This is an article published in the April 2010 issue of the Lynchburg Current

The friend zone; that terrible place you find yourself when you have waited too long to make your move on someone you’re interested in, therefore stranding yourself in that non-negotiable dead end where you’re no longer considered an appealing member of the opposite sex, but a member of their own. A friend. For girls, you’re now one of the guys; expect to hear unending amounts of sports chatter and demeaning jokes. For guys, you may as well tuck your sack back because you’re in for a lot of man-hating rants and discussions about the menstrual cycle. Okay, I retract those statements- I’m being incredibly gender stereotypical. No matter what sex you are, if you find yourself stuck in the friend zone, it’s high time to move, because the more you keep on pining, the more familiar you will become with the words ‘just friends.’

Of course, there are a few exceptions to the rule. Half the reason people marooned in the friend zone hold out hope is for the few exceptions they have heard about in the past; stories about great couples who are completely compatible because they were ‘friends first.’ Let me just explain this exception here and now so people who don’t qualify can get used to it and move on. The only reason this exception ever works is because of the guy. If a girl puts a guy in a friend zone, (I mean really puts him in and doesn’t just claim she only thinks of him as a friend because she knows she has absolutely no chance with him) it is over. It’s done. I have tons of really good looking male friends who I would never contemplate hooking up with because I have known them far too long, and they are stuck in the friend zone. I will try and pawn them off on my single girlfriends though.

However, if we want to take this to When Harry Met Sally level, I can quite confidently say that if a guy finds a girl attractive (this is key), she will never be completely in the friend zone. She may be the girlfriend of one of his buddies, and therefore off limits. Or perhaps she seems uninterested in him, and maybe they develop a deep friendship (I do believe guys and girls can cultivate real friendships) but somewhere in the back of his head, the guy is aware that the girl is attractive and therefore if they were stranded on a desert island (or ¾ a bottle deep in a bottle of Jose) that girl is doable, and perhaps even datable. And that’s where you have all these stories about couples who were ‘friends first.’ Let us take a look at a few of these examples I have collected from students at Lynchburg College, whose names I have changed at their request.

Stephanie and Jon had been friends since freshman year of college. She had thought he was cute, but soon started dating someone else.  He had thought she was cute, but had no idea she was interested in him. The end of sophomore year, Stephanie and her boyfriend break up. She has too much to drink and follows Jon into the  bathroom at the campus pizzeria where they, uhm, fall madly in love.

See what happened here? While Stephanie had a boyfriend, her and Jon regarded eachother as friends, because Stephanie was unavailable, but deep down they never forgot their initial attraction to one another. This is how couples evolve from friends to more. Let’s try another one.

Kelly and Brian were childhood friends. Kelly considered Brian to be like a brother, while Brian secretly thought Kelly was smokin’ hot. Throughout high school, each were in relationships with other people. During college, Kelly comes home for Christmas, visits Brian, and they both get really drunk, giving Brian the courage to make a move on Kelly and confess that he has been pining for her since they were twelve. Kelly shuts him down with the dreaded words “just friends.”

Here, Kelly legitimately did put Brian in the friend zone (although Brian is an attractive guy), where Brian was never able to fully put Kelly in that zone because he thought she was cute. It doesn’t matter how good looking the guy, a girl will be able to put him in the friend zone if she has known him long enough or has smelled how rank his feet get after he comes back from the gym. But a guy will never fully be able to put a girl in the friend zone if he thinks she is hot. He can respect her, admire her, think she is an awesome person, but deep down he secretly wonders what she looks like naked. Of course, a guy can think a girl is hot until he gets to know her and then (maybe because she is obnoxious or has hygiene issues) become un-attracted to her, placing her in the friend zone. But if he retains physical attraction, he will never 100% consider her ‘just a friend.

Ladies: Signs you’re in the Friend Zone
1. He talks about how hot your friends are in front of you.
2. When you go anywhere together he announces multiple times “This is my FRIEND Katie/ Brandy/ Jessica” especially when other girls are within earshot.
3. You have heard him fart and he didn’t even pretend to be embarrassed by it.

Fellas: Signs you’re in the Friend Zone
1. She calls you to talk about other guys.
2. She has added a y to the end of your name; Jeffy, Marky, Benjy, etc.
3. You have seen her tweeze her eyebrows and/or floss her teeth. Unless you’re in a long term relationship and have reached this level of comfort (aka gotten lazy), you can consider yourself friended.

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I know I usually like to blog about sex, but just to spice things up a bit I will delve into the squirming, giggling, pooping product of sex; babies. These days, it seems that everybody has a bit of baby-fever, and it shows more than ever in the media. Think about the popular movies Knocked Up and Baby Mama. Celebrities seem to be having babies at older ages, the Jolie-Pitts have conceived and adopted a small international soccer team, and then we have the verifiable freak show of Nadya Suleman, aka “the Octomom.”

            Of course, some might argue that the adoptions Brangelina are making are noble, for Angelina is an international ambassador and her and Brad have more than enough love (and money) to go around, so why not adopt a couple of kids while also popping out some disgustingly good-looking ones of their own? At least they will be more than capable of providing for them, financially if not emotionally (flash forward fifteen years to see little Shiloh and Viv Jolie-Pitt as the new Lindsay Lohan or Miley Cyrus).  

            Of course, Octomom Nadya Suleman can’t be placed on the same level as a pair of international celebrities taking in some needy kids. Through in vitro fertilization she had eight kids at once, as if the six kids she already had at home weren’t enough. And by at home, I mean at home with her parents, where she was still living, sans baby daddy, supported by the government. I cannot even begin to wonder what is wrong with this woman and can only believe that this was all some sort of stunt for attention, fame and money, because there is no way she can possibly care for her family of 15. And I would also like to ask what was wrong with her doctor, who agreed to put eight eggs in her at one time despite the fact that she was obviously more fertile than a stray cat in heat. On that note, Suleman, who claims a deep love for animals, has made a deal with Peta to have this sign posted on her front lawn in exchange for 5,000 dollars and a month’s supply of vegan hot dogs and hamburgers for her entire family.

 

Of course, there is gossip of a Octomom reality show joining the ranks all the other embarrassingly entertaining reality TV shows (hello, Jersey Shore ).  But when it comes to reality shows about babies, she will have a long line of competition. The once wholesome Jon & Kate Plus 8, a show featuring Jon and Kate Gosselin and their cornucopia of sextuplets and twins, has certainly fallen from grace. As Jon pulled a wannabe Tiger Woods stunt (and bought every single Ed Hardy shirt he could get his hands on) Kate finally fixed her hair (often referred to as a backwards mullet) and joined Dancing with the Stars. I’m sorry, when did having eight children and getting an awful reality TV show suddenly make you a star? Since you live in America, I suppose.

            Also joining the line of baby themed reality shows is MTV’s Sixteen and Pregnant, a pretty big (although depressing) hit about high school girls who have gotten themselves knocked up (or simply never heard of birth control).

            Another show lacking any form of contraception, and perhaps the most interesting in my opinion, is the one focusing on the enormous Duggar family, 19 Kids and Counting (which at one point was 17 Kids and Counting, then 18…). This conservative Christian family does not believe in birth control of any form, resulting in ten boys and nine girls, ranging from ages 1 to 22, and all with names beginning in j, like  Jessa, Jinger, Jedidiah and Joy. What I find most interesting about the Duggars is that they seem to represent the Quiverfull movement, something I had never heard about until one of my professors mentioned it to me in class (thanks Professor Savage!) .

            The Quiverfull movement supports the idea that every child god gives you should be seen as a blessing, and therefore husband and wife should never use any form of contraception, and should continue having children as long as they are being ‘given’ them. The name comes from the Old Testament, Psalm 127:3-5 :

Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD:
and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man;
so are children of the youth.
Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them:
they shall not be ashamed,
but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.

While I suppose that is a nice idea and all, it was written at a time when people didn’t live as long as they do now, and the infant mortality rate was sky-high. You had to have as many kids as you could because you didn’t know how many would actually make it. This is no longer the case, as you can see with the Duggars, the Octomom, and many other large, well-known families.  As you can imagine, having so many children can have its drawbacks, and one major one is health. Michelle Duggar’s youngest child, Josie, was born three months early via emergency c-section at a scant 1 pound, 6 oz (less than the weight of the average size guinea pig). But the Duggar’s do seem to be loving, affectionate parents, and the large age gap between their oldest and youngest makes it possible for the elder children to help take care of their siblings.

I want to know what is at the root of all this baby madness. Religious reasons or media-whoring aside, why are these individuals choosing to have so many children? And why do we as a society want to watch them on television? It is not as if we all want to have hordes of children ourselves, because the average American family has only one or two children. Do we like watching because it makes us feel blessed not to have so many mouths to feed? Do we like watching because the kids are cute and we can simply shut the TV off if they start to cry? I mean, why have your own children if you can just watch someone else’s on TV. Whatever the reason, I don’t think it’s going away any time soon. Keep your eyes peeled for Nadya Suleman’s show, in which she will wear her bikini in every episode to show off her ‘post baby body.’

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