I admit it. I have a lot of boxes. A box for friends, and a box for enemies. A box for frenemies, one for family, another for lovers. I even have a box for barely tolerable coworkers. I put the people I trust into one box, and the people I’d like to throw out the window into another box.
And once someone is read, stamped, classified and packed away into a box, it’s almost impossible for them to get out of it.
Take my friend, Greg. We worked together and hung out all the time. And early in our friendship, he dated a friend of mine. He was also younger than me, and our politics did not match up. So, he was in the Friend Box.
A few months later, as we were hanging out and having a great time, he implied that we should date. I informed him that he was off limits since he once dated a friend of mine. This was only partially true. The real truth was that he was in the Friend Box, and I wasn’t going to let him out.
Greg and I may have been incredibly compatible. Or we may have completely ruined a perfectly good friendship if we dated. We’ll never know. Once in the Friend Box, always in the Friend Box.
I was so good at pigeonholing men into “datable” and “not datable.” But, aren’t we all? Doesn’t everyone have some way of categorizing the opposite sex?
My system was working just fine. Until one day I discovered it wasn’t.
A co-worker of mine, Brandon, was a nice enough guy, good looking in a boyish much-too-young-for-me kind of way, and was engaged to another person I used to work with. He was fun and smart and we had a great working relationship. The epitome of Friend Box material.
Little did I know, his relationship with his fiancé was on the rocks. He was very private about what was going on, but started walking around work like someone had just run over his puppy. One morning, he rounded the corner, hunched over and miserable with a cup of bad breakroom coffee in his hands. I had picked up an extra Caramel Macchiato that morning and handed it to him.
He looked like he was going to cry over that damn Starbucks cup. It was as if no one had ever been nice to him in his life. Of course, I had no idea what was going on. I was just being my usual fabulous and considerate self.
Over the next few weeks, whenever we worked together, I brought coffee and he brought breakfast. We had a great system going here. Good coworkers are harder to find than you might think.
One day it finally came out that he had broken up with his fiancé. All of the single ladies (and some of the single men) put their hands up. He was quite the hot ticket, and I laughed to myself because he was so not my type.
You see, the men I dated (and allowed into the Datable Box) were typically over six feet tall and a few years older. They were confident, some might say cocky, and they always had light eyes. (Being a brown-eyed girl, I always wanted a light-eyed baby. Potential suitors had to at least give me a fighting chance on getting what I wanted!) Brandon fit none of these criteria.
As it turned out, I fit his.
We went out with other coworkers for drinks a few times, and he started dropping hints that we should “hang out.” I told him I was too busy (which I was), but I really had no intention of dating him, either.
So, I put him off. He wasn’t my type, he was too young, he wore a calculator watch, he weighed less than me, for crying out loud! But, most importantly, he was in the Friend Box.
We still hung out, though. And we were totally platonic. When it came out that we had driven to the desert to look at Mars, which was close and bright that year, everyone assumed we were dating. Unfortunately, the more we hung out, the more I got to know him, the more I realized how much we had in common, the further in the Friend Box he went. He never even tried to kiss me, and the longer he went without trying to make a move, the less likely he was ever going to be able to crawl out of the Friend Box.
Then, one day, Brandon tricked me. He plopped down at my desk and said, “you’re opening Thursday, right?”
“You’re off at, what, 4:30?”
“Great. I’m taking you out to dinner!”
Gack! There was no way I could get out of a date with him now. No excuse I could make. It was too late. I was going on a date with Brandon. I had to figure out how to let him down easy.
But first, I had to go through with the date. We went to dinner and saw a show. We had a great time, and for the first time, I found myself wanting him to kiss me. Because he wasn’t my type.
I realized that my type was working against me. What I needed in my life was a man who brought out the silly in me, who was intelligent and smart. It didn’t matter that he was a Republican, because our political ideals matched up. It didn’t matter that he was younger, or shorter than me when I wore heels. He didn’t care, so why should I? He resembled my father figure so strikingly, and I realized that, instead of running away from it, there was comfort in the familiar. I just felt and trusted that he was right for me.
And so, despite my best efforts, Brandon climbed out of the Friend Box and sat himself right inside the Datable Box.
Soon after, Brandon took the Datable Box over completely, and turned it into the Partner-for-Life Box.
And now, I am happy to announce that we just celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary and have a beautiful daughter together. So, we get to share the Proud Parents Box.
By the way, our daughter’s eyes are blue. I guess Brandon was more my type than I could initially see.
And my friend Greg? Married to an awesome girl who allowed him out of her own Friend Box.
Nice the way things work out sometimes, isn’t it?