"What I'm saying is is that men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way."
When I first met Elek, I harbored a secret crush on him, but he was dating this classmate of ours at NYU. We spent a couple of hours a week together in that journalism class over the spring semester of 2006. At the end of that course, I earned an A- and a first date over drinks with my crush.
We had fun during our summer romance that year, spending nearly everyday together in his Battery Park apartment, but by the fall, we decided to throw in the towel and "just be friends."
While there were periods of gray area, where I really didn't make an effort at "being friends" because I thought it was just a cordial way of ending our affair, Elek persisted, taking the reigns that led to us really becoming friends, the kind that actually talked on a regular basis, discussed the progress of our dreams and shared our deepest feelings.
It's been more than three years since we dated and Elek's transformed from this former flame that I once awkwardly tried to avoid in passing on the street into the constant male in my life I frequently turn to.
"J, why is it that everyone else gets mentioned on your blog, but me?" he recently pleaded in a way that didn't quite fit his 6'4" Maine-man frame.
And it wasn't until he pointed this out that I realized that there is no one more fitting to be written about in my blog: Elek is the person I call on when I'm at my weakest, when I need some perspective on relationships.
I think about those scenes in When Harry Met Sally where they're both under the covers in separate beds on the phone talking about everything under the moon, precisely love. Elek is my Harry.
No matter how deep his head may be in his law books in Portland, he always makes himself available to talk about the goings-on of my love life. He's always at the receiving end, listening to me whine when I'm taking residence at the bottom of love's seemingly bottomless pit.
He's consoled me countless times. I remember him giving me sound advice when I was angst-ridden when Aaron avoided anointing me the crown of girlfriend. He was so levelheaded, telling me the label didn't matter, but only Aaron's actions, the fact that he treated me like a girlfriend, did. But Elek still made a point to say, "Seriously though, what's wrong with him? Why wouldn't he want to call a girl like you his girlfriend?"
Or the time I called him when I felt I would never find love and would just live my life like Jane Austen and write about love, instead of living love. "You're never going to be alone, J," he said. "Look at you, you're not built to be a spinster."
And most recently when I felt I had no one, no boyfriend, no family around during the holidays, it was Elek who cut his holiday short with his family to spend time with me in Maine, giving me a local's tour of the city that stole my best friend away from Manhattan, like I once swayed him away from that classmate.
During my visit, he cooked me my first lobster, gave his practical opinion on a fur muff at a vintage shop ("It's functional and stylish: it's a purse that keeps you warm...get it!") and reluctantly braved the crowds at the mall so I could eat Taco Bell at the food court. And when I drunkenly confessed to not having had sex in nearly three months and missed Aaron's touch, he sweetly said, "For what it's worth, J, if I didn't have a girlfriend, I'd sleep with you."
But it's our conversations over the phone that remain so special. These phone calls to Elek do more than settle my immediate lovesick angst; they give me hope.
See, Elek isn't the male cliche, the machismo stereotype of a man disconnected with his heart (DISCLAIMER: He snowboards, chops wood, loves dragon books, plays basketball, and enjoys Entourage!). He's a man that feels and waxes philosophical on love.
These conversations make me hopeful about the opposite sex, about finding someone someday that will love me and want to be with me, because there's a living example of a man, my friend Elek, who believes in love, who wants to grow in a relationship and who hopes to spend his life with "the one."