When I was a youngster, there was a deadly disease going around. It was most prevalent in children, though rarely found in those under primary school age. Once infected, there wasn’t much that could be done for those inflicted with the disease. There were two different strains of this deadly virus and strangely, one affected girls and the other, boys. It was called germs. I was terribly afraid of boy germs and so I was only friends with girls. Now, it couldn’t be passed on from family members so I wasn’t at risk from my father or my brothers but lord help me if I got in contact with a boy I wasn’t related to. Boy germs could be transmitted from a simple touch and we girls tried to avoid boys altogether. They themselves were more fearless and would often face the danger and prove their manliness by chasing us around, trying to infect us.
As we got older, a cure for boy germs was discovered. If you made a circle with your thumb and index finger on both hands and then locked the two circles together, declaring a germ lock would immunize you against the dreaded disease. The germ lock allowed us to make it through school relatively safely and proceed to high school, for the most part, uninfected.
And then high school began and everything changed. Maybe it was the age, or a peculiar side effect of ‘big school’ in general, but we suddenly became immune to boy germs altogether. Tentatively we started to speak to them and even *gasp* touch them. A casual brush of the arm here and there wasn’t as terrifying as it had been when we were five and six. Once we made it past the initial contact, we eased into friendships with the strange creatures that had once in equal measures perplexed us, disgusted us and fascinated us. Friendships deepened as we got older and soon, we entered into relationship territory. And after that…well, you all know what happens next.
These days boys and girls (generally speaking) are no longer afraid of each other. In fact, things have probably changed drastically since I was a kid and for all I know, boy germs has been completely eradicated. Instead, thoughts on male/female relationships seem to lean in the opposite direction. Instead of believing you will catch a horrible disease if you spend time with a boy, people just assume you’re an item. Having friends of the opposite sex must not be all that common because in my experience, having a male friend automatically indicates to your friends that the two of you are having some kind of torrid love affair.
People who know me well…and many who don’t know me at all, know that I like both sexes but am predominantly attracted to women. Even knowing this, I have had a lot of friends recently question me about a certain guy from work that I’ve been hanging out with a bit. I’m not attracted to him. In the slightest. In fact – and I’ve told him this – a lot of the time, I’m not even sure I really like him all that much. (I’m joking, guys. He’s a pal.) And yet apparently my hanging out with him means that I want to jump his bones. Having to constantly justify my actions or explain myself grows increasingly tiresome and frustrating. And yet, perhaps as some kind of residual childishness – or just pure oafishness – my friends still harass me about being in love with said guy.
I don’t know if I missed a memo somewhere along the line but as far as I was aware, it is possible to be friends with a member of the opposite sex without anything kinky going on. I have many male friends and I’m not messing around with a single one of them. And I’m certain that I’m not the only one. I guess for now, my friends just get (far too much) enjoyment out of teasing me about something they know to not be true. At least, I hope they know!
Sometimes I miss the days when boys had boy germs and the biggest scandal in my life was who got the gold star in class that week. Alas, evidently I am a full adult now which means dealing with rumours and accusations about my non-existent love life and trying not to hit people who aggravate me. Ah well! talis est vita and all that.