I’ve never been very good at having straight male friends. I’m not really sure why. I like beer and I like football, and these things seem to be what a good number of male friendships are based on. I guess I should clarify that when I say I’m not good at having guy friends, I mean guy friends with whom I can carry on a legitimate conversation about life, the universe and everything. I know plenty of guys I can drink beer with, I just don’t really have any guys I can go to when I’m having an actual crisis.
There are probably many reasons from my childhood that I struggle with making male friends, the fact that I started an “I hate boys’ club in second grade and the years I spent at an all girls school chief among them, but I’m going to go ahead and blame my lack of male friends on middle school. On one hand, there’s still some residual awkwardness I carry from those days, and on the other hand, middle school introduced me to the gold standard in male friends, a person it’s nearly impossible to replicate in real life: Gordo from Lizzie McGuire. Who could ask for a better friend than Gordo? He’s funny, he’s supportive, he’s just the right amount of awkwardly dorky. For me, Gordo represents the ideal male friend – he’s dude-ish enough to be able to decode the Ethan Crafts of the world, but not so much of a bro that he can’t handle listening to your problems. Yes, this show introduced the perfect male friend, and I’ve been searching for his real life equivalent ever since.
The trick with this whole ‘perfect straight male friend’ thing is that it has to be someone you wouldn’t date. Let’s be honest, it takes a lot of looking to find an awesome guy, and if he does happen to be cute and smart and funny, why wouldn’t you want to date him? (Even Lizzie and Gordo ended up kissing in the Lizzie McGuire Movie.) This is a problem, because I think the whole point of friendship is to avoid any sort of awkward sexual tension, and once it’s been introduced, this whole ideal friendship thing I’m looking for is kind of shot.
So, given the criteria (cute, funny, smart, supportive, yet undateable), it’s not shocking that I haven’t found my Gordo-equivalent. It’s certainly not for lack of trying. I’ve auditioned many candidates over the years for the role of ‘straight male friend,’ but by and large, most of them turn out to be gay or faux-players. (The faux-player is a person I seem to run into quite frequently. This particular breed of guy is one who identifies as heterosexual, but for various reasons seems to only have female friends. You know you’re friends with one because, inevitably, you will end up in public with one of these guys and a large group of girls, and invariably, someone, usually homeless, will yell out something to him about being a pimp. ) There is nothing wrong with these guys whatsoever, and most of them have turned out to be awesome friends, but they’re not quite able to provide the insight in to the Mind of Men that I’m looking for. However, I think my search might be over (that is, if he doesn’t get totally freaked out by this column, but then again, N is still my friend, so hopefully this works out okay).
H was a friend-of-a-friend whose existence I’d known about for years, and as I’ve gotten to know him recently, I wish it hadn’t taken me so long. He’s friends with a lot of bro-types, and I’d assumed he was one of the same. We started ending up at a lot of the same social events, and as I ended up talking to him more, I realized that H might be the elusive male I’d been looking for. He was capable of hanging out with dudes, yet also willing to carry on a legitimate conversation with me about life and its myriad of dreams and disappointments. He was funny and not hideous to look upon, but there was no chemistry between us. Best of all, he was constantly online, and it’s a fact of life that the closeness of my friendships is directly proportional to the amount of time the other person is on gChat. Over the past few months, H has transformed from someone I occasionally saw at other people’s parties to someone I actually invite to my own. I realized last week, when I was having a personal crisis and H was the person I asked to have a drink with me so I could talk about it, that I had accomplished the seemingly impossible: I had finally made an actual male friend.