February 19, 2012

The Big Red Friend Zone: How to Keep Things Friendly at Cornell

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I do not exclude myself when I say that we as Cornellians have developed the ridiculous belief that it is humanly impossible for two people of the opposite sex to be “just friends.” After all, I’m pretty sure I’ve accused every single one of my girlfriends of being romantically involved with every guy they’ve ever spoken to. They, in turn, almost always return the favor.Usually, these types of conversations end with an uncomfortable chuckle and my flimsy reassurance that there aren’t any real feelings between “insert-guy-friend-here” and I. But every once in a while, my friends will be unconvinced. And that is disastrous.Take my freshman year. I had the great fortune of living in that carpet-rich palace known as Balch Hall. If those stone walls don’t scream sexual repression, I don’t know what does.       In Balch, it was generally understood that if you had a boy with you past 8:00, y’all would be bumping uglies on your lofted bed in no time. It didn’t matter if that guy you were toting down the halls was your gay best friend, your younger brother or your married professor. Hell, if you were seen even talking to the maintenance man your sexual desperateness (or prowess, depending on how well-defined his abs were) became the rumor of the week. This nonsense was clearly the result of living with 500 other girls who generally believed that The Notebook was more or less based on a true story.When prelim week rolled around, I invited one of my good guy friends over to my room for a late-night study sesh, unspoken rule be damned. To be fair, he was attractive enough that my Balch Hall cred would not be terribly threatened. But our friendship was of the platonic sort.  There would be no scrunchies on the door or Lionel Richie bumping through the speakers that night.Or so I thought. Because according to my floormates’ overactive imaginations, those three hours we spent studying statistics were really the most passionate three hours of my young life.My roommate told me she was afraid to come in the door, so she ended up sleeping in the common room. My next-door-neighbor swore she heard sounds she thought could only be found in a zoo. They all rushed in, searching for the six million spent condoms I obviously went through.Amid the witch-hunt, I tried to deny the rumors. But denying them only fueled the fire. There was no hope. My friend and I had sex, at least as far as they were concerned, and that was that. Admittedly, I let it go. If anything,  I looked like I was getting more action than I actually was, which was not necessarily a bad thing.Not a bad thing, that was, until my statistics buddy caught me in the hallway after class. What had started as a funny story among my floor mates in Balch had turned into a full-fledged rumor that I genuinely found this person attractive. And now he believed it to be true.Let’s face it, kids, there is no real nice way of telling someone, “I’d rather contract tuberculosis and then set myself on fire than touch your penis.”I cannot help but think that this fiasco could have been entirely avoided if we at Cornell didn’t have some total preoccupation with dating and relationships on campus.I’m sure you’ve all heard that statistic that one in whatever Cornell graduates met their spouse at Cornell. And sure, maybe the whole Big Red wedding bliss rumor is true. After all, my parents met here their senior year. But I’m confident that my dating life does not have to begin and end in Ithaca, N.Y.Eventually, my friend and I cleared the air and we remain (platonically) chummy ever since. But every once in a while, we’ll get particularly drunk. And when we do, he’ll glance over at me with a look that says, “Are you going to pounce on me tonight? Because I’d really rather you not.”“No,” I’ll say. “But I’m always down for a round of tonsil hockey after the prelim tomorrow night.”

Cristina Stiller is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at [email protected]. Believe You Me appears alternate Mondays this semester.

Original Author: Cristina Stiller