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the love that should dare speak its name

February 16, 2011

Okay, it’s two days past Valentine’s DayEstrogen and testosterone levels

should be back near their baselines by now.  The surge of erotic love is

receding.  It won’t spike again until spring break or the release of the next


Since love is still in the troposphere, this is a prime time to mention a type

of bond that is rarely discussed, male-female friendship.  This connection

between a man and a woman may not feature the lofty goals of platonic

love or the physical intimacy of a romantic friendship, but it’s mutually

nurturing.  “Benefits” likely aren’t in the perks, at least not as a defining

feature.  The two simply enjoy each other’s company.  They get a fresh

perspective on life that they might not be able to glean from same-sex


Jude and I are friends.  Our friendship, in fact, is the woof and warp of

our life together.  One reason for this is that we courted by phone.  The

day of our coffee date in California, my mother broke her hip in Kansas.

We talked every day, sometimes for hours, the six weeks I was back to

help Ma with her physical rehab.  By the time I got home and we could

touch for the first time, we knew each other well.

Jude’s not threatened by my female friends.  I’m not intimidated by her

male friends.  We introduced each other to many of those folks while

still in the Bay Area.   In essence, we doubled our number of friends.

I consider the women here my friends.  They offer a wealth of wisdom,

skills and life experiences.  Mutual respect between genders is essential

to our community of 50 or so.  We rely on each other a lot, partly because

we’re so isolated.

I met my oldest lady friend 40 years ago.  Let’s call her “Ducks” since I do

anyway.  We met while working at an adolescent group home in Kansas.

It was a tough though rewarding job.  Ducks, a natural nurturer, excelled

at it.  I moved away two years later, she and her husband moved to Arizona

a year after that.  We stayed in touch.

When we saw each other again, we had both divorced.  This changed our

dynamics.  Sexual tension started simmering; but only from my heat, it

turned out.  We left it behind us and have had clear sailing as friends since.

Other aspects of our lives were not so smooth.  I was working in the L.A.

area during the King riots of  ’92.  It tripped off some nasty aspects of my

PTSD from my Marine days in Vietnam.  I’m still sorting them out.

Ducks got the calling.  She’s now a shaman and draws from the Toltec

tradition, among others.  It’s a rather solitary and sometimes challenging

path. I haven’t seen her since ’02.  She got to meet Jude for a few hours

then as we were returning home from my mother’s funeral.  Our phone

calls are sporadic but we are always in contact on some level.  Jude’s got

my back in the day-to-day.  Ducks watches out for me in the firmaments.

  1. February 16, 2011 1:18 pm

    I like that you and your wife have friends of both genders. My husband is now stationed to a co-ed ship, and as such, has several female friends. He’s away from home up to six months at a stretch, and he gets pretty close to these friends because that’s who he sees on a daily basis. He also gets along better with girls anyhow, though you’d never know it to see him, since he’s so big and masculine. Anyhow, because we’ve been together for so long, and I know him so well, I trust him completely. The same goes for me. He trusts me with my male friends, though the few male friends I do have are from my college days. I like that we can be friends with whomever we feel that connection with. So many of my female friends are threatened when their husbands so much as talk to another girl, and honestly I find that a little… sad.

    • February 16, 2011 4:57 pm

      I’ve had lots of problems with jealousy in other relationships. Either my girlfriend was jealous, my male friends told me she couldn’t be trusted, or both. Occasionally my male friends were right, but much more often they were just
      projecting stereotypes and their own insecurities on my situation.

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