Joey: It’s never gonna happen.
Ross: (innocently) What?
Joey: You and Rachel.
Ross: (acts surprised) What? (pause) Why not?
Joey: Because you waited too long to make your move, and now you’re in the friend zone.
Ross: No, no, no. I’m not in the zone.
Joey: Ross, you’re mayor of the zone.
Ross: I’m taking my time, alright? I’m laying the groundwork. Yeah. I mean, every day I get just a little bit closer…
Joey: To Priesthood!
-Friends, Episode 1.06 “The One With The Blackout”
Oddly, the story of my crush on Lily doesn’t start when we first met. Hell – it doesn’t even start until about two years after we were friends.
Let me explain.
I met Lily when she joined the youth group I used to be a part of. We became friends, much to the annoyance of a gentleman who from this point I shall refer to only as Turdburger who insisted that Lily and I had feelings for each other. Even stating furiously to one of his friends that he was certain we were dating.
Turdbuger’s insistence on this largely stemmed from that fact that he had a crush on Lily and he clearly thought I was “getting in the way”.
Lily and I were just friends. After months of trying to convince the colossal prick otherwise, I gave up, letting him believe whatever it was he wanted to believe.
We talked a lot on the phone. Confided in each other. (Including about people we had feelings for) Stole wine from her family get togethers. Argued about the pros and cons of vegetarian-ism. (I once tried a perfectly logical argument that she should throw a plate of cupcakes at a friend’s passing car because they had dolphin meat in them and she was a vegetarian. The hellfire this unleashed made me deeply regret this statement.
We were just good friends. Turdburger could not be persuaded otherwise, and shockingly, stopped his persistence on the issue when his eyes drifted to another. (sorry Sare)
This would not be the first time someone thought that Lily and I had feelings for each other.
The second time came years later, when my good friend Josh told me he thought Lily had feelings for me. Having learnt from my previous experience with Turdburger, instead of trying to persuade him that we were just friends I came up with an entirely different game plan.
Mere days after Josh had tried convincing me Lily had a crush on me, I was having lunch with her.
“So, Josh thinks you have a crush on me,” I said, and then added: “Now, what fun do you think we can have with this one?”
So it began. For the next few weeks, could have even been months, Lily and I started to continue this charade of having feelings for one another. I would confide in Josh on how conflicted and torn I was about developing feelings for someone with whom I’d been friends for so long, and Josh would try and reason with me to just tell Lily how I felt.
Finally it all came to a head one night at the bowling alley. A bunch of my friends had gone bowling and we were having a great night. Lily arrived and went out the front to have a smoke with Clare, Josh tagged along cause Josh is always up for a cigarette and I tagged along because I was out of money and couldn’t afford another game. I’d like to add here that I don’t actually smoke – I was just going for the company.
So we were all standing around talking when I made some comment to Josh to find out if Lily liked me or not. Josh decided he needed to take matters into his hands.
“LIAM, LILY LIKES YOU! LILY, LIAM LIKES YOU! DEAL WITH IT!” He suddenly yelled.
There was a brief moment of silence. Josh and Clare decided they were interrupting a private moment and quickly ran back inside.
Lily and I looked at each other and smiled.
“Let’s go for a walk before we go back inside,” She said. “Make them think we got together.”
So we went for a short walk and then came back, and our charade evolved into making people believe we were in a relationship.
I confided in friends from school, Pilch and Ffrinch, about the entire thing. They both became convinced that the entire thing was going to take a “sitcom/soap-opera” turn and that Lily and I would actually end up together.
Despite my proclamations that they were incorrect, that Lily and I were just friends and that nothing was ever going to happen, things did start to get a little complicated.
In the week of pretending I was going out with Lily, feelings suddenly developed. Feelings that shouldn’t be developing.
Lily was a friend. She was just a friend who I was pretending was my girlfriend to trick Josh.
It’s just a joke to fool Josh.
You and Lily are just friends.
Damn it. I’d actually gone and fallen for her.
Surprisingly the whole “relationship joke” had taken place over the course of a week. It may have lasted longer, except Josh had spoken to Lily’s sister, who had promptly spilled the beans and Josh immediately plotted revenge. I was overly disappointed the charade ended. I no longer had a fake girlfriend. It had been nice to be so close and be able to pretend Lily was in fact interested in dated me. Pilch and Ffrinch could never find out about this.
Now, normally I’m the vengeful one. I’m the guy who plots insanely elaborate plans to get revenge on people. I was the one who in high school had deposited the school’s biggest jerks school textbook into the nearest bin without his knowledge. I was the one who pissed on my housemates garden herbs when he’d treated me like a five year old in front of my friends. (That one actually worked a little too well when the aforementioned housemate proceeded to confess he never washed the herbs he took from the garden because it removed the “taste”.)
Apparently after hanging out with me since he was twelve years old, Josh had picked up some of my tricks.
He got revenge in what seemed like the simplest way. He told one of my brothers that I had a girlfriend, despite having firm knowledge that I didn’t. I am the youngest of eight children. The news spread through my four brothers and three sisters, their respective husbands and wives, in a matter of hours.
Josh’s revenge tactic worked even better than he predicted: not only did I now have to explain to my entire freaking family that I had no girlfriend, but I had to do it with full knowledge that I now desperately wanted the girl in question to be my girlfriend.
I wish I could tell you at this point that everything worked out and, in a true romantic comedy style, there was a chase scene, which culminated in Lily and I professing our true feelings for each other and kissing.
I wish I could tell you this. I really do. But alas, I knew from the moment that I developed feelings for Lily that nothing was ever going to happen.
You wait too long, and suddenly you’re in the FRIEND ZONE!
Josh did not agree with this argument.
“Just tell her how you feel,” He argued. “What’s the worst that could happen?”
“It would destroy the friendship. It would create awkwardness whenever we were around each other. The entire earth could crack open and all beasts of hell could come spewing out and then everyone would finally agree that telling Lily I now had feelings for her was just a plain terrible idea,” I replied. There is a slight possibility I was being a little over dramatic.
Josh seemed to think so.
“Just tell her man,”
“You never take any risks!”
NEVER TAKE ANY RISKS?!?!?! How dare he say this to me – I’ll show him. I took risks all the time! I stole the office manager’s teddy bear! I asked out girls! He never asked out girls, every girl he had gone out with had asked him out.
“Fine then,” I told him. “I’ll show you risks! I’m going to close my eyes, and YOU’RE GOING TO TELL ME WHERE TO STEER!”
You see, I was driving down a quiet road at the time. There were no other cars around.
Still, this was one of the most dangerous and stupid things I’ve done. Part of me still regrets it to this day, because quite frankly: we almost died.
I closed my eyes and gripped the steering wheel awaiting Josh’s directions. There was silence for a moment when Josh, who’d suddenly realised I was serious, screamed at the top of lungs.
“BUS STOP!!! BUS STOP!!!”
My eyes quickly opened and swerved the car as hard as I could. If I hadn’t, a split second later we would’ve ploughed into a glass bus stop. The angle we were travelling at, it probably would’ve killed us both.
After we’d both recovered from the shock, Josh vowed never to tell me I didn’t take risks again, while also vowing to never let me forget “the night Liam almost killed me.”
Not that I should admit this, especially not in print, but Josh was right about one thing. I should have just told Lily how I felt. Even I knew, beyond a shadow of doubt, that nothing would ever eventuate from it.
I had tried to reason that doing so would make things weird between us. Well Lily figured out I had a crush on her and things went weird anyway. We were still polite when we bumped into each other, but we grew apart and the friendship was never really the same after that.
Months (possibly years) later, I bumped into Lily and grinning a mischievous grin, she told me that someone I knew had got a job at the pub at which she worked.
“Really? Who?” I’d asked. I did TRY and think of people who it could’ve been, but no one was jumping to mind.
“Lana,” she said simply.
I froze. A billion and one topics of conversation they could’ve had skirted through my head. One girl I had a crush on, and another girl I’d had a crush on, both of whom were in full knowledge of this. I tried to shrug it off as best I could.
“You haven’t talked about me by any chance, have you?” I said in a friendly joking manner.
Lily and I had been friends for a while, and if there’s always one thing I knew for certain, was that Lily was not that good a liar.
I saw her react to that comment. She did half a smile, didn’t respond, and went on to another conversation with someone standing next to me.
This was amusing to some, even then when there really was no history. Bottom line was, there was very little doubt in mind that the conversation Lily and Lana had about me consisted in part of my of unrequited feelings for both of them.
I sighed to myself, ah well, there was nothing I could do about it now. In retrospect, if they had the conversation a year later, Lana would’ve told her about the book and Lily would’ve realised she was one of the later chapters, and since Lana really didn’t want be part of the book, she probably wouldn’t have given it the awesome description of it that I was able to.
Not that really would’ve made a difference to Lily’s final decision in the end.
Lily’s decision not to be interviewed for the book, and the quest I then set out on to try and win her over her is actually a funny story. Without recounting exact details it involves an sms going to the wrong person, one of her best friend’s having to keep the secret of the book for months, a twenty first birthday party which resulted in me diving into a lake in the middle of winter, and a phone battery going flat at the exact wrong moment.
Lily requested I not use this though, so out of respect for her, I’ll leave it up to your own imaginations. Moving right along.