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Jewish Journal

On Friends and Men

by Tamara Shayne Kagel

December 29, 2010 | 9:45 am

I’ve had one of those amazing weeks with men where I feel like I’ve fallen in love ten times.  Not in the romantic sense - more like I forgot how great the men in my life are and they’ve all contributed in a matter of days to restoring my faith in the opposite gender. 

I was a bit low about a week ago, possibly fueled by a sleepless (post-finals) celebratory alcoholic binge which had startlingly reminded why alcohol is a depressant.  I was behind on multiple writing deadlines, had ran into the first boy I’ve been excited about in months getting ice cream on Abbot Kinney with a girl with uneven cleavage, and my plans to head to New York for NYE had fallen through so the desultory ordeal of making last minute plans was surrounding me.  And just when life was as bleak as it gets for a young over-privileged girl in Santa Monica, I found myself saved from cynicism by the men of LA.  I usually subscribe to the theory my dad instilled in me over and over again when I was a fourteen year old girl, boys and girls cannot be friends.  At the time, it made me very indignant and I listed off all the boys I was friends with to prove him wrong.  But at some point years later, when I realized I had dated every single one of my male “friends” I saw his point.  And yet still, it’s been my male friends who came through when I needed them.

I slept over at a male friend’s house last week.  And literally, that’s all I did - sleep.  He didn’t make a pass at me, he didn’t take advantage of me being too inebriated to drive home, he hasn’t been weird about it since.  I had so much fun with him, he lifted me right out of my stupor and reminded me of how rewarding a life full of friendships is.  Then he even says to me in the morning how much more our friendship means to him than temptation.  I was really touched.

Then, I went to a stand-up show for some friends and met a gay man who wants me to perform stand-up at his next show.  A gay man thinks I’m funny.  This means he wasn’t saying I was funny because he wanted to sleep with me, he must have really thought it was true.  And this, despite the fact that most men don’t think women can be funny.  A pure compliment - not one whose motives I doubted because his eyes were downward when he said it. 

Plus, this peripheral celebrity I know has been texting back and forth with me.  Needless to say, I was completely turned off when he immediately asked for a pic.  So I sent him back a picture of the view of the mountains from Mammoth.  To my surprise, he thinks it’s hilarious and continues his pursuit.  (I know to many of you this will be shockingly abhorrent, but honestly I’ve been in this situation a few times and no one has ever written back a text to my Mammoth picture - apparently there are enough Starf*@#ers in this town who reply with naked pics so that minor celebs don’t bother to ask me twice.) 

So then a few nights ago, I had this conversation with another guy friend, and it just blew my mind.  Here was an attractive accomplished man in his twenties who was convincingly describing how he knew he could be faithful to a wife forever.  He wasn’t hemming and hawing about how hard it is to be monogamous for a man, or how unreasonable it is to only have sex with one person if we’re living till one hundred.  He was talking like a zealous Romantic and making me sound like a cynic?!

To top this all off, on Christmas morning, I ran into a man I used to work for not that long ago, whom I probably loved a little.  He was at Starbucks with his wife and kids.  When we worked together we had spent an inordinate amount of time together and very quickly I fell hard for him.  We quickly became too flirtatious and probably too familiar and perhaps if his wife was the jealous type she might have said he cheated emotionally.  But nevertheless right at the time I was ready to cross the threshold of no return, consequences be damned, I got transferred.  I don’t know if he wanted it that way, or it was divine intervention and he just took it as a sign or what, but regardless nothing physical ever happened between us.  He cut off all communication and I was resentful and a tad heartbroken.  But seeing him there, on Christmas morning, with his wife’s arms around him, picking out pastries with his kids, I felt weirdly blissful.  I was looking at the rewards of a good man and I was just so happy with the world.

Who says LA makes you jaded?

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