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Does He Like Like Me?

Does He Like Like Me? - by Megan Estey

"So did he say he likes me?” I asked, not sure if I wanted him to or not.

“Well,” Hannah began, “he said he likes you as a friend--”

“As a friend?” I groaned. “Well, I can tell you right now that that’s a bunch of bullshit.”

“No,” she said, “you didn’t let me finish.”

Kelsei broke in. “What he said, Megan, was that he liked you as a friend, but that he would go out with any of his friends that were girls.”

This confused me. “So, wait a minute. Does he like me only as a friend or as something more?”

The three of us were huddled in the middle of the parking lot of the Middlebury Union High School. Kelsei, Hannah, and I were still in costume, having just finished our last performance of “Henry and Ramona.” We probably looked like three Eskimos try g to share body heat in the middle of the Alaskan tundra, but all we were really sharing was gossip.

Hannah had approached me five minutes before the show was over and told me that she had to tell me something afterwards. I met her and Kelsei just outside the stage door and they told me the news. They had told Buck, another cast member, that I had a uge crush on him. “Don’t be mad,” they pleaded, “it was just a joke!”

I pretended to think it was funny and asked them what his response had been. I was curious what he thought of me, although I had no actual romantic interest in him at all. He was the kind of guy whom I was willing to be friends with, but the thought anything beyond that might very well cause me to have a nervous breakdown. I wasn’t sure exactly why I cared if he liked me or not, except for the Teenage Girl Theory of Relationships: that if some guy, any guy, thinks you are less than r rehensible you might have a chance at a real relationship at some point in your life.

The closest thing to reassurance the two could give me was that he “liked me as a friend.” Unless you have ever had someone tell you that, you won’t understand why it is the most offensive response you can get from a person whom you are interested in It’s right up there with “I don’t want to spoil our friendship” and the infamous “It’s not you, it’s me” (which, in case anyone wants to know, actually means “It has nothing to do with me, it’s all your fault because you are a disgusting dirt bag and I n’t stand to spend one more moment with you”).

When they said that he liked me, this didn’t clear anything up. It seems to me that guys can’t really articulate their emotions or their feelings about anything. Their emotions really aren’t that complex. All they have is the basics: “like,” “don’t l e,” “happy,” “sad,” “angry,” etc. My theory was confirmed when they told me that Buck would go out with any of his friends that were girls. This couldn’t be a simple platonic kind of “like” if he said he would go out with me. But guys don’t seem to real e that there are different facets of the word “like.”

Let’s explore this a little more. Suppose Sally tells her friend Jane that she likes Tom. Jane immediately understands that Sally has a crush on Tom. But if Sally happens to confide in her little brother Louis, Louis is unlikely to draw the same conc sion. Louis will probably assume that Sally just thinks Tom is a good person to play baseball with, or something to that effect. Louis thinks this because if he were to tell somebody that he likes someone else, this would be exactly what heHere’s another example. Sally asks Jane to find out if Tom likes her. Jane asks Tom how he feels about Sally. Tom shrugs and says, “I don’t know. She’s nice, I guess.” Jane pursues him and asks, “So, do you like her?” Tom, anxious to get back his baseball game, says, “Yeah. Sure, I like her.” Janes rushes over to report to Sally, and the two spend hours agonizing over whether Tom wants to be the father of Sally’s children or just baseball teammates. The way they would phrase this, of course would be, “Does he like me, or does he like like me?”, the former meaning platonic, the latter meaning romantic.

Girls like to know exactly what is going on. It has been said that women overanalyze everything. If this is true, then that is why we are very specific when we talk about our feelings. We can explain if we like so-and-so in a romantic way, or as more f a brother. And men still say they can’t understand women.

What, do we have to spell it out for you?

October 1999