Written by Hazel Davis

Voices

Woman’s best friend

Hazel Davis’s best mate is a man. What are you gonna do about it?

Best friends illustration by Louise Boulter

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

I’ll just put this out there. My best mate? Not a girl with a mojito in one hand and a Manolo in the other (wait, are they different things?) or a trusty old female schoolfriend who saw me through my first period. No, a man. Yes, you heard, a MAN. With a cock and balls and everything. Well, at least, I assume he has a cock and balls because, contrary to popular lore, I have never seen them, nor have I ever thought about them. Apart from right now, to write about them *scratches mind*. No I really haven’t.

My best pal (if indeed I have such a thing – again, contrary to How Things Are Supposed To Be, I don’t have a best-friend-tell-each-other-everything-be-each-other’s-birth-partner kinda best friend) is someone else’s partner.

And, guess what, it’s no big deal.

Charlie and I met at least 10 years ago when I sent him an email hustling for some work. He replied in a sarcastic fashion suggesting that if he were in a position to pay anyone he would start paying himself, or something like that. Can’t remember why we stayed in touch but we did, eventually meeting a few months later for a coffee wherein we discussed our respective long-term relationships. And then he introduced me to a friend of his and his ex became one of my now best friends. All dandy and diddly. And here’s where the story takes the correct turn and we realise our shared politics and grammatical pedantry means we are made for each other, leave our partners and skip off into the sunset.

Only kidding! It was sexual indifference at first sight for both of us. I genuinely believe neither of us have even considered it for a second, not even to go “ugh” (though, and no offence, Charlie, I just did think about it and…ugh).

Our friendship, on the other hand, is deep and meaningful. It really is. Thanks to the wonders of Gmail’s chat function and both being people who work in front of their email ALL DAY, I speak to Charlie several times a day. It usually goes like this:

Me: CHARLIE! HELP!!!

Charlie: Yo. ‘Sup?

Me: HELP ME!!!

Charlie: Calm down, what’s happened?

Me: I URGENTLY NEED A SYNONYM FOR ENTERPRISE.

I speak to him when there’s a national crisis, I speak to him when I have bad, good and (often) boring news and he was the first person after my partner who knew I was pregnant with both of my children. He knows about my periods, my piles, my nipple hair. We regularly check in – mainly to amuse each other – when we’ve done our morning poos (his: 7.45am-8am, followed by, in his words “a coda poo” 10 minutes later; mine: 10.30am-11am, usually inconveniently in Costa). We sometimes meet up on a Saturday with all the children because his partner works during the day and my partner can’t be arsed to come along too.

Aaah, but surely this must cause untold, simmering tension with our respective partners, with whom we have been for a combined total of about 40 years. OOOOOH I bet they lay awake at night fretting about how close we are and how we must be plotting to run off together. Hmm. Not so much. They are both probably delighted that the inane wittering has ceased for 10 minutes and enjoying the space. We all go out occasionally (when they can be arsed coming too) and they sit, eyebrows arched while we make stupid jokes. So, go deal with it, Plato.

“Three of my best friends are lesbians. Should I also assume that they are lying awake at night fantasising about me?”

The thing is that, enduring genius though Nora Ephron is, When Harry Met Sally did the whole male-female friendships thing a massive disservice. Yes, I fancy men. Yes, Charlie fancies women. No, we don’t fancy each other. Is it really that complicated? Must there be some underlying tension? Must we do The Fuck to get it out of our systems once and for all? No, because it has genuinely never been in there. Do I sound like I protesteth too much? That’s because I am SO BORED with people assuming it must be something more. Sure, some people are friends first and lovers later (like me and my partner, for example). But also some are lovers first and friends later. Whatevs, man. Three of my best friends are lesbians. Should I also assume that we – or they – too, will get together at some point or that they are lying awake at night fantasising about me?

And why should it be even noteworthy? When I say things like “my friend Charlie”, other women go, “Oh I have a good male friend too. They’re great aren’t they?” Like it’s confessing to also wearing a Mooncup. And a lot of these are proper Sensible Forward-Thinking Women types too. One of whom, notably, some time ago said, “Of course straight men and women can be friends, once the awkwardness has gone.” Facepalm. What if sometimes there just isn’t any awkwardness in the first place? I’m hardly walking round with Jessica Biel’s face. Why should I assume all men want to sleep with me unless told otherwise (and I have been told otherwise a few times)? Charlie’s hardly George Clooney. AND EVEN IF HE WAS, I STILL MIGHT NOT FANCY HIM THEN ANYWAY. Sorry George, no offence, there is only room for one enormous face in this relationship.

@hazedavis

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Written by Hazel Davis

Hazel Davis is a freelance writer from West Yorkshire. She has two tiny children but the majority of her hours are taken up with thinking about Alec Baldwin singing sea shanties and the time someone once called her "moreishly interesting".