Don’t think of me as a character to focus on in this little tale. Think of me more like a TV or a radio or a computer- I’m just the medium that will bring you a story. But in a sense I’m a part of all of this too, so I’m a slightly different kind of TV.
Though I suppose each TV has its own story, so I’ll give you a brief bit about me. My name is Carter, and I’m an arts major at Ryerson University. When I entered university two years ago, I felt like I had been thrown into a new world. But I did manage to make two really great friends. There’s Ankita, a chemical engineering major, and then there’s Brian, an arts major like me. We all happened to meet in the first semester of first year.The elective was “How Society Works,” an introductory sociology course.
I guess it was fate that we met, in a way. I was early to class and kind of kept to myself, and by the time Ankita and Brian arrived (not together, I might add) the only two available seats in the packed classroom were to the left and right of me.
So there’s your primer. Now on with the story.
I’m in third year now, so this story began a year ago. The three of us were supposed to meet for lunch at the AMC food court. I arrived early, since my class had ended an hour before the other two. I was surprised to find that Brian had come a little early. He was never early. When he came over to me he made a couple of quick double-takes.
“Hey man,” he said. I nodded. “Listen, I have to ask you if you’re cool with something.”
“Yes, I’m totally fine with you dating Ankita,” I said with confidence. The look of shock registered on Brian’s face immediately.
“How the hell did you know what I was going to say?”
“I’ve seen the signs,” I said with a grin. “So how long have you been actually going out?”
Brian was sheepish. “Well, only about a week.” I could tell he was nervous about the fact that he had gone along with his plan so quickly. He must have been worried that it might ruin our dynamic or something, which is certainly a possibility in close friendships like this. I’d kind of be like a third wheel.
“Don’t worry about it, seriously. I have a girlfriend, remember?”
“Yeah, but…” Brian probably would have said more but then Ankita walked over to us. I could feel the tension as she sat down.
“It’s okay,” I said. I could then feel the tension dissipate. Ankita wasn’t going to say anything, I could feel it. She tends to not say much about her personal life. But with the secret out of the vault, so to speak, I could see physical signs of her relaxing.
It was a couple of weeks later, right after reading week. Brian and Ankita had been apart the whole time, because they each had to go back home for the week- Brian back to Belleville, Ontario, and Ankita all the way back to Calgary.
It was nice to see them reunite at school. The time apart seemed to steel their commitment to each other. They weren’t wild, at least not in public (who knows what they did when I wasn’t around? I’m not omnipotent), but calm, holding hands and just looking like a pair of contented lovers. And that was fine.
They each talked to me separately that day about how tough it had been without the other.
Brian: “Oh man, reading week was tough, dude. Belleville is a nice enough town, but there’s just nothing to do. I helped out at my parents’ store every day for eight hours, and then was so exhausted from boredom that I just flopped down on my bed and did nothing for the rest of the day. I just kept thinking about her and how much more fun she was having than I was. Calgary’s probably awesome in the winter.”
Ankita: “Calgary is just brutal in the winter, Carter. You seriously don’t know know the half of it. You think your little -10 degree days are bad? Try -25 without the windchill! It was so fucking cold every day that I just sat inside most times. I mean sure, I called Brian pretty much every day, and I could just tell Belleville probably wasn’t too fun for him either. I missed him a lot, you understand.”
A few weeks later, something had changed. They were still close, but I could feel the change in the way they spoke to each other, and their closeness. Something was off, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
A few days later, Brian and I met for coffee at Balzac’s. “I have to confess something, man,” he said. “You’re the only person I can talk to about this.”
“Well spit it out then,” I said.
“On Friday, I went to one of those stupid pub nights. I had a little bit too much to drink and I ended up making out with some girl I don’t even know the name of.” My immediate reaction was a facepalm.
“And where was Ankita during all of this?” I asked.
“Studying. She had a huge midterm coming up on Monday and she needed the time.”
“And did you tell her about what happened?”
“Well, no…” So my guess was that, while Ankita didn’t know what had happened, Brian had started to be less intimate because of all the guilt bubbling up.
“Brian, you have to tell her.”
“I can’t, man! She’ll break up with me!”
“She’ll break up with you if you keep treating her the way you’re treating her now!”
“Ugh,” Brian said. And for the first time in our friendship, he took his coffee and walked out on me. I didn’t bother yelling at him to come back, especially in a crowded public place.
I remembered I was supposed to go and meet Ankita in the engineering building. She was just about to finish her last midterm.
I walked up the street to the building and sat down on one of the benches in the lobby. I played a bit of Angry Birds on my phone while the minutes passed, and then I saw Ankita walking by. She gave me a hug.
“Hey, where’s Brian?” she asked.
“Oh, he had to run off. He forgot about an assignment he needed to hand in,” I lied.
“Oh, well, all the better anyway. I need to ask you about something.” Here we go, I thought.
“Do you think Brian wants to break up with me?” Ankita asked.
“No,” I said very quickly. “He’s just a little paranoid, you know how he gets.”
“But why would he be paranoid? What did I do?”
“You didn’t do anything,” I said. And that was when I did something I shouldn’t have, We were both standing up, close to each other. I leaned in and kissed her. There was a look of shock on her face, but she kissed me back.
And that was when, as Murphy’s Law dictates, something that could have gone wrong indeed went wrong. Brian walked into the building, having apparently reconsidered his asshole behaviour from earlier. The look on his face said it all.
“Carter, what the fuck? What the fuck are you doing?” Brian threw up his hands. “Goddamnit, I tell you something secret and you use it as an excuse to get close to her? What the fuck is wrong with you?”
Ankita looked as ashamed as I was. “What secret?” she finally asked after a minute of awkward silence. People had passed by our little scene, not wanting to get involved. Had this been high school there probably would have been a circle around us.
Now it was Brian’s turn to look ashamed. “I… I was a little drunk on Friday and… I ended up kissing a girl. But it didn’t mean anything, I swear it!”
“Forget it,” Ankita said. It sounded like she was forgiving him. But then: “We’re through.”
That was probably the worst day of my second year.
It took a couple of weeks, but eventually the three of us started making half-hearted attempts at being friends again. It was really awkward at first, because no matter where the friendships were, there was tension. But after a few phone calls and really long talks, we started to get things back to normal.
In a way, I felt like our friendship was part of a sitcom. As soon as two main cast members get together it can really fuck up the dynamic. It didn’t seem to at first, but I think three people spending so much time together is unhealthy for romance.
I never told my girlfriend about the kiss with Ankita. Didn’t really matter. She broke up with me a couple months later.
So in all, I guess my assertion at the beginning of this tale that I was only relaying a message was a bit of a lie. A TV is impartial; it doesn’t choose what you watch.