MANHOOD REDO: I've never really understood dating, probably because I'm reluctant to play the role expected of my gender. And I'm not referring to some 1950s-60s scenario where you rush out of the car to open her door. The show "Mad Men" on AMC seems to suggest that those platitudes and pleasantries were largely superficial, spiked with an undercurrent of misogyny and betrayal - at least in the world of ad men.
When I was in high school, R., a junior when I was a senior, came running out of the school to tell me and a few other guys that he'd told L., a cheerleader in his class he was going out with and someone I went out with a year later, that he "loved" her. It was clear that he only said it for "effect," meaning he didn't really love her; he wanted her to think that he loved her so that she would be enamoured with him. His statement to her befuddled me. At 18, I knew I didn't know what the hell it meant to love someone, was pretty sure he didn't know, and had no idea how long it would take for me to know.
Abby and I never really dated in any official sense. There's a stigma against romantic involvement between friends - too much like a brother/sister relationship, not enough fire, I suppose. But friendship's always been at the base of our connection. I just like hanging out with her. We do that a lot.