Launch! Prince Arthur Hotel! Sept.5. Cake, beverages. Launch 7:15 pm. (NOWW AGM 6:30.)

Launch! Prince Arthur Hotel! Sept.5. Cake, beverages. Launch 7:15 pm. (NOWW AGM 6:30.)
Prize Winning Stories from NOWW

Thursday, May 22, 2008

THIRD WHEEL SYNDROME by Meghan Eddy

This humerous essay by local Hammarskjöld High student Meghan Eddy placed fourth in the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour contest for Ontario secondary school students.


THIRD WHEEL SYNDROME

Over the past 8 months a mounting societal crisis has been brought to my attention. You may have seen reports of a new virus that has been sweeping the nation, stirring a hankering in the hearts of hypochondriacs everywhere. I am saddened to say that the reason that I have so courageously decided to bear the burden of this cause is because I myself am a recovering victim: I feel the need to spread information and support to all those affected. I can now conclusively state that this may be one of the biggest adversities that society has or will ever face; this infection must be stopped at all costs.

It goes under the guise of many names, although is most commonly referred to as “Third Wheel Syndrome”. In layman's terms TWS is when a third party, the person infected, finds themselves present during any type of outing in which the two other parties are romantically involved. In even more layman's terms: one person, dude, chick whatever is all up in some other couple business, whether by force or choice. Either way this illness wreaks havoc over the lives of millions all over the world and tragically, as of yet, has no cure or vaccination. It is because of this illness that the phrase “three’s a crowd” is no longer taken lightly.

Although in theory Third Wheel Syndrome has been around for as long as anyone can remember, it has for some reason, as far as I’ve cared to research, never been brought out into the open: raw and exposed. Documented cases of Third Wheel outbreaks have been skillfully linked using my own expertise, back to prehistoric times when it was common practice to have a friend help you carry your significant other, whom you just finished clubbing, back to your cave. Despite its past it is only in recent years that the momentum of the outbreak has reached a peek: affecting an astounding 1 in 3 young adults…go figure. Being infected with TWS has an increasingly detrimental affect on life of anyone. Long term exposure leaves the victim socially inept and in most communities, ostracized and alone: ‘wheeler’ colonies have more then doubled in size.

It is hard to pinpoint the exact cause of the outbreaks, because infection can seemingly spring out of even the most casual of social situations. Of what little is known about this affliction it can be said that ‘Third Wheel’ emerges in, coincidentally, three forms—dependent on the victim’s social anatomy. Beware of people who can be standardized by the following descriptions: TWS is extremely contagious. You may not be safe; no matter how many of those microscopic bottles of antibiotic hand sanitizer you have stuffed in your purse.

The ‘Awkward’ Third Wheel is the first and most common form of the virus. All other forms have sprung and regenerated around this type and it is believed that if a vaccination can be developed to stop TWS in this stage, there may still be a reason to hope. The ‘Awkward’ third wheel is well aware of his or her situation. This is what causes most of the emotional harm. They are usually, and by no fault of their own, wrangled into these circumstances by peer pressure for they have not yet perfected the art of “just say no”.

It usually begins with a needy friend, who has just met the ‘perfect’ mate but for some unknown teenage-o-logical (yes that is a word) reason has not the self esteem to further the venture of the relationship by him or herself. This is where it begins and the Awkward Third Wheel finds themselves in a dark theater/restaurant/or perhaps ice skating rink accompanied by a couple—no longer a friend and said friend’s significant other—but a singular unit bent on ignoring the poor third party, and the movie as well.

Not only is the Awkward Third Wheel left to fend for themselves by drowning out any and all sounds of various canoodling, but to also dodge the sympathetic, knowing looks of all passers-by. Speaking from first hand experience, the affects of even one Awkward Third Wheel situation can leave behind extreme mental hardship: paranoia, anxiety and stress resulting in behavior unbecoming of the victim. This behavior can materialize in a variety of forms: high pitched giggling at any and all things remotely funny...or even not funny at all in order to loudly interrupt a session of 'footsy' or the classic 'lets stare into each others eyes with glazed looks' that say "I love you" or maybe "I’m addicted to heroin”, and avoiding leaving the room at all cost for fear of a dreaded make out session that is just waiting to be interrupted upon return (we all know what was happening so the attempts at passing it off as a casual check for plaque build up are pointless).

Apart from the mental repercussion, the constant cringing that becomes habit of the Awkward Third Wheel has been known to lead to back problems as well as poor posture. Luckily for the A-TW, if they are smart enough to avoid a further situation of exposure, the virus may simply pass; leaving them only embarrassed, confused and not to mention extremely P.O’d at their former friend.

The second category of TWS is the slightly less common ‘Used and Abused’ long term contagion. One would only hope that because teenagers are so well known for their sense of moral purpose and ethical thought that they would under no circumstances use their powers of guilt and shame in order to force a “friend” into the position of ‘Used and Abused’. Unfortunately, it happens more often then you would believe.

The type of person who falls victim to this malaise is usually more skilled or perhaps even more monetarily well off then either member of the abusing duo. The couple, who are in the habit of playing the old ‘In the Name of Love’ card, will continually use their friend for his or her ability or access to...for example...a license and a vehicle. Not only are the couple so wrapped up in the throes of young romanticism that they do not acknowledge the friend…but they also rarely pay for gas. At times the abuse-e is invited to join the couple on the date, but this situation simply morphs into the Awkward Third Wheel, in which the only silver lining is the off chance of swiping some free popcorn, while the lovebirds' hands are...busy. Once someone finds themselves being used and abused it is extremely hard to rid themselves of the virus, unless they are willing to sever all ties with the parasitic couple.

The last and perhaps most pathetic, although fortunately also rare, version of TWS is the Blissfully Unaware Third Wheel. This person can often be heard calling out in near-desperation “Hey guys, Its okay if I just hang out with you two tonight, right?”. This is the point when the infection leaves the hands of the couple and is in fact brought on by the victim themselves. The virus has now mutated and now fully affects the brain of the individual.

Some say it is fortunate and humane that the BUTW is so fully controlled by the disease at this stage: they remain unaware of their paralyzing disability. This type of person is unable to differentiate between a situation in which they are welcome and one where they are simply a burden. They are immune to any awkward feelings or highly negative vibes given off by the couple to which they have latched themselves. No amount of loud exuberant coughs or death glares will do: try and remember that they are the victim here and cannot help themselves. The infection in this degree is so highly destructive that eventually, as the victim’s friends couple off more and more, the person will be left completely alone and abandoned—unable to comprehend why everyone has become so well adept at surprisingly stealth avoidance techniques. My own bout with this disease never came to such an extreme as this…knock on wood.

The time I spent battling Third Wheel Syndrome was one of the hardest times of my life. I will always look back on those days and feel the red flush creeping its way back onto my cheek as the cringing reflex slowly ripples down my spine. One thing I am grateful for is that I myself was never part of a couple who forced friends to do the unjust duties of chauffeur, giggly ultra-conversationalist, or even drag-my-mate-to-the-cave servant. I can proudly say that I never would inflict this type of pain on any of those whom I can deem friends. I am perfectly content living life with myself and not to mention my many cats, leaving my friends in peace and good health. If this is nothing more, it is a warning that young adults must especially head: use protection, take the proper steps and be informed, but most importantly, remember to "just say no".

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