug burn on their forehead. The heart racing moment of realization that you have the Frank’s Red Hots for someone usually arrives low key, when you nonchalantly notice someone as they are doing normal, everyday stuff…… like shoplifting.….. Or ordering her ranch dressing ………. on the side.
The incredibly cute way Pookie held out her hand making a small cup gesture made my pulse run faster than a Hispanic hopping backyard fences on the opening credits of ‘Cops’. My testicles tightened, and I found myself thinking “yea…. you want a steak and salad Pookie? How about you enjoy my angus beef loin, as I toss your Caesar and hidden valley ranch your hair?”
As my erection subsided, I ordered chicken tenders with a side of ‘What Dafuq is going on?’ Pookie noticed I was acting strange, but I told her I was just upset that ‘My So-Called Life’ was not renewed for a second season.
Confused, I kept my cool, but whenever I dipped my breaded poultry strips in honey mustard, all I thought about was dipping my face in the love pool south of her pelvic region.
Line 2: “And yet I’m still afraid to let it show”
Lying in bed that night listening to Lite FM, my longing for Pookie kept me wide awake, as I rotated, oscillated, and dry humped my pillow. As Air Supply’s “Lost in Love” played, all I kept thinking about was her gymnast tight buttocks, and how I yearned for those cheeks to balance on the beam between my legs.
By 5am, I was a wreck, just sporadically yelping incoherent squawks into the night. Then finally, the soothing melody of Debbie Gibson’s “Lost in Your Eye’s” flowed, engulfing my exhausted emotions, and I mustered out one last caterwauling wail, and passed out with my face in a small pond of tears, and my hand on my dingaling.
I did what most do when we want to ground our Boeing on a friend’s landing strip, and that is to remain silent, pull back, view the Cooter Lane from afar, and try and divert other planes from reaching the runway. Pookie was mine dammit! I was the one that discovered her precious land, and I will be damned if another explorer plants his flag in her!
Little did I know that this Helen Keller path of muteness would set me up to suffer worse than a naked altar boy wearing a dog collar in a Priest’s Chambers.
Line 3: “What started out as friendship, has gone stronger”
This is why the Friend Zone Hotel will always have a Vacancy sign, as there are always rooms available for the new arrivals of spineless, lovesick people checking in every day with their emotional baggage.
There is no purer form of love than to start out not seeking it in someone, only to un-expectantly discover it in that person. I no longer can view Pookie as JUST a friend. She was a friend I wanted to share saliva with, to hold hands at Six Flags with, to watch Meg Ryan romantic comedies with, and to share a frozen treat at TCBY with.
My innocent thoughts of Pookie quickly turned into obsessive thoughts, where I wanted to intoxicate her with controlled prescription drugs, and have her engage in acts with me involving licorice, a potato sack, ping pong balls, and a fly swatter while she wears a rubber Jim Carey mask.
Needless to say, my friendship path with Pookie had taken a serious turn onto the highway of hopelessness.
Line 4: “I only wish I had the strength to let it show”
If every FZoners had the strength to let it show, this world would be one big orgy with phallic body parts flapping on foreheads, and squirts of Yoplait splashing on bare backs. I was no Jedi Master myself. My mind was weak, and easily manipulated by the dark forces of cowardice. I subconsciously self-admitted myself into the FZ, and willingly spent 2 years there in turmoil. Looking back, I suspected she knew because she twice caught me sniffing her panties.
But alas, I never spoke a word, and continued to languish in the agony I self-inflicted, seeking solace in John Hugh films hoping I would finally have the strength to finally let her know, but in the end, I felt like Ducky allowing my Molly Ringwald to walk off with a wavy haired, Miami Vice jacket wearing Andrew McCarthy.
There are certain moments in your life that hits you unexpectedly with such clarity that it reinvigorates your anticipation of what lies ahead, while at the same time may scare the crap out of you. One such moment occurs when your uncle crawls into the bunk bed with you, and another is the sudden or albeit, gradual realization that your feelings for a friend are far stronger than platonic.
The misconception of the FZ is that people are “put” there by someone else, when instead most people willingly swing open the gates of the FZ, and enter on their own accord due to their silence, and inaction. Even worst is when they do not see themselves as an inhabitant, until one of three things happen to release them from the Zone’s captivity: 1) Their friends smack the sh#t out of them, 2) The relationship eventually withers away and dissolves, and 3) Death.
The fertile ground of the Friend Zone CAN be a place of optimism, where the seeds of friendship gets planted first, before the budding of rampant intercourse can take place. The problem is not the Zone itself, but more about HOW you got there, and the realization that you ARE there.
When I am driving home all alone on a dark desert highway (cool wind in my hair), and “Can’t Fight This Feeling” comes on, my thoughts take me to the FZ, where every single day, there was the lingering possibility of more, but every night is the realization of less.
Then my eyes swell up, I lose control of my Fiesta hatchback, and barrel roll into a weeping willow.
So heed Tam’s Words of Wisdom here:
Developing romantic/sexual feelings for a friend is commonplace. It is what you do with those desires that matter. Most will exercise their Miranda Rights and remain silent, never communicating what they feel or want, thus automatically defaulting into the FZ. They will become what I became with Pookie: A Chauffer, shopping companion, ATM machine…..
But a small portion will be valiant! They will be confident! They will pump their fist in the air like they are a member of a black revolutionary socialist party! They will Young Mc Bust a move! And they will speak! Oh God Almighty, they will SPEAK! They will seize the lusciousness before them, slam her against the wood paneling, clutch her hair with sexual aggression, headbutt her, then glare her right in her petrified, terrified eyes and declare “I think you are swell! And I desire entrance to explore your vaginal terrain!”
Don’t be a Ducky, hold onto your Molly Ringwald, and don’t let her walk off with some douche wearing a white linen blazer!
I now leave you with this quote from the premier Actor of our time, Ryan Reynolds, from the Award winning film “Just Friends”:
“The ‘Friend Zone’ is like the penalty box of dating; only you can never get out. Once a girl decides you’re her ‘friend,’ it’s game over. You’ve become a complete non-sexual entity in her eyes, like her brother, or a lamp.”
As always, thanks for reading!
~Wham Bam Thank You Tam
Update: Last I heard, Pookie embraced her popsicle sucking lips, and took a mediocre paying job on the sidewalks of East Baltimore working for some dude who likes to wear feathers in his hat.