Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Single Guy Versus the Fifth Grader

Before he began attending the church he currently attends, the Single Guy had not had the opportunity to participate in many service projects. Actually, it wasn't that the opportunities weren't there. He simply didn't embrace them. The last time the Single Guy had a genuine desire to help out in his community was way back during the college years. And since he graduated from college 10 years ago, well, one can assume it's been a long time since he's plugged in and acted the part of the servant.

Last week, the Single Guy was given the chance to help out at a local food pantry. There wasn't much involved. He went in and helped families in need as they perused the shelves, seeking the groceries they needed to make it through the next few weeks. For the Single Guy, who has never truly been in a position where he was unable to provide his own basic needs, it was a very humbling thing to be a part of.

That evening, he served alongside three other volunteers. One was a girl that the Single Guy knows from church. Another was a Virginia Tech grad student who is in the same program as the girl from church. The other was a boy in the fifth grade. And that kid was all kinds of awesome.

First of all, he's 11 years old. When the Single Guy was 11, he wouldn't have even thought about giving up an afternoon to help the people in his community to find the groceries they needed to get by. This kid is there every Monday with a smile on his face, ready to serve in whatever way that he can.

Now let's focus on the fact that the Fifth Grader is wise beyond his years. Things were slow at the food pantry compared to other evenings. Or so the Single Guy was told. After a while, things came to a standstill, so the volunteers had nothing but time on their hands. So they sat around talking. The Fifth Grader was ready to talk about food, life, love, politics. Scratch that, he didn't want to talk about politics. In a very adult manner, he stated that talking about politics made him upset.

But, wait, he was able to talk about love? Yeah, this is the part where the Single Guy realized that he may not be smarter than a Fifth Grader.

It had not started as a conversation in which the Single Guy was seeking advice from the youngling. They were just sitting around, shooting the breeze. The girl from church had asked the Single Guy about his day and he went on to explain an awkward situation involving a girl and another girl. Nothing too crazy, but slightly awkward nonetheless. The details are inconsequential. Just imagine your basic episode of Three's Company and you've got your awkward.

The Single Guy did need to explain the details to the Fifth Grader, however, because he wasn't alive when Three's Company was a thing. He didn't even know Three's Company was ever a thing. But the Fifth Grader pondered the situation. He thought about it. He went outside for a bit to enjoy the beautiful afternoon weather. Then he came back inside to dispense his advice.

He told the Single Guy, in relation to his situation, to basically play it cool. He didn't use these words, but to sum up, don't change the status quo. But, he also advised, don't get stuck in the friends' zone. Hold up, Fifth Grader, how do you know of the legendary "friends' zone"?

"Everyone knows about the friends' zone," he said matter-of-factly.

The Single Guy couldn't help but laugh a little. Throughout his life, he'd been stuck in the friends' zone at least half a dozen times. He'd been placed there by a number of women who considered him to be a really good friend. Or worse, like a brother. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing. The Single Guy likes to consider himself a good friend. But these days, when he meets an attractive woman that he might be interested in, he doesn't want to be friends. As far as he's concerned, he's got enough friends.

The conversation flowed normally after that. Soon, the Fifth Grader had to go because his mother came to pick him up. Before he walked out of the building, he turned back to the Single Guy and again stated, "Get out of the friends' zone!"

So to all the other single folks out there, pay attention to this kid. He kind of knows what he's talking about. It wasn't long after that evening when the Single Guy saw something online that said, "The only reason guys get stuck in the friends' zone is because they never ask the girl out in the first place." That's not always the case, but more often than not, it probably is. Guys tend to let the women they're attracted to intimidate them into staying silent. Those women aren't trying to intimidate these guys and it's likely they don't even know they have that kind of effect on them. Okay, they probably know. And not all guys are intimidated. But a lot of the nice ones are. So, nice guys, stop being intimidated. That is all.

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