(non-recipe) Thoughts on the Friend-Zone

As a preface, I’ll say that this is cis- and heteronormatively-angled because most people who complain about the friend-zone are straight cis men. I’m sure this phenomenon happens in other romantic interactions, so feel free to comment if you think I should change any of the language of this post.

Dear Nice Guys,

So, you’ve found a woman that’s perfect: sweet, beautiful, fun, intelligent, sexy, and down-to-earth. You’ve gotten to know her, you hang out with her all the time, you buy her dinner and presents, but you just can’t seem to get her interested in you. You might even tell her one day that you really like her and want to date her, or you might think that your actions are so obviously hinting towards a relationship that she couldn’t possibly not see what you’re getting at, but unfortunately, she just sees you as a brother, a cousin, a best friend. You have been placed in the inescapable friend-zone.

Here’s the thing, though: the friend-zone is bullshit. It’s a place that some nice but not really aggressive guys invented to explain why they can’t get a girl. Why their preferred relationship isn’t happening could be the result of many things: she appreciates your friendship and doesn’t want to ruin it by mixing in romance, she’s not looking for a relationship, she’s not into your gender, she isn’t attracted to you, or any billion other reasons that she’s just not digging you sexually. It’s not her fault, or your’s. You could treat her like a princess for forever, and that wouldn’t change that she’s not into what you’re offering. Besides, would you really want to date a woman that can be bought with attention, time, kindness, and material goods? NO! You friend-zone guys are so hypocritical that you’ll probably complain that she’s totally shallow in 2 weeks, and then you’ll go back to being sad and wistful. By saying that you’ve been nothing but nice to this girl, and she was cruel/ignorant/bitchy enough to put you in the friend-zone, you’re blaming her for not wanting to be with you, and that’s just a little too rape culture-y for my taste. Women have every right to not want to sleep with and/or date you, for whatever reason, and you friend-zoned dudes should respect that and stop whining.

Another issue in this rape culture that we live in as that it’s considered unacceptable and rude for women to just come out and say either, “Hey, I like you, let’s go out.” or “Hey, I’m not into you, please stop hitting on me.” It’s also rather gauche for men to do the same thing. Our courting rituals are all about playing games, being hard-to-get, flirting, teasing, and all that fun stuff, and while it might be fun, it causes waaaay too many problems and too much heartache for yours truly. Most importantly, it can cause confusion in the area of consent, which obviously is not a place where confusion should exist. If you can’t tell that a girl isn’t interested when you’re out to dinner or at a movie, how are you going to know if she’s interested when you’re on the couch at home and finally worked up the nerve to make a move? Have you guys ever just tried honestly asking if the girl you’re spending so much time on is into you? Or can you ask yourself why you’re so into this girl who is clearly just taking advantage of you being a nice dude? Even ask yourself what you’d do if you were to win over this chick? Would you still be interested, or are you only into the unattainable? Do you even know who she is, or are you just taking all the aspects of your perfect woman and placing them on this girl who’s got a pretty face, a nice smile, or huge tracks o’ land? I’ve seen that last scenario go down way too many times.

Also, here’s another thing: women might like being in relationships with nice guys (though that’s debatable, too), but when it comes to the actual dating part, women want someone who’s aggressive (not in a predatory way, obviously) and who likes her as much as she likes him. Again, in our society, it’s weird when women are aggressive in dating, so it unfortunately often falls on the man to come out and say that he thinks a woman is cute and that they should have drinks at 8 on Tuesday. (Side note: women, it is totally cool and awesome to express interest and set up a date. Do it!) Instead of just constantly hinting at how cool you think a woman is, just tell her, and make sure she knows you mean it romantically. That could mean wine at a fancy bar or burgers at a sporting event: it’s all about how you present it. Women, contrary to popular internet beliefs, aren’t stupid. We do like it when you express your intentions so that we, too, aren’t confused.

Therefore, I propose this remedy, nice guys: if you’ve been trying to impress a girl for ages (like, more than a month or two), and nothing’s coming of it, just straight-up say, “Hey, I like you, let’s go out.” She might say yes, because she might not realize you’re trying to start something romantic. After all, there are (probably) some guys out there who are just nice and want to hang out with people for the sake of enjoying their friendly company. If she says no, (and she might, but that’s neither your nor her fault) then move the fuck on to find someone who is into you, who is impressed by your kind nature, and who won’t make your life super-complicated by making it so you never know where your relationship stands. If she’s not into you, then she’s not into you, and she probably doesn’t deserve you. Don’t mope on about someone who doesn’t like you; Petrarch and Ronsard did that, and what did they leave behind? Oh, wait, only some of the greatest poetry ever?

Okay, if you’re a good poet, then feel free to keep pining over some chick who isn’t into you, just do it beautifully.

Also, women, if you think a male friend is interested in you, it’s probably okay to just ask. Again, it’ll clear things up for everyone, and you can save yourselves a lot of bother later.



Spicy garlic pasta with chicken


1 chicken breast
1 tbsp soy sauce
pinch of Cayenne
4-5 cloves garlic
1/4 c olive oil (regular experienced olive oil, NOT extra virgin*)
another pinch of Cayenne
a few ounces of thin spaghetti

Boil up your pasta. While that’s going on, peel the garlic, and chop off the root end. Carefully slice the garlic into thin rounds, making sure to keep them about even in thickness. Add the olive oil and garlic to a saucepan and turn the heat to medium. You want the garlic to toast in the oil, so don’t even think about turning away from the pan, not even for a minute. Garlic goes from almost toasted to blackened in, like, 3 seconds. Once the garlic is toasty and golden brown, turn off the heat and add a 1/4 cup or so of the pasta water to the sauce to slow the cooking. I know, the water’s boiling, so how does that slow it down? I dunno. I guess oil holds more heat than water, since its boiling point is higher. Either way, it works. Add the first pinch of Cayenne to the sauce. Dice up the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Stir fry with the soy sauce and second pinch of Cayenne. Drain the pasta, and mix everything together in a pot. You should follow this meal up by going on a date, because your breath is going to be fantastic, and you’re not going to sweat all over everything from all that Cayenne.**

*Extra virgin olive oil, contrary to its name, has impurities in it that make it taste fabulous on salads but make it burn at temperatures over 350 degrees. Ergo, olive oil that’s been worked over a few times can take more hot action. If you know what I mean.

**I lied. You’ll be a gross, sweaty, stinky mess, but you’ll chase away vampires and colds.

Chicken Paprika Casserole

1.5 c chicken, boiled and chopped
8 oz wide egg noodles, cooked al dente
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
pinch of thyme
1/2 stack Ritz crackers, crushed (or any other butter cracker)
1-2 tbsp paprika*

Mix the chicken, noodles, cream of chicken soup, yogurt, and thyme. Spread the mixture into an 8×8 baking dish. Sprinkle the crackers and paprika on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until the crust is golden-ish. Let it cool for 5 minutes before serving.

My mom always made this when I was a kid, so there’s a real nostalgia factor for this recipe. It’s also very filling and good if you need a meal you can reheat a few times when you’re too busy to cook dinner every night.

*This is actually supposed to be a chicken poppyseed casserole, but I was out of poppyseeds, so I picked paprika, and it’s actually not bad at all. Switch out the paprika for poppyseeds if you like them better.

Steamed Pompano

Whoops, I started eating before I took a picture . . .

2 pompano fillets (I got mine from a fish that weighed 1.5 lbs. If you can’t find pompano, any fish with fairly uniform, thin fillets will work.)
seasoned salt
Cayenne pepper

Bring an inch or two of water or broth to a lively boil in a large skillet or wok. Place a steaming tray over the liquid, and spray it with oil to prevent sticking. Season the fillets with seasoned salt and Cayenne, or whatever spices you like. I’m not normally into black pepper, but I think a healthy sprinkling of it might be good to cut the fattiness of the fish. Place the fish on the steaming tray, cover, and steam for 12-15 minutes. For reference, my fillets were around 3/4 inch thick, and they were perfect after 12 minutes, so something thicker will need longer. Check for easy flaking with a fork. Serve immediately with veggies, brown rice, something light and fresh, since the fish flesh is like freaking butter. Watch out for tiny bones, too.

Pompano always reminds me of going to the beach on the Florida panhandle with my family. We would dig up sand fleas (AKA mole crabs), as that’s what pompano are totally into, we’d surf-fish and catch a couple if we were lucky, and my dad would pan-fry them covered in Jane’s Krazy Mixed-Up Salt. I don’t get to Florida much these days, but I was delighted to find fresh pompano in Chinatown this weekend. They only sold it whole, so I had to fillet the darn thing myself (not easy on such a skinny fish with such tough skin), but I did alright. I’ll definitely try some more pompano recipes if the market keeps them in stock; maybe I’ll see what I can do with pompano en papillote. Stay tuned!