Friday, July 30, 2010

Just Friends?

Harry: You realize of course that we could never be friends.

Sally: Why not?

Harry: What I’m saying is – and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form - is that men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.

Sally: That’s not true. I have a number of men friends and there’s no sex involved.

Harry: No you don’t.

Sally: Yes I do.

Harry: You only think you do.


- Harry Burns and Sally Albright in the film “When Harry Met Sally”


After popular demand, The Disappearances has been officially changed to The Mist Chasers. Thanks to my critique group for suggesting it. And thanks for all of you who voted.

I finished the last of Jackee’s edit suggestions today. The ones from Aubrie were done some time ago. And the critique group members have suggested a couple of critical places for improvement. All of these readers have made the manuscript so much stronger than it was several months ago. It’s my most layered piece to date. It went from 41k to 57k. I'll post the beginning on my 2nd blog soon (See link on sidebar).

One part of the story I wrestled with is Eve’s relationship with Adam. It soon becomes clear to Eve that he likes her, but she wants to remain friends. Like many teenagers, Eve’s initial idea of attraction and love is superficial. She’s interested in the hot football player. Even when Eve’s feelings towards Adam change, she decides losing him if they break up is too much of a risk.

I don’t want Eve to come across as unlikable because she resists dating Adam, and hope I’m not the only one who can relate to her.


My husband didn’t pursue me the way Adam pursues Eve. We were friends for over a year. When we met I had an inkling of attraction, but then it was clear he liked my friend. Another guy asked me out, so that was that. So I thought.

I dated the other guy for a year. Things went well for several months, and then began to sour. We had a long distance relationship for three months, and during that period, I spent more time with my friend. I started comparing the negative qualities of my boyfriend with the positive qualities of my friend.

My boyfriend was jealous of my friend, and it created friction between my boyfriend and me. But I wasn’t going to drop my friendship, especially when my relationship was deteriorating for reasons unrelated to my friend.

Then my boyfriend and I broke up. At this point I didn’t really consider dating my friend. I couldn’t imagine staying friends after a breakup, so I didn’t want to lose my friendship. (Sound familiar?)

But my friend liked me. And I missed all the signs he did, even obvious ones. One summer night he gave me a white bear. This is too embarrassing to admit. But writing is about truth, so I’ll spill it. The bear held a heart with the words “I love you”. Guess what I blurted?


“I don’t like it when stuffed animals have writing on them.”


I know, what’s wrong with me?


But, like Adam, he didn’t give up.


See that lovely exchange between Harry and Sally on the top of the page? My friend and I went to see that movie right around this time. During that scene, I recall shrinking in my seat and making sure not to look at my friend. After all, we were just friends, right?

I mentioned to my other friends and sister that I liked him, but not like that.


One night, my friend and I were supposed to see “The Who” in concert all the way in New Jersey. I couldn’t get off work at the music store, where we sold instruments and gave lessons. My friend was not happy with me. Then I found someone to cover the desk. But he didn’t show up. The last musician scheduled for the night offered to cancel his last students. Besides, it was slow. So I closed the shop early.

My friend and I were running late, but were somehow making great time on the highway. We were going to make it!

I think we were on a bridge between Queens and Manhattan when I said, “Oh no, I forgot the tickets.”

And I could see them sitting on the counter at the music store. It was too late. We’d never retrieve the tickets and make it in time, so we returned to town and got dinner. The whole time he kept reminding me about how BECAUSE OF ME we weren’t seeing The Who.

Afterwards, we went to the park nearby. It was dark. We sat on swings. I wondered if he liked me. I wondered if he’d ask me out. He wasn’t in the best mood. Understandably. He didn’t ask me out.


Nearly a week later, he told me he had to talk to me about something the next day. We agreed to meet at night. I speculated about what it could be. He wasn’t going to ask me out, I knew it. Maybe he got a job. Or was going away to school. Or maybe his parents were separating. (I know, cheerful thought but everyone's parents I knew split up.) It probably had nothing to do with me.

My friend and I ate dinner somewhere and had a conversation I couldn’t concentrate on. And then he took me to the park. I don’t remember his exact words, but it was something about liking me and wanting to go out with me. Guess what I said?

“I don’t want to ruin our friendship.”

That was my concern, but it wasn’t really my answer. I’m sure right after I uttered that stupid sentence, I said yes.

So, having Eve be clueless about her feeling for Adam. I get that.

41 comments:

  1. That is the best story ever! I can get how girls don't always realise guy friends like them.

    I love the new title too :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Awwwww what a lovely way to have met your hubby!! I like the awkwardness of the situation - it feels rather complicated but isn't really - you were meant to be but you just had to iron out a few kinks and one of you needed the guts to take that all important leap!

    Well done you two!! And talk about making in hard for the guy Ms "I don't like it when stuffed animals have writing on them" Milstein!!

    LOL!!!
    I'm so glad you missed the WHO concert cos look where you ended up and how! :-)

    Yes, this is a definite inspiration for how Eve's very complex feelings towards Adam!

    Yay for the Mist Chasers!

    Take care
    x

    ReplyDelete
  3. That's a fabulous story!! Your hubby sounds terrific! :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. That's really scary - my wife and I saw When Harry Met Sally about the time we finally started dating and claimed it was us!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Aww man, I completely forgot to vote! But I do like both titles. :]

    You said what?!?!?!?!?!

    That's hilarious.

    ReplyDelete
  6. @ Lindsay, I don't know why girls are like that either. In my case, after I thought he might, I worried I was misreading the signs and maybe it wasn't a good idea.

    @ Old Kitty, it was about guts.

    I know, I've always felt bad about the stuffed animals comment.

    Poor Eve is saddled with all of my issues.

    @ Jemi, yeah, he ain't bad.

    @ Alex, that's funny. I'll have fight your for the claim. I guess that's why the movie was so popular - lots of couples could relate to it.

    @ Amanda, YES, I DID. Don't worry about not voting. I think all but one person chose The Mist Chasers.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Amazing story! That's the beginning of your own love story right there... thanks for sharing.

    And btw, love the title The Mist Chasers. So unique!

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a lovely story, Theresa! You know what? I believe that the best love stories begin with friendship! I know it means destroying that friendship once you become sweethearts, but by starting as friends in the true sense of the word - it means you know each other by heart. I'm looking forward to reading your novel! It sounds really gooood! :-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. That's so sweet and I'm happy for you. Not everyone gets to be married to their friend. My husband and I were friends for over a year, too. He liked me and I was oblivious for a long time. I was too busy being fragile. But he made me laugh. When I realized what was happening, I was terrified! He always spoke of us as married....and still hasn't asked me to marry him, LOL! I can understand Eve, for sure. I actually liked Disappearances...I just think the other would be more marketable...? It's Friday-have a great weekend!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oooohhh, a wish! I LOVE that! Thanks, the kids in my class are gonna love the new name for their favorite flower!

    I keep forgetting to say this and thought of it as soon as I clicked submit, but I love the adventures of Substituteteacherwoman!!!

    ReplyDelete
  11. What a great story! I think that the best relationships start from friendships. That way you get to know each other first and can be comfortable around each other. I'm glad that it worked out for you and your "friend". :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. This was a really great story! I love hearing how couples meet and fall in love and when they've been married awhile (so you know it worked LOL) it's even more fascinating. Now do we get to hear his side of the story? Like what did he think when he gave you the bear? "I don't like it when stuffed animals have writing on them." LOL!

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a wonderful story of how you met!! It was fun to read.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I still haven't seen that movie. Worse, I have no excuse or reason why.

    Love the story of how you got started!

    ReplyDelete
  15. It sounds like your husband is a very patient man. That part about the "I love you" bear is so funny!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Theresa--You just won a random daily prize at my 18 day blog party...I already have your address. :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. This was a lovely story. Such a great way to start off a relationship. Enjoyed reading this.

    ReplyDelete
  18. It seems to me that the way you're handling the relationship between Adam and Eve is the most realistic way. Adults are often clueless. Teenagers are even more often clueless, it seems to me.

    Loved your story, by the way.

    Straight From Hel

    ReplyDelete
  19. I loved reading the story behind you and your husband!

    And don't worry about Eve, I still like her as a character. A lot of girls are like that, and I think it's realistic.

    I love the new title by the way!

    ReplyDelete
  20. @ Jennifer, glad you liked my love story.

    Thanks for the input on the title.

    @ Len the good part about being friends first is that there was no pretense. We knew what we were getting.

    @ The Words Crafter, you should write a post about your story.

    I've called dandelions "wishes" since I was younger. I plastered it all over my blog because all of these wishes I'm waiting to come true. (Getting a teaching job, agent, and publishing contract.)

    ReplyDelete
  21. AHH!

    I enjoyed reading this in a cringe-worthy sort of way! 'I don't like it when animals have writing on then' - priceless! So how did he react?

    Thanks for sharing this, Theresa! :)

    ReplyDelete
  22. @ Neurotic Workaholic, I think starting off as friends is good too. I feel lucky.

    @ KarenG, I told him what you wrote. He reminded me of something even worse. (This is bad.) I took off the heart. I think he's forgiven me by now. But I don't think he wants to write a guest post.

    @ Bossy Betty, glad it was a fun read.

    @ Vicki, it's such a clever and funny movie. You should see it!

    @ Susan, he was very patient though I didn't realize it at the time.

    ReplyDelete
  23. @ Sharon, thanks. Hooray!

    @ Mr. Stupid, I'm glad you enjoyed the story.

    @ Helen, you make a good point about cluelessness. I don't want readers to think Eve is toying with Adam.

    @ Aubrie, since you've read the new manuscript, your comments are reassuring. Thanks!

    @ Talli, it is cringe-worthy. I cringed while writing it. And I just admitted to Karen (which I had forgotten until my husband remind me) I pulled off the heart. I'm heartless!

    From what I remember he played it cool. I realized what I'd done and couldn't undo it. And I was too scared to just tell him I thought I liked him. Disaster!

    ReplyDelete
  24. I never understood about when guys liked me, either. Unless they actually declared it- I was clueless. It's amazing I dated as much as I did. Maybe because I was a tom boy for so long?
    Your story sounds all too familiar in my life.
    I actually never really thought anyone when through that....Thanks for getting that across. I get that, too.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I think that how Eve feels will add tension, and lots of room for misunderstandings - Thanks for giving us your own story -that poor rejected bear!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Another laugh out loud moment ... followed by intense cringing (re: stuffed animal)

    Have you ever thought about writing an autobiography? I know this blog is actually one but your life stories are fantastic - and of course it's the way you write them ... hence the cringing ... I was right there!!!

    ReplyDelete
  27. @ Barbra, Eve was a tom boy too! I wasn't. But until the last decade, my best friends were almost always guys. Less drama - more fun.

    @ Words A Day, I like the way you put it. I tried to create a lot of tension and a few misunderstandings.

    Poor bear. And without its words, it wasn't as interesting. I didn't even save him.

    @ Clutterbug, I considered writing a substitute teaching memoir, but haven't started it yet. I began a screenplay based on the last year of high school up to when my now husband asked me out. Then I realized I didn't really know how to write a screenplay. Right now it's my blog and fiction. Maybe someday.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I think it's believable that Eve wouldn't know her feelings right away, especially if she's a teen and is chasing after an ideal she thinks she needs to live up to.

    ReplyDelete
  29. @ Missed Periods, I'm glad Eve's actions sound plausible. Thanks!

    @ February Grace, thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Your story reminds me of... well... me. So yes, I think it's absolutely plausible (and not annoying at all). I suppose at times it can get a bit frustrating when a character seems completely oblivious, but your character isn't oblivious about HIM. She is oblivious about her OWN feelings. Which I think is great.

    ReplyDelete
  31. Great new title!!! I love the story, yay for the new edits!

    PS I love When Harry met Sally!

    ReplyDelete
  32. Guys are always thinking of sex, even among good friends? How do you know this for sure? We can't just be friends?

    It's not true. We guys might undress a few babes with our eyes once in a while (well, at lot actually) but that does not mean we are always thinking about sex during causual conversation.

    Sometimes I think of Mexican food, Monday Night Football, Beer, and sleep. And scratching. So there.

    Wally

    ReplyDelete
  33. Great story. :)

    I'm glad you're receiving and utilizing awesome feedback.

    Also, I have a blog award for you.

    ReplyDelete
  34. @ Vanessa, you put what i was trying to do exactly. Eve is oblivious about her own feelings towards Adam.

    @ Jen, thanks!

    @ Walter, while I didn't stay friends with my husband, I had plenty of male friends before him and a few later on. I think men and women can be friends. Usually. Sometimes.

    And thank you for your illuminating list of what else men think about.

    @ Medeia, thanks for the feedback and the award.

    ReplyDelete
  35. What a fun story! And I LOVE the new title. Good job!

    ReplyDelete
  36. @ Julie, thank you. I'll be putting an excerpt of it on the 2nd blog soon.

    ReplyDelete
  37. I love how we get to hear about your first meeting in one post and then hear about how you got together...
    It makes for a great story. : j

    It seems to me like a perfectly legitimate concern to want to preserve one's friendship when getting romantically involved with a friend. Besides, it's not like you just said that and ran off. : j

    ReplyDelete
  38. I love your story. The bit about the bear with writing on it made me laugh out loud.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Hi there!

    Shortstorybook.net is organizing a short story writing contest.

    We do think that you too might have a marvelous story to tell, one that is your own! So if you can compose it in not more than few words, we would want to hear from you. Also, you stand a chance to get your story published on our site and win cash prize of USD 100.

    “Then what are you waiting for? …put on your thinking cap and get writing. For registration and other information check - http://bit.ly/short-story-contest-2010

    Happy writing!

    ReplyDelete
  40. @ Alesa, it's nice to know you've enjoyed learning a little about my early relationship.

    And I still stand by my assertion that if this thing we're doing doesn't work out, we'll lose our friendship. I'm just lucky it hasn't happened yet!

    @ India, I know, poor bear. And friend.

    @ Reberto Alberto, I'll check out the short story contest. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete