Beth Mann's Blog

Beth's Urban Tales of Wonder and Decay

Beth Mann

Beth Mann
Location
Long Beach Island, New Jersey, USA
Birthday
November 11
Title
Presidente
Company
Hot Buttered Media
Bio
I'm a writer and creative consultant. I have years of experimental comedy and strange theater under my belt. I surf. I cook. I love wine, men and song. And puppies. I effin' love puppies.

JUNE 22, 2010 5:07PM

Pussy on a Platter

Rate: 82 Flag

 


"You know what your problem is?"

"What?"

"You're giving your pussy away on a platter."

"I'm what?"

"You're coming across as desperate."

"I am desperate!"

My soon-to-be-ex friend Clint is explaining to me in his inimitable way that giving some guy my number last week went a little too far.

"I guess he was supposed to 'hunt' for it or some caveman bullshit like that?"

"Exactly."

Silence.

"Out. Get out."

And for the third time in a year, I threw Clint out of my house.

I don't seem to be winning here. For the first few years at the Jersey shore, I played it safe, not hooking up with any of the locals. Not that I had some great desire to; I'm always wary of men who wear more hair product than me. Yet somehow the more I tried to protect it, the more my reputation grew.

But nowhere did it cut so deeply as with my old friend, George.

George is an old, sweet, Jesus-looking, acoustic guitar-slinging hippie, beamed right from Woodstock. He dated my sister for many years when I was a child. He became a surrogate brother during that period: protective, kind and instructive.

He took me to see a meteorite shower one night at the Jersey shore, which still remains one of the most bright and shining memories of my life. As a child, I wanted to believe in magic so badly, but too many disheartening things had happened already to allow me that spiritual luxury.

But that night, as George and I watched the sky explode with light, I believed in magic once again. My soul lit up. From that point on, George and magic were indelibly entwined in my child mind.

When I moved back to the Jersey shore several years ago, George and I joyously reconnected, after decades apart. Picking up where we left off, he quickly became that watchful, warm friend, helping me whenever I needed. As someone who hasn't experienced much protective familial care or guidance, this was a huge gift.

He taught me how to make repairs to my car, found an old bike and fixed it up so I could ride it around the island (with a cardboard license plate that read "Beth"), he made a concoction of special oils for my surfing-induced ear infection and showed me how to tell the wind direction by letting sand run through my fingers - kind and gentle acts that fed some undernourished side of me.

After some time had passed, I noticed he hadn't invited me to his home. When I asked him about it, he told me that he was afraid his wife wouldn't understand our friendship.

"What do you mean? Why wouldn't she?"

"Well, she gets jealous."

"But we're just friends," I said, my neck tensing. It was disturbing to think that anyone would consider George as my romantic partner. Incestuous and creepy feeling.

"George, if you can't tell your wife you're here, its probably best we don't hang out."

"Oh...and you might want to grow some," I wanted to add but said instead:

"I'm nobody's secret."

But that wasn't true; I have been a secret. My friend David only calls me on his drive home from work, because he's afraid to talk to me in front of his wife. I've been friends with him for 20 years.

Robert and I dated when I lived in New York but he always felt uneasy bringing me around his "baby's momma." We remain friends but he still has an issue with it.

"I just don't want any problems with her or the custody of our kid. I don't want to upset her."

"But you have no problems upsetting me."

Before you tell me to toss these jerks to the curb, please understand: these are men who mean a lot to me. They have been my guardians and my mentors and my friends - all for a long time.

Besides, I did start tossing.

Shortly after George and I stopped talking, he came to my house, desperate for help. His wife had "found out" that he stopped by my house on several occasions and was going ballistic. Would I please go over and explain to her that nothing is going on?

"Oh god, George...you can't be asking this of me. You can't!"

He implored me. I finally relented. Before I left the house, he asked me to dress down. I put on a flannel shirt and a baseball cap, so I didn't appear the supermodel threat that I really am.

Entering their house was one of the braver moments in my life. The energy was palpable and hostile. I decided to swallow the poison as quickly as possible. Marching over to the kitchen sink, I stood behind his wife, her back to me. She was sniffing, as if she'd been sobbing.

"I'm Beth. I'm sorry you're upset. I've known George since I was 5. He dated my oldest sister. The thought of anything romantic with him makes me deeply uneasy. I can assure you nothing has happened nor would it ever. He's a friend and he's been a great help to me."

She didn't turn around. She simply asked me to leave.

I turned and walked out of the house...and away from a friendship I had since childhood. Occasionally, I see his wife out in the world and want to say, "Do you know what your petty insecurities cost me?" But of course, I know it's his responsibility as well.

He's doing it to protect his family, a friend countered. From what? Am I disease? What kind of marriage are you protecting when you have to resort to lies and cowardice just to maintain a friendship? What are you teaching your children? How to be in a deeply dysfunctional family that stays together at all costs? So they too can one day mimic your relationally twisted ways? "Gee, why does our daughter have an eating disorder." "Why is our son hooked on drugs." Protect them? Please.

And this is only one story. As I continue to "do the right thing", my scandal quotient grows. A 43 year-old woman who hangs around young surfers and acts free and sexual and creative and doesn't have children? What's wrong with her? Stone her!

"So why aren't you married? Why don't you have children?" I've been asked several times before.

Who knows how to answer that? "Um...I was busy doing stuff, I guess."

The truth of it is, the need to marry and procreate wasn't imbued in me, like other people. I didn't dream of a wedding dress or a fat rock to wear on my finger. That doesn't mean I don't want to get married or have a family...it just doesn't dictate my life.

That's one take.

The other? When you spend a lifetime simply trying to survive, battling depression and fostering relationships that you think might last but end up smashed into pieces over and over again, it eats up a lot of fucking time.

Clint knocks at the door.

"Do you want to go grab a beer?"

"You're an ass."

"Sorry about the pussy on the platter comment. Can I come in?"





 

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'Nother home run, kid. (And I don't even like baseball.)
I can only say that I relate...."protect" doesn't get applied to all people does it? I wish you some magical protection from the attitudes that make you feel like an outsider in the place that you live....

and "When you spend a lifetime simply trying to survive, battling depression and fostering relationships that you think might last but end up smashed into pieces over and over again, it eats up a lot of fucking time."

yes...! ( but also I think its a little cool that you get to be the dangerous one while unhappy wives have to set up special rules applied only to you...in 2010....!.)
You can't imagine how well I understand this. Switch the genders of the actors in this play and I am you. I feel much better since I gave up hope.
Luminous, I don't like baseball either but thanks.

And doloresflores_d, so true. your comment hit my heart. thank you.
So I take it you're on the menu?

Another way to look at it is, if you were married, how would that change your relationship with these men? Not that your feelings of friendship would, but the time and energy and concern you would devote.
Scandal quotient. Gotta love that.
ohboyohboyohboy. (ohgirlohgirl...) I finally drop kicked an old flame who later married and then asked me to come up with some other name than my own on my email because he feared his wife would 'find out'. Find out WHAT was my question as we'd had a platonic friendship for years. 'Boys are stoopid. Throw rocks at them.' [on a pair of my 20 something daughter's pjs.]
This is a great story. And there certainly remains a lot of pressure to conform. Despite this, there have always been women who went against the grain. If you feel down, think of how hard this would have been in the early 1900s. I say be yourself. I promise not to be jealous 'cause people will like you for it. When they don't, or are afraid of you, maybe it's no more than jealousy under a thin veil.
Deep friendships between members of the opposite sex can be difficult to navigate. One of them falls in love, but the other doesn't reciprocate. One of them falls in love with someone else and must disappear because of insecurities. And that is just the beginning of the list. I'm sorry you are having struggles with it. Good luck.
rjheart, thank you!

harry's ghost, good question. while i haven't been married, i have been in several long term relationships. i don't think it affected my friendships that much - never to a point where I had to lie about it or hide it, for sure. I realize people's priorities change, but in the cases mentioned in this story, it wasn't about a priority shift at all.

gordon, thanks for stopping by, my gray furry friend.

gabby, a change of name, huh? sounds like you understand this fun game.

harriet, words of wisdom, my dear. the 1900's would have been tough!
This is really good. I've been the "other woman" who's not really the other woman. It kind of sucks doesn't it? So sorry you lost George over this. That's tragic. Maybe someday he'll suck it up and figure out the right thing to do.
Michael, missed your comment. I'm happier hopeless too! Let's start a club!
You. Are. Fabulous. Sounds like that over-jealousy thing is universal - I'd been thinking it was more prominent in our rural setting . . . at least among some of the people we have hung around with. My wife encounters that often . . .

It just sucks that noone feels like they can trust their spouses.

And why, why, why, why, why must everyone have a label or association in order to be considered "safe?"

I repeat: You. Are. Fabulous.
Oh, yeah . . . and your writing? Smooth as baby kitten fur. The content? Sharp as baby kitten claws and teeth.
jlynne, thanks for getting it.

desert rat, you are right - tricky waters to navigate but not impossible.

owl, i LOVE your comments. i truly do.
I really love this post. One of my best friends is having exactly this problem. People can be so petty and stupid. After reading this, I'm starting to wonder if the whole 'you should get married and have kids' thing isn't just a way of making women less "dangerous"...
Fun read, great writing
rated
Good subject to write about. I have always had numerous male friends. In time there were less and less due to the wives and their insecurities. In time I understood some of what they were thinking as I became a married woman. My marriage is different in some ways, there is a tremendous amount of trust and encouragement to be who we are. Additionally it seems within this person is the answer to everything I think I need and he seems to think he needs. We actually don't hang with a lot of couples at all. We like to amuse ourselves. This has worked for going on 25 years. Oddly I never expected to have a relationship quite like this. Anyway, I could relate to your writing. Well done. R
You're just on a shore too far north, hell everyone from Nag's Head on down would tell you there's no need for a platter...just try a cracker next time!
(R) For Ovaries.
This does hit close to home!
Oh, so you did mean that kind of pussy!

Interesting take. My ex husband had many female friends. I have always maintained that if the relationship had been more secure, I wouldn't have minded. But I may be guilty of some jealousy that was not healthy. Hmmmmm.
This is so achingly familiar to me Beth, especially the last few paragraphs. Speaking as someone who also fails the "need to protect" test I have NEVER understood what people are so afraid of when their loved ones maintain platonic relationships, especially ones made long before they were on the scene. You either trust someone or you don't. That's it. It has nothing to do with another person.

As someone who was single an awfully long time, I know this prejudice only too well. Being excluded, abandoned "unfriended" simply because I was an attractive female happened to me many, many hurtful times. I longed to tell one friend's spouse that if I had wanted her husband, I could have had him any time in the past 25 years but obviously, the facts bore out that I did NOT want him except as a friend. Sheesh. I didn't bother telling another that her husband had come on to me, I rebuffed him, and that we remained friends despite it all.

Recently, someone I don't know well tried to tell me that I was deluding myself for "allowing" my husband to spend too much time with female grad/Phd students and colleagues. The implication was that he would stray if I didn't keep a leash on him. My response was swift, because I don't take on other people's insecurities, paranoia and outright jealousy the way I once did. I told her that I trusted my husband and he had never given me any reason not to do otherwise, and the same applied to me. When she continued, I told her to mind her own business. I guess she won't be my "friend" any more either!

Fuck 'em, Beth. You're better than that. The way of the strong and principled is always, always hard slogging. I don't know why, but it is.
i love this beth. i can understand where you're coming from. i've had many friendships with guys whose girlfriends could not stand that they spent any time with me and they often felt like they had to hide that. losing a friendship to that kind of pettiness and jealousy just sucks.

and i love the title, by the way:)
Don't give it away on a platter. Save it up for your old age.

Better yet, savor that bad reputation. Its a badge of honor.
Actually, you sound strong enough to deal with it. These kind of petty things are legion. Something about people. Great piece.
i don't wear hair products... i don't see you as disease; i see you as everything but...
So much to love about this, even if some of the players make me want to scream.
and they call men "controlling" ...
@ Gabby Abby: One daughter's way of pronouncing on all things male is, "Boys are goopy, Mom!"
Beth: Jealousy with suspicion have been problems between women for millennia. Maybe that's because history shows more male infidelity than female (what today's statistics are, I couldn't tell you). Most women are afraid of being left on their own--and at midlife, this becomes most prevalent. That you are obviously not afraid to be on your own, moving through the world with your own pace, style, and so on, can mean it would be hard for some people to get where you're really coming from. And, I also think the obvious fear factor has to be the men's fear their womenfolk might fear the worst and fear themselves out of union or out of synch.
You're straight arrow. I don't imagine that's easy to catch for the average attachment holder. Just a thought.
R for interesting take on life.
Ah, jeez. . . the next time some limp dick guy wants you to reassure his wife, I hope you'll dress up!

The answer to questions about one's marital status, etc., is, "Explain to
me why this is any of your business."
sigh, just sigh :/ people sometimes really suck Beth
"But you have no problems upsetting me."

Beth: that says it all. That is what you get in that kind of relationship. Dear girl: you will find someone who cares about you for you. I have faith. You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find the prince. Ribittttttt. Great Post. R-
i've always had move male than female friends. that being said, i made sure that bill understood these were friendships. he came from a marriage that had a lot of infidelity from his ex and was a bit gunshy. i told him he either trusted me or not. as emma said, that's the crux of the matter.

stay who you are, beth. (r)
Thanks, all. I know this topic resonates with single and married alike.

I hear a point made several times: that sometimes when you're married, that significant other becomes your sole/soul source of friendship - or simply, your priorities change. In the case of this woman and this story, that is not the case.

And yes, sometimes I embrace my racy badge of honor! That's for another piece!

Again, thanks for all of your comments. I value each one and read them repeatedly.
I always look forward to seeing you pop up here, Beth. This was a great one." "When you spend a lifetime simply trying to survive, battling depression and fostering relationships that you think might last but end up smashed into pieces over and over again, it eats up a lot of fucking time."
And as someone else said - it's no one's business but your own.
I'm married to a version of Clint and have thrown him out on his ass more than once. It's exhausting.

"When you spend a lifetime simply trying to survive, battling depression and fostering relationships that you think might last but end up smashed into pieces over and over again, it eats up a lot of fucking time. " That describes me to a T. Mind if I borrow it at some point for my blog? :)
Beth, I'm so sorry people have treated you this way. It's just terribly unkind. The story of you talking to a woman's back just breaks my heart.

I have a friend, though, who works in the legal profession--divorce situations--who has said ever since I've known her that it's the platonic friendships that eventually break up marriages. (She is referring to a litany of specific cases, not just her opinion). She says that it's the old shoulder to cry on thing--it's always nice to have that supportive person in your corner if your current argument is with your spouse. I relate well to men and notice that even here on OS it's often the men I agree with and am drawn to. So I don't tend to take my friend's advice, but I have made it a policy never to send any negative signal about my husband to FB or OS friends who are men. I know it's stupid, but it would be a betrayal and I guess I would hate the thought of my husband discussing me and/or our problems (and there are always problems of course, no matter the marriage) with a sympathetic single woman.

My instinctive reaction to your piece is one of sympathy and comradeship. But I would be lying if I said I didn't understand the niggling concern of a of a (happily, even) married woman who thought you were gradually supplanting her as the recipient of her husband's private thoughts. It sounds more like you were a surfing buddy to these guys, and that's a different matter entirely. I think I would either invite you over and make it a threesome of hanging out or say, "Please, take him surfing b/c it's not my thing" as I do with softball and the women my husband plays with. But if it evolves into something deep and reflective and private, then it's only natural for a wife's radar to go off.

PS You're welcome to take my husband surfing any day, btw. He's awesome at all the sports he plays and I think he tends to avoid the ones he's got no experience with. Hence, the fun of seeing him surf with you as he's never done it before. :)
I was kind of in a situation like that, except I really did want her to break up with her loser boyfriend and run away with me. So I guess in the long run it was nothing like your situation.

At the same time I have to wonder if there is more going on with Clint and his wife and you are just the excuse. Maybe they should consider counselling.
Funny because it's so true. Men are wusses when it comes to the women in their lives.
Totally get this. Husband once kept talking about a student assistant he had at school (university) that he thought was great. I was insanely jeolous of Natalie. One night out we saw an elderly woman waiting in the dinner line. Husband spoke to her and was very friendly. Who is that, I said. That's Natalie. Much ado about nothing. jeolousy is highly overrated. rrrrr
Sometimes things are just... complicated. Of course, it did help when I quite saying "I'd totally fuck her."
So, you're a writer.
And you know how to surf.
And you learned how to fix your car.
And you know self-defense, yeah, I remember that post.
And hell, can you write! (twice just in case.)

I wish I could say that what happens is unfair. I mean, it is. But for many women who have been raised to put all their self-worth on their relationship, someone as cool as you can be very unnerving. It doesn't justify anything and it sure as heck is very hurtful. You deserve better.

I mean, just sayin'
"So why aren't you married? Why don't you have children?" I've been asked several times before."

Here's something fun: Try turning these questions around to get them to examine their unexamined assumptions. "Why did you get married?" Or challenge their invasiveness and presumption: "Why are you asking? Why do you care whether I get married or not?"
Love everything you write, Beth. This one had a variety of moods and feelings but the way you threaded your incredible humor throughout was simply wonderful. Keep living and enjoying.
I'm thinking: George is a weasel...He made it look hinky by not just stepping up to the plate from the very start. Clint probably is an ass, but can tolerate the heat in your kitchen so may make a good constant friend. Its nobody's damn business why you have chosen to be single and childless and anyone who asks is also an ass.
Fun to read this...r...my work here is done! Thanks!!! ;)
Who cares what others think. The only one you have to please is yourself.
Your observations, both inner and outer, have struck me quite endearingly. Your human-ness is richly evident, as well as your remarkable clarity of self-observation, consciousness which sets you a few notches above. And yet, it may also be that with a bit more subtlety of insight, one might be more predisposed to honor the significant portion of your being that has usually chosen sublime self-sovereignty/singlehood over the myriad unsettling options of self-compromise often imposed by human union, and the imposition of a certain superficial conformist soci0-consensual mediocrity that many socially visible partnerships fall into.
Though this already drags on too long, I will continue, allowing you to decide when/where to switch it off...
Were we to drop into sharing from a subtler awareness in this discourse, we would begin to acknowledge the validity of certain ideas, such as the fact that no human being is infallible, or completely trustworthy, except in works of romanticized fiction. Though there may be those who have transcended personality/ego/desire, rising to a higher divine life aligned with complete trustworthiness, one really cannot tell. One may completely trust God, but that's up to the degree of devotional surrender of the individual. To claim that people should 'just get over it and be more trusting' is to deny the vast evidence of human nature...because most humans are not sublimely awakened to a conscious plane of detached divine surrender beyond the illusions of personal/emotional ownership.
And, it is very easy to translate feelings of human closeness of one type---f'rinstance those of a long, comforting platonic friendship---into a shared sense of sexual closeness...all it takes is a mere flipping of a switch---a switch called 'choice'--- in the mind, especially if that switch flips in both minds simultaneously. And it isn't merely a matter of the trustworthiness of the individuals involved; it is also a matter of knowing that physical vehicles, like planetary bodies, have their own attractive elements and instincts. Bodies have their own way of responding to bodies in proximity to each other, often despite the high character of the personalities associated therewith.
Yes, it is easy to judge jealousy; it takes a certain degree of unconsciousness to respond with the controlling hositility of jealously. Yet even that degree of unconsciousness does not invalidate the fact that George's wife has intuitively but accurately perceived some subtle energetic foundation of intimacy between you and George, to provoke an instinctual, distrustful response in his wife. It is an ancient instinct, for sure, an instinct I suppose is designed to keep the man around to provide food and security for the mother while she's home raising babies. It would be a bitch if she lost him to a hot woman half her age...
Consider the possibility that everything is unfolding perfectly. Perhaps the universal mind itself has initiated this unfoldment and separation between you and George, so that your subtle inner "energetic line for intimacy" is more completely free, open, ready to engage with a person who is right and ripe for intimate sharing with you...and whom the universe will immediately send to meet you, if not having done so already. It doesn't hurt to periodically clear the static, the distractions, the residue of the past...to clear the runway for a new ship to land.
Is giving your pussy away on a platter like milking the cow for free? I'm not sure why I'm totally unimpressed. What are you desparate for? A relationship with man who's already in a relationship? I'm not married, I'm a single mom who's raised a 20 year old and 17 year old by herself since they were 2 and 4. I never dreamed of getting married and having kids. It happened while I was busy doing stuff. I think that if you are going after the untainable, your setting yourself up for a life that is smashed into pieces. Be your own woman! Grow up. Relationships are hard! Harder when you're having to deal with your husbands/wifes friends. Marriage comes with limitations and that's why I'm not married.
If a guy is going to cheat he will...it doesn't matter a whit whether you plead his case or not. Chances are he's already cheated and used you as an excuse or he's thought about it and is tossing you to the wolf as a test marketing too. No matter what, just be you and clean house when you need to. Loved the topic.
Hang in there. I nailed a ton of folks (allegedly) around my lake house after moving out of the house 2 years. I'd rather have the action rather than the reputation for action. Come on up to NH, I'll teach you how to water ski. :)
I'm always wary of men who wear more hair product than me.

I totally get this ;0)
Beth, I loved this. You addressed all the right questions around this.

"A 43 year-old woman who hangs around young surfers and acts free and sexual and creative and doesn't have children? What's wrong with her? Stone her!"

Keep that scandal quotient growing!
Well this was a fun one. Nicely done Beth.
Glad someone else doesn't feel guilty that their clock hasn't started ticking yet either.
Beautifull crafted, and wonderfully engaging piece Beth. It confronts an age-old problem of the other woman platonic rlationship...and there actually are some. Of course, I ended up marrying my best friend. We were each in a relationship when we started hanging out. but circumstances could have taken it the other way and we would still not have knocked boots.

You're right about some individual's insecurities forcing others to make sacrifices.
Boy oh boy. I think about this A Lot! I'm in a relationship that has almost ended several times, but keeps going. I feel like the gender roles are switched sometimes, because I have no jealousy at all - and yet I can be very jealous in other circumstances. Just not with him!
I have felt it from other women, and I'm not tall or particularly attractive. I'm quite charming, and that dynamic seems to go south rather quickly, as whatever I do is offensive to a jealous woman. I'm a fierce feminist, and want to yell at these women that having friends from different walks of life is healthy for the relationship. Meanwhile, I'm pushing Kevin on men - boyfriends, husbands -when really he is much happier surrounded by women.
The premise that he would leave me for another is based on the fact that there would be an acceptable reason for that. If he met someone who was better for him than me (and believe me, undoubtedly many people are better for anyone than me- I might not throw them an engagement party, but I would look at the healthy aspect of the relationships and draw a conclusion.

I think one of the core aspects of this piece, dear Beth, is the idea of female jealousy. It bothers me. If you don't trust me why in the hell are you calling to talk crap about your boyfriend?
Gender differences are always going to lead to some tension. but if you can't tell the difference between a woman (or man or monkey or giraffe) who is trying to steal your mate, and a woman who is as willing to be friends with you as with your mate, a little relationship 101 might be in order.

Who made it that this is how relationships exist, anyway? Moving toward a place where we embrace every relationship - including the childless whore of babylon (me) being friends with your husband might be the way to move forward.
You should have gone over in full makeup and high heels and outfit - drag - and asked her if that was her preference. Sheesh.
That's it for now - but another brilliant piece, Beth.
I'm lucky, I guess, that Kevin likes hanging out with gangs of mouthy feminists. He truly loves women - and that's awesome.
People are idiots. Jealous people are insecure idiots. Spouses who cave to the manipulation of jealous, insecure idiots are in fact tacitly supporting their delusions.

You are a glorious non-idiot.

The next time some asshat asks you why you're not married with children, simply reply (even with a smile), "Because I don't want to be like you."
I have several female friends. My wife knows and is fine. She trusts me. We're honest. It's not that hard.

I can't speak for the women, but when George asked you to go speak to his wife, that was the lowest. "Grow a pair" is exactly what you should have told him.
I love your tone. And content. And I love how you nailed this:
"The other? When you spend a lifetime simply trying to survive, battling depression and fostering relationships that you think might last but end up smashed into pieces over and over again, it eats up a lot of fucking time. "(r)
At least she's jealous of something you can't have with just about everybody--a special friendship and rapport. I've seen threads on other sites where people discuss "emotional adultery," which I think means really liking someone you're not sexually involved with. In Beth's place, I'd be happy that someone I loved had such a good friend, but apparently it's a bad thing. Seems really, really dumb and wasteful to me.
It's amazing, that being unattached as a woman actually makes you more dangerous. Realistically, those women do see you as a threat because they are no longer the fun carefree girl their husbands yearned for. Regardless of the potential for sex, they are jealous of what you represent and what they can't be.
My sweetie and I have utter trust with each other, and I am glad for his women friends. I'd rather know about him needing to hang out with them (and for some of them, they just need a normal stable guy to help with stuff) then find out about the secret friendship he thought he had to keep from me. I have been jealous before in other relationships, but as someone else pointed out, that comes from a shaky relationship. If your buddies are comparing their wives to you, you will lose.
Not long after I first moved to Colorado (10 1/2 years ago), I went home to spend a week-long visit. I had helped commit a friend to a psychiatric hospital and was feeling like I needed some long-time family and friends.

I discovered that while I was gone, my grandmother no longer knew who I was. So, later I called a childhood friend - the one who took me to the prom though we never really dated. Instead I got a call from his mother saying that he was married and couldn't speak to me anymore.

Apparently, being married means to some that they can no longer even acknowledge any friends they ever had who were of the opposite sex. In any case, what was meant to be a one week journey became 3 due to emergencies and heartbreak. I made an 18-hour nonstop drive home and arrived very late on a Monday night, sad and feeling broken. The next morning was the 9/11 attacks and I felt I had absolutely no one on the planet with whom to console, feeling utterly abandoned in the world by those whom I most loved and trusted.

It's not fair. Friendships are meant to survive through thick and thin. Jealousy and suspicion ruin perfectly good relationships. I know my husband (now ex) got extremely angry when he learned I was corresponding with an old friend who was then serving in Iraq - as if I could have had an affair with someone on the other side of the planet in a war zone.

If I had anything encouraging to say, it would be for you just to be who you are. It's OK to never marry. It's perfectly ducky being too busy living a life to stop and have kids.

You do not have to apologize for not living the life others think you should want. If they were so happy with their own lives, they would not need to tell you how to live yours. So long as you harm none, please do as you will.
Male friends with suspicious girlfriends/wives.... I know it all too well but could never put it into words as good as you.
This is actually my favorite way to have pussy served to me.

There are wives who are extremely territorial, they may even have self-esteem issues that lead to jealousy issues. There's all kinds of reasons this sort of thing happens.

Best to steer clear, unfortunately.
It's like being the perpetual invisible centerpiece in the middle of a table between husbands and wives/girlfriends and boyfriends. It's no party favor, for sure. We can commiserate over this and many other things when you come to Florida....
Whew... I have the BIGGEST girl crush on you, dear Beth. I want to bring over a bottle of really good tequila and sit out at the beach and just be in your presence... you're THAT cool.

I think it's true of writers and comedians alike. Those who have the most painful, difficult lives are the ones who shine above the rest. All of that torture funneled into talent. You, my dear, are the real deal.
Oh Beth, this resonates in so many ways. At this moment I am both the threat and the wife who is not loved enough. I have friends who don't hide me but also don't mention me. I can say that I have never asked my husband not to see someone; though I have asked to meet other women because it's always great to meet fun and interesting people. Except when they're screwing your husband which in my case proved to be true more than once. Sigh!
The real shame here is how your man friends totally missed the point of your friendship. It's as if they completely forgot about the requirements of trust, empathy, acceptance, and loyalty when selecting a mate. Sure, my friends are expected to accept me no-matter-what, but I'm not supposed to expect the same from the person I'm going to share a bed and a life with?

Bah, you're better off without these losers. Thanks for the story. Well done.
What a fruit loop she is. I would love knowing my husband was stopping by the home of a hot 43 year-old woman who hangs around young surfers and acts free and sexual and creative.

well, I should say I would love it if they made it a point to explain the nature of the relationship first.

fun read, Beth Mann... you always are xx
My two best friends are men and I make sure that men Im interested know that right off the bat....If they can't handle it then I dont waste my time.I hate that jealousy stuff..and sorry that you had to go through it..As far as the pussy on the platter.....hell yes ,give your number out if you want..women can waste a lifetime waiting around for men to decide to ask for their numbers.I do it....put my pussy on a platter ...although I never would have thought to have worded it so intriguingly :)...but then I don't attach myself to the outcome.If they don't call.....its all good....You are smart and honest and a beautiful writer...trust your heart.
What Geaorge's wife needed (if she had any sense) was not reassurance that there was nothing "going on", but an explanation from George on why trying to deceive her on any level was supposed to be acceptable. I once dumped an otherwise great guy over this: I didn't give a rat's ass which female friend he was helping with her bike, but I HATED that he was always lying about where he was. "But there's nothing going on" he would insist. "Then just frickin tell me you're at her place you idiot!" He was a terrible liar. If he was having a beer with a male friend, he would just say "I'm out having a beer with X" But if it was a female friend he would get vague and dismissive. It was a dead givaway.
Good for you for not being his secret. Shame on him for screwing up a good friendship!
haha...comedic.! funny... nice blog.. you get a rating from me. :)
check out my blog, heres my url
http://open.salon.com/blog/jvy_flx
its really not a waste of time. promise.!
Beth Mann is one of my (only 6) favorites here on OS. So it is with great hesitation that I publish a comment asking that she try to see the other side of the issue.

There are some of us who are "with" someone (in my case, a spouse) who is insecure and just can't get her head around the idea of her husband having platonic friends of the opposite sex. So, what is a "good guy" with (I think) lots to offer a female in friendship suppose to do? Abandon my wife (of 28 years) because she's unable to deal with her crushing insecurity? Never interact with a woman as "a friend"?

Nope. We all make certain compromises in life -- I can understand and "I am" George and David and Robert.

I've had to hide lunches and drinks with a female friend simply because my company was a woman. After years of trying to rationalize with my wife that having a friend of the opposite sex without-sex-on-the-agenda was possible, I have given up. It's not attainable in my wife's eyes. And in my eyes, my spouse is perfect except for this single flaw. So I navigate in this world as those men do with Beth.

Also, I don't think the "custody" issues with David are easily dismissable -- many of us would do anything (including keeping our friendship with someone secret) to hold on to our child (or continue having access to our child).

Should David have to worry about spending a lot of time, money, and energy to prove you're just a platonic friend in the event of an irrational "baby's mama" blockage to his child?

Seems to me "a friend" would understand and be a little more forgiving of the circumstances under which a friendship has to be sustained.

If you want to talk about this some more over drinks sometime, fellow New Joiseyan, let me know. But, we'll have to keep our meeting a secret.

: )
this was one snappy piece! i dig the fact that you're living life on your own terms. it is hard to keep from carrying other people's burdens around with you in terms of how life is supposed to be carried out - and that is truly tragic. it also fascinates me that as we get older, gender roles can actually get more complicated. it seems intuitive to me that as a man in my 30's i am much more capable of having a friendship with a woman without the drama it would have had ten years earlier but i find that is often not the case. in your case, the drama all seems to come from others. sigh...

there is noting wrong with you! you're a groovy gal - keep at it and thanks for sharing.
My mother (who has since crossed the Rainbow Bridge) always opined that there was no such thing as a platonic relationship between a man and a woman -- that men were friends only with women that they would do in a heartbeat (although she did think women could manage the "just friends" bit).
Sadly, my own experience over a lifetime has proven her wrong. I had lots of male pals -- best friends even -- that I would have done in a heartbeat but they wanted to be only friends. Sometimes years later I found out they had more than a friendship interest but I must have been emitting radiation or something at the time.
I think a good philosophy for everyone is that we should be friends only with people we can meet in public and bring home to our partners. If one is so predatory that one cannot trust HIMSELF (which is the impression I get of George, et al), then stay home with the little woman.
Funny and sad. Like always. I gotta wonder, though, about these men that seem to be isolating you from their wives. I have an ex-boyfriend who live a few blocks for me. My highschool grad date. I sensed a little tension from his wife early on. But he just kept inviting me over to dinner whenever he was inviting the guys over, and gradually she just thought of me as one of them. Then again, it's been a long, long time since I put on my supermodel clothes. And I have a kid, so we were able to bond over that. But I do think trying to make new friends, if it's possible, is really the only solution.
Sorry I dropped the ball, all. Work was breaking me this week! Anyway, so much to say but so little time to say it.

Some quick observations:

1. As for the "other side" mentioned by several, I wrote the piece to counter "the other side" which I hear too often. This was a piece based on THIS side of the equation. I think most people get the other side and don't understand the pain and shame around being someone's secret for no good reason.

2. While I appreciate the advice, these are works. They aren't pure fact. Or even if they are, they're pieces of writing, first and foremost.

3. CrazeCzar, hopefully I'm one of your fave writers because of my writing, not based on my opinions. And no, I'd never have lunch with you in secret. Funny you would even ask that after reading this! Ha...

4. Lainey, I wonder if platonic friendships break up a marriage, or the distance that was already forming in the first place, making platonic friendships more of a real threat. A chicken/egg thing.

As for inviting anyone over (as several of you suggested), no thanks. Again, (if this piece is factual), I'M the one offended and ostracized after doing everything right. Someone should be inviting me to tea, not the other way around.

That's the point I was trying to make - that kind of secrecy is hurtful to the receiver, regardless of the reason. NO reason - in my opinion - justifies making someone your dirty little secret. It implies a problem in the relationship, NOT a problem with me.

So much more to say, many thoughtful comments. Will try to return but thank you all. Good feedback, smart people.
Beth, my love, you're going about this all wrong. Remember that burqa I bought you for Christmas? It's guaranteed to reduce your "scandal quotient." Oh, and if Clint is worried about the platter, tell him about your wine-and-chocolate expectations. They make "the platter" seem downright Victorian. Clint needs to move to Salt Lake City. Or Oklahoma City (if he's man enough). Oh, and what's your number?
well said, but you knew that....it amazes me that we live this way. So much insecurities that hurt true friendships....and why??? thanks for sharing!!
Beth, this is another great post. (And if George sides with his wife, he's not worth missing...even when it hurts to lose a friend we've had since we were 5.) R
I'll have the Pussy Platter too! Side order of thighs and a shot of Jack. B.T.C.
Well of course, this is genius. Sheesh.

You wrote about this so eloquently I really felt it. Not the least of reasons being because I have been a secret myself...advice giver and stylist of married men who found me...er..charming, but with whom I was not involved. I knew women would be hurt, I suppose, and finally ended un-open friendships.

Men have a tendency to think deception is the best route. Oh how often that backfires.

Your friend's wife though....hmm...She needs help. Of the psychological sort. That's a bit irrational....it's his keeping it from her that made is so scary for you, I would bet.

I'm so sorry for the loss of your friend. I too am childless by choice, and up until the last few years, have spent most of my life scrambling to live and being creative and all the things that keep chicks like us from doing hearth and home and family...much as certain aspects of it might appeal..

We are very much alike. Which for me usually means I loathe someone or REALLY LIKE THEM A WHOLE LOT. guess which one you are?
If the guys don't invite you to meet the wife and be part of their circle of friends--it's a little suspicious. I have male friends. My husband has female friends. Maybe it takes a level of maturity to have friends of the opposite sex and wives who are insecure (or have evil friends who promote the insecurity), to have friends of the opposite sex. It's too bad that George doesn't have a pair. Dumbass!