Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Boy Friends

Rich and I had plans to get together last Friday afternoon while I was still in Manhattan. But after he'd left a few voicemails on The Cell Phone That Will Not Hold A Charge For More Than Seven Seconds confirming plans, I got an email from him Thursday night canceling them. Seems his wife, Maggie, wasn't really keen on the whole Rich-going-out-to-meet-some-woman-from-the-Internet thing.

I was, of course, really disappointed; I was, and still am, dying to meet Rich. But I was also more than a little flattered. I mean, I'm pretty sure that this is one of the very last moments in my life when someone's wife might actually worry about him meeting up with me. Sure, back in the day, I might have been someone to worry about. But now? Hee! I'm a soccer mom. A PTA maven. I have pimples on my age spots, for crying out loud. If Maggie, or anyone else, wants to consider me a threat, I'm more than happy to let her go right ahead.

In any case, my reply to Rich's note was something along the lines of "I completely understand. Baroy didn't have a problem with it, but then again, I hadn't even mentioned it to him." Which, of course, begs the question: Why not?

I was trying to remember if I told Baroy about what I was doing the first time I went to meet Tamar for lunch. I'm not sure I did, because I think it was still at that point where I hadn't even told him I was keeping a blog. But he knows now. He even knows about Rich, in that I often read him Rich's funnier comments, and there are only one or two other guys who are front and center here.

So, did I not tell because I was in New York, and it wasn't relevant to whether I could pick up the kids on time or take Em to Hebrew school or something? Did I not tell because I have this residual need to retain a sense of independence (I do) and resentment about the idea that I need to check in with him--with anyone--before I make or execute a plan (I do, again)? Did I not tell because I worried that he'd object, like Maggie, and then I'd feel compelled to cancel our plans? Did I not tell because then he'd somehow be part of the equation, and I'd feel like I had to measure myself, be sure not to be too friendly, too flirty? Would I have been too friendly or too flirty? Was Maggie right to worry about me? (Or was Maggie really just worrying about Rich, and I was never even part of the equation? Nah. That would mean this isn't about mememememe, and that wouldn't work for me. Let's pretend that isn't even a possibility, shall we?)

I've made a boatload of friends from the Internet. I can say without irony that some--hell, most--of my best friends are people I met online. But when I look back over that list, I realize that almost none of them are men. Why is that? Partially, it's because a huge majority of the places I hang out on when I'm online are geared for moms: birth month lists, parenting boards, working mothers' sites. But it must also be coming partially from me.

When I was younger, I was a guy's girl. All my closest friends were boys, men. Some were lovers, too, but most were really just friends. Even as an adult, I used to go spend the night at male friends' places all the time, especially those who lived a ways away from me, and especially because I didn't get a driver's license until I was 29 and living in LA. It's only since I've been married that I've made a near-total shift over to having girlfriends, rather than boy friends. I definitely never have sleepovers like that any more. I've never really examined why that sort of friend-shift has happened. Well, part of it is that most of my friends are now married, and so when we meet up, it's as couples. But I think it's also something in me, and maybe in them--or their wives--that makes us take a step back, to hold back in our friendships.

Transfer that new reticence--and whatever is driving it--to the internet arena, and you can see where an even deeper rift might form. Not only does it feel somehow wrong to forge relationships with men in general, now that I'm committed to being committed to Baroy, but there's the added reality that the Internet is notorious for creating matches between men and women--and for breaking up marriages while doing so. So, yeah, I can see why I might not seek out male friendships online.

But here's the thing: Rich has become a friend. And I have no designs on him beyond that, nor does he on me, as far as I can tell. All of the above simply doesn't apply in this case. Just as was the case when I started reading Tamar's original journal, Hidden Laughter, I've felt like Rich is one of 'my people' from day one. I haven't worried about linking to him, commenting on his blog, joking back and forth over email. I know there's nothing untoward going on here, unless forging a new friendship with a man is by definition untoward. It seemed utterly natural to try to get together with him while I was in town; it wasn't until he had to cancel that I began to think about whether I should have thought about it more before making the plan in the first place. I mean, I know I shouldn't have; I know it was and is no big deal, aside from the big deal of getting to meet a long-time friend in person for the first time. But. Still.

Then, yesterday, on the airplane home, I ended up having a long conversation with the man who sat next to me. He was funny and we had a lot in common, and at one point he mentioned that he'd be coming to town quite frequently and asked if maybe I'd like to get together some time. I'd already mentioned the husband-and-kids thing, and I'm assuming he meant it all in the same sort of meeting-my-blogging-friend-Rich way, but I reacted as if I'd been bitten. Go out with some guy I met on an airplane? What are you, kidding? I'm a married woman! How could that possibly be appropriate? What was wrong with him, trying to pick me up on an airplane? Can you just imagine me telling Baroy I'm going out to dinner with a guy I met on the NY-to-Ontario flight, see ya later? Sheesh!

OK. Actually, I didn't say any of that. I just kept talking about the hubby and kids, emphasis on the hubby, and he never mentioned it again. But I thought all of the above, and more.

Hypocrite, thy name is TC.

It's different. I know it is. But I can't quite say why, or how. And I can't quite figure out the rights and wrongs, can't quite find the line between appropriate and inappropriate, can't quite decide whether or not I'm making a huge deal out of a minuscule issue.

In any case, I'm sorry I missed you, Rich. Maybe some other time...with our spouses, of course.

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