Kelsey Leavitt, columnist

Remember Spud, the charming potato look-alike I introduced toward the start of the semester? Well, there’s more. Actually, there always was a second story; I just wanted to distance it from the first. Among other things, I didn’t want to set the precedent that my column would focus on relationships. Now, it’s the holidays. Love is in the air, and mistletoe is on the ceiling. Between the Hallmark movies and engagement photos filtering through Facebook, it’s easy for singles to feel lonely. Suddenly that guy who handed you that 2 a.m. burrito is looking awfully available. And the way he said, “Here’s your change,” well, he obviously meant, “You’re beautiful.” He probably meant to say it in Italian too. I’ve heard it said that people do stupid things for love, but the more life experience I get, the more I realize that people do stupid things in general. So, when we do ridiculous things “in the name of love,” it’s more likely lust or loneliness. Let’s be honest. A lot of factors came into play with Spud and me. It’s true; he paid attention to me, and I think that’s what kept me interested. (Hey, give me some grace. I was fresh out of high school and hadn’t grown into myself yet.) But what really made things happen was my girl managers’ encouragement. I’d developed a little bit of a crush on him, but I didn’t take it seriously. It was a crush. It was silly. And he was nothing I wanted out of life. I suspect the relationship would’ve stopped there – had it not been for the involvement of my girlfriends. I remember it clearly. I was taking orders in back drive-thru when three of my girl managers came back and started badgering me about him. “Kelsey, you know who’s cute? Spud is. You’re single, right? Spud’s single too. You guys work together a lot, don’t you?” Another would chime in, “You know I think he’s looking for a lady. Do you have his number? Do you want me to get it for you? What if we write your number down on a napkin, and we’ll just drop it in front of him? It’ll be totes casual.” And let’s not forget the complimenting. “You look so cute today.” (Okay, I’m lost; does the smoothie mix on my shirt complement my eyes or something?) “Spud thinks you look cute today. He’s such a nice guy, really laid back and super funny. You guys should go out.” (What was this, Wingman Wednesday? I’m pretty sure that’s only at Applebee’s.) In the middle of trying to ask a customer if he wanted to large-size his soda, I was trying to stop them from planning our wedding. For the record, I blush easily. The girls quickly made their deductions, and suddenly Spud and I were the hot gossip at the Grill. I’ve also heard it said— probably on some cheesy Pinterest picture — that the more you talk about someone, the deeper you fall in love. There’s no way on God’s green earth that I was in love with Mr. Potato over there, but the more people asked me about it, the more I wanted to talk about it, and that little crush grew bigger. It didn’t stop there. When I went out with my friends on my nights off, they’d take us through the drive-thru just in case he was working. Seriously? That’s just embarrassing. Even my Christian friends got on the bandwagon, despite knowing he was completely opposite of what was good for me. Now, I don’t want you guys to think that I blame my friends for what happened. I’m an adult and I made my own bad decision. I guess I just wish they would have looked out for my heart a little more. God designed people for relationship. It’s how we’re wired, and it’s a good thing, but like most good things, we’ve found a way to mess it up. Sometimes we start thinking that, if we find that significant other – and only then – we’ll be happy, complete even. And it’s not enough that we choose to live with this mentality; we project it on our friends as well. “You know Jim and Sally would be really cute together.” “You like snowballs? So does my friend John.” “Did you see them eating lunch together? Yeah, I think there’s something there.” Can we just stop it? We’re supposed to protect our friends, look out for them, and have their best interest at heart. When we pressure them to rush a friendship into something more, implant our own romantic ideas in their head, and encourage them down painful paths then we’re not helping them. In fact, I think we’re hurting them. We need to look at things with clearer vision. I know it’s fun to gush and gossip and over-analyze everything. But not if your friend is going to end up with a broken heart, or worse, stuck in a faithless and unhealthy relationship. Then you’ll have to live with knowing you encouraged him or her on the path that led there. If your friend is developing feelings for someone who is clearly being inappropriate, or is being pursued by that cute non-Christian coffee shop boy, maybe you should remind your friend what he or she really wants in a relationship, and what he or she deserves. I know talking to someone who is “in love” can be an impossible task, but your words don’t fall on deaf ears. Our job isn’t to force others to agree with us, it’s to speak truth into those we love. God takes it from there. So as the holidays loom, and you see a friend snuggling up next to an old unhealthy flame, maybe instead of getting all giddy over by the fireplace, consider reminding him or her why they broke up in the first place.   Click here to read the original story of Spud: https://hilltop.corban.educolumns/a-tale-of-two-frycooks