Friday, June 28, 2013

Me and My Opposite-Gender Friends: A History

I didn't set out to have mostly female friends.  In fact, it wasn't until after I graduated from high school that I even had a girl who I could call a "best friend."  Sure, I've always had acquaintances of the opposite gender, and even some real-life crushes, but, lately, things have changed big time.  Not only are the top friends listed on my Facebook profile--which are not determined by me, but always seems to be the same--all female, but the number of private message conversations I've had on my new Facebook account, which started on April 1, can be counted on one hand.  How did that happen? I'll try and answer that question by starting from the beginning.
The first good friend I remember having was a kid named Robert.  He was actually several years older than me, but we bonded over Commodore 64 and Mac System 7 games.  Unfortunately, due to my condition, he and I got into some altercations, sometimes when he didn't even do anything.  I learned from him about asthma, as he had a rather severe case of it.  We had some fun times, as did me and my second good friend, Ben...but I ended up losing contact with them.
However, things all changed when I made friends with four siblings--Lowell, Ricardo, Emil, and Linda-- from my neighborhood.  Not only did they only live two houses down from me--which made it easy to get to each others' houses--but they had an original Nintendo and later got a Nintendo 64, which woke me up to the world of video games.  Originally, we only played outside, whether old-school backyard games like hide-and-seek or board games ranging from Monopoly Junior to Knock-Out to Clue.  They moved just before I started middle school; I sorely missed them afterwards, and the feelings appeared to be mutual.
Just before those friends moved, I made friends with two brothers, Korrey and Kevin.  They were originally intended to be kids in my mom's daycare, but, since they were much older than any of the other children there, they hung out with me instead.  Not only were they smart, but they didn't fall for trends, and they loved to laugh about...well, anything.  My mom said that was good therapy for me, because I tended to be a bit too uptight most of the time.  We had mutual interests, but, just like those kids from my neighborhood, we mostly bonded over gaming, whether it be with dice and pawns or of the Nintendo variety.  Around that same time, I made friends with Cody, my sixth grade classmate.  I lost contact with all of them, but was able to reconnect with Korrey and Kevin through Facebook.  From seventh grade throughout the rest of high school, my best friend was Jakob, who I still do consider among my good friends, thanks to keeping in touch via Zuckerberg's website.  We had some similar interests at first, but we ended up really bonding over Lizzie McGuire.
Now, here's where things changed quite a bit: Most high school guys wouldn't willingly watch a Disney Channel show (at least, for the right reasons), and my new-found tastes in entertainment put me at odds with most of my male classmates.  However, right many of the coeval females I knew at least liked some of the Disney Channel shows.  Previously, my main interest--gaming--was more popular with guys then girls, and, though I still played video games in high school, they got short shrift because of the Disney shows and their stars.  Like most elementary school kids, I though girls were yucky until I was in sixth grade (though I did have a thing for certain famous women: Amy Jo Johnson, Catherine Bell, and Pam Dawber, to be specific) which only made it harder to have friends of the opposite gender at the time. However, trying to talk about Hilary Duff or Chelsea Daniels with my guy friends got me absolutely nowhere, so, I became good friends with my female peers, if only because of similar tastes.
Sometime in early 2007, I got a friend request from a young lady who later became my first female "best friend": Emily.  Those of you who know my history know that she and I will likely never be friends again; that is my fault, and I admit it 100%.  I barely knew her prior to her contacting me on Facebook; we had two classes together, and rode the same bus for part of one year, but that was it.  Still, over time, our friendship grew, before it all came crashing down; again, my fault.
However, it wasn't just Emily; my interactions with girls/women of all ages, from younger than me to old enough to be my parents, showed that they understood me better than guys tended to.  Was it a product of being raised by women? Did it have to do with the differences between men's and women's personalities? It's hard to say...but I do know that, when I had a problem with someone or something, I was much more likely to turn to a woman for advice about it than a guy.  That actually cost me a friendship; when a new friend was bombarded by previous private details before I asked her for advice, she said, "Why in the world are you telling me this?" It was only a few weeks later that she unfriended me.
In recent years, my church has become the place where all my friends are.  During most worship services and many classes, you'll almost always see me sitting next to one of my lovely female friends.  I do talk with the guys there--in fact, I always love "talking tech" with them--but, usually, I spend my time hanging out with the pretty ladies.  If I had to guess, I would say that it's just a natural thing for me to get along better with women than guys.  Why, exactly? I don't know...but it sure is fun!
In conclusion, let me say this: As a lifelong single, it is much easier to have many friends of the opposite gender than it would be if I had a significant other.  I'm sure most of you married or engaged ladies would have a problem with your fiancée or husband constantly hanging out with attractive women.  Still, one thing that I have to make sure of is that I absolutely do not cross any moral boundaries.  Having good friends who are female is wonderful, but, if it veers into sinful and/or obscene territory, I'm in for a whole world of trouble.  My biological father--who was gone when I was still an infant--was, among other morally objectionable things, a womanizer.  Some sources even say that he left my mom, my sisters, and me for another woman.  In that--and other areas, too--he serves as what I call a Tim Taylor example: He showed me what not to do.  (Yes, I know the host of Tool Time never cheated on his wife; as many times as I've seen that show, I probably know it better than any of you reading this.)  I've got to make sure that, no matter what kind of connection I have with a female friend, unless I'm married to her, it must stay innocent!

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