Somehow I ended up being one of the guys. My closest friends in both rounds of graduate school were men. I’m the only woman on my work team. All but one of my taekwondo instructors and 80% of my classmates are male. My only sibling is a brother. Even my yoga teacher is a man. I love watching UFC, I know every single Led Zeppelin song by heart, I can out-quote any man on “The Godfather” movies (except my father, and he’s not even the Italian parent), and as a bonus, I do a pretty good Eric Cartman impersonation. And yet, I love purses and shoes, have long hair and delicate features, and am not even close to being a tomboy other than the secret delight I get at how bruised up I am after a night of sparring. How did this happen?
I’m the type of girl that girlfriends and wives are wary of because I get along so well with their men, but I’m no Sanchita*. (1) That is big no-no territory for me on a moral standpoint (2) If I’m talking to a guy like I’m one of the guys then I’m not flirting. It means I’m NOT interested, and if I suspect unwanted interest from the other party I might even be more of a jock/guy in my conversation just to confuse him and put him off the hunt (not swearing and dirty talk, just the manner and rhythm of speech). I’m so naïve that I never know when a guy is hitting on me anyway unless he blatantly asks me out or someone pulls me aside after the fact to point out what’s really going on.
I missed the girlfriends boat, and I’m a little sad about that since I’m missing out on all the brunches and shopping trips and boozy movie nights or whatever it is that groups of women do, but I don’t mind my chosen lone wolf path. If I ever get married my bachelorette party will be me sitting at home alone eating cupcakes, drinking whiskey, and watching “Goodfellas” for the fiftieth time.
As a child and young adult I always seemed to attract female friends who became possessive bullies. Maybe those unpleasant experiences turned me off from getting close to too many women although the phenomenon unfortunately repeated itself with a few boyfriends until I wizened up. I do currently have a very close female friend who used to work at my company, and we have been through a lot of triumph and trouble together. She’s the exception. I enjoy my female coworkers and get along with them very well, but I haven’t figured out how to translate that female camaraderie into life outside the workplace. There’s a girl I’ve been chatting with before yoga classes, but for me, initiating a friendly hangout with a woman is even more awkward and scary than asking a man out on a date.
The nice thing about the men in my life is that they keep me focused on the task at hand. Not that they don’t express their emotions or reveal their doubts and fears or engage in juicy gossip, but they are less inclined than other women to tempt me into vomiting my emotions all over the floor and indulge in the rabbit hole the mind likes to travel down. Women commiserate. Men communicate (yeah I know, as much as they can anyway). A little side bonus–men don’t make self-deprecating comments about how their lunch was “bad” if they see me eating my weekday go-to meal of roasted vegetables, brown rice, fruit, and boiled eggs or chicken. Ugh, every single freaking day I get praise for “eating healthy” like I invented it.
I’m actually a very expressive, emotional woman. I cry a lot at home alone, but I rarely let anyone see it other than the few who are very close to me. I’ve never cried at work, at least not in front of anybody, and it wasn’t about anything work related. The only time I’ve cried tears from physical pain as an adult is when I had the most horrible headache of my life during a bout of strep throat. Sometimes the kids cry during sparring, but it’s usually due to being startled and scared rather than actually being injured. I fallen pretty hard from botched flying or spin kicks, but I usually just start laughing out of sheer surprise when I hit the ground. I get the crap beaten out of me by bigger teenage boys and men, but I don’t mind. My mantra is that if anyone is really going to attack me on the streets it’s going to be a man, not some petite woman my size unless she is on meth.
Maybe I am drawn towards male friendships because I haven’t figured out how to handle the rich complexities of female friendships. Maybe I subconsciously enjoy being the odd one out and the only alpha female in the room without any competition. Maybe men are just easier to talk to, at least on a superficial level. At some point I may need to rebalance the scale and incorporate more female friendships into my life. Until then I’m going to enjoy not having to be the one pushing around heavy kicking bags and plucking practice pads off the highest shelves.
*Sanchita is the endearing feminine version of “Sancho,” an archetype in Hispanic culture of the dude that is always lurking around trying to steal your woman when you’re not looking. He is the one who always seems to be right there when she needs a shoulder to cry on. Men, you’ve been warned.
Here are some examples:
1) In the 1997 song “Santeria” by Sublime the narrator bemoans the fact that his lady love has run off with a guy named “Sancho.” The name of the cuckolder might very well really be Sancho, but it’s more likely that the singer is using the popular slang term. And he won’t think twice to stick that [gun] barrel straight down Sancho’s throat. And now the song is stuck in your head.
2) The whole premise of the atrocious 1992 movie “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” is that Count Dracula keeps Jonathan Harker imprisoned in his Transylvania castle so he can travel to London to woo Jonathan’s fiancée Mina with absinthe and long strolls through the city while he’s playing the act of the shy yet charming foreigner. SANCHO!
3) One day in the lunchroom at work a woman was mooning over the lead guy in “Fifty Shades of Grey.” “He’s my Sancho!” she said, looking up dreamily and clutching a picture of him to her chest. I almost spit out my lunch from laughing so hard.