Saturday, 25 September 2010


Watching two female friends fall apart is a study in theatre; it’s spectacular, dramatic, frosty and the end normally screeches with an astounding finality.
The reasons for these dramatic break-ups are usually just as amusing; someone bad-mouthed the other, someone made a pass at the other’s man, someone refused to invite the other for her party, someone didn’t show up for the other’s party, someone was not there for the other when they were going through a rough patch.
Women’s friendships remind me of a house of cards; even though they might look well put together, they still remain very sensitive, wobbly because when that moment finally comes when they have to part, it’s flattened all-out such that you would never imagine there ever was anything there.
After the break-up, new allegiances are forged, camps are set up and the worse bit is that they drag their men down this abyss with a clear message “If you are not with me, you are with the enemy.” The “enemy” here ( just so you know) was someone who a week earlier, she was joined at the hip with.
Only when the problem is finally sorted out (after egos are stroked and prides are swallowed) are the men are given a new pass to engage the other party and her friends.
Suffice it to say, the whole rigmarole is not only too much work for the men but very juvenile and time-consuming, to say the least.
Male friendships are different. Men don’t have “best friends”. Men don’t sulk when someone doesn’t hear from another in weeks. We don’t do sleep-overs unless it’s because one couldn’t drive because they were too drunk.
There is never too much emotion invested in male friendships, because they are largely founded on practicality.
I once attended a funeral fundraiser for a good friend who had lost his child and there I met some of his friends who I hadn’t met earlier and I could immediately tell that we all served different purposes in this friend’s life.
During introductions, everyone stood up, gave his name and said how he was “related” to the bereaved. In attendance were colleagues, friends from the past, former colleagues, his neighbours and friends he does business with.
At one point, this guy stood up, grinned and after saying his name remarked, “And I’m his weekend friend.” We all laughed. I could tell that a few women found that puzzling. But as men, it makes sense to define our friendships, it makes sense to draw boundaries as to where we fall in the pecking order of friendship.
We are all labelled carefully and boxed in different categories. And this system works magic because it checks our expectations of each other, something women’s relationships lack (boundaries) and that’s why for women when it really hits the fan, it’s largely because someone had unrealistic expectations from someone else.
Having said that, every man has a friend his woman can’t stand. This is the guy who is supposedly a “bad influence.” This is the guy who drinks too much and is - by that virtue, irresponsible, or a pathetic philanderer or has no “focus” in life.
The list is always lengthy and decorative. The mention of this man’s name in your woman’s presence always elicits a turned nose, a twisted face or a disgusted look on her face.
But women need to understand that these guys make the cut because of their uniqueness, because they are different from us and that makes us naturally drawn to their traits - not necessarily to emulate them.
To assume that we are a direct product of our friends is to imply that we are can’t think for ourselves. Unfortunately girlfriends/wives can’t understand this principle of male friendship because they find it a threat to their dominance.
The greatest futility is for a woman to try to understand ale friendships, to try and dissect it and pass judgment on it in the hope of changing it. It’s a hopeless and futile exercise. Our repertoire of friends can’t be all proper and preppy.
We can’t have all our friends being civilised, focused, and hardworking and church-going. The boredom can be fatal.
All our friends can’t own combs; some will have to sport dreadlocks, and some will be bald.
We need the oddball, the one who spices our lives with his free spirit and the devil-may-care attitude. It’s a reminder of who we are. It’s the spice of life.

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