After finishing his Friday afternoon tutorial – his last of the week – Innis College student Jack Mango engaged in a bold, “borderline maniacal” overstep of social norms and boundaries.
Mango’s overstep followed three consecutive tutorial sessions in which he was seated next to classmate Aneesh Philip. Over the hourlong tutorials, the two would exchange innocuous quips and general banter.
Mango believed the laughs and giggles would, and should, fade away outside the classroom. He was mistaken.
As the students shot the breeze on their walk out of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), Mango devised his plan to take their relationship to the next level. He remembered from previous weeks that Aneesh typically headed west on Bloor after exiting the building, whereas he headed eastwards.
If it was ever going to happen, now was the time––now or never, do or die.
As his acquaintance launched into his farewell, Mango interrupted him:
“Well, man, I guess I’ll catch you next wee-”
“So what are you up to now?”
Aneesh froze. The stream of students trying to exit the building found themselves immobilized at the bottom of the narrow staircase. People turned and stared. As Jack waited for Aneesh to answer, the whispers intensified.
“I – I guess I’ll go and have dinner now,” muttered Aneesh. He immediately realized how poor his rebuttal was; he had left himself completely vulnerable for another of his opponent’s broadsides.
“Great! We can go grab a bite then,” answered Mango. Although foolish, the boy had been brave. His bold attempt to become a full-fledged friend was unorthodox, but Mango was sure it would yield results.
“Listen dude, I’m flattered”, answered Aneesh, “but we’re just tutorial buddies. Plus, I don’t have time for that type of commitment right now. I’m sorry...I just can’t.” Clutching the straps of his backpack, Aneesh Philip walked away into the drizzly mist, carrying with him any of Mango’s hopes of a concrete friendship.
On Mango’s cheeks, raindrops mixed with tears. Perhaps their acquaintance was simply meant to remain one of casual chitchat, awkward greetings, and occasional name-forgetting.