Today I was riding my bike home from class, as usual, when I was suddenly struck by a disturbing revelation.
I have gotten WAY too good at third-wheeling.
It wasn’t always this way…I don’t think. I think I used to have single friends, or at least I sometimes hung out with one person instead of two. And on the rare occasions that I did find myself alone with a couple of lovebirds, I remember feeling awkward. That’s a normal reaction, right? It’s supposed to be awkward?
I mean, I guess I technically spent the first two years of my life third-wheeling my parents, so that could be what set me up for a lifetime of sitting alone on one side of the dinner table. Maybe it’s hereditary. When my mom was in high school, her best friend dated her older brother, so she probably spent her fair share of nights buying her own drinks at bars. Or maybe it developed out of my timid nature and sarcastic self-loathing. People in relationships probably like having me around because I make them glad they’re no longer single and depressing. Something like that.
I was doing homework at one of my good friend’s houses this afternoon, and her boyfriend came by (like he always does, they’re adorable, yada yada yada), and they invited me to join them at the Art Institute on Thursday. At first I was a little taken aback, you know, because I didn’t want to crash their date, so I politely declined. Turns out I can’t go anyway because I have class, but even before I realized that, I had this moment of clarity where I thought, wow, this is actually my life. I live in half of a two-bedroom apartment, the remainder of which is occupied by two people who have been in a relationship for a solid four years. I am actually a voluntary, residential, rent-paying third wheel.
I don’t get it. Am I so desensitized to human affection that it doesn’t even faze me anymore? Am I masochistic? Do I get sick pleasure out of constantly being reminded that I am destined to die alone? WHY did the universe curse me with such a high tolerance for people who like to just couple off like Kit-Kat bars?!
I tell myself that eventually it will be my turn. Someday, I will get to nurture a third wheel of my very own, to tell him or her to enjoy it while it lasts, because before you know it there are sappy pet names and stressful birthdays and (ugh) accountability. It’s not so bad for a while. You get to watch relationships ebb and flow, and you learn valuable lessons without having to get hurt. You just never get to feel the giddy melty butterflies either. But it’s okay, because someday you will.
And in the meantime, couple friends, there will always be someone around to take your picture when you look too cute to resist. Just be warned that this single girl is the queen of photobombing.