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Friends With Benefits

We were at a gathering and I heard someone say the problem with some of these internet dating sites is that the guys are often looking for a friend with benefits rather than a girlfriend. A lot of us knew what she meant but one woman was perplexed. It was one of the men in the group who explained it to her. The guy wants a woman who he can have sex with and not feel any responsibility, obligation, commitment, or romance. Forget about love, he added. The thing is he didn't seem to think it was such a bad arrangement. In fact, several of the men found the idea enticing. No big surprise there. Of course, one of the wives gave her husband one of those looks and said even if you were single you'd too old to find a friend with benefits. But several of the women disagreed. They thought there were a lot of women our age who were single who would take him or any of the men in the room up on such an offer (if they were also single, she emphasized).

I was a bit surprised. Until they basically redefined benefits. The top benefit as more than one woman saw it, was having a man friend who could drive at night so they could go out for dinner, movie, whatever.

Do older men really have better eyesight than women? Better night vision, especially? I don't think so. I think women are probably more nervous and less worried about admitting they don't see as well at night anymore. Men tend to drive more than their wives throughout their lives so they're more comfortable driving at night even if they don't see as well as they used to.

But the women were quick to come up with other benefits as well. It would be nice to have a male friend who could be a reliable escort when they had to go to a wedding or some other function and they didn't want to be singletons. Wouldn't it be great, one of them said, to have a male friend who was handy and could change the battery in the fire detector, screw the handle back on the dishwasher door, fix a leaky faucet? Yeah, absolutely, that would be great. And what if there was a mouse in your house? Or a spider? Or...well, the women named various creatures they would like a man to deal with. They continued in this vein, all of the women who'd joined in this discussion agreeing that there would definitely be a hell of a lot of benefits to having a man friend.

What about sex, the husband who'd started this in the first place asked? One woman, not his wife, gave him one of those looks that was very similar to the look his wife had given him a few minutes earlier. (It's a look most women my age have had plenty of practice-with,  one part amusement, one part mockery). Honey, she told him bluntly, we've got vibrators for that. And then another woman added with a grin, yeah now that's having a real friend with benefits. No responsibilities, no obligations, no romance, no commitment.

The women laughed. None of the men found it humorous. No surprise there.

It might have ended on a rather uncomfortable note until one of the men said, hey I've got a lot of friends with benefits. He continued—I've got friends in Maine, the Berkshires, the Cape, L.A. Anytime my wife and I want to take a trip we've always got a place to stay. Now that's a great definition of having friends with benefits.

Everyone smiled.

The food wasn't all that great though. And the place was really noisy. But what the hell, we had all our friends around and benefits that are priceless.

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