Third Wheel Du­ties

Sun.Star Cebu Weekend - - Lit -

Be­ing third wheel sucks. I some­times feel like a pet or an adopted child in dates with my cou­ple friends. Some­times I won­der if I'm there to a.) make me jeal­ous; b.) make me feel good about my sin­gle life; or c.) to add spice to their din­ner ta­ble.

In this par­tic­u­lar date, we were sat at the restau­rant's out­door smok­ing area be­cause her boyfriend for­got to make reser­va­tions. My girl friend would nor­mally freak out, but she was extra nice this in­stance be­cause she knew there was a loom­ing fight go­ing on.

To be extra safe, my friend even brought me to their date as a shield of sup­port for their ex­pected ar­gu­ment. This was about this af­ter­noon's Sephora shop­ping spree.

My friend had spent the whole af­ter­noon in Sephora to achieve the “no makeup look.” Her poor, ig­no­rant boyfriend, asked why she needed to buy makeup prod­ucts worth $400 to achieve a “no makeup look.”

The whole con­ver­sa­tion was very funny un­til it reached the 30-minute mark. Sigh. There are times when I re­ally wish I was in a real, long-term re­la­tion­ship. And then, my friends kindly re­mind me why it is great to be sin­gle — I don't deal with prob­lems like these.

“Your role is to make them shine as a cou­ple... You are not sup­posed to give them the idea that it's sooo much bet­ter be­ing sin­gle.” post­card­

My friend sharply called my name, try­ing to get some emo­tional back­ing and sup­port.

"Huh? Sorry, what was that?" I re­sponded. To be hon­est, I wasn't lis­ten­ing — for the last 30 min­utes I have al­ready been eaves­drop­ping the the duo on the next ta­ble to our left, who judg­ing by the awk­ward small talk, was still on their first date. So far, things have been do­ing well for that ta­ble. The guy shared that he's a doc­tor. The girl shared that she knew a doc­tor. Looks like the stars have aligned for them.

But since my friend has called my at­ten­tion, I would never know how the first date on the next ta­ble panned out. Ah, third wheel du­ties first.

And the art of be­ing the third wheel is not, ever, to take sides.

Your role is to make them shine as a cou­ple. To re­mind them how cute they are to­gether. You are not sup­posed to give them the idea that it's sooo much bet­ter be­ing sin­gle. You need them to feel badly for you that you're sin­gle and alone.

"You guys are so cute when you ar­gue. You're like an old mar­ried cou­ple, at least you're still not ar­gu­ing about get­ting too many bo­tox in­jec­tions," I said, try­ing to keep the mood light.

Ahh, it is cer­tainly not my A-game as third wheeler tonight, but I tried. I knew there is some truth in my joke there. I sin­cerely think that my friend and her boyfriend would even­tu­ally get past this ar­gu­ment, get mar­ried, live hap­pily ever af­ter, and when they're older, ar­gue about bo­tox ex­pen­di­tures.

When you're gen­uinely in­ter­ested in peo­ple — cou­ples are just as (if not more than) in­ter­est­ing. How cou­ples in­ter­act to­gether — their en­ergy, their chem­istry, how they look at each other, how they talk about each other when the other is out of earshot — it's an en­tirely new ball game.

This is mostly why I don't mind be­ing the third, or fifth, or sev­enth wheel. In the first few min­utes, you can al­ready dis­cern whether this cou­ple is hit or miss; an “ooohhh” or “ughhh”; in a “hon­ey­moon phase,” or “like-an- old-mar­ried­cou­ple” kind. The first thing I no­tice is their de­fault at­ti­tude to­ward their other: the warmth, the en­ergy, the tone of re­sent­ment, the look of daunt­less ad­mi­ra­tion, the des­per­a­tion of keep­ing things to­gether... How sim­i­lar or how the same do they treat their mate com­pared to a new stranger?

It's in­ter­est­ing how peo­ple can be­come so blind in love: how peo­ple whine about how “he/she doesn't love me enough,” even when the other drives 12 kilo­me­ters a day just to see them. Or how we don't no­tice light-as-day red flags; or how we will­ingly make ex­cuses for the other's short­com­ings.

"Look," the boyfriend said. He was start­ing to panic be­cause tears were welling up in her eyes. "My point is, you're so beau­ti­ful with or with­out makeup."

Inas­much as I hated these petty ar­gu­ments and check-ins that cou­ples have to deal with, I ad­mit it feels kinda nice to have shared that fuzzy feel­ing. Cer­tainly beats sec­ond­hand smok­ing in the restau­rant's out­door smok­ing area.

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