Published: M&J #233 (28 October 1995) – #240 (16 December 1995)
Artist: J. Badesa
Amy Davis and Diane Carlton are best friends. Amy has a boyfriend called Gary. Diane has always fancied Gary too because she thinks he looks really nice. One day Amy and her family go away for a while because grandmother is ill. Amy asks Diane to deliver a message that she cannot meet Gary for their date that night because of this. Diane goes to tell Gary, while wishing it was a date with him instead. But it’s a dream come true for Diane when Gary offers to take her to the disco in Amy’s place, so as not to waste the tickets. Afterwards, she takes Gary for a treat in return.
Okay, so that’s innocent and reasonable enough – but then it leads to things that aren’t. Now Gary tells Diane he has gotten to like her and wants to go out with her properly. Diane is horrified because he is currently Amy’s boyfriend, and she does not want to hurt her best friend. But Gary gets around her with that nice smile of his, which she can’t say “no” to. She agrees to it, so long as Amy never gets hurt. Gary says Amy won’t get hurt because he will not dump her so he can go out with Diane freely; rather, he will carry on with Amy to keep her happy. In other words, he will two-time Amy by going out with her best friend behind her back. Diane knows it’s wrong, but she can’t help herself because “Gary’s just so nice!” (hmm, would a really nice boy suggest a thing like that?).
So while Amy is away, Diane goes out with Gary. Predictably, she gets herself more and more entangled in a horrible two-timing trap and webs of deceit and dishonesty towards her best friend. She cannot escape her guilty conscience, and there are constant reminders about the wrongs of what she is doing. For example, Diane finds an old toy that was a present from Amy for her 10th birthday, and it was at that time that they swore to remain best friends forever. This makes Diane feel so guilty that she stands Gary up. Diane’s sister Marcie also gives her a hard time when she finds out (their parents don’t know).
And of course there is the constant fear of being found out; she knows Amy would never forgive her. Marcie knows and makes her disapproval clear, but she does not sneak. However, Diane has several close calls when seen with Gary, but fortunately for her she can explain them away.
However, stopping it is not easy. Several times Diane resolves to stop seeing Gary because it isn’t right while he is Amy’s boyfriend. But Gary always sweet talks her into continuing. Or something else occurs that stops Diane from speaking to Gary. Eventually, Gary suggests another way out of the mess: he will dump Amy and then he and Diane go out freely once Amy gets over it.
Then Amy returns early, and all of a sudden Gary says he cannot dump her. Amy is grieving because her grandmother died, and Diane assumes this is the reason Gary refused to dump Amy.
Amy goes away again, for the funeral. Diane resolves that this time she will not go out with Gary until he has finished with Amy. But Gary works his way around Diane again; she agrees to go out with him while Amy is absent, and he will finish with Amy upon her return so they can date freely.
However, while Diane is at Gary’s house, Amy phones him. Gary gets rid of her quickly, but Diane gets pangs of guilt and leaves, and decides not to go out with him again while Amy is away. But then Amy phones Diane, saying she suspects that Gary is two-timing her after she phoned him earlier. She asks Diane to keep an eye on Gary. So Diane decides she might as well carry on with Gary after all. She also informs Gary of what Amy suspects and instructed her to do.
Gary now dumps Amy. She is devastated of course, and she suspects it is because he is seeing another girl. Gary is now a free man, but Diane tells him to allow some time before they start dating freely. But she can’t resist phoning him, and he agrees to meet her in the coffee bar after seeing his mates.
Next day, Amy tells Diane that she saw Gary with another girl last night. Thinking Amy means her and Gary, Diane panics and blurts out an apology over what she did – which reveals her transgression! But it was not Diane that Amy saw with Gary – it was Tracey in the bowling alley, when Gary was seeing his ‘mates’. Diane now realises Gary has two-timed her as well!
But this does not make Amy forgive Diane. No, they are not “in the same boat” – Diane (and Tracey) had only been deceived by Gary; she, Amy, had been deceived by them both. Ah, so Diane could not help herself because Gary was so nice? It doesn’t sound like she tried. Diane loses her best friend forever, and knows she only has herself to blame.
There must have been a lot of readers wincing when they read this story; so many of them would have encountered a similar situation one way or other, or read about one in an agony aunt column or real-life story in a teen magazine. I myself once read a real-life story in a magazine where the correspondent did exactly the same thing as Diane and ended up the same way. Readers must have been screaming at Diane not to date her best friend’s boyfriend and, once things got sticky for Diane, to get the hell out of there before it’s too late. No doubt they would have followed the story in the hope that Diane would see the light and stop what she is doing in the nick of time.
From the start there are warning signs about Gary. To begin with, asking Diane to go out with him while he is already going out with her best friend is despicable. He does not express any guilt over it either, nor does he respect Diane’s bad feelings about going through with it. That nice smile and smooth talk of his that keep getting around Diane are ominous signs of a master manipulator. Diane thinks he is so nice, but does not stop to think that a really nice boy would never do a thing like that to his girlfriend. It does not help that she has always fancied Gary herself; no doubt it would have been a factor in her not trying hard enough to say no to Gary. It is no surprise at all that Gary two-times Diane as well; all the red flags have been there that Gary is a creep and a love rat in the making. He probably makes a regular habit of stringing several girls along at once.
The ending is strong and realistic. There are no deux ex machina resolutions that extricate Diane from the whole ghastly mess she has gotten herself into without losing Amy’s friendship and give her a happy ending to her story. It could have ended with Diane finding out about the two-timing herself, chucking Gary, and she carries on with Amy. It could have ended with Diane finally putting her foot down with Gary. Or it could have ended with Diane falling for another boy and dumping Gary to go out with him instead. But it does nothing of the sort.
Diane does not get away with it, nor does she receive the glib forgiveness that so many serials have ended with. Nor does she get out of the situation with her friend never finding out and they carry on being best friends. No, the friend finds out and is so hurt and betrayed that she never wants to see her again – just as it would have been (and is) in real life. This is what makes the story so effective, and a sterling warning to any readers who might be tempted to go out with their best friend’s boyfriend.