I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone who knows me that I am a pink-wearin’, princess lovin’ girly-girl. So when it comes to the topic of ‘Friends who Happen to be Boys,’ I don’t have a ton of personal experience. Sure, I played tag with boys on the playground in elementary school, went fishing with the boy next door, and jumped out of haylofts with my cousins. (I could never quite muster up the courage to ride a cow, though—they’re way stinky!) But as I grew older, boys became more and more of a mystery.
As a teen, I was the girl who the boys wanted to protect or date, or both, not the one they called in the middle of the night to pick them up after they drank too much. Sure, I had ‘friends’ that were boys, but they weren’t deep friendships. Once I hit my pre-teens, these once fun and simple relationships became muddled with hormones and awkward curiosity. Suddenly boys were like a different species. And I had no idea how to communicate.
So, I turned to the ultimate authority and councilor in a teen’s life…television. I figured that if I couldn’t understand boys, I could learn about them from watching my favorite shows. Like Mork & Mindie – Classic story of girl befriending an alien and then falling in love with him.
What did I learn from this? Friendships (even with boys of a different species) ended in true love.
But this topic was much too important to jump to conclusions based on one clearly improbable sitcom. Further research was most definitely in order. So for my next lesson in male-female relationships, I turned to another favorite show—Three’s Company. Surely if there was ever a perfect case study in opposite sex friendships, it was a show about a boy with two girl roommates!
But it seemed Jack was alternately in love with Janet, Chrissy, and all his subsequent blond roommates. The plot of almost every episode revolved around Jack flirting with his two girl ‘friends’ and his elaborate strategies to get them to sleep with him—or at least see them naked.
As an impressionable pre-teen girl, I learned that boys only want one thing, and it wasn’t platonic, tell-each-other-all-our-secrets friendship.
Even my favorite childhood show, Happy Days, resulted in two childhood buddies spinning off into their own sitcom called…yep, you guessed it, Joanie Loves Chachi.
Okay, I admit it, I’d been gunning for those two to end up together since Chachi said his first “Wah wah waah!” But I think you get the picture. It was firmly imbedded in my mind that friendship with a boy resulted in…well, more than friendship.
Which being the ever-cautious girl that I was, caused me to keep my emotional and physical distance from the boys in my circle of friends. I tended to lump every male, non-relative in my life into two categories: Boyfriend material and NOT Boyfriend material. If they were not boyfriend material, I kept them at an inflexible distance. Which is kind of judgmental and sad.
As I write this blog, my two sons are outside playing with the neighbor girl who they both claim is their “best friend.” I’m tempted to warn them that since she just turned twelve, it won’t be long before she abandons fort building and insect-collecting, for pedicures and boy-chasing—but I won’t. Because I would love to see their friendship evolve as they mature and become a safe place for them to land as they navigate the choppy waters of the teen years.
And if someday, one of them decides to ask her on a date, I’d be cool with that too. J
How about you? What shows, books or experiences shaped your perception of boy-girl friendship?