By: Bethelhem Teame
I might prove to be a little weirdo to your taste, but I have always believed and wanted a man as my best friend. I still do. The kind of friend who I can tell all my darkest secrets and show all my ugly sides. The kind of a friend who doesn’t judge but accepts me the way I am….Just the way I am. But all my wishes and dreams of having a guy as a best friend have been challenged against time, culture, society, emotions and the list goes on. Can a man and a woman be just friends, with no clause attached to it?
‘No way!’ my friend shook her head violently – I was afraid she might dislocate her head from her shoulders and I would end up having a headless friend, it was already hard enough with her head intact and I shudder to imagine her headless – her reaction was rather too strange and too strong.
Another friend stood up from her seat and pulled me into her embrace as she pet my head gently with one hand…. ‘Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you now…’ She whispered gently. ‘No man and woman can be or stay friends…not in this world, anyway.’ She pulled me out of her embrace and suddenly I was cold- I couldn’t tell if it is from the chilliness of her words or the withdrawal from her embrace.
My brother didn’t even bat an eye when he admitted that my wish can only exist in the utopia I created in my head. ‘Word of advice…stop wandering around your utopia during the day time….you are being unavailable here on earth while chasing your dreams in your other planet.’ My hands itched to slap some sense into him but held back. If the brother I want to protect from the corrupted world is already soiled ….then my fight was futile, all is meaningless.
So can a man and a woman be friends? True friends with no strings attached? With show of hands, how many of you out there believe that a man and a woman can be true and close friends?
My observation so far has led me to believe that all men are brothers or that I might have as a kid swallowed a magnet that attracts all the wrong men into my life. No man seems to want to have women as his reliable and close friends unless there is a clause attached to it or unless he decides to drop the bomb when he drunk-call you at an ungodly hour and rumbles his confession of love for you.
A friend of mine chuckled his dark and annoying chuckle before he gave me the surprise of my life when he said, ‘Bethy, no man approaches a woman with a friendship in his mind…are you crazy? Why would we do that? Unless of course he is a gay but that is another story.’ I wanted to smack that smile out of his face for good but took a deep breathe instead. It is not the time to get emotional now, the whole world was losing a meaning in my mind and humanity was in danger.
‘Men are about the visual….and women about the audio…We see what we like and approach you with what you want to hear, even if it means to pretend to want to conjure a friendship with you girls.’ The worst part of this is that he was enjoying shaking me up, rocking my boat with strong winds as if he has a bone to pick with me.
I opened my mouth to say something but I seem to forget what or how to say it- stuck in a paralysis of disbelief. Not only was my dream discarded as childish fantasies but I was also about to lose all my friends in this speed and manner. My next question was a whisper, I didn’t want my soul to hear it out loud…it was bad enough that I am saying it with my own mouth… ‘ what does this say about our friendship then?’ I closed my eyes…too afraid to face the answer he was about to tell me right now. My friend is about to tell me that he was pretending to be friends with me for the past ten years of our lives or that he is coming out of the closet and fess that he is attracted to men.
But God bless his heart, he didn’t go for the kill right away and chose to do kill me softly with his words….slowly.
‘ There is this bridge all sort of relationship between a man and a woman come across during their time together. Once the relationship crosses this bridge….it will lead to two different kinds of roads; the very narrow road of friendship and the vast land of romance. The outcome however can be very different, they might both choose either friendship together or romance together and the uglies outcome is when they end up choosing differently and go their separate paths. So there is a slim chance of friendship flourishing after the bridge.’ He said it slowly and seemed wistful about all these experiences that led him to his present state of denial.
Maybe he was hurt before….maybe, but my friend is a little cagy and is hard to read him. I opened my eyes slowly as I realized he has stopped talking and is sitting quietly.
‘Did we already cross the bridge or are we about to…?’ I asked, till then I wasn’t aware of the invisible and mysterious bridge that determines the fate of our friendship.
He motioned with his fingers to come closer, his eyes were mysterious and revealed nothing, but I can tell the moment of truth has finally come, the little curious me obeyed without hesitation. He whispered his answer in my ears, ‘………………………….’ My eyes dilated in surprise. ‘I told you….’ he said as he stood up to get his sweater from the couch, ‘women are about the audio…..isn’t that what you exactly wanted to hear?’ he winked and waved his hands in the air as he closed the door behind him. I sat there staring blankly at the door.
So I leave you with this question and with heavy heart, can a man and a woman be ‘just friends’? What do you think he told me in my ears? The truth or what I wanted to hear? Is the truth what I wanted to hear?