Getting there

Getting there

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I Blame It On My Sisters

Before I begin I should make it clear that I dearly love my sisters. I happen to have four of them, all a bit older than me, and they are a diverse and fascinating group of women that have long been my role models. I do blame them, however, for one of my character traits, and I suspect they know they are guilty of this, too. For what do I blame them? Dear friends, I blame them quite completely for the fact that I adore men.

Now, don't take that the wrong way. I am a married woman (and married to a man, incidentally). I also happen to be a woman who generally speaking prefers the company of men, and always have. This may seem to fly in the face of logic as one would think that growing up in a houseful of women should make me feel closer to that gender, but let me explain.

When I was a child my sisters were already dating. They were (and are) intelligent and attractive women, and so our house had a constant flow of young men entering and exiting. There were current boyfriends, past boyfriends, boyfriend-hopefuls, and friends who were boys. All these young men had one thing in common, though - they knew that in order to win the heart of whatever sister they happened to be after they needed to be nice to one person - namely me, the baby sister.

This meant that from a very young age I became quite accustomed to being treated pretty nicely by men. Oh, they were much older than I, and the interest they had in me was often just to show my sisters what nice guys they were. What it meant, though, was that I was the recipient of gifts, attention, and ice cream. I learned a lot about men from spending time with my sisters' entourages, and what I learned was that I really liked them, regardless of the gifts and attention.

Men are straightforward, honest and often blunt. If they like you they will let you know it, and if they don't like you they won't hang around. They don't engage in the same sort of subterfuge and cattiness that some women prefer, and they aren't as quick to pounce on every social nuance as evidence of some sort, either. They are often the ultimate in "what you see is what you get", and that's a trait I came to adore from about the age of about 5. I've never been able to shake it, either. That adoration has followed me my entire life.

Over the course of my life I have always gravitated towards men as friends, and most of my close female friends will admit that they are a bit more like men in their personality than women (my female friends tend to be blunt and often brash, which I love). I too was recently described as a "steamroller in a skirt" so perhaps I am a bit more masculine in personality than I'd ever realized. This is, dear friends, quite okay with me.

However, I also admit that I am a shameless and relentless flirt, and have always really been. It's a harmless kind of flirtation, though, infused with the simple joy of the banter it entails. It's a bit like breathing to me, and that too I blame on my sisters as I lived through many years of their eyelash-batting and hair-tossing. I learned from the very best, dear friends.

Now, there have been times I wondered about this preference for men. When I was a teen and my mother would answer the phone (for the umpteenth time that day) and it was yet another boy she would ask exactly how many of them I was stringing along. The thing was, though, that I truly enjoyed their company, and what I loved most about them was how different they all were. They intrigued me, whether they were artists, or musicians, or intellectuals, or jocks or, sadly, even jerks. They fascinated me with the way they viewed the world, and I found that with them I could be who I was, without pretending to be smarter or funnier or prettier. They knew - and if they didn't like what they saw they would quietly move along. There was a refreshing honesty in my relationships with these boys-who-would-become-men, and over time it simply became my normal.

I am older now, of course, and have been married a very long time. My husband has long been my best male friend, and I also have a best female friend, too. There are still in my life, though, men who are my very close friends. I suppose I could blame my sisters for that fact - but instead I think I will thank them. Without the influence of my sisters (and their myriad boyfriends) I wouldn't have these male friends in my life - and I don't think life would be quite the same without them. I admit it. I like men, dear friends, and I'm quite proud of it, too.

Peggy Lee and Judy Garland - "I Like Men"

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