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How to Sleep With Your Friends            May 1, 2000

It Would Be Wrong, but also Inevitable...

by India Johnston

Email to a FriendListen to his relationship problems. He'll ask you: How am I ever going to get out of this? Tell him it's best to break it off cleanly. He'll say: You're so smart. That's why I love you. Tell him how you left your last boyfriend, how you just packed a suitcase one day and got on a plane. He'll say: You're the strongest, most independent woman I know.

When things get really bad with him and the Girlfriend, agree to go to his apartment for a serious advice session. Give serious advice with your bare feet in his lap. It's a very small couch; make yourselves more comfortable. Really notice your Friend's lips. How have you never really noticed these lips before?

Listen while he tells you that Girlfriend is already jealous of you even though you've never met. Maybe she heard something in his voice when he said your name. Let the foot rub he gives you evolve naturally into a leg rub. Agree to have coffee with him and Girlfriend so you can more accurately evaluate the situation.

Watch as, in slow motion, he gently lifts your foot, bows his head, and brings his lips to your ankle. Say no. Tell him It Would Be Wrong, but realize that It Is Inevitable; every conversation you've ever had has led to this. Say no when his hands slip under your knees and shoulders, as he attempts to scoop you up. Say no and laugh when he invites you to stay over and says: nothing has to happen. Say yes to at least tucking him in. Say yes to a friendly goodnight kiss. Say yes.

Think: this is what it's like when two people finally recognize what's been there all along...

Cancel plans to have coffee with Friend and Girlfriend. Don't stay over. Go home. Wake up to sweet, obscene e-mail from him. Smile. Discover that you too possess a gift for writing obscene e-mail.

Go over to his place again two nights later. Listen to complaints that Girlfriend is clingy and psycho. Compare her to your ex-boyfriend. During comparison, unbutton your shirt to reveal your zebra-print bra. On the way home, recall that in your last relationship, possibly, you yourself were the clingy one.

Decline invitation to come see his band play. At last minute, decide to go as a self-test for jealousy. Wear your new boots. Girlfriend comes over to your table to put you on the mailing list. Tell her that you are already on it. Let her wonder who you are. She comes over to sell you a CD. Buy it.

Go into the bathroom with stomach pains. Picture yourself as younger, devoted girlfriend, selling CDs to boyfriend's allegedly platonic friend. It's not hard to picture. Leave without being seen.

Confess to him via e-mail that you were there and that you feel guilty. He will assure you: Our problems aren't your fault. Too much is standing in our way. Incompatible interests, her precarious mental state, my obsession with your body.

Get blindsided when he mentions that the two of them are going away for the weekend.

When they get back, listen to him tell you This Time it is definitely over. Again. Realize he is not saying this to reassure you. He is just telling you what's on his mind. Because you are his Friend.

Valentines day. Tell him he's screwed. If he does too much she will have false hope. Too little makes him a jerk, and doing nothing is unacceptable. He will say: I wish the two of us could get on a plane, not tell anyone in the world where we're going, and spend the weekend in bed. Tell him about your blind date. Tell him you can no longer see him while he is involved.

Be there for him during the long, painful breakup. Feel gratified when he tells her exactly what you tell him to say.

When it is over, see him again. In bed, afterwards, he'll say: After that mess, I don't want another relationship for a long time. Like years. I have too many other things going on. The band is really getting off the ground. Notice that he says this as though it has nothing to do with you at all. Also notice that his eyes flicker toward yours for a moment before he looks away.

Without skipping a beat, exaggerate your involvement with a guy you are dating. Make it sound like a separate topic. Two friends, talking. Leave, remembering that the two of you used to hug and kiss hello and goodbye a lot more when you were platonic. You've heard about women who use sex as a powerful tool. You have not been using this power properly.

Go to bookstore and purchase How To Be Great In Bed. In back of store, furtively read How To Make Anyone Fall In Love With You.

When he doesn't call, catalog all usage of pet names in his e-mails to you. Make a spreadsheet. Sexy occurs most often. Baby shows up twice and is inconclusive. But Sweetness? Doesn't that mean something? When he does call, go to his apartment in only a trench coat and boots, as requested.

Realize he is your Lover. Roll the word around in your mind all day. It's mysterious. It's adult. Isn't it?

Remember a night about a year ago, before you were lovers. You were both in a small bar with a table full of friends. It was early spring. He had to leave to meet whomever he was dating. After he went out the door, he came up to the window and smiled in at you. He put his hand gently to the glass. You mouthed: what are you doing? Someone at your table said: He's in love with you. He just doesn't know it yet. Through the window, he blew a kiss to you and waved. And then he walked away.

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