I am watching my husband as he joins in a game of soccer between students and teachers. He is subbing for the day at my school today, a rare opportunity for us all to be together, Superman on the field with his friends and Monchichi having arrived by bus hours ago from summer school, now sleeping soundly next to me on the soft grassy hill.

I see the men and the boys, sweaty and red, their bodies poised for the next play, ready to make a move. Someone will score a goal. Someone will try to block it. Someone will definitely get hurt.

It is here, in this moment, that I realize how much simpler the guys have it. There are few words exchanged in these athletic moments, other than the occasional four letter expletives that you hope young ears won’t hear. Yet here they are bonding. In unison, all working towards completing this physical challenge, and in perfect harmony. Opposing teams on the field, comrades in the locker room.

They have it so easy, men.

Women. We are so much more complicated. A sweaty game of soccer does not a friendship make. We have a whole different way of doing things.

I don’t know about you, but I get tired just thinking about it.

First comes the physical assesment. Yep. You can deny it all you want to, but the minute we are faced with another female, at least one who is within a few decades of our own age group, we begin to mentally assess her, comparing ourselves to this woman standing in front of us, trying to picture whether her thighs are thinner than ours, whether her hair is naturally blonde, whether or not she will make us look ugly and/or fat in public when we are with her.

We hug, we compliment, we begin the emotional evaluation, picking apart her life over fattening desserts, urging her to have more while you look on, hoping to God she can gain a few pounds before you introduce her to your husband. You want to know everything about her and she offers it up, because we do that, us women. We find comfort in each other’s troubles, though there is the off chance we are trying to build a cache of blackmail material. Either way, it makes for great conversation.

It begins at such a young age too. I see it on the playground at my school and it brings me back to my own torturous days as a young girl. There is always a ringleader and she calls the shots, even if she’s two feet tall and weighs 10 pounds. If you cross her, you risk becoming a social invalid for the remainder of your academic career. If you become close friends, you are certain to jump through hoops in her shadow until one of you moves to another state. Either way, you’re screwed.

The boys on the other hand, they resolve their issues with hockey sticks and a few punches. There. All done.

We drag it out and start rumors and steal boyfriends and say “no honey, of course those pants don’t make you look fat.”
Vicious we are.

I know. Pretty heavy stuff.
So what are we going to do about it?

How about befriending that gorgeous coworker that looks like a centerfold; she probably has zero real girlfriends but plenty of sleazy guys trying to get into her life (among other things). Now, if you decide that you want to take her to a cupcake factory for your first outing together, I can only offer you this: order her the red velvet, because it has a TON of calories.

When you’re done, you can meet up with me.

I’ll be on the soccer field.

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