A slightly sticky romantic entanglement (long)

AKA, “hooking up with the friend of a friend.”

Cast of characters:

"A" and “B” - married couple, husband and wife respectively. Met them five or six years ago and became fast friends almost immediately. Good people.

"Q" - hot babe. Friend of A and B going back to college.

"Me" - handsome and charming beyond anyone’s imagination. Also? Modest.

The sitch, long version: This is just for background. For the basics, skip down to “The Dilemma.”

I met Q two summers ago when she was out visiting A and B. She was funny, and flirty, in the short time we hung out (in a group setting). She’s one of those women who, at first glance, you wouldn’t call conventionally pretty, but who you realize is, in the package, when you get to know her, smoking damn hot. Strong personality, sense of humor, Has Shit Figured Out and Knows What She Wants. Pushes my buttons like a… uh… professional button pushing person. There were some mild sparks, but I didn’t make too much of it, because (1) I was in the early stages of my divorce, which was my top personal priority at the time (and which has been concluded for a while); (2) she’s an East Coast resident, and I’m a West Coaster; and (3) to be honest, “on paper” (so to speak), she’s a bit out of my league. So I enjoyed it for what it was, and she left, and that was that.

She just came back this past weekend for another visit.

A and B were busy the evenings of Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; they were committed to performing in separate events (theater and symphony). They were free during the day, but the evenings were booked. Talking to Q, they decided she’d attend B’s show on Thursday, and A’s show on Friday. That left her on her own Saturday night.

A and B pinged their social circle to see if anybody was free that night who could help show her around. I didn’t have anything solid, so I said I’d be willing if nobody else spoke up. I had no agenda based on her previous visit: I’d liked her, but like I said I didn’t take the flirting all that seriously; it was more about helping A and B, as well as enjoying a chance to show off my much-loved city to an out-of-towner. Q said sure, and out of the various options, she picked my suggestion to go to Safeco Field to see the Mariners. She’s from Boston, and the Mariners had just swept the Red Sox, so she wanted to see what this upstart Seattle team was all about. Also, the Blue Jays were in town, which gave her an opportunity to legitimately root for the hometown Mariners to beat a Red Sox division rival.

As it turns out, I spent more time hanging out with Q than I expected. I decided to see A’s play on Friday night, as it was closing weekend and the best fit in my schedule. Q was there: she sat next to me, and we enjoyed more casual flirting, along the lines of her previous visit. We all went back to A and B’s house for some post-performance decompression; A is not happy with the show and wanted to vent a little bit. While there, we talked about plans for Saturday. For example, I asked about breakfast; this was met with enthusiasm.

In the end, I wound up having breakfast with Q, A, B, and C (a mutual friend who is somewhat peripheral to this story but I’ve known him for many years so I’m giving him a letter because I don’t want to hurt his feelings even though he won’t be referenced again in the story and will never see this anyway). After breakfast, Q, A, B, and I bopped around for the afternoon, and had an early dinner at a Vietnamese place I knew about. During dinner, Q tells a hilarious story about how a famous orange-shoed Iron Chef came onto her in a bar by chatting her up, pointing over her shoulder, and grabbing her boob when her head was turned. :smiley: Then A and B went off to their respective performances, and Q and I headed down to the ball park.

Now remember, at this point it’s not a Date. She’s a friend of a friend, someone I knew a little bit, and enjoyed hanging out with. There was lots of casual flirting, but I didn’t expect it to go anywhere.

Then we get to the game, and settle into our seats, and now that we’re one-on-one, we start hitting it off like A-Rod working from a T-ball stand.

To begin with, she starts in on the standard “boost the male ego” tactic, asking me detailed questions about the game: the rules, the players, strategy at various points (“so they won’t put on the hit-and-run because there’s two outs, right?”). She’s not at all subtle about it, and I started to wonder: is she actually working me here, for real? But it wasn’t entirely unwelcome, so I responded, and we warmed up quickly.

Then, speaking of warm, after the sun dipped below the wall of the stadium, she put on her jacket and shivered, and I offered an arm to warm her shoulders. She accepted and snuggled right in. And I thought: what do you know, she really is coming on to me. Cool. :slight_smile:

So between the flirting and the ball game (and it’s a fantastic game, too), we have a great time. Afterward, we call B to make sure she’s done with her performance, and walk the several blocks into downtown to meet her for drinks and oysters. On the walk, Q slips her arm into mine and continues snuggling up to me. Unfortunately, when we get to the bar, we find it’s closing soon, so we discuss options. There isn’t another oyster bar open late downtown, which leaves going to another neighborhood, or heading back to A and B’s house. Then I point out that I don’t have my car; we consolidated our rides after breakfast so we wouldn’t have to bring several vehicles downtown. If we go back to A and B’s house, either I’d need a ride home afterwards, or we would need to stop at my place to get my car. And if we do that, we might as well just go to my house, since I’ve got drinks and snacks. We don’t want to make it too much of a late night, because Q has a flight in the morning and still needs to get packed; her stuff is at A & B’s house and they need to leave by 9am to get to the airport. Still, the night isn’t over and we’re all having fun, so B calls husband A, all are agreed, and we go back to my place.

The point of all this detail is to make clear that I had no ulterior motives or long-term plan at any point. With her morning flight, it’s not like much of anything was going to happen anyway. Really, it’s just that the flirtation with Q was very enjoyable, especially because, in my mind, there were no expectations and no pressure and it’s a lot easier to just be yourself in that situation. It just sort of happened as we went along.

So we get to my house. We mix up some cocktails (Pisco sours… mmm) and fire up my home theater to watch some Anthony Bourdain, of whom Q and I are both big fans. I overhear her suggesting to A that he and B take the couch so they can snuggle together, and Q will share the loveseat with me. (So I may not have had a plan, but Q… :))

We settle in, and Q throws her legs over my lap. OK, so it’s like that, sez I, and drape my arms over her legs. She puts her hand on my shoulder. I stroke her calves through her jeans. She strokes my arm. I run my fingernails over her bare feet. She drops one foot and rubs my leg. I offer a hand on her hip and she takes it in hers and we entwine fingers.

On the couch, B falls asleep.

I slide my hand up the leg of Q’s jeans and massage her calf. She slips her fingers into the cuff of my shirt. My hand’s on her tummy. Her foot is pressing high on the inside of my thigh.

If A & B weren’t there, Q and I would have been all over each other like hot buttered monkeys.

Finally, we’re done watching our shows, and A comments that it’s late and they need to get home so Q can pack and make her flight in a few hours. She and I reluctantly disentangle. She stands, watching A & B stretch and walk into the front room.

She takes a couple of steps, I come up behind her, I take her hand and pull her around into an embrace and a fierce kiss. She absolutely melts into me. It’s clear that we want nothing more than to tear each other’s clothes off and rock bods (q.v., “monkeys, hot buttered”).

Alas, it is not to be. She really does need to get moving; the conflict is legitimate. And we’re both mature enough (in our late thirties) that we are able to engage our rational brains and overrule our hormones, and cope with the associated disappointment. Ten years ago, things would probably be different: when you’re twenty-five, and you’re horny right now, you deal with it right now, and you worry about the consequences later. The advantage of maturity is that you learn how to delay gratification; the disadvantage of maturity is that you delay gratification. :smiley:

So anyway, we acknowledge reality, murmur our disappointments, and smooch some more. Then we join A & B in the front room, where they’re gathering coats. They go outside, and I grab Q and there’s more snogging. Then we separate, and I ask, “When are you coming back to Seattle?” She says, “I don’t know. Soon.” And finally, Q leaves.

I shut the door, take a deep breath, go into the back room, rub one out, and go to bed.

Next morning, I wake up, still tingly from the night before. I wonder how much of the chemistry at the end was because we were a bit loose with drink, and how much was legit. I check my email, intending to search through history to try to find a message thread I know Q had been in on, to send a “hope your trip was good” note she’ll see when she gets home. She’s beat me to it; on her way out the door, leaving A & B’s for the airport, she sent me a farewell that leaves no room for doubt she wants to see me again: “I don’t know when I’m coming to Seattle, but WHEN CAN YOU COME TO BOSTON.” :slight_smile:

So, she’s interested, I’m interested, and I want to see where it goes.

The sitch, short version: The Dilemma.

My only real concern here is the relationship between the foursome. A & B and I are friends; A & B and Q are friends. Say Q and I hook up for a while; if it goes south and gets weird, A & B will be in the middle, and that’s not fair to them. I have no idea how much A picked up on the loveseat frottage from his vantage point on the couch, so I don’t know if a hookup between me and Q would be a total surprise, but it is a consideration for me.

I’ve never picked up a friend of a friend like this, but I’ve seen it happen to other friends, and the ramifications of divided loyalties in a breakup situation can be quite poisonous. I definitely want to avoid that; I want to pursue Q but I don’t want to risk my friendship with A & B, or their friendship with Q, to do it. Mostly, my concern lies in the area of broaching this subject with the respective parties. I’m definitely going to approach A & B: “Hey, would it be too strange if Q and I started knocking boots?” That’s not a problem. Where I’m a bit stuck is introducing the question with Q. Before we get too hot-n-heavy? Like, introductory kiss, “let’s go to dinner and talk”? Or, on the phone before either of us even makes the trip? (I prefer face to face for conversation but the long-distance thing is a wrinkle.) Or, put the brakes on when we’re half naked and sweaty? :smiley:

Like I said, I’ve never been in this situation, so I don’t really know the accepted protocol. I do know that however I bring it up, if she weirds out about it, that’s a red flag. Connections are about communication, both verbal and not. We’ve got the latter (q.v., “m, h b”). If the former doesn’t work, that’s a red flag.

On the other hand, this could just turn into a booty call situation: nothing deep or serious, just periodic rumpy pumpy. I guess we’ll just have to find out.

Whatever happens, it’s certainly exciting. :slight_smile:

I dunno…I wouldn’t feel the need to mention it to the friends in the form of a question. Tell them you’re interested in seeing Q and you’re going to try to get together in either/or city. That’s all they need to know. They don’t own the rights to her. She’s attracted to you and you to her. You might want to discuss the ramifications of a problem from Q’s angle (and with Q alone), but A and B shouldn’t have any input on this issue.

Goodness. fans self You were certainly very . . . descriptive in your OP. :slight_smile:

Being 25, I suppose I’m still in the “do it now and, whatever, see how it goes” mindset, because to me it seems like you’re being awfully cautious about the whole thing. Is it only your friends being involved that’s making you careful at this point, or is the whole long-distance thing still a factor? (The distance between Seattle and Boston seems pretty wide to ignore.)

Dude, it’s a hot babe who wants you, and lives halfway across the country. Odds are, that it’s going to end in flames at some point. My advice? (And this comes from someone who wound up on anti-depressants because of a failed relationship.) Know exactly what you’re getting yourself into, then strap yourself in, and ride it for as long as you can. We only pass this way once, and the number of people we get to share deep moments with is too few.

In the words of Janis Joplin, “Get it while you can”.

Don’t you turn your back on love.

(ETA: Sorry, I’m still in Song Title mode)

I don’t have any advice, my friend, but I wanted to say that was some great reading. I don’t even mean that in a tawdry way; it was just well written narrative. Even with the annoying “XYZ affair” naming convention. :wink:

My take on it?

Go to Boston. You’re both interested, so take her (not subtle) hint and see where this all goes. That’s part of the fun - you don’t know exactly where it all leads, so make the most of finding out.

And - ahem - post about it here. :slight_smile:

I could’ve written this almost word for word, except that Q is my friend’s wife’s cousin. And the thing that finally brought us together wasn’t a Mariner’s game, it was my friends’ wedding.

Same thing though: Q and I canoodled a bit after the wedding, trying not to really get caught, but people knew…they always know.

My Q lived in Florida, I in Chicago. Emails were immediately exchanged after she returned to FL. I went to see her, she came up to see me. Blahbiddy, blahbiddy, blah…two years later, we’re married.

Early on in our relationship, the A & B in my story (my friend and his wife) assured me that should things turn sour at some point, this would in no way affect our relationship (mine with A & B), which was nice to know.

You absolutely have to go for it; even if something long term never comes of it (I don’t even know if that’s something you’re looking for), it shore is fun! Life’s too damn short to wonder.

I’d be much more worried if you guys were all part of one social circle. You’re not, and in fact you and Q live in different cities. I think it would be really easy for A & B to maintain their friendship with her seperate from their friendship with you, even in the case of a breakup.

It sounds like you’re all adults here. I’d be more worried about that situation if you were in your early 20s, but late 30s? Enjoy one of the perks of being grown up!

I am the wife side of a formerly married couple, and we shared a lot of mutual friends. Two in particular, who wound up marrying each other, were friends with both of us from our freshman year in college to the divorce 10 years later. Yes, it was hard on them when we split, but we made it clear to each of them that they were welcome to be friends with both of us. We didn’t expect them to take sides, or to listen to us air our dirty laundry with them.

Point being: let’s say it goes south and gets weird. Just be sure that A and B both know that they’re “allowed” to be friends with both you and Q. That’s all it takes.

Yay! I love living vicariously through others’ crushes, and your writing brought me right there. I have those little butterflies in my tummy right now yelling, “Kiss him! Just kiss him!” and a big smile on my face.

OK, enough about me. On to you. Yeah. Ummmm…you’ve already, for lack of a better word, queered the friendship. Even if A and/or B don’t have a clue, Q most definitely does, and if you screw this up, you’re going to become “that weird friend of A and B’s who I almost hooked up with” forever. No pressure. :wink:

As for the rest, just take it as it comes. It’s not like you’re going to be rearranging social occasions every weekend to avoid her if things go south - A and B can simply not call you those few weekends a year when she’s in town.

Hey, sorry to hear that.

But as to the OP…

Pfft! A and B are adults and should be able to deal with such a thing. Maybe it’s just because I have never had a truly poisonous breakup, but I can’t imagine it being a problem even if it doesn’t work out, unless one of you were to become psycho about it. And in that case, emotional psychos don’t deserve friends. If neither of you were to act psycho and they decided it was to weird for them, you could then just consider them useless and not worth your time.

MHO, anyway :).

I think the only real risks involved are if you and C not only don’t work out, but do so in spectacular way that requires one or both of you to be crazy idiots.

C sounds mature and unlikely to melt into psychosis. You, I’m not so sure about… :slight_smile:

Seriously, the only way (it seems to me) that A and B end up uncomfortable in the middle is if you and C can’t handle a breakup like grownups and put them in the middle.

Don’t do that – even if you break up, even if you drive each other nuts – and I don’t see the problem. Of course, you can only control your half of the equation, but that’s all anyone can expect of you.

The real question: is C good at pub quiz? Because I hear Boston’s got an amazing pub quiz scene. And you guys could use the help.

A & B are your friends. Friends will be happy for you if you find companionship and a fulfilling relationship. A & B are Q’s friends. Friends will be happy for her if she finds companionship and a fulfilling relationship. A & B are your friends. Friends will console you and share in your grief, while supporting you through the ending of a relationship. A & B are Q’s friends. Friends will console her and share in her grief while supporting her through the ending of a relationship.

This formula does not hold if one of you turns psycho and starts doing CRAZY shit. So as long as you, and Q, don’t go nuts, you need not fear for A & B.


Somebody get me some butter and a monkey!

Play the cards dealt you. Talk to Q and behave honorably and everyone will still like you no matter who ends up with whoever.

Do tell.

That’s the US city Ken Jennings went to for his pub quiz chapter in Brainiac, which is the sole source of my knowledge on Boston’s pub quiz scene. But he mentions that that town has a lot of quizzes.

Go to Boston! As has been mentioned, you’re all adults. If you’re really that worried about A and B, let them know what you’re doing.

I’ll be looking forward to the update. Good luck!

Wow, nicely written OP. I join the crowd and say “Go for it!”

When I read the subject line, I expected something far worse. Since it’s “it might get sticky IF we go out and IF it doesn’t work out and IF they find it’s a problem only after it doesn’t work out”, screw it, man, go for it!

Oooooooh! How exciting! Cervaise, no matter how this turns out, I’m happy for you - after weirdness and divorces and all that other dredge you end up going through, isn’t so exciting just to be able to feel that way again, just to know that you can?

Do what feels right to you. Go with the flow. Don’t hesitate too much, or think too hard on it, and just take it as it comes. Maybe plan a little get away time to Boston, you know, just to check things out.

Everyone’s situation is different, and not everything works out the way we hope or want sometimes, but then again, sometimes it does. It’s a wild ride, life is. Hop on it!

I wouldn’t be living here in Seattle if I had let that train pass me by. :slight_smile: