Pondering The Penis Pals

Today I was watching Friends with Benefits and it reminded me of how much I miss having a close male friend.  Sure, the movie is about what happens when two friends end up becoming casual sex partners and inevitably fall for each other, but beneath all the romantic comedy bullshit, it is a film about friendship.

And the age-old question: can men and women really be friends?

I have always found myself with guy friends for a few simple reasons: they are less catty than women, they almost always want to do things that I wouldn’t have thought of and usually end up enjoying, and I don’t worry about them judging me as much as I would women.  I can be myself and have a great time.  Friendships with guys are easy and fun.  Who wouldn’t want to have one as a pal?

When I was a kid, my best friend was a guy named Rickie.  We were both the new kids in school and outcasts to the core.  I had crooked teeth and thick glasses, he had one continuous eyebrow and gangly limbs.  I rocked out to Bon Jovi, he discoed to Cher (yes, he is gay and I’m pretty sure I knew before he did).  The teacher loved both of us and we grew to love each other.  I don’t remember how our friendship began, but it has been one that has lasted through the years despite our cosmological differences.  We were an astrological pair doomed for hostility; he is a Gemini, while I am a Taurus.  Rickie and I had countless fights and more than one period where we didn’t speak to one another—we jokingly refer to them as our divorces—but we always came back together as if nothing ever happened.  I defended him to our bigoted peers and he comforted me when my grandma died.  Our bond has resulted in the longest friendship I have ever had.  After nearly two decades, we can pick up right where we left off even if we haven’t seen each other for years.  Rickie is the definition of a true friend.

After college, I reunited with another guy friend.  George and I had gone to the same middle school, but we didn’t become friends until high school when I was dating one of his friends.  We remained pals after he went off to the Air Force and I went to college.  After I graduated, we both found ourselves back in our home county and began to hang out.  Unlike my pairing with Rickie, George and I were a great match (he was a Cancer and shared the same birthday with my mom—coincidentally one month to the day after Rickie’s birthday).  We had an easy friendship except for his complete lack of confidence and extreme sensitivity.  We had a nice few years together until he confessed his love for me, the second time over the course of our friendship.  He had been placed in the friend zone long ago and I was never attracted to him.  Unfortunately after that, things got weird between us.  He became super clingy and depressed and I longed for space and grew drained from always having to boost his mood.  I eventually had to walk away from the friendship because I just couldn’t deal with the co-dependency anymore.

Then there’s Hawkeye.  We met in grad school and have remained buddies.  I would best describe our friendship as uncomplicated, distant, and convenient.  He’s a nice guy, but not one that I particularly feel very close to.  It probably has something to do with the fact that I rarely see the guy sober and when I do, he seems completely consumed with himself.  Wow, that makes him sound like such a douche.  He’s really not, but for a guy who’s pushing 40, still doesn’t exactly have his shit together, and is on a first name basis with every bartender in a 30-mile radius, it’s not a wonder why he’s single.

A few months ago, I thought I had found a new male close friend (the term “best friend” seems a little juvenile to me).  Fez and I hung out a lot and enjoyed fun activities together.  I was so excited to have another guy in my life to go out with: try new restaurants, check out the latest film, attend parties.  Then he had to go and ruin it when he kissed me.  One kiss turned to many and many turned to rejection.  Sure, we tried—and I guess are still trying—to be friends even though I find it hard to look at him as the goofy, naïve guy I once did.  Now, I can’t believe anything he says and how can a friendship survive when one doesn’t trust the other?

So, I find myself without a close male friend these days and I’m starting to wonder if men and women can really ever be friends.

The older I get, the more difficult I think it is especially when someone is involved in a relationship.  How do you explain to your significant other the reason you’re friends with someone of the opposite sex without them feeling like you are leaving them out?  Can men and women really be friends without someone falling for the other?

I guess male-female friendships really aren’t as easy as I thought.

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