I first met Andie in the fall of 2001. We were both college freshmen, music majors who ended up in the same classroom for Music Theory 1. I was a freshly-minted high school graduate interested only in music, guys and ingesting as many drugs as I could get my hands on. We were passing acquaintances that semester, but that all changed. “Hey Alex, do you smoke weed?” she asked. I had “the look,” apparently, and we piled into her Jeep for the first of many, many bowls.
Our passing acquaintance quickly became a friendship. Andie was everything I aspired to be: drop-dead gorgeous, with an effortlessly cool girl-next-door vibe that made guys fall in love with her instantaneously. She was a snowboarder who could use phrases like “shredding the gnar” without sounding like a poser, and could hit a bong and sing an opera aria in the same breath. I wanted to be her.
When I shyly asked her if she would like to rent an apartment with me for junior year she agreed, and I just knew that inhabiting the same space would drag my cool up to her level. We found a sweet garden-level two-bedroom and set about feathering our nest. We hosted elaborate Sunday brunches, and it wasn’t unusual for friends to stay the night on Saturdays, or stop by on Sundays just in time for crepes.
Soon we were a package deal. We studied together, wore each other’s clothes, got drunk, and built a playground for my cat in the apartment. We would sit and talk for hours, passing the bong as we gossiped about boys, our beliefs, our lives, school, families, and the world and could crack each other up with nothing but a well-timed glance. She was my soulmate, and I trusted her completely and knew in my heart that I could tell her anything without fear of judgment or recrimination. The more I got to know Andie the more I admired her; one of her greatest skills has always been diplomacy. As a self-proclaimed outsider with all the tact and subtlety of a blunt axe, I carefully watched her and attempted to emulate her mannerisms. She could explain anything in such a way as to make the recipient at once more satisfied with and understanding to her position. I sought her advice on how to interact with coworkers, boys, professors, and friends.
At about the same time that Andie and I became roommates, I met Max. We had Music Theory 2 together, and the first day of class I knew, I just knew, I had met the man I would marry. He was scruffily handsome in a crunchy, neo-hippie kind of way. He was a few years older than me, intelligent, funny, opinionated and he played the guitar. 20-year-old me was smitten. I began my clumsy crusade to make him mine. I looked for ways to include him in bar cruises, study groups, and lunch dates. As he and I began to hang out more frequently, just the two of us, always, I would report back to Andie. Every phone call, every word, every hang out, was endlessly dissected and rehashed for any sign that the man of my dreams was waking up to the idea that I was his perfect mate.
I continued to find any excuse to be near him. Was I not being forward enough? Clearly he was just shy! Or oblivious! I ramped up the seduction. I would do the “Oops, my hand accidentally brushed against yours!” or the perennial favorite, “Oops, our knees touched under the table!” He never responded affirmatively, but his lack of a negative reaction was just enough to keep my hopes alive. Andie was my biggest cheerleader as always. She helped me devise my “clever” plans to spend time with Max and shared in my disappointment when they didn’t come to fruition. Gradually Max became integrated into our core group of friends, and while I tempered my enthusiasm for him I never let that torch go out.
In March of 2004 a large group of us went on a camping trip to Utah. We had a blast. What could be better than a dozen college students with full kegs, mushroom chocolates and endless bags of weed in the desert? Max and I decided to remain behind and extend our trip by a night. As I hugged Andie goodbye we exchanged a Meaningful Look: this was it.
Max and I made the most of our final day of vacation. We did a beer run, took a hike, came back to camp, made dinner and finished off the last of the ‘shrooms as it was getting dark. I knew that it was my big chance. I put the most seductive music I could find in my Discman (2004, remember) and we commenced getting wasted. We stayed up talking long into the night, looking at the camp fire. When it was time to go to sleep I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. Finally, after nearly a year of effort, Max was going to be mine! We would have sex and in the morning he would realize that we were meant to be together. As we settled into our sleeping bags I began to subtly move and shift in an attempt to make my body touch his. Shift, wait. Shift, wait. It was agony. As I finally crossed the threshold to physical touch, Max’s body stiffened and he rolled away to the other side of the tent. Disappointed, I turned over and fell asleep.
When we returned to town, Andie was eagerly waiting to hear every detail. She was outraged on my behalf. “What the fuck?! He’s not gay and it’s not like you’re 600 pounds and covered in moles! What’s his problem?” Comforted that my best friend knew that he was losing out, I confidently announced the end of my crush. I finally got it. I merrily moved on to another crush and began enjoying Max’s company as friends.
One day near summer, he and I were having lunch while Andie and I talked about preparing to hunt for a new apartment. Our sweet two-bedroom had turned into a nightmare situation involving the property managers. Max asked if Andie and I would consider getting a three-bedroom with him. We agreed and the three of us found a big, beautiful converted house, set up our space and immediately got comfortable. Sunday brunch, shared beers after work, and long conversations on the couch were regular occurrences. Max, Andie and I were a great team and besides typical cohabitation-related squabbles we managed to coexist peacefully. I realized, after living with him, that Max and I were not nearly the perfect match I had fantasized. His persnickety habits would have resulted in me breaking up with or killing him in the first month. I was over him and things were great.