Developing a close friendship with a woman has always been discomforting and vacillating for me. Yet, it’s highly impactful. I’ve always been picky about the women I’ve made part of my life. Although I knew the end result of our friendship wouldn’t lead to anything sexual or romantic, or anything favorable for that matter, I still let it happen. You always know when it commences, but it’s almost impossible to fully predict its progression or where it would end up. What is certain, though, is that you’re in for a roller-coaster ride ending in heart-wrenching disappointment.
Knowing that, I thought I’d grow wary and avoid building any kind of intense and fervent connection with any woman that I meet, but then I realized that I couldn’t, and that the journey, no matter how bitter, no matter how short, was worth taking. Women are always thought to be kind and more in touch with their emotions than men. Although that’s partially true, I don’t think those elements are what women should be strictly narrowed down to, especially with my distinctive view. For me, women are strange, otherworldly and ruthless creatures. It’s odd for me to think that way, being born in a family dominated by women. But that’s because that’s what I’ve been exposed to. From my experience, women are skilled at ensnaring and manipulating men through their feminine wiles. They don’t even have to make the effort. The talent seems to be some sort of archetype that exists within them.
I’ll always remember the day I met Ellen Smith. I was busy at work, juggling between tasks and jumping from one meeting to another. Working in a creative work environment often gets unpredictable and deadlines tend to push me to extremes; trying to properly achieve the work asked from me during the timeframe provided is stressful. Competition occasionally takes over, with colleagues trying to outpace one another by boosting their performances so they could feel worthy and self-validated. Luckily, I’m not really involved in the creative fashion department, but my work still requires planning. Some days I feel like I’m suffering from Imposter Syndrome.
Ellen works as an assistant in the styling department; she splits her time between assisting Jesse, the head stylist and working with me on photoshoots. Our first time working closely together was last week. I was printing out some photos in the printing room where she was. She had her back turned when I came in, and didn’t quite notice her until she called my name as if we were familiar with one another.
“Hey, Felix” she started. “I’m Ellen, Hilda’s friend,” she started.
“Hi,” I awkwardly answered.
“I don’t mean to be weird; I’m just excited to finally meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
“I hope none of the things she said were bad,” I humourly told her.
“No, not at all. All I’ve ever heard was ‘My best friend, Felix.”
Her approach was a bit weird and intimidating, but I was curious by the fact Hilda has never personally introduced us before. Then again, my relationship with her has become strictly professional I sometime forget we were ever close friends. I was instantly taken by her voice, her beauty and her charisma; I was hooked, but I didn’t want to get overexcited.
Getting further away from Hilda has opened the door for a new friendship with another woman; something I never thought I’d ever have again. It’s all just starting, but I’m wondering how far this one would go. I can’t say it looks promising, but I don’t want to be skeptical either. There’s a raw energy to her that I find alluring yet threatening; I feel I could easily be subverted by her, but it could be just a projection of my own insecurities. Before I could even notice, we were walking around the office, talking about our lives and getting to know each other, and by our lunch break, we were already planning a Friday night get-together.
Ellen arrived right on time and I was stressing out for not being ready. I met her downstairs ten minutes later, and found her casually standing with her back leaning against her car, smoking. I noticed her distinctive, timeless bohemian style; she was wearing a white lace dress that made her breasts stick out, brown cowboy boots that ended a few inches below the knee, and an oversized denim jacket. Her make-up was edgy and slathered all over her face. When I walked up to her, she stepped forward and gave me a hug. We got into the car, and drove to her favorite bar spot. We parked in an alley behind it, and as I got ready to step out, she reached for the backseat and pulled her makeup kit from under it. It was loaded with eye shadow, liquid foundation, lipstick, mascara, moisturizing cream, makeup remover and a bunch of other products I’ve never seen before. She flung open the sun visor and fixed her eyeliner before stepping out of the car.
Although she didn’t strike me as self-conscious, she definitely came across as someone who made sure was always on point; she cared about how she put herself out there, and that wasn’t necessarily out of narcissism or vanity. Simply put, she cared about how she presented herself, just like any other woman would. She’s definitely a tough woman to crack; reserved but still talkative; she shared only what she wanted to share, but for the most part, I only managed to get a glimpse into the superficial side of her life.
Throughout the night, I couldn’t stop comparing her to Hilda. Part of it had to do with the fact I was substituting one woman for another. But it wasn’t entirely just that. When I look at her I genuinely can’t help but think of Hilda. It’s like somewhere deep inside her, Hilda’s shadow lied. With the big, stark contrast in looks and style, they resembled each other, just like twins with inverted personalities. I sense an intriguing reflection of the two women whenever I seem to think about one or the other. I’m mesmerized and intrigued by this duality that at some point I’m finding it hard to distinguish between the two. In my mind, they were slowly merging and I’m scared I might become weak again when facing either of them because if I end up being pushed away, it’s double the pain. I’m afraid this doppelgänger phenomenon might be a harbinger of bad luck, and so the challenge of building a friendship with a woman starts again. One thing is for certain, though: No matter how close we get, I’m making sure a prominent distance remains. It’s for my own sake. I simply can’t be close to a woman; it’s dangerous. And the mystery surrounding the reason why I feel this way is yet to be brought to light.
Ellen dropped me off before driving back home. Walking inside my building, I froze in my spot as soon as I saw her. It took me at least ten seconds to allow myself to move. I walked in and saw her casually sitting in the lobby; Rosamunde. I looked at her and hoped it wasn’t real. But then she said my name and that’s when I realized my night was about to get worse.