It's incredibly awkward, saddening and emasculating being the third wheel. No one wants to be the third wheel. On the open road, there are cars and motorcycles, and you are stuck there with three wheels, unable to move forward. No matter how you want to spin it, you will always be the cuckold, left out on the couch, jerking it while your girl who actually isn't your girl is getting it. Think about my situation. I came to a city to visit a friend. This friend and I have had a tumultuous past, to say the least. I liked her. she didn't like me. She liked me. I liked someone else. I hooked up with her friend. She said the right things to get me feeling wrong. It's not like I'm actually in love with this girl; I couldn't really see myself having a future with her. But I always felt like I was hers and she was mine.
Severe apprehension was how I felt when I saw her. There were no cliche spine-tingling, heart-stopping moments -- just an ultimate realization that there she was, and I was seeing her after so much time being apart. We hugged, she smiled and all was good, until 10 minutes later when we started arguing. Instead of anger, a nostalgic smile appeared on my face. Of course we were already bickering, that's what made us who we are.
I was not impressed with this city, but I was not here for the city, I was here for her. She was beautiful, a vision, and I wanted to just be with her. My illusion was starting to careen off into a dangerous dream -- I was Icarus, floating on cloud mine. Until I fell back down to Earth. "There's this guy I'm dating, Blah Blah. Are you cool with Blah Blah?" SPLAT! There I fell.
But I wasn't hurt. I wasn't shaken, or broken, but content; I was happy for her. Had I actually matured? Had I finally gotten there? Was I actually a Grown Ass Man? Was I actually not selfish and truly considerate of my friend's feelings, happy that she had found someone good for her? Hallelujah and yes. And -- in the very best way--Blah Blah was cool, eloquent and charming, with an aw-shucks grin and small town sensibility. It was good, even when they would hold hands and nuzzle their noses and embrace each other. It was still good, even when they were all over each other on the dance floor, sucking face and oblivious to everyone, and I had to do a clumsy shuffle around them like a Cherokee Pow-Wow. It was still oh so good.
Then last call, which was at a dismal and laughable 1:30 a.m., rolled around, and soon we were home. We were sweating, still exuberant from the dance floor and the music, and we plopped ourselves onto the couch, exhausted but elated. Blah Blah was going home, and we said our goodbyes and he left. I curled back onto the couch, waiting for my friend to come back in so we could have some conversation about our night that was cut way too short, and then go to sleep. Instead, when she came back in, Blah Blah was with her.
At the time, I didn't think much about this. So what? Two young, attractive 20-somethings who are currently dating are going to sleep on the same dingy, springy, twin size bed together on a chilly night. What could possibly happen?
I stirred mid-slumber with my headphone still in my ears. As the music faded away and the song was finishing, I squinted my eyes at the brightness of my iPhone screen. I was about to change the song when I heard something, a faint exhalation. Then another. My brain was clearly still in some kind of stasis and couldn't discern what on earth those sounds were. I craned my neck toward the front door, which was slightly ajar. Hmmmmm. Maybe it could just be the wind, or a thunderstorm about to pick up. But no, it wasn't coming from outside. And then more sounds started to inform me. Some very specific moans and groans. Breathing that sounded like when I reach for my inhaler in a panic. And then that all too familiar sound of a bed going to and fro with the telltale "creaks" and "squeaks". Really, though y'all? I'm out here, wrapped in this quilt that smells like latent flatulence and feta cheese, thinking about some ladies I wish I'd danced with, and here is Blah Blah and my girl who is actually not my girl whatsoever just doin' it and doin' it and doin' it well. I put my headphones on full blast, bumping my music loud until I felt like I was back in the bar again. Sweet, merciful sleep didn't come... for another two hours.
So what's the aftermath? I brought it up to her, and she was taken aback -- she was aghast and apologetic. But she wasn't really sorry because the day people have to apologize for consensual, loving sex is when the world should end (which probably means the world has been through an infinite amount of apocalypses). Even if she was that sorry, something like that should never be a regret. From the sound of it, I honestly don't think it was something she or Blah Blah regretted either, nor should they. I regret hearing it, but I cannot be happy unless I am happy for all of the byproducts of their happiness. And yup, that includes them doing the nasty.
It comes with being the third wheel. I still hate being the third wheel. Everyone does. Especially when it's an old flame whose feelings you thought were extinguished, only to be rekindled by the sounds of love. But I am at peace because it's happiness, not time, that truly heals all wounds, leaving only a faint scar behind. And I guess if I will be a third wheel on the open road, I can let the fancy cars and souped up motorcycles pass me by. I will do just fine on my tricycle.