I revised a post that I wrote last week and took down. It’s about friendship between men and women, and it begs the question: Is it truly possible for single men and single women to be friends–only friends?
Popular saying in these parts: A Keys guy never really breaks up with a girl. He just loses his turn.
I am not dating any Keys guys, although I have had dinner and/or drinks with several. I have met many, many more. I don’t know what the ratio is, but men outnumber women here by a huge percentage. Hence, the saying. Hence, why I am more than a little skeptical about “dating” anyone down here. Not to mention that the mere thought of again investing so much energy and emotion into what will likely become so much angst is simply not on my radar.
A nice friend with whom I have dinner whenever he is in town brought up this “taking turns” phrase several nights ago. This as I sat between him and another male friend at my neighborhood bar. This as all was easygoing and relaxed. The temperature and wind was just right as we looked out on the water. The spring breakers were absent for the moment. All was good.
Until he brought up the phrase. And not because the phrase is revolting, which it is, but because he brought it up after mentioning that our out-to-dinner friendship was perfect–enough of a relationship, for now–but that “there will come a time when….”
Which surprised me on several levels. He has made it very clear that friendship is all he can offer. His true love is a popular restaurant that he owns up north. She demands his attention every hour of every day, except when he escapes here a couple of times a month for a few cherished days of quiet time on the water.
I have made it equally clear that friendship is all I am looking for–not just with him, but with anyone. I have also made it clear that I get his hectic work demands and am happy merely to chat and grab dinner, and when weather permits, to toss Rouletta on his boat and pretend to fish.
“…a time will come.” Will it? Does it have to? Why say something like that when the present time is okay, just as it is. Why imply, even hint, that the “time when” is a boundary that eventually must be crossed, a time when all will be different?
More importantly, I wondered how it was that the “time when” would seemingly be determined solely by him, at his discretion. Did I, would I, have a say about when that “time when” would hover between us, a time when surely all that is so comfortable today will be slightly less so “when”?
The other male friend gave me a lift home. He said we should get together on our days off. He gave me a quick kiss goodnight–an innocent enough kiss that startled me, nevertheless. This is where I’m at, I thought, chagrined–I am thoroughly startled by phrases and actions by my male friends that potentially signal the end of friendship and the acceleration so many more expectations.
Likely, neither of these friends is thinking about this as I am, but a shift in the winds of friendship is there, lurking in the background. I feel it. And with it, I feel a certain sadness in knowing that, more often than not, my male friendships never seem to exist for too long before the “time when” aspect sneaks in and changes–and so often ruins–everything. I am doing my best to ignore it with these two very nice guys.
As for everyone else down here, they should know by now that I am not the Keys girl with whom someone will “take a turn.” When and if the time occurs in, say, the next 120 years, and I take the risk of a serious relationship again, it will be because I deem it my turn, because I fully embrace that “time when.” All in good time.