As I get older, I notice that a lot of my women friends prefer the company of each other. I mean, sometimes exclusively. They are dying to get away from their husbands and families; they long for the solace and comfort and intelligent discourse that only a group of well-read women can provide. Sometimes it's unspoken and sometimes it's stated, but there seems to be an attitude on the part of many women I know that men are kind of useless dopes and that our nurturing women friends are our rocks and sustenance.
This is not to say that I don't love my women friends. But I don't love all women just because they're women. I evaluate friends, dogs and children on a purely individual basis. Sure, men can be dopey, but so can a lot of women. The trick is to find the ones who aren't dopey. I just don't think we ought to discount an entire population of people, simply because they're not, well, women.
There are several reasons why I think it's important to cultivate friendships with men other than your husband (and why you ought to have a few platonic men friends, whether you're single or married):
1. You'll inadvertently learn about things you may have never given a second thought, like vintage trailers, card tricks, grilling large hunks of meat and sandpaper grades. I'm not much of a sports fan, but I have found that living with one has given me a better understanding of those individuals who inexplicably scream at the television when the tiny people in uniforms run about. And even though I know very little about the intricacies of a Lester Young solo or catching waves, I find it fascinating when my guy friends wax poetical upon those subjects. (Yes, I know women surf, I just don't have any women friends who surf. Sheesh.)
2. A lot of guys, face it, are still 12 years old. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Have you hung out with a 12-year-old boy lately? It's FUN. Fart jokes really are funny.
3. Most men, straight and gay, really like women. Because, of course, women are lovely, mysterious beings. And it's nice to be admired. It feels good to be appreciated. Sure, your husband appreciates you, but after a hundred years of marriage, I know that I can count on my men friends to go that extra mile when I need to be told I look smashing.
4. Sometimes your guy friends will do nice things for you, like help you fix your back gate or show you how to hang shelves. In turn, you can do nice things for them, like make them a nice dinner. Especially if they're single. Or just bad cooks.
5. When you eat and drink with a guy, no one says, "Oh, we're being so bad!" No one draws attention to anyone having another slice of cake. There will be no discussion of how one must atone with a three-hour visit to the gym the next day.
6. The fellas rarely, if ever, discuss the fat content of food you're right in the middle of eating. Nor do they launch into lengthy diatribes regarding their negative feelings about carbohydrates, just as you're about to tuck into a nice chunk of crusty French bread. They rarely, if ever, say things like, "I feel so fat!" Followed by a long conversation about how their jeans feel tight. Honestly, I would rather hear the details of a triple-header than talk about how fat you feel.
7. You might never learn to speak "boy" fluently, but you will start to understand it. It's true! After a few months of hanging out with the guys, you'll start to understand the grunts and shorthand. Most of the time. And you, in turn, can help them learn to speak "girl." And to be good listeners.
Give me the choice between a relaxing spa retreat with a handful of fabulous and enlightened goddesses, or a late night with a bottle of single-malt and my best guy buddies (that includes my husband -- and possibly a roomful of musical instruments), and the latter wins, hands-down. (Although I'd probably want to pop off to the Korean baths with a friend the next morning, after a nice hike.)
I appreciate the fellas. They don't always leave casseroles on your back porch and they don't all coo over lipstick and hats as often as I might wish. But we can't have everything with our friends, just as we can't have everything with our spouse. And for the sake of my own two boys, I am so pleased that they've got a whole passel of cool gents in their lives. Here's to the fellas! (And Happy Father's Day, guys.)