Are we a thing?
By Alex Swanson
It’s beginning to look that way.
We bought froyo together over the weekend. We shared a spoon. And some tongue. I thought of you while buying a short-sleeve shirt on Tuesday. It looked good on me but I knew it would bring out the supple, languorous curves of your shoulders better. You gave me the password to your social media along with extensive instructions for whom to friend and what to message them from beyond the grave in the event of your untimely death; there’s no going back from that.
We’ve been labeled a couple often enough. There was that time picking out clothes for you, equipped with matching industrial fans, at Brooks Brothers. That girl who told us we’d be great together could see something. There’s an art exhibition coming up that I think you’d like and there’s no girl in sight to invite—I think we could crush it. What I’m trying to say is, we could pull it off.
I know I’ve been called a commitment-phobe. But you and me are different. Girls come and go, man, but when they do go—which they usually do—I know you’ll be right there for me, snapchatting the walk of shame stamped with the high wit of the crying laughter emoji. You’re my rock in this world.
We study together. We study together a lot. Naked. We share bran muffins from But Caf most evenings. I took you to Cannons by convincing you it was a “classy establishment.” We wear matching shirts to parties. We both know it’s long past “ironic.” We hug, passionately, when we win beer pong. We talked about an article you read in Cosmo during our weekly brunches at Le Monde, where I fed you Eggs Florentine. I chuckled at the way the yolk dribbled down the left side of your chin and soiled— soiled irreparably—the irregular pattern of the bowtie I bought you for your birthday. I accidentally held hands with you whilst walking. And I lingered.
Anthropologically, ritualized instances of reciprocal non-market exchange of goods between two actors are reliable indicators of emerging thing-ness between those two actors. We share so many things, we must be a thing ourselves. (Feel free to take ‘thing’ any way you like here.) Anthropologically, when I wear my shoes you borrowed for “an interview” and returned vomit-stained, when we go wine tasting and our regurgitated cabernet melds in the bowl, when after taking pictures in the mirror at frat parties we share a “team piss,” it’s love. Let’s do more than cross streams.
You could provide for me, bedeck me in suits and ties, then go to K-Town and sing “Suit and Tie” in a private karaoke booth. I could lend you my necklace blessed by a Buddhist monk in the Himalayas. Oh no … that’s already happened. We already swap clothes worryingly often—by the way, I need my paisley button-down back. At this point, we might as well throw in the towel—which you lent me—and call us a thing.
By Nick Kensinger
I knew this would happen. Fuck.
I get it. We spend a lot of time together—studying, meals, the occasional shower. But it’s casual. More of a friendship of opportunity than anything else. As you’d put it in your (all too pretentious) English accent, one ‘fit bird’ and you’re gone like yesterday. I just don’t think I could deal with that. I see the way you throw glances across the room in class—but they’re not for me. I’m no Demodocus; I can see they’re for the equally pretentious anthropology major two seats over.
But asking about this now seems a little premature on your part—although this wouldn’t be the first time. How long has it even been? A year? That’s nothing. I’ve known myself for 21 years and I still can’t decide whether I really like country music or whether it’s just a phase. There’s no way I’m committing to anything without doing my due diligence.
Yes, there was that one time at Brooks Brothers. Our matching trypophobia led us to purchase matching bow ties. You picked out a shirt for me, stain proofed. I know the assistant told you that we looked cute. Honestly? We did. But I bet she tells everyone that—I bought the shirt, after all. Let’s not get worked up over a sales pitch.
Yes, I met your parents. We had champagne together. They’re lovely. We went to that joint you tried to tell me was classy. That girl who told us we were great together? She was clearly too drunk— everyone in there was! Including us, that’s why I just tripped over that spilled vodka cran and then grabbed your right bicep for support and we just had to stay pressed up against the wall like that while I got my bearings and caught my uneven breath. It’s not like I overthought it or anything. What are you trying to say?
I’m not sure how to put it, buddy, we’re just not compatible like that. I don’t get your enthusiasm for Buddhist monks. Or at least, I hope I don’t. I’m just a little less into the menswear, bro. No need to bring up the paisley. It’s not like I have that much of your shit. Besides, why are you even making that a thing?
I don’t care how many anthro classes you’ve taken. Philosophically, there aren’t even things. Time and space, cause and material, are merely the necessary a priori categories to gird the fleeting products of our sense impressions. If things are love then love always already was just exchange. Product for product, fluid for fluids, exchange is not a thing but a process, one that always already never had enough solidity to be called a thing.
And anyway—I don’t think you’re even ready for this to be a thing. Two weeks ago? We were SnapChat best friends. Now? I don’t even know. Some side-winking emoji bullshit. What does that even mean? I have too much going on to figure this out. We are definitely not a thing.
So, this might be too soon … but is your sister single?