Disclaimer: Throughout this screed, I am simply using the words boys and girls. You'll see. I am not being sexist or P. C. These terms both work in the context of the piece. So, please, unknot your shorts.
"ALRIGHT!!! ENOUGH!!! WHOSE BOY IS WHOSE BOY???!!!"
These words were spoken by the immortal Seeds as he sat at the head of table. The venue: The Cask & Flagon & Sword & Chainsaw Steakout, circa 1986. Some fifteen boys had gathered for a boyish (see?) night of salad-bar dueling, cowflesh and hogsheads of alcohol.
The conversation had turned to Mancuso (who was a guest of the state at the time). A lifelong check-kiter, embezzler and bad guy. But we all knew him.
Wooie had led it off. "Hey, Shitwood. Isn't Mancuso your Boy?" [I capitalize Boy here for a reason will become apparent.]
Shitwood: "Mancuso is NOT my Boy!"
Meat: "Yeah, well, Mancuso's brother is Pipe's Boy."
Pipe: "Yeah, well I guess so."
Wooie: "You can't guess about being Boys. He either is or he ain't, Pipe."
That's when Seeds burst in, flushed, almost irate. A huge goblet of wine in one hand, a steak knife in the other. Bovine blood on the napkin tucked into the collar of his Izod. In short: a portrait in red.
This had to be settled before the cheesecake arrived.
Doodoo: "Buck is Ace's Boy."
Me: "That would be correct."
Motley others joined the fray.
"Can you have more than one Boy?"
"No, he's not my Boy; he's just my buddy."
"Well, Patsy's my boy, but he's not my Boy. Y'see?"
I realize that the argot shifts with geography. But almost everywhere I've been, boys have different terms for friends. In Bridgeport, Connecticut, being Boys was serious stuff.
As a friend (not my Boy) once related, "Your Boy is someone you call when you're pinched for DUI at three in the morning, and he's got your back, no questions asked."
As a firm believer in the Jesuitical Bifurcation of the Sexes, I don't think girls have an equivalent. Girls have friends, relatives and people they work with. This latter group changes with jobs. If you are a boy partnered in a long-term, you'd better get used to this about girls.
In addition, as she shuffles the "work-with" friends, you will be forced to meet their boys. Most of them will be assholes. They will invariably have better jobs and more cake on the hip (sorry, Bridgeportese for money) than you do. You will be forced to hang out with them at social functions. At such gatherings, the girls will immediately cordon themselves off and, taking tiny sips of pedestrian Chardonnay, gasbag about work. After you tire of the boys' stories about the new BMW 9 Series and timeshares in St. Bart's, you will slink off in search of the keg—and most likely, brown liquor. She will have to drive home, and you will listen obediently to her philippic about Brenda-Snyder's-godawful-skirt-and-how-she-doesn't-have-the-legs-for-such-an-outfit.
This is not the girls' fault. They have to talk about Work. It as essential as Shoes to them.
It's unfair, but girls just don't have Girls. They have given up on that, traipsing around, following your career, taking care of you, picking up the shit you leave lying around. Boys never give girls the chance to cement friendships with Girls.
Besides, girls have something stronger. Families. If you decide to be with with a girl of substance (and a lucky boy you are), you had better get used to Family. This is an institution so rigid, it makes Alcatraz look like a luxury, Jacuzzi-laden, all-inclusive resort.
Yes, you will visit her Family on a regular basis. Dinner will be at 6:09, give or take thirty seconds. Her father might have a beer with you, but all the while he's thinking, "If you disrespect my daughter, I will rip your throat out. By the way, get a better job."
Her mother will ignore you.
At dinner (which is always excellent), the entire group will discuss boring family minutiae as if you weren't there. This gives you ample opportunity to feed the filet-of-Converse roast to the family canine, who smells of neglect. He will be your only friend in the Family.
There's a coin-flip chance that her brother will be a decent guy and not an asshole with a BMW 9 Series. Pray.
And then there's the Sister. It is an ironclad rule that when multiple sisters are present, one of them rules the roost. She's the Sister. She will make all important decisions, especially about clothes. She—nor any other member of the Family—has ever been wrong.
Now if you're a girl, beware the presence of your boy's Boys. If you're out somewhere and one of his Boys shows up, your evening is shot. Best bet is to find another girl nearby who isn't wearing leather and Spandex. Maybe you can talk about Shoes.
He won't have a clue. It is far more important for him to engage in a two-hour polemic concerning the Yankees' pitching rotation. And it's April. You will cease to exist until you tell him it's time to go. Do this one drink before you really want to leave. He will suddenly turn wuss and entreat you for "one more." You reluctantly agree and go back to your corner with the other girls. By now, you've abandoned the bar's piss-water Chard in favor of a few Rumchatas. And you're ready to go out and get that leather-and-Spandex ensemble.
Back at home (or his slovenly place), you're too sloshed for bedroom hijinx. This is your best way to remind him what a douchebag he's been. The next morning (and he had better make you breakfast), just say, "Honey, I had no one to talk to, so I drank too much." Studies show that this ploy has a high margin of success.
Yes, the whole system is messed up. Girls should have Girls. If they did, boys would smarten up.
I will close with advice to boys. In my seventh decade, I feel I am entitled.
Here's what you do. On a random Saturday, ignore the phone call from your Boy, even if he has front-row tix at the Garden. Ask your girl for a date; if you've been married for eons, even better. Girls love this. If you two are single, offer to come to her place because your flat is a rank sty. When asks, "Where are we going [and she will]?" produce a couple of prime filets, a DVD and the requisite Chardonnay. If she'a an ovo-lacto-sprouts crusader, adapt.
Make sure that, in your car, you have salad (a must) and a premium bottle of a pert, insouciant red for afterward. The meal must be perfect (I have other tips here that I will divulge before the month is out), the movie should be one that she loves and you can endure. Leave your cell phone in the car.
Most importantly, hold her. There are approximately thirty-eight women on this planet who do not like to be held. Okay, if you have to take a tinkle break, hit that Jaeger bottle you have hidden strategically. Then resume holding her. You will love the movie.
Then you will discover, after a brandy you serve her with some fresh strawberries, that the Sealy calisthenics will occur naturally. As you slip into postprandial, postcoital slumber, you will realize this:
She is your Girl. And you are her Boy.