A few weeks ago, Husband and I were chatting with Toddler's teacher at a school event and she said something wonderful. She said that Toddler is equally drawn to the girls and boys in her class. She is friends with girls and friends with boys. She doesn't discriminate. At age three, it seems this is the way it should be.
But what about at age thirty-one?
Because I do not have a single stand alone friend that is a boy at this point. Sure, I consider my friends' husbands to be friends, but there is no guy, not one, whom I would call up and say hey. There is no guy, not one, whom I would track down for a quick lunch or a quick drink.
Truth be told, I am not the best case study. For whatever reason, I have never had a collection of boy friends. I'm not really sure why. It could be that as one of five sisters, I was always most comfortable hanging with girls. It could be that, deep down, I believed that platonic relationships between guys and girls were tricky and usually ended up being charged with romantic and sexual complications. This did happen to me at least once and maybe I just learned my lesson.
But I look around and I see a pattern. Take Husband. Once upon a time, he had a bevy of girl friends. Many of his closest buddies were members of the opposite sex. And now? He is Facebook friends with most, but that is the extent of it. Take the majority of my married - and mommy - friends. I have not taken an official poll, but it seems to me that boy friends have fallen off, have been relegated to the fringes of busy lives, or have been deleted from those busy lives all together.
And maybe that is what it is all about. Being busy. Maybe it is that this juggling act called Life is hard work. That between professional and parental and personal obligations, we feel stretched to the max. That there is no free time in which to phone up our less central buddies - whether they are girls or boys. Maybe the explanation for this sociological shift boils down to the practicalities and pulls of modern existence.
Or maybe there is something more. Once upon a time, things were less serious. There were not marriages to wreck and kids to screw up. Maybe the number of opposite sex friendships wanes - as a social or biological means - to protect monogamy? Maybe eliminating these relationships is a logical way to minimize distraction and competition and is simply part and parcel of commitment?
I don't know. I don't pretend to know. I'm guessing here. But when there are no answers, guessing is good.
Anyway, this all strikes me as weird. And as unfortunate. That at age three, the world is our classroom and our classroom is our world. That we are encouraged to play with boys and girls. But that time slips by, that life grows gray, and we retreat to our own side of the classroom. This seems a shame.
Part of me longs for that boy friend I never quite had. A benevolent fellow to offer a different view. A buddy to blue up my pink days. Part of me thinks I would be a more well-rounded person and a more nuanced writer if I had greater access to the male perspective.
So I need a boy friend. Or a handful. That would be cool.
(And of course I have one boyfriend. The one-word breed. A best friend. Husband. And I wouldn't trade him for the world. But husbands don't count here. Why? Because I say so.)
Do you have friends of the opposite sex (or attractive sex, to be more politically correct)? Did you used to have more boy friends or girl friends? Does adulthood or marriage or parenthood kill these relationships? Is there just no time to nurture these peripheral connections or is there a more complicated explanation at play here? Does this come down to (an unspoken or spoken) jealousy between spouses? Ultimately, is keeping these relationships to a minimum a way to safeguard a marriage or a family?