Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Boy Friends (not boyfriends)

"What I'm saying is - and this is not a come-on in any way, shape or form - is that men and women can't be friends because the sex part always gets in the way."
When Harry Met Sally

Have you seen this movie?
If the answer to that question is "no," drop everything you are doing and go watch it. Rent it. On-Demand it. Netflix it. Steal it. Whatever. Just do it.
In fact, even if the answer to that question is "yes," you should probably drop everything you are doing and watch it anyway.
Because it is made of awesome.
Go. Now.

Welcome back.

All of my life, I've had boy friends. I will admit that I'm not entirely sure of the reasoning behind this. In my more enlightened moments, I attribute it to the fact that my personality is an evenly distributed mixture of tomboy-ness and girlish. Rather, a more evenly distributed mixture than most.
I am just homogeneous enough in that department to avoid being androgynous.
Okay. I'll stop with the SAT vocab words now.

In junior high, two of my best friends were a pair of boys named Matt and Pat (they are not related, though funnily enough two of my current closest male friends are also named Matt and Pat. Except they're twins. Which is weird. More on that later). During this period in my life, afternoons and weekends were spent in someone's basement either watching movies or playing video games.

Just the three of us.

Sometimes, in the evenings, our other friends would join us for kung-fu movies or board games or something that is equally awesome in the mind of a fourteen year-old.

Mostly, it was just the three of us.

And I loved it.

There were no discussions of hair or make-up or periods or crushes on boys.

Not that those things didn't interest me.

I just thought it was nice to have a break.

With Matt and Pat, it was all sports and action movies and pizza.
And that was fine by me.

My mom, concerned parent that she is, noticed how much time I seemed to be spending in dark rooms with two pre-teen boys and decided that it was time to have a conversation.

A conversation about "the one things that boys want."

I threw up in my mouth a little bit during this conversation.

I was not a sex object to these boys by any means. There is no question in my mind about that.

Though we spent hours and hours together, neither of them ever made any sort of move sexually or dropped any sort of hint. And this is to their credit because, as my mother so astutely observed, they WERE 14 year-old boys.

Looking back on that time, I am so glad that I was lucky enough to have these boys as friends. In a world where young people seem to be growing up faster and faster, being exposed to males who treated the girls in their lives with respect would shape my expectations and standards for the men that I did want to be romantically involved with. Not to mention my future friends.

These days, my relationships with my boy friends are a little bit different. But that circle of my social life is still made up of the same respectful, intelligent, and concerned men.

They hold doors open for me.

They walk me to my car.

They go out of their way to buy me gluten-free treats.

But, that doesn't mean that they don't fart in front of me or tell naked lady jokes.

And that's how I know that I'm a girl friend, and not a girlfriend.

These same boys also have a tendency to stand over me menacingly in bars in order to keep the near-do-wells away.

Whether I want them to or not.

Please don't misunderstand:

I am all for Girl Power.

Women's Rights.

Sticking Together.


But I do think that there is value in being reminded, as women, that there are men on this planet who will treat us as equals.

Not treat us like slaves or sexual outlets or second-class citizens.

Not put us on pedestals because we are "the fairer sex" or coddle us or shelter us.

Just as I would never debate the importance of having female friends in my life, I will never underplay the importance of having male ones.

I know that any woman in the world would be lucky to spend their lives with one of my boy friends.

Just as I know that any man I introduce to them will be acutely aware of how lucky he is to have me.

And, on top of all, I can burp and watch football in appreciative company.

Because, as good as girl friends are...

boy friends are good, too.

1 comment:

Molly said...

Story of my LIFE!