On the Necessity of a GBF

My best friend Joel and I have been asked to think about the message why?

Why on earth would a girl need a GBF?

That girl with the GBF is soooo fabulous. She's Mercedes to his Curt, Carrie to his Stanford, Harper to his Truman. She's not so haggy she can't get a hetero man to love her -- it's a fact: the whole galaxy loves that girl.

So why does it matter that he's gay? Why is this friendship different than all other friendships? Why must our relationship justify itself at all? And more importantly, why does it deserve its own sitcom and follow-up docuality show?

Joel's answer, in short, is that we both like boys, and will never compete for the same boy. So nothing stands in the way of our intimacy.

My answer is that he has the same plumbing and wiring as my dates. It's not a bad idea to have someone on call who has deep technical knowledge -- it's like calling AppleCare.

But I also have another answer: the dirty little truth is that not all friendships with women last forever. I do not know any woman who can't point to at least one other without saying, "she used to be my best friend."

Some of my girlfriends outgrew me, some left for the suburbs to raise kids, some moved to jobs and boys across the planet, some were lost to attrition, some were train wrecks who exhausted me, some were merely misplaced. Some friendships ended in fire, some in ice. It always hurts, it is always a breakup.

I also don't know of any girl who has said these things about their GBF. Not one.

Joel will never be the boy formerly known as my best friend.

There might be easy explanations for this truth; conflating factors, it's an anecdotal experiment with exactly one data point. Joel and I have been in near lockstep for the past 18 years -- gay marriage has been too long coming, while I was the perennial spinsterette. We both found boyfriends, we broke up with them. We got careers, we struggled, we succeeded. We've suffered. We've recovered. We've fallen in love. And we both stayed in NYC. And neither of us has kids.*

Why the GBF? Because competition between friends has a dark and pustulent underbelly.

Ladies, Sex and The City sold us a bridge in Brooklyn: Girls in packs aren't unfailingly supportive, or chock full of gentle wisecrack and hard-won wisdom. Gloss the dark side, why don't you, Michael Patrick King? All the tensions between Carrie & Co. were fixed with a few snark cocktails, kicky heels and a rhumba beat. The rest of us, however, exist on planet earth.

In a gauzy haze of S&TC inspired optimism, I went shopping for a group of single girlfriends. After a few years, I found the group competitive, territorial, suspicious, and bitchy. We wanted the same boys and were fishing in an increasingly shallow pool. We were mean to one another.

We were the Death Eaters.

I couldn't help but wonder... if we stayed single not because we were too fabulous for Muggles, but because we deserved to be alone, because we were terrible.

And then I realized... I should have bought the shoes! Shoes are supportive. Manolos are so cute, just like Joel!

I don't have a perfect answer for "Why a GBF? Why now?" But I do have an entire rolodex of answers for "Why not a great big group of straight single women friends in their 30s"?

For a best friend, I chose one of the brightest, most talented, funniest, biggest-hearted humans I had ever met and harangued him into liking me for the next 18 years. By some miracle it worked. Half a lifetime later, he's still by my side.

Does it matter that he's gay? Absolutely.

Will I find out in 8 episodes why the "gay" in GBF matters?

Just like you, I'll have to watch and see.

*When the issue of kids arises, it's already solved: Joel hates kids, so he won't have them. But he'll be a "kid person" with my children the way I become a "dog person" for his dogs -- the loved one of my loved one is my loved one.