Yesterday I had a couple of beers with an old friend who I hadn’t seen in years.
Along with one other girl–to whom neither of us now speak–she and I had an enchanted summer together during college: in the days we drank frozen coffees and read Lorrie Moore stories in our bathing suits, in the evenings we waitressed, badly, and at night we put on vintage dresses and bicycled to one or the other of two grungy but hip St. Paul bars, where we drank gin and tonics and kissed boys in bands. It was epically fun.
Over our first beer we caught up on the developments in one another’s lives over the past five or so years–including her recent marriage to a man she’d long been dating.
And over our second, we began to reminisce about the charms of that summer: both of us confessed to frequent, indulgent nostalgia.
“I think about how much fun we had kinda a lot,” I admitted.
“Me too!” she assured me. And then she said, “But isn’t it sort of embarrassing how boy crazy we were? Sometimes I look back and I just feel embarrassed.”
I began to reflexively agree with her–but couldn’t long suppress the look of puzzlement that generally assaults my face when I feel vaguely insulted.
“I guess so…” I said.
As also often happens, I couldn’t well articulate my actual response in the moment. And frankly I’m not sure I can do much better at articulating it now. But I’m going to try. Because the response that I felt when she used the term was pretty similar to the way I remember feeling when a different friend used it–also to describe me, but in the present–soon after I moved to Washington.
I had just gotten out of a big relationship and was meeting men frequently–though I never dated more than one at a time or routinely biked around strictly to make out with bass players. I was enjoying my newfound singledom.
“Do you really think I’m boy crazy?” I remember consulting another friend later on.
“Kind of,” he’d said. “But it’s fine! It’s who you are!” I’m pretty sure he then likened me to Elaine from Seinfeld, at which point I became distracted by the comparison.
Despite his assurance, though, being labeled with that term didn’t make me feel “fine”: it made me feel bad. To use my college friend’s term, it made me feel embarrassed.
Hearing her use it now to talk about the past may have struck a nerve even more raw–because, of course, the thing I immediately thought to myself was, “Am I any less boy crazy now?” And then I thought, “Even if I am, is it something to be embarrassed about?”
(Galvanizng my skepticism was the quick realization that there is not, in fact, an equivalent term for men: “girl crazy?” I don’t think so. So far as I can tell it’s called being heterosexual.)
Unsure how to proceed in making this calculation, I resorted to my new mode of blog research: typing phrases into Google and clicking on the “Urban Dictionary” link that pops up on the first page.
The definition gets little more specific than “attraction to multiple males.” In my reading, and according to my new way of thinking, it can pretty much describe any woman who is single and would like to have a boyfriend.
Sure, there are different ways of being single, but I’d call all of them different degrees of contentment with being alone. Most women I know who don’t have boyfriends would like to have them: with varying levels of intensity, sure, and varying modes of effort toward acquiring one.
For me it’s a day to day thing: some days I love being on my own, and others I really wish I had a guy to share things with.
Okay, usually it’s the latter. But is that so “crazy”? Honestly, I think it’s pretty normal. And I don’t think it’s something we should feel embarrassed about.
Hell, I’m not even going to feel embarrassed about drunkenly biking to bars and kissing a couple boys that summer. I did it cause I wanted to, and cause it was fun. (Also, cause I was nineteen.) And there’s nothing crazy, or even really embarrassing, about that.