I was in elementary school in the suburbs in the early eighties, when kids could still ride bikes to their friend’s houses, walk alone to school, and play outside in the summer until it got dark and the fireflies began to light up the sky. My next door neighbors had a cowbell (seriously), and when they rang it, all of the neighborhood kids knew it was time to stop playing in the woods or doing wheelies in the cul-de-sac and go home. Back then, there was no such thing as your parents driving you across town in rush hour traffic so you could have an afterschool playdate with your best friend. No, the neighborhood was where you played, and the neighborhood kids were who you played with, whether you liked them or not.
In my neighborhood, almost all of the kids were boys. After school, on weekends and in the summers, I spent the majority of my time with them; climbing trees, catching bugs, riding bikes, playing catch. I never ended up being a tomboy, but I do think that all of that “boy time” at such a young age (combined with the fact that I had a brother but no sisters), caused me to gravitate towards guy friends as I got older. I had girlfriends growing up – lots of them – but I just always felt more comfortable with guys. As a kid, as a teenager, even in college and law school, I always had close male friends. It wasn’t a sexual thing, either. Sure, I flirted with a few of them and they flirted back sometimes, but generally speaking, it wasn’t about hooking up or trying to backdoor it into a relationship. I just liked hanging out with them. The guys I knew were funny and wry, they were laid back, and there was no drama or competition – at least, not with me. They did stupid things like saw the top off of a car to make a convertible, or play knee hockey in their basements, or do insanely funny imitations of our teachers. Being with them was a different kind of fun than I had with my girlfriends. Not better, just different.
Somewhere after getting married and having kids, though, it got more difficult to have male friends of my own. Of course, I’m friends with some of my friends’ husbands. They’re great guys who I enjoy being around, but I rarely, if ever, call them up and chat with them on the phone, and I’ve never asked them to meet me for lunch or coffee, because that would be…well, that would be weird. I suppose I was friends with some of my male colleagues when I worked in an office, but without work in common anymore, I don’t know that we’d have much to say to each other now. As a mom who works from home, by herself, there just aren’t a lot of opportunities to make male friends anymore. And going out and actively seeking male friends would be…well, that would be really weird.
It’s sad, because I miss having guy friends. Those friendships added depth and dimension to my life, and as much as I adore my female friends, I do feel like I’m missing something, as if my life has grown lopsided, somehow. I guess there’s really only one way to remedy the situation: the next time my husband has a guy’s night, I’m just going to have to ask if I can come along.