>>> The Rollercoaster of Drama
By staff writer Simonne Cullen
November 4, 2007

At least once in our lifetime, maybe even two or eight times for the really unlucky ones, you’re going to have to be on both the giving and receiving end of the “I think we should be friends” spiel. There are, of course, several variations and methods of delivering the bad news, but the one part that never changes is, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

The speech is always given in a public place—a coffee shop, outside a movie theater, the food court in the mall. That was a popular one in high school. Any time one of my friends said they were meeting “their man” at the mall after school, I knew that they were going to be dumped amid the neon lights of the Taco Bell Express and heat lamps of Sbarro’s pizza. Perhaps guys always gave the speech in the food court so that afterwards she’d feel rejected but at least be surrounded by comfort food.

“The last thing anyone wants when getting rejected is a hug from the opposing party.”

Ever have to deal with the person who doesn’t quite get the message that this is the politest way to break up with someone? It’s not entirely the receiver’s immediate fault that it doesn’t penetrate through his head—after all, you usually have to build up their self-esteem before you drop the bomb: “You’re smart, funny, kind, loyal, attractive, popular, gentle, but I think that right now all I’m looking for is a friend.” The receiver only hears, “She likes me she likes me she likes me….she’s scared to commit to someone who is so AWESOME! I’ll just make her feel more secure in this relationship by telling her I am falling in love with her. Yeah, that’ll work for me, Mr. Awesome Man.”

Then of course there are the really really shitty deliveries of this speech. For instance, after a nice movie-pizza-beer date and some making out, he walks to your car, and instead of laying down the foundation for the next date, he says, “Well just so you know, I’m not looking for anything serious, and we should really keep ‘us’ a secret since we’re just more than friends but not dating.” Which translates to, “Please don’t tell a single person in this city of 6 million that we’re together so they don’t think I’m a man-whore. I’m trying to keep up a charming image to everyone…except you.”

While there is the occasional, and may I add atrocious, text message of “Maybe we should just be friends,” an even worse case of the deliverance exists: At the beginning of a 3-day weekend trip when one party is being eaten alive by the fact that they’ll have to endure the entire weekend the other party thinking that “this” is developing into a relationship. When the only place it’s really going is to the ever-expanding graveyard of hope, to die.

Unable to undergo 72 hours of intensive hand holding, the speech is then given at approximately 15 minutes before leaving for the long weekend. You’re packed, ready for fun, thinking about maybe landing third base, and then BAM, you’re hit with the news. You shrug to cover up the hurt, or maybe even agree with the other party. “Yes, I don’t believe this was working out for the best either…perhaps we should go back to being friends so you’ll feel comfortable passing gas and not showering before you see me. I couldn’t agree more.” Then top it off with a hug.

What is with the “hug”? The last thing anyone wants when getting rejected is a hug from the opposing party. You didn’t see Bush physically embrace Kerry when the Democrats lost the election. You didn’t see the Red Sox offer up a friendly cuddle to the Rockies when they swept their asses. Shit, Vice President Cheney didn’t even offer to hug his hunting buddy after he shot him. So why when giving the speech does the giving party think it’s okay to wrap up with a hug? “Hey, I’m really sorry. Let me hug you tight so your clothes can smell like my scent, which is all you’ll have left of me when I let go. But hey, we got a weekend of fun camping ahead of us. Let’s not be awkward and ruin it for everyone else.”

True Story Wrap Up:

Recently I had to deliver “the speech.” One night a little while ago one of my family members set me up with what she claimed to be a “stellar guy.” And if you’re new to reading my articles, let me just say, I have a history of set-ups turned disasters…and the trend continues.

So I meet the guy at a restaurant. He’s nice. He’s not terrible looking. He’s not a vampire. How bad can it be? We justordered appetizers when I noticed that he was sniffling. I asked him what was wrong. Had my stunning beauty made him tear up? No. He dabbed his napkin on the corner of his eyes and let out a, “This is my first date since my divorce,” followed by a low, soul-churning sob.

Divorced at 28. A minor detail my family member forgot to mention. Not cool. As usual, I had no idea what to do once he started heaving slightly. Luckily, he left to “gather himself” in the men’s room.

Upon his return—20 minutes later—all he could do was comment on how I had devoured the entire bread basket. He sat down slowly, and as he wiped his eyes, I threw out the, “Maybe we should do this another time. You don’t need a date right now. You need a friend you can talk to.”

And with that, I had our crab cakes wrapped up and we went our separate ways; he went to therapy, and I debated changing my phonenumber.