Yesterday afternoon, I was in a severe anti-social mode. I wasn't surprised, as it typically happens for this work-at-home freelance writer after an action-packed trip away. Ever since I returned on Sunday, I've retreated further and further into my home office, not wanting to talk to anyone. The only time I did venture out into public this week, to the grocery store, I felt like throttling completely innocent strangers for doing nothing except having the nerve to be in my vicinity.
Times like these, I decided, called for renting the third season of Dexter. "I'm in the perfect Dexter mood, because I feel like throttling complete strangers!" I happily announced to the move-rental guy. We agreed that it's best to let Dexter (a serial killer) do said strangling, and were pondering whether he takes special requests via list form (I kid, I kid), when my phone blooped, telling me I had a text. I sighed, because I really didn't want to talk to anyone.
It was my buddy Josh. "Want to get a drink tonight?"
"Sure, what time?" I typed back before I was even out of the movie store.
Wait, wasn't I just saying that I was in an anti-social mode? And what about that pesky issue of "throttling complete strangers" I kept alluding to? Yes, I still had those thoughts, but somehow the thought of hanging with a guy friend didn't feel taxing to me. Let me explain.
In publicity for the P.S. book, I often talk about the 5 Friends Every Woman Needs. From a cheerleader to the brutally honest one, from the wise one to the one whom you've known since you were a kid in fuzzy pajamas with feet, it takes a village of friends. But one of the essential 5 Types, I believe, is a guy pal. I've always been a big believer in guy pals, ever since I was growing up in Bowling Green, Ohio. My pal Pete lived across the street from me, and we hung out with the same crowd in high school, and since guys usually travel in packs of ten, this meant my high-school BFFs Andy and Heather and I typically traveled with a crew of dudes. Same deal for college, where the fraternity members my sorority regularly had parties with are like brothers to me to this day, Brett and Randy and Steve and Manny and Dave. Here in Portland, some of my favorite friends, like Pete and Josh, are of the male persuasion. What is it about platonic guy pals that are so essential? I guess the best way to explain it is that I feel like I can let my hair down (and not worry about what my hair looks like either, or what I'm wearing for that matter). I don't feel like I have to be "on" all the time (and if I do feel like throttling strangers, I can bring up this fun fact and he won't judge me for it). I can tell him, "Dude, your glasses are dorky!" and he won't take it personally, but will appreciate the honesty. He takes things for what they are, and doesn't over-think my tone of voice or my mood of the day. In a word, I can just chill.
For example, I used to marvel whenever I'd hang out with my pal Steve in NYC, where we'd go to dinner and discuss the most random things that popped up (such as shiny objects, always a popular topic with a dude pal!). I felt like it was more of a shared experience versus a "So, what have you been up to since the last time we hung out" phenomenon that I mentioned in my previous post. In fact, it wasn't until the end of the night that Steve would say, "By the way, are things going well for you?" "Yep!" I'd answer. "Cool!" he'd say, and we'd hug and go our separate ways. The same thing happened the other night, when my college buddy Steve called. We ended up talking for 2-1/2 hours — about the ins and outs of jury duty (he's a lawyer), the mysteries and marvels of Amtrak travel, a hilarious restaurant manager we both worked for in college, and how A Walk in the Woods was one of the best books on earth (and how, if I do get a train-travel writing assignment, he needs to come along to be my bumbling Katz character that Bill Bryson so eloquently describes). At the end of the conversation, he asked, "So, is everything going well for you?" I love it.
It's not that guys don't care what's going on with you, but it's just a slightly different way of conversing that's refreshing to me. That's why, when Josh texted me, I readily agreed. Because I knew that instead of "So, what's going on?" it would be a more natural, off-the-cuff discussion and I could say, "Dude, I feel like strangling strangers!" and he wouldn't go home wondering about my anger issues. Sure enough, when I met up with Josh, we spent most of night spontaneously brainstorming a TV show we want to do together (attention, producers — call us!).
What's up with this phenomenon? I'm not a psychologist, but I have heard experts discuss how guys typically develop friendships in a side-by-side way (playing sports, for example), whereas females interact face-to-face. Could that be why simple conversations with guys feel more like shared experiences and creating inside jokes? Whatever the mechanism at work, all I know is that my friendship world wouldn't be complete without my dude buds (whom I can still call "dude" and they won't judge me about my state of arrested development, as they're right there with me). So, while I've spent so much time examining and appreciating female friendships for P.S. this year, I thought I'd spend my last post on this important part of my friendship life. And with that, I again thank Powells for having me as their guest blogger — it's been an honor! — and thank you for reading. Keep in touch!
P.S.: A hearty shout-out to my other pals in my life, those who have fur: my yellow-lab mix Luey and my brown-tabby cat Lily... after all, without my love of animals I would never have started down this anthology path in the first place! Take a gander at their photo, with cuties like these following me around all day, it's a wonder I get any work done.
P.S.S.: A hearty thank-you to my mellow-yellow boyfriend Eric, who fully understands and appreciates that this girl wouldn't be complete without her guy pals.