Wednesday, April 8, 2015

In the company of men

A few weeks ago, Big G and I were invited to an Irish breakfast on St. Patrick's Day by a friend of ours.  Big G, as is his way, got up early went to work and called me an hour later saying "I FORGOT today was the Irish Breakfast! Arrgh!" 

"Oh well," I responded, "I'll have some bangers for ya, my lad!"

Bangers means sausage.

When I showed up there, it truly was a sausage party. There were 5 dudes.  And me.  But there was also piles of eggs, bacon and coffee so I figured I would stay. I felt awkward for a fraction of a second but then got over it.  All the men present, besides being very nice, were talented musicians. So not only did I have a delicious breakfast cooked for me, I got to witness a truly amazing jam session that was totally awesome.  I was so glad I didn't leave due to my status as the only chick present and I was also happy I didn't just not come at all because my gentleman escort forgot we had plans that morning.  I would have been denying myself great food, terrific music and conversation with other parents who just happened to be male.

See, I am one of the few people who truly believe that women and men can be friends.  Real, actual friends.  I have a number of close male friends, but two particularly come to mind.  One is close friend high school that I've had since I was 14 and another I met in my early twenties at work. Both are amazing men I respect, love and admire and both I consider to be family.  In all of our years together, although I feel their love for me with certainty, neither one of them has ever made a pass at me and if they're even reading this I'd imagine at this point they just fell out of their seats laughing at the awkwardness of such a prospect. 

Thanks a lot guys.

Friendship between men and woman will enrich your life immensely but only if you follow a few guidelines I have discovered along the way.

Your male buddy can only be married if you and the wife adore each other. Fullstop. If she doesn't like you, or even just kind-of-likes you this is not going to work. Because she will get totally jealous and think something untoward is going on when really all you're doing is quoting lines form Arrested Development.  The wife doesn't like you?  The friendship is over.

You cannot be friends with a man who you are attracted to.  I remediate this problem by being friends with men who possess many of the traits I find physically unappealing.  Men who dress better than I do, men who wear jewelry, have long hair, have excessive tattoos or who are overly dramatic make great male friends while also making them sexually unattractive to me. It's a win-win!

By the same token, you cannot be friends with a man who is attracted to you.  Since most men are attracted to everything, even a pumpkin (which I fear I resemble now that I've done all my winter eating) this can be tough. I try to make this easy for my male friends. I tell them in great detail about my child birth, I unload my problems on them demanding advice I likely won't take and I talk constantly about eating. That usually does it.

If that doesn't work, I'll often raise issues about regularity and what works for me.

Example of phone call between male and female friends:


Male:  Hey. What took you so long to answer?
Female:  I just got out of the shower.

No, this is wrong on many levels. It's flirting. The dude just unwittingly pictured you naked. It's not even his fault.


Male: Hey, what took you so long to answer?
Female:  I was picking at an ingrown hair, actually. Then I considered brushing my teeth because it's been days but instead I decided to eat a bag of potato chips while watching Downton Abbey. Do you want to get the kids together?

Viola!  With that statement you have just made any man within 100 mile radius completely unattracted to you and you've likely disgusted some lesbians too.

Male-female friendship doesn't work if said male is waiting, "in vulture position" for your relationship to break up. Ten years ago there was a guy I thought was my friend and one day when we were having a business lunch he busted out with "If you and Big G weren't married, don't you think we'd be an amazing couple?"  I almost choked on my turkey wrap in shock but rather than being flattered I was totally taken aback. 

"Never.  Like never, ever." I admonished him.


"Why?" I sputtered.  "The way you're gnawing on your pulled pork sandwich is reason enough."

"Please don't tell Big G I said this," he pleaded.

But I had to. I couldn't have a secret with this guy that I would keep from Big G.  That would create intimacy between me and Pulled Pork Sandwich. And it's not like he was friends with Big G. He wasn't even really friends with me, it turned out, or he wouldn't have said something to make me feel so uncomfortable. I never had lunch with him again and stopped taking his calls. Like a canker sore on your upper lip, he eventually went away.

Which brings us to, you cannot be friends with a man that doesn't also love and respect your partner.  When I think of my closest 4 male friends, I will bet you dollars to donuts they would rather hang out with Big G than with me or both of us together. Whether it's because I'm around more during the day or less of an introvert than my spouse, who knows.  But they love and respect my husband and that's what makes me able to be friends with them and often puts them that strange grey area where your friends become so close to you they become family.

And for all of this to work, you have to have a supremely trusting, confident spouse who knows you think the sun rises and sets on him. He has to appreciate that you get things from your male friendships you don't always get from your female friendships. He not only trusts you around all your male friends but trusts all of your male friends around you.

If Big G doesn't like someone, that person is out of our circle of friends. Fullstop.

And I'm glad that Big G is so wonderfully adjusted.  Because when I think of all my friends, both male and female, I sift through the laughter, the tears, the adventures, the sad times and the unbelievable ways in which they've added so much to my life, I feel incredibly lucky to not have just limited myself to one gender. 

You know that famous old saying -- "Female friendship is awesome. Male friendship enables you to base an entire friendship on lines from movies.  Stay away from Pulled Pork Sandwich."   It's so true.

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