It is my considered opinion that guys take a long time to become mature adults. Some may even take a whole lifetime. Someone wise once opinioned, “In every girl there is a woman but in every man there is a kid.” Nowhere is this more evident than in our dealings with the opposite sex. The accomplished, respected man’s man is just waiting for the right female to come by so that he can degenerate into a lobotomized clown. (This world view is reinforced if you watch Chinese romantic comedy movies where the women are perfect and the men are love-struck idiots). One good example of lingering immaturity is the “No Girls Allowed” rule which men evoke whenever the going gets rough. What’s that? You don’t agree with my hypothesis. You want proof, you say. Well, then sit back, sip your coffee and read about ….(dramatic organ chord)….”No Girls Allowed” or “How I came to be out in the cold.”
Charlie, was a man’s man. He was an Eagle Scout in the days where Eagle Scouts still did manly things like getting lost in the forest. He was in fact, a scout amongst scouts; the only one who could actually put on weight on campfire food. He enjoyed the camaraderie and reveled in the pungent testosterone-scented aroma of unwashed male bodies that have hiked in the tropical humidity in the jungle. He was proud of the “No Girls Allowed” club.
There came a time when we all grew into gangly teens and a group of about five of us left our home country to study in the United Kingdom. Although we were all friends and I was invited to one of their homes for Christmas dinner, I was a bit of the outsider, the odd man out. This was because the others were all scouts, the four musketeers, and every time we met, they would regale all present with another of the tales that bind them so closely together in a brotherhood.
It was at the end of my first year of University in London when James, one of the fabulous four, called me on the phone. “Charlie is in a bad way. He’ll probably call you and ask you to go hiking with him in the Lake District. He really needs for you to go. Don’t turn him down. He needs this.”
It seems Charlie called James up and invited him for the trip but James had promised his girlfriend to take her shopping in Paris. Not too worried, he called Thomas but Thomas was spending that weekend with his girlfriend’s family. Charlie told Thomas that he was disappointed in him but never mind, he’ll call Simon to go and Thomas will just miss out on the fun. So Charlie called Simon but Simon told him that he would have to check with his girlfriend if she didn’t mind him going off. Charlie didn’t even wait for the answer but hung up the phone in despair.
And so, I suddenly became Charlie’s new found best buddy on account that I was free of any female entanglements and was able to accompanying him on the trip. He was so enthusiastic about us bonding together in the wilds of the Lake District. The more he enthused though I got increasingly jittery that his idea of bonding involved manly rituals like eating raw deer meat or cutting our wrists and exchanging blood in an oath of brotherhood.
It really wasn’t like that. We spent the time hiking in the beautiful Lake District and had plenty of time to talk. I am good at listening and he just needed a willing ear. I think we did in fact bond as friends. He poured out his feelings as we climbed up to one of the mountain tops. While we had lunch by a beautiful waterfall, he shared about his disappointment that these “girlfriends” have weakened the close bonds of the musketeers. We discussed the sanctity of friendship and the value of true friends as we headed down the scree slopes. We also talked of other things too such as our studies, our plans and our hopes for the future.
Eventually, we made it down and sat on rocks and twiddled our toes in the icy waters of the lake or mere. It was there that we made a pact; though thankfully it did not involve blood exchanges. It was a pact to make this trip again next year and for at least one more year, we would keep females out of our lives and interfering with this most valued of friendships. No females. No dating. No girlfriends that we had to consult before going out with the guys. No girlfriends, period, for one more year. It was Charlie’s idea but I was feeling flushed by this important place I was taking in Charlie’s life of best buds and since I had no romantic liens at that time, I happily agreed.
Tomorrow, I will continue to explain “How I came to be out in the cold”. For now, I am basking in the warmth of the memory so far.
Photo credit: http://community.webshots.com/user/f0ggy1