Girls and Guy Friends

Never have I ever, even in my darkest and most self-hating depths of annihilating sexism, suggested that girls and boys can't be friends.

Never have I ever, even in my darkest and most self-hating depths of annihilating sexism, suggested that girls and boys can’t be friends. SOMETIMES that is a true fact because [me doing the right-index-finger in and out of the left-fist-hole a few times], but mostly, guys and girls who know what they’re doing make totally righteous friends, and so it was written, and so it shall be.

So, anyway. I’m not calling any of these guy-friend-types “The X” because that does two things wrong: it suggests that there’s only one of them, and in the case of a Party Gay or a Regular Guy Friend there can and should be many, and because it’s really a lady-mag construct to get all up into archetypes, the kind that you can answer quizzes about and fetishize. And it’s looser than that, you know?

Anyway, outside of actual life, there is pretty much nothing that characterizes a variety of girl-on-guy friendships with any accuracy. Like, to the point where the olds think that we are faking them out on it. (The only time my mom was ever mean to me was calling me a “groupie” for hanging out with older boys in high school.) (I totally was, though!) It’s mostly offensive to me as a girl, but it’s also offensive to me as a girl who loves men outside of their supposed mono-function as a dick-'n'-cash repository, and has had every single kind of guy friend, and knows everything about everything anyway, right?

Officially, my BFF is a guy; unofficially, I’m not totally sure because we are so mean to each other so much of the time that it’s like, did I wander too far? Are we just boy-friends? Anyway, when your closest and most relied on bud is a straight man it’s important that you can conceive of him as a gay-proxy or a blood brother--extra-fun to make him be your blood brother, when you are at a bonfire and you have a knife and your friendship seems more powerful than AIDS--or, in my case, as the Jess to your Leslie (Bridge to Terabithia, quintessential boy-girl-BFF lit, FYI). For a girl and a boy to be truly best friends, it has to be implausible, chemical, somewhat distant and unarticulated, and bone-deep. (Not boner-deep, you get me?) You’ll probably fight and explode and fight and explode but ultimately how can you do anything else with the bizarro version of yourself?

Just one, though. Any more than that and you become infected by the perfumerie that is their pheromones and hair-volume product arsenal, and you will have too many opportunities to consider their jungles of eyelashes. Hot Dude Friends are primarily important as an educational thing if you aren’t sexually interested in them (“charisma” is the least alluring quality I can think of in a man, after “fashionable.” Get, like, some bad hair and a stutter, then we’re in business), especially watching HDFs interact with girls who want to sex them. I have this really handsome, really charming friend, and when he was like “Why don’t you ever call me?” all affronted, I had to be like “Oh, right.” That’s just regular for them.

Know that “gay friend” can co-exist as a guy friend of another variety. Right? Anyway, yes, party gays have good drugs and want to talk about sex all the time, but they only like you if you also party, are disproportionately concerned with the worst drugs, and have a high and steady tolerance for cheesy performative drama. Plus, they will never meet you on time and definitely not before three in the afternoon. After club gays have ushered you through those imperative few months where you go to a gay bar for the first time, and get fisted by a woman on a Goodwill couch for the first time, just forget it with these guys. They’re not listening to you; they’re playing with your ponytail.

Yahtzee! An invaluable, stereotypical, and confirmed source of A++ friendship.

Also called “work husband” by those for whom getting lunch on the daily is suspicious enough to warrant a normalizing, organizing title, and to them I say, choke on the dick that I grow out of pure testo-aggression when I encounter females who are like “He’s my work husband!” all scandalized by and terrified of men who aren’t sleeping with them or telling them what to do. JESUS, LADIES.

Here is a little story for you: once, the CBC (which is Canadian for NPR) asked me to go on the radio and talk about my work husband, and this is how it went down: Me, covering the phone speaker, to my identically dressed, identically disposed colleague with whom I shared a Henry Rollins-themed cubicle for 100 years:

Me: “Do you want to go on the radio about being work married?”

Him: “No.”

Me: “Me neither.”

And we lived happily ever after. (Hi Chris!)

Howevs, separated from all of that, there remains a position to be filled in your Guy Friend Life that will require one or more buddies in your class or at your work who will be your committed and faithful eye-roll companion, who will cover your group of day-camp kids while you nap in the staff room because your evening ended juuuust as you rolled into work--which is an excellent and nauseating historical memory I just uncovered--and who will trade you his banana for the sickitating bottles of wine that some publicist sent you, and who will look at your fresh black SuperBall and its empty hallway possibilities the same way your Party Gay looks at your fresh black Tantus Realdoe (just kidding, those only come in “caramel”). (That was a fucking retarded joke, too. Sorry, Party Gay.)

You should do little nice things for them like spit your gum out and tape it to their keyboard, bring them a Kit Kat, and stick up for them, or do sneak-attack wet willies (this is very, very intimate, and is quite obviously the cunnilingus of office pranks; get a general sense of their personal ear relationship first). I get how all of that sounds, taken together, but adulthood is usually a shit valley of boredom and loneliness, lit by fluorescent ceiling fires and dominated by people determined to carry all of that stuff on their shoulders, and if you have to be a little terrible to get through it, find a buddy and then bring him over here to shake my hand first.

OK, le siiigh. This is your Kurt, and this is a limited-time friendship because he is a solitary figure who will get all uptight and cozy and then unravel just as much. Like, you will arrange his long hair into many Bjork mini-buns and instead of it being sexy or silly it will be heartbreaking, with every one of his sadnesses and quiet threats of fleeing youth occupying every mini-bun, even the bad ones at the bottom where his hair is kind of wispy.

The Beautiful Weirdo will hide clementines all over your apartment, and when you find them for days and days after it will be triple-hilarious. He’ll play you songs he wrote, and you’ll cry and feel stupid in your pajamas and in your own mini-buns. The songs won’t be about you--other songs, songs written by a man who is decidedly not your friend, will be--but they will be about him, and he and his songs are yours for just a second.

When he starts dating someone you’re going to screw up your wee little nose and be like “For true?” not because you’re sexually jealous but because you forgot that underneath his jeans he has a penis, which cries cum-tears, and that’s too weird.

Whateversies, we have to include the all-around regular guy-guy who you hang out with in almost the same way you hang out with chicks. Like 75 percent of my guy friends are just… buds, without fulfilling any other particular role. In many ways this is the most important genus of guy-friend because it’s with the ones where things are so normal that you can toy around with boundaries and limits of friendship (usually his, not yours, but that’s based on me knowing almost exclusively Alpha Girls), and make up your ideas about sex and gender and what we’re all like, because this is too impossible with a man who has you dickmatized. With this guy it’s all parking lots and Big Gulps and cartoons and long phone calls and calling their mom “Mrs. Adam” and bong hits where you are careful to wipe off your lip gloss and you offering very careful and considered girl advice and movies and laughs and the absolute zenith of “hanging out.”

It’s not so much that he’s doing a bunch of shit for you because he’s specifically into you--this guy will do a bunch of shit for anyone, including the bros who are passively cruel to him--because he knows how and he takes his skill really seriously. This is the kind of guy who is just slayed by you and by girls, and all of the messy demands of a woman who never learned to do things for herself. (Which is some women, let’s be real.) This guy kind of likes it when you lock yourself out of your house and he has to come over and take the door off its hinges. That’s his time.

Like, the weather balloon of where and who and how you are in the world is your relationship to the ex-boyfriend who you still talk to. (Forget about the contingent who are either too newly ex or too embarrassing or too … to include in your life other than as a deja ewww). Here’s how the ex-as-friend works: When you are feeling good and wanted elsewhere, you can remember everything as enriching and rosy; if you’re hiss-whispering the coded equivalent of “Why don’t you still want me?” well, times are tough.

My semi-actual brother (ie: from another mother, and father, but married to my sister so… kind of?) is the best; when I was little and the last of three daughters and therefore only conversant in musicals and my dog and Tretorns and Benetton and whining, he’d go “What are you saying?” and bring me weird novels and I had no fucking idea what kind of boy dialect he was speaking, or where he came from, or what his life was like. I can’t even imagine the made-of-glass baby-la-la I’d be without a brother. Dude will drive me to the airport at 5 AM in the middle of winter in flip flops if that’s what it comes down to (and that’s what it’s come down to).

Mmmm this friend gives you a little frisson, NOT because you like-them-like-them, but because there is a reason to try a little more. Allow me to emphasize how divorced from actual wetsies this friendship is. If there is any actual feeling of jealously or weirdness about their personal sex-times, then you have a crush, not a contendor. This is just a maybe, friend first and guy second, but with a slightly different ratio than the rest of these jags.


Follow Kate on Twitter @KateCarraway

Previously: How Girls Look Good