When all other methods have been tried and failed, when the bullets are gone from the chambers, when the quivers are empty and the bows lie discarded on the smoking and desolate battlefield, the weakened soldier must choose to accept defeat on the terms of his enemy or to die fighting.
This is when guys ask you for a hug…
They do it because they know we can’t refuse. To do so would go against the most basic tenets of battle protocol. And it works, sometimes. Sometimes when you’re already in somebody’s arms it’s just easier to let things happen than to keep on ducking and diving. Men are aware of this. They learn at early ages to work the hug.
Martin and I had spent most of the evening swilling beer at the Redbar, and ended up back at his flat after the place closed down. The decision to go to his place had made perfect sense to me as we wobbled out of the bar and onto Victoria Street. It would have taken me an hour to get home by bus, he pointed out. He lived just around the corner on Bencoolen and had plenty of room. How hospitable, I thought cheerfully. How sweet.
So later on, after indulging in a few (harmless!) kisses, I found myself trying to pry myself away from his Tupperware-like clutches and avoid his groping hands, which had inexplicably seemed to become more numerous. I was attempting to explain to him that, despite my earlier behaviour, I did not think that a romantic entanglement would benefit either of us. As if the guy was interested in romance.
My words couldn’t have carried much weight, though, since only moments before uttering them my tongue had been somewhere in the vicinity of his lower left wisdom tooth. This must be one of those things that men despise about women, and rightfully so. So I was explaining to him that some people ("us, for instance,") were destined only for friendship. But I think the only word he caught was "destined." He seemed to find it encouraging.
"The thing is," I was saying as I reached behind me to wrench his hand from my ass, "is that I really do like you and I wouldn’t want to do anything…" I ducked to avoid an incoming kiss, which ended up landing squarely on my ear, "…anything to compromise our friendship."
Do women really talk like this? I do. I once told a man that I didn’t want to cheapen our friendship by making it sexual. Christ. I made a mental note to come up with a better line for use in the future.
"But baby," he said, maneuvering me back against the wall and sort of pinning me there, "just stay for a while. I only want to hold you."
This oft-used line, of course, is the male equilavent of "I just want to be friends." On the lameness scale they each rate a perfect ten, plastic and transparent, the very antithesis of sincerity.
"Martin. OK. I’m going now." He ignored me and continued nuzzling my ear. It felt nice.
"Martin. Really now. I’ll see you later, ok?"
I gave one last wriggle to extract myself from his grasp. He stepped back and looked at me; his stricken expression resembling that of a puppy in the rain – adorable, pathetic. He let out an exaggerated sigh, paused for effect, and launched his final assault. "Just give me a hug, okay?"
I respected the rules. I put my arms around his neck and bussed him on the cheek in as sisterly a fashion as I could manage. When I tried to move away, his arms were predictably locked around my waist.
"Martin," I said firmly. He let go, accepting the fate of the evening with as much grace as he could muster. I grabbed my jacket and hit the door. Walking through the light drizzle toward Rocher Rd, I reflected that it might actually have been nice if I had stayed with Martin. Hell, I thought, maybe I should have. Like Janis Joplin advised us all those years ago, the "get it while you can" attitude might make the long dry spells between relationships considerably more tolerable.
Old Janis probably never thought much about whether or not people considered her a ‘nice girl.’ And at times my whole life seemed like a big f*cking dry spell, I thought wryly. The price you pay for not being made to wear a scarlet letter. The thing was, though, people didn’t really wear scarlet letters. Hawthorne has been dead for a long time. I lit a cigarette and looked up the street toward Martin’s. Asleep by now, I thought.
Maybe next time.