I spent the weekend with friends. The old kind, friends I’ve known since college with whom I can sit around in my sweats debating whether Barack has cheated on Michelle (God, I hope not) and why I can’t get on board with Idol, and in the same breath discuss career plans and hopes for the future. Here’s the one thing: These friends are men.
Matt (the husband) and I went to college together and I spent a healthy chunk of my senior year in his apartment, so his buddies are mine, too. Three of those friends hailed to the Windy City this weekend for their fantasy baseball draft. (There is a truly amazing force at work with fantasy sports leagues, one that propels grown men to buy plane tickets from Los Angeles or New York City or Scranton to sit in a hotel room and draft an imaginary team while overdosing on chicken wings. That can’t have been fantasy’s intended purpose, but the leagues are like a built-in bonding mechanism for men. I’m clearly jealous.) One friend stayed with us for the weekend, the other two I saw over dinner and drinks. It was easy in that familiar I-don’t-have-to-be-on-right-now-to-see-if-we-are-a-perfect-match kind of way.
When I first told people I was going to take my BFF quest from “one will show up eventually” to “I’m going to go out and find one now,” somebody asked me if I’d thought about men.
“Oh, gay men? For sure. I definitely want a gay best friend.”
“Not necessarily,” she said. “Gay or straight, just, have you thought about befriending men.”
I told her that it seemed odd to try to befriend a straight guy. I’ve been informed by plenty—and memorized enough Will & Grace to know—that the gay best friend is perhaps the best companion. But trying to turn a heterosexual man into my new BFF seemed like a dicey endeavor. If a straight guy were to be my best friend, shouldn’t it be Matt? He’s not the jealous type (to the point where I’ve heard myself say ‘aren’t you just a little jealous?’), but if he were out of town and I spent a Friday night drinking wine and catching up on Survivor with another testosterone-filled body, wouldn’t that be weird?
It wouldn’t be an issue if it were one of these long-standing college friends. I’ve spent countless nights with them, relishing in my acceptance as just one of the guys. In fact, on Saturday night I was the only female at dinner with eleven men, a fact not lost on the waitress who let out an aren’t-you-brave chuckle when I arrived. But could I make a new BFF, tomorrow, who was a straight guy? Wouldn’t that be opening myself up to some sort of drama or confusion down the road? Or do I sound like a nervous middle school girl?
It brings us back to the question that’s as old as time, or at least as old as When Harry Met Sally. Can men and women be friends? Can two heterosexual adults, otherwise engaged or not, have a meaningful, platonic BFFship? I’m on the fence. You?