I am a freak magnet. It's taken me about a decade and numerous horrific encounters with women to come to this conclusion, but there it is. Don't get me wrong. I'm sure there are many wonderful, normal women out there who are able to be friends with other women without stabbing them in the back or trying to assume their lives. I just haven't found any yet.
OK, that's not entirely true. I do have a few really good female friends, women upon whom I can depend, who I know are true friends, who support me and would never set out to harm me in any way. I said few. Count 'em--three. Out of all the women I've known during the past ten years of my adulthood, there are only three women I can call true friends. Pretty pathetic, huh? I think so.
Now, I don't need a flock of friends or an entourage a la Leonardo DiCaprio to make me happy. I'm quite content to have my three best friends, whom I adore. Problem is, none of them live near me. We all live in different states, and one of them even lives in another country. I keep in touch with each of them via email and the occasional telephone call, but it's very seldom that I'm able to hang out with any of them.
This is why I still try to make friends with other women. I miss being able to do certain things that just aren't as much fun alone or with men--shopping, getting manicures, shopping, trading recipes, and shopping. Men have no concept of shopping. They apply a warlike philosophy to it: Get in, do whatcha gotta do, get out. So I need women friends. Besides, who ever said one could have too many friends? I'd just like to find some who aren't freaks.
Case in point. I befriended a coworker, once. We spent a lot of time together, shared intimate details of our lives, and did many things in our off time. I thought we were close. Once, I went on a business trip in her place because she had other obligations. Well, I guess she didn't appreciate my taking her place and getting to know the team of people with whom she usually worked. Upon my return she informed me that she had taken it upon herself to call one of the men I had just spent the week working with to tell him I had said he and all his male coworkers were a bunch of . . . Well, I can't use that word here, but it wasn't good. I was shocked. Simply aghast! When I was finally able to speak, I plaintively asked her why she had done such a thing. Her reply? "Because that's just the kind of wench I am."
Nice, huh? Needless to say, the friendship didn't survive that incident. Fortunately, I was transferred and didn't have to work with her anymore. But wait, there's more!
I recently organized a high school reunion for about four hundred people. Several people volunteered to help, but when it came down to actually doing the work, only one woman stuck with it and helped me get everything done. We had never met in school, because she was two grades behind me. All our communication and planning took place by email and on the Internet. It was really quite an amazing accomplishment. I thought that this woman must really be something, the way she handled problems and got things done. Yeah, she was really something, all right!
The weekend of the reunion, she attached herself to me like a leech and proceeded to sidle up to my friends, behaving as if they'd known each other all their lives, when, in reality, most of them didn't even remember her from school. Her fatal mistake came when she tried to play one of my aforementioned best friends, a woman I've known for eighteen years, against me by telling us both we'd made snide comments about each other. Well, it backfired when my friend and I began comparing notes and realized what she was up to. Neither of us associates with this woman anymore, of course. I found out later that she had also emailed another old school chum of mine who couldn't make the reunion to say that she'd heard so much about her and couldn't wait to meet her. My friend was a little freaked out by it and never replied.
So, what is it? Is it me? Do I give off some sort of sign or scent that attracts freaks? Am I too nice? Too forgiving? Too something? Could be. But I think it's more than that.
There are scads of women out there who are so caught up in competing with one another that they never allow themselves to truly be another woman's friend. They're too busy trying to prove that they're more attractive, smarter, better workers, whatever. I think this stems from their own insecurities. They seem to believe that the only way they can feel good about themselves or look good to others is by cutting down those around them and making them look bad in any way possible.
The thing is, most of them are so good at it that when I try to tell other people about it, they look at me like I'm some sort of paranoid psycho. Sure, we've all seen Fatal Attraction and Single White Female, but those were just movies. There's not really anyone out there like that. Right? Yeah, right!
These women are very careful not to reveal their true selves in front of more than one person at a time, usually only when they feel comfortable with that person. My coworker friend would buy gifts for her fiancé's son to "score points," as she put it. Once they were married, she consistently referred to the boy as "the little brat" and tried to convince her new husband to give up his joint custody, so they wouldn't have to pay child support anymore. I was the only one to whom she would say these things, and had I told anyone else, they wouldn't have believed me. As far as the rest of the world was concerned, she was the sweetest, most lovable person they'd ever met. I was the only "privileged" one to whom she would show her true colors.
What about movies that portray female friendships as the ultimate in unbreakable bonds? A few readily spring to mind: Beaches, Steel Magnolias, Fried Green Tomatoes. OK, Beaches and Fried Green Tomatoes I can see. Two women can bond and remain great friends for their entire lives. But the six women in Steel Magnolias? Ha! You can't tell me they wouldn't be tearing each other up in that beauty parlor the way they did the rest of the town! The way they were portrayed goes against every law of female nature, every primal instinct passed from mother to daughter since the beginning of time. Sure, I love that movie and it makes me cry every time I watch it, but it's a complete fantasy. And why? My guess is, it's because it was written by a man. I guarantee you, the author has never experienced the jagged edge of a knife rammed expertly into his back as only a competitive woman can.
Women are like wolves. A lone wolf has to fend for itself, doesn't benefit from the protection of a pack, and is very vulnerable. Two wolves together will bond and defend each other to the end. A pack of wolves? Well, it doesn't get any more dangerous than that. There's a constant battle for the alpha position, and if one of the wolves has to be killed for another to gain that position, that's just the way it goes. It's the natural order of things.
So, I'll remain on the lookout for a fellow lone wolf. But all the while, I'll be avoiding the packs. And the freaks.
M. D. Hauser is a freelance writer and editor who has had several fiction and nonfiction pieces published in newspapers, magazines and on the Internet. She lives in her home state of Texas.
E-mail M. D. Hauser at
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