You know how you only go out with a certain person because you're just trying to be nice and diplomatic? Friends are friends and there's no reason to burn bridges when the person has done nothing terrible to you. Right? And you tell yourself to just get this done and over with. You harbour a wish that this isn't going to be a waste of your time but you also suspect that this is going to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
And in the course of trying to be nice, you do everything right mechanically. Laugh at his jokes, nod your head, offer pieces of your life in exchange for pieces of his life... There's always this balance to keep. Things you can and cannot say, invisible lines drawn around the secrets you have which causes your eyes to blink more than they should. You pluck words from the air and try to blow them into some believable shape. You buy time. You push the limelight away from you and ask questions where you know the replies will be increasingly long and self-indulgent. Because there is no actual trust or intimacy, and yet there are things you have to utter to give the impression that some haze of camaraderie still floats around. It is all an act, a torture you subject yourself to in order to maintain a structure of friendship that was never truly there.
And when the meeting is over, when the conversation has ended on a sweet amicable note, he says, "I like talking to you. I really enjoyed myself. We should meet again."
A quietly jarring pause.
You quickly rearrange your features and nod. You smile a little too hard and automatically say, "Yea."
You think inwardly, "Oh crap."
You go on, "I'm always so busy..." It's true, and it's also a good excuse.
He doesn't get the hint. He shrugs and then suggests, "I'll call you? I just like to hear your voice."
You hesitate. You agree. Either you are too good at acting, too good a hypocrite, or there is a perceived warmth, or connection, he has experienced with you that you never knew existed. But how is that possible? How can things or feelings be so one-sided? That's a question you want to ask but never do. You feel bad, because what gives you the right to pretend, to withhold, to lie to someone else? It isn't fair to anybody and you're not exactly enjoying yourself here. And what makes you think the other person can't see right through you? Maybe he makes you jump through hoops for the sake of self-amusement. And then it occurs to you that perhaps, perhaps, the other person is just acting too.
You can't be the only clever fool.