The Poobah’s social calendar has been a bit thin as of late. You might think that being unemployed and having a completely flexible schedule would mean an increase in dining invites. Instead, it really means I’m out of sight, out of mind. So it was with great relish that I went to meet three of my former coworkers – PM, SM, and DG – for lunch at a little Japanese place near their offices. Since it was the first time I’d been out with friends in nearly six months, it was quite the treat.
It was good to see the girls again. For the past 10 years, I’ve worked primarily with women and over time they’ve begun to treat me more like another one of them than as a man. I don’t mean that in a negative way – quite the contrary – I see it as a sort of honor. They long ago started discussing many things with – and in front of me – that are normally reserved for other women. Relationships and their troubles, great places to get those kicky new shoes, babies (who’s having them and who’s not), gossip, and other complaints of the feminine kind – if you catch my drift.
It’s not that the conversation is all femecentric though. PM talked about her efforts to walk a marathon, but has decided not to follow through on a previous impulse to be a life coach. SM has finished her holistic health degree and is thinking of going for her master’s. She’s still undecided about doing it as a career. DG talked about her daughter and insurance rates and asked me what was up with me. Our group discussions also covered cadavers (a little squeamishly), television, pop culture, and online dating services. Since male conversations usually center on baseball, football, or basketball (depending on the season) it was nice to get a little variety.
One of the few things I’ve missed about not working is precisely this sort of human contact. A little mental stimulation to take my mind out of the house in a way that is difficult with my family. I love both Mrs. Poobah and Daughter Poobah dearly, but ours is a much different relationship, based more on the ebb and flow of our home lives and interrelationships and less on the world outside. The relationship I have with the girls – including others who weren’t there today – is different. Even more so, I think, because it gives me the chance to view the world through a woman’s eyes at least for a few moments. That’s a rare treat indeed.
The lunch also made me consider the kinds of relationships I have. I’d describe myself as a bit anti-social, though I’m told I hide that fairly well. I freely admit that people are not my favorite mammals and the overwhelming majority of my friendships include at least a bit of distance for my own comfort. The intriguing thing to me is the number of friendships I’ve been able to sustain for relatively long periods, despite sometimes having scant contact.
Somehow, I’ve developed a cadre of friends – both male and female – that I can easily revisit and pick up where we left off. The conversations aren’t forced. We’re still able to find shared interests. We can still engage in a relatively stress-free and comfortable way. I think this is probably more a testament to their ability to be friends and than to my ability to sustain my own attention and overcome my natural impulse to not participate. I suppose that if it weren’t for them, my anti-social side would win and I’d be pissing in alleyways or living alone under an overpass somewhere.
So girls, if you’re reading this I just wanted to say thanks for lunch, and everything else. And by the way, I just found this great little place that has the cutest belts.