We started talking about how you could never be sure how many siblings anyone had, because people tend to say “brother” or “sister” about their cousins too. There are some who toss “rakhi brothers/sisters” into the mix, so basically, you think their parents are super prolific. “I always ask “Is this your real brother”?” said a young man at the table. I pointed out that ‘real’ or presumably ‘biological’ is really just a state of mind. What if your sibling was adopted? Not such a common problem in India, but by the time the next generation is ready to sit at engagement parties of their own, I think it might be, considering how many people I know who want to adopt or have already adopted.
Then we started talking about the future groom. “He’s like a brother to me,” said the same young man, and I, delighted, said, “Oh, me too!” STUNNED SILENCE ON THE TABLE. “What? What did I say?” I asked, perplexed. Apparently, it’s not quite a compliment if a girl says it about a male friend. I don’t know why, I’d be hugely flattered if one of my guy friends said I was like a sister. Wouldn’t you?
They then urged me to blog about this subject, saying that they were sure people would be able to point out to me that it’s just Not Cool for a woman to say it about a man. It’s like saying, ‘I don’t think of you as a man’ or something. “You’re better off just saying, “You’re my best friend,” was the advice offered to me. I get what they’re trying to say, saying “brother” immediately takes any offer of sex off the table, but hello, I’ve been friends with this particular brother/friend for SO long, sex was off the table aaaaaaaaaages ago. I mean, I don’t want to sleep with any of my close guy friends, do you? It’s as anathema for me as would be the idea of sleeping with a “real” brother. The only difference is that unlike an actual biological sibling, the attraction to a friend could happen. (We’re disregarding incest here, obvs.)
I read an article somewhere, I forget where, but this was a long time ago, that said men only befriended women they found attractive. Which, okay, I'm not so convinced about. I'd prefer to think there was more to men than that, more than just a simple, "I think you're vaguely pretty so I want to be your friend." The article went on to say it was only once they thought a girl was pretty, that they explored the idea of a friendship, even if they weren't necessarily attracted to them. Women on the other hand, operate slightly differently. Okay, so I know in the first two minutes whether or not I find someone attractive, BUT that's not to say someone I don't find attractive now may not be attractive to me in the future. My list of things that contribute to being attracted to someone is long and includes, but is not limited to: banter, a good text message and a sense of adventure.
But either way, in my mind, I was so convinced I was giving him a compliment. Being an only child, one of the nice things is, I get to pick who I want in my extended family. Not all friends are so-called siblings, in fact, I’m rather picky about who gets the tag. If I’ve known you for a long time, if I know my relationship with you is steady and loving, if you’ve been there for me during hard times, and will try your hardest to be there when I celebrate, then, well, you’re like a brother/sister. I got shouted down when I tried to explain myself, but hey, no one’s talking on this blog but me.
I know friends, we all have friends, but what happens when you have a bond with a friend that goes deeper than just a plain ol’ friendship? I have several sisters of the heart, who I love dearly and deeply, and okay, I don’t have quite so many “brothers” because a male-female friendship is essentially different from a female-female friendship, but the few that I do consider to be closer to me than just a regular friend, the few that the idea of sex wouldn’t even come up with, not even in your deepest darkest thoughts, because the relationship between the two of you is so pure and good, almost asexual, but not in a bad way, you know? I feel they should be allowed to be my brothers, even if I’m never allowed to say that to them.