You listen to him talk endlessly about his girlfriend; about her smile, her laughter, her work, her ‘talents’, her everything. You listen patiently with a smile on your face and you punctuate his endless tirade with comments like “awww”, “really?” and “wow! That is so cool!”
You do all that not because you want to but because that’s what friends do. And Kay is your friend. You’ve been friends since you were little kids building sand castles behind your house and running round in panties. Kay has seen the best and the worst of you. He knows you like no other.
You’re actually taken by surprise the day he tells you about Emily. The new girl he met on twitter and he thinks he likes. It surprises you because you’d been waiting patiently for him to just ask you out. But you do not dampen his excitement. Rather, you encourage it and it grows and grows till your brains feel like they would burst if you hear “Emily” one more time.
So for six months while he’s dating Emily, you try to give him space. It’s a little tough because he’s always been in your life- a definite part of every day. But you tell yourself you wouldn’t want to share your man with some strange female bestie, if you were Emily. So you bury your hurt and try to live your life without Kay. It’s hard. Really hard. But you try and somehow you cope.
Then Kay shows up at your house that night, slightly drunk. You’re taken by surprise because you know he’d never touch alcohol with a long pole. But he’s slightly drunk. And he’s at your house. And he’s telling you how his girlfriend cheated on him with a colleague at her work place. Kay is crushed because his girlfriend is everything to him.
You see something in his eyes that you’ve never seen before. It is not just the pain. It is a longing for something much more than he has. You watch him cry like a baby and your heart goes out to him. You pour him a glass of vodka and mix it with coke because you know from experience that vodka is a miracle worker that can wash pain away.
He drinks it all up and you’re smitten with the puppy eyes that request for more alcohol. And that night, you become a bartender, mixing glass after glass and watching him down them. Eventually, you decide that he’s had enough and you ask him to go take a shower. He pulls you in for a hug instead. You oblige him. Friends share hugs when they’re hurting.
Hugs make everything alright. No?
He nuzzles his nose in your cheek and in that moment, you know what is coming next. He brings his face fully into yours and tries to kiss you. With every fiber of discipline you can muster, you hold back and sidle your face away.
He laughs and tries again. But you rebuff him gently yet again. You step out of his embrace and force him to go take a cold shower. Then you send him off to sleep in your bedroom while you camp out on the couch.
As he shuts his eyes to sleep, he whispers to you
“Hey, I love you.”
You smile and kiss his forehead without responding and then you return to your couch in the living room.
You know better than to take advantage of the situation.
Because the following morning, the girlfriend will show up at your place red-eyed and teary. She will beg Kay and swear that she will never cheat on him again. She will beg you to appeal to him.
And you will swallow the lump in your throat and encourage Kay to take her back.
Because that’s what friends do.
Or is it?
“It’s like you’re my mirror, my mirror staring back at me…”