Clearing your PVR is an exercise that is at once both satisfying and sad.   Every now and then you spot an upcoming movie or TV show that you just *have* to watch – only, you know you don’t want to dedicate the full 30 minutes or hour doing so, as a good chunk of that time is devoted to commercials.  AMIRITE??

So instead you plan ahead of time and schedule the PVR (Personal Video Recorder) to capture those shows for you, knowing that when it comes time to watch them, you can ultra-fast-forward through the commercials and watch “Breaking Bad” in its allotted 40 minutes of Real Time.  In fact, I can’t recall the last time I watched a TV show in real-time, and had to suffer through the commercials.  (I’m lying of course:  I did watch Breaking Bad last night during real-time only because there was an internet event going on at the same time, where the show’s producers polled its audience on an event within the show that just took place.  Not sure I’ll do it again – though it was fun.)

99% of the time though, it’s true:  I won’t watch a show in real-time.   The PVR has spoiled me.  I have to say, out of all of the peripheral unneeded stuff I’ve purchased, the PVR has more than made up for itself in value.  It’s still not  a need but man oh man is it ever a “nice to have”.

A lot of friends will say “you know, I don’t have a TV set at all.  Haven’t had one since I was married/divorced/the kids moved/I became enlightened.”   There’s usually a disapproving snit in their voices and body expressions which hint at the thought that “anyone who watches TV is an unthinking Neanderthal, content to be a voyeur of life, instead of living it themselves.  Not only that, what they’re watching isn’t real.  They’re voyeurs of *fantasy* life – unless they’re watching ‘reality TV’ which again isn’t representative of true life anyway.”  (You can hear the haughty sniff, right?)

They could be right.   But whenever I catch wind of that snootiness, I like to play it up a bit.   “Yeah, if I didn’t have to work every day, I’d sit there on my lounge chair, wearing nothing but my boxer shorts, with one hand comfortably ensconced in my waistband, and the other hand drowning in a bowl of Cheetos.  Used to do it all the time actually.  Not sure if it was that, or the excessive burping that went on because of all of the beer but the upshot of it all is that my wife and I are divorced.”

Watching the painful polite nod is worth the effort of the lie.

The truth is: I enjoy creativity in the arts.   Hence, I won’t watch reality TV, nor will I watch most mainstream predictable fare either.  On the odd occasion, I’ll watch something I’ve already seen, because it’s that good.  It’s entertaining, and it tickles a part of my own creativity that thirsts for the flight of imagination and thought.

Yesterday, I finally cleared my PVR of all the programs that were on there.   The last one, which I’d recorded and kept for a few weeks, was the classic Meg Ryan movie “You’ve Got Mail.”  I know that if I had posted this on Facebook, there would have been one friend who would’ve sent me a mock-horror cyber punch in the arm:  Tommy Blaze has been known to leave such one-word comments on my Facebook updates.  Usually that word is “homo”.   Once when I revealed my knowledge of bed sheet thread-counts, he flung that word at me.    He and I have always kidded each other about one thing or the other so his fake-disgust is sort of expected.   Also, it’s good for the shock factor – with which professional comedians like him have a long-standing love affair.   That word is – you know – *SO* unpolitically-correct, as everyone knows.  At least he knows enough not to use the “F” word.  (Which *everyone* also knows is “Fabulous”).

Anyway, I don’t know the meaning of the expression “male shame” when it comes to romantic comedies.  I’ll watch them without apology or regret, providing that they’re good.  A great many of them are lame, such that I find my testosterone levels depleting if I watch one for too long.

Anyway, “You’ve Got Mail” is a great film that I’ve seen a number of times.  Partly because I can’t get enough of Meg Ryan, and partly because the message is actually pretty cool.  Nora Ephron – who wrote this one as well as a bunch of others in the same vein – was excellent at communicating some interesting truths, some of which weren’t (in my opinion) true at all.   Her wisdom shows up in the dialogue scenes between the leading actors.

There is one “truth” that came out in one of her films that caught society by surprise.  It showed up in an exchange between  Billy Crystal (who played “Harry”) and Meg Ryan (who played “Sally”) in the movie “When Harry Met Sally”.    It was summed up in his statement to her:  “… man can be friends with a woman that he finds attractive.  He always wants to have sex with her.”

Her followup volley and his response to that was nothing short of hilarious:

Sally:  “So, you’re saying that a man can be friends with a woman he finds unattractive?”

Harry: “No.  You pretty much want to nail ’em too.”

Don’t know what it’s like for those reading this, but in my neck of the woods, the debate continues.   Women were astounded by it, and many asked their mates if indeed that was true.  Guys everywhere shrugged their shoulders in disbelief, just then realizing that the more powerful sex – women – didn’t already know this.   Some of the more frightened weasels among us said “of *course* it’s not true, sugar dumpling.  How could you think that?”

As for me, I think the truth of that statement is a sliding scale.  When I was much younger (14) I was head over heels attracted to a married woman whose husband had moved to the opposite coast to get their new home set up.   She was a 20-something friend who introduced me to alcohol.   She had an infectious and sexy laugh and sparklingly bright teasing dark eyes.   I had zero experience, so figured my attraction was a one way street, only to learn later that it was not.  The fact that I didn’t follow up with her on it is both a blessing and a curse.   Probably more of a blessing than anything.

Today, I’m friends with a few married women to whom I’m attracted.  Now, however, I know that part of what makes them attractive is the fact that they’re happily married.  The minute that changes (say, by cheating) is the minute they change and become different people.   The logic is there:  endangering that marriage is equivalent to chopping down a beautiful tree, just so that you can bring it to your yard and prop it up against the wall to admire.  You’ve changed the tree, and it will start to die, right away.

Also, there’s an important distinction:  I may want to be with them in a carnal sense, but my sense of personal integrity will never allow me to indulge that attraction.  So in that sense, Nora Ephron’s “truth” is not true at all.   One can be friends with someone who isn’t available, only if one’s behaviour is informed by one’s ethics.

The scale of attraction has changed over the years too.   There are a great many physically attractive women out there who I find are anything but beautiful.   The women who truly sparkle have a sense of humility, charm and serenity to them.   The haughty rude and entitled women (and men too, I imagine) are the opposite of attractive, in the most emphatic sense.

Yet, that’s my story – which means it isn’t everyone else’s story.  There are countless examples of attempted friendships between people who are attracted to each other where they’ve ended up in each others’ arms.   Anecdotal evidence – in this case – fails completely.

I’d like to know:  have you had this discussion with anyone?   What do you think about it?   Did you reach a conclusion?  Can guys be friends with women to whom they are attracted?

  1. Robin says:

    I agree with most of what you have written until you get to the forth of the last paragraph. You just wrote, and with sincerity, that men, no matter what, want to “Nail” attractive or not so attractive female friends. However, what stops you is a moral response. You’re still attracted so Nora’s truth is still true.


    • wolfshades says:

      I struggled with the logic around that too, Robin. Here’s the kicker though: I can state, categorically, that I’m attracted to one of my married female friends, but that I absolutely do not want to get with her. No way, no how. If she and her husband split up, it would be a different story. However, at this moment, I do not want to jump into bed with her. It’s not just about ethics or morals at the moment either. It’s about the fact that my knowledge of the result of such an endeavour prevents me from even desiring her that way. Sort of a monkey with his hand in the cookie jar sort of thing.

      And I truly do not know if this makes sense. It makes sense to me, which is important (obviously) but I have zero knowledge as to whether it seems logical to anyone else.


  2. Throughout my life I have maintained close platonic friendships with men, often in the face of mutual attraction.

    It bothers me that people seem so unable or unwilling to control themselves when it comes to sex. We aren’t beasts and we don’t have to act on feelings of attraction. Can men be friends with women to whom they are attracted? I say, yes.


    • wolfshades says:

      I agree. However, there are times when I’ll meet someone and know nothing about her – not her marriage status, or anything personal – and I imagine getting hot and heavy with her, quietly and emphatically. It is moments like those that I know Nora Ephron (via Billy Crystal’s “Harry”) might have been on to something.


      • Robin says:

        There is no doubt that a mans needs are far different than a women’s. I used to think like Kate that, yes, we can have a plutonic relationship, however, I’ve changed my mind. Mens needs are wholly different than a women’s. Wolf, sounds like you have a fixation on someone that you see in your own mind as someone ideal. Like you said in your essay, one is atrraced to a happy married person. Translation, when one is happy, healthy and well adjusted due to a healthy relationship.


        • wolfshades says:

          I think I lost something in the train of thought here, so, as the writer I get to change my mind. : )
          Yes I can still want a woman and can be attracted to her while at the same time remaining as her friend. In the same sense that Harry remained Sally’s friend, until the point where they become more than friends. Harry was right: the thought is pretty much out there (at least from the male point of view) but….he was wrong in that it doesn’t sabotage the friendship, unless he wants it to.

          I think you’re right: men are wired much differently than women. Big time – and in so many ways. I don’t honestly know if I have an ideal, Robin. I know what I like and especially I know what I don’t like. But…..there are so many different people out there, each of them unique. I had a brief romance with someone I never thought for a second I’d ever be with, or even want to be with. The encounter proved it: romance is fairly fickle and definitely unpredictable. At least for me. : )

          P.S. We were both unattached at the time.


        • wolfshades says:

          P.S. Robin, I’m curious: you mentioned that you changed your mind about the ability of men and women being able to have a platonic relationship with people they find attractive. Can you tell me more about that? What was it that changed your mind?


      • There’s a great deal of distance between imagining and doing. You didn’t ask if men can be friends with women to whom they are attracted without thinking of sex. That’s an entirely different question altogether and the answer is, in my mind, a resounding NO! I’m a woman and I can’t do it.


        • wolfshades says:

          Last night when I was writing the responses, my mind was a bit clouded. Now however in the clear light of day, it seems much clearer. Your reply was dead-on Kate: if I’m attracted to a woman friend, and can imagine making out with her, I’ll pursue her with that in mind, until and unless she says “no”. If she’s married, I won’t pursue her romantically, and can absolutely remain friends but yeah – the thought is still there lurking in the background. It’s not like we’re programmed robots who can turn that part of attraction off.

          I think attraction is a construct of many variables: sexual, ideological, manner of speaking, manner of walking, laughter, intense debate, the way she’ll touch her face or hair, the brightness of her eyes, and/or the way she treats others. A lot of it is unconscious. Most of us can’t suddenly say: “well I’m attracted to her because of her political stance but have turned off the attraction that responds to her long legs.”

          I remember being attracted to a girl at a coffee shop. Hmmm. There’s a blog right there. Maybe I’ll save it for now. ;)


  3. Robin says:



  4. Robin says:

    Like Kate stated, being around the opposite sex whom is attractive is an entirely different question. And as Harry said about an unattractive female friend, that is for men, they would “Pretty much want to nail them too.” Females on the other hand, if the person is not attractive, there is zero chance of wanting to, “Pretty much want to nail them too.”

    To answer your previous question about when I changed my mind. I guess growing up as a Tomboy, and always being around boys, it just never occurred to me that one couldn’t just be friends. However, decades later, I see well now the differences in how we interact with each other and what the main goals are for females, security, love and nurturing those. Men, sex, respect and more sex. It’s derived from our basic instincts. A mans ego is fueled by sex and respect. A females nurturing self is fueled by love and security.


    • wolfshades says:

      Okay now we’re going to have to a place close to the Bill Clinton variable. Perhaps not where the question of the definition of “what ‘is’ is”, but close enough: specifically, the determination of attraction. In this case, if I find someone boorish or catty or judgemental it really doesn’t matter how physically attractive she might look: I simply have no interest in getting with her. This of course comes from hard-learned experience.

      I also confess to being somewhat shallow in terms of the physical side too: in this I differ too from Harry.

      (God, I’m a hard guy to please). : )

      I can guess at the life experiences that caused you to realize the differences in wiring between men and women. It took me a while too. I’m now at the point where I’m wary of motivation sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with wanting security obviously, as there is nothing wrong with wanting sex. It would seem important for both sexes to look for an amalgamation of qualities which might include, but not consist only of, the above needs/wants.

      An interesting note: I’ve become aware of a curious dynamic that I never used to see. Men who are more romantically inclined than some women. Men who seem to want the intimacy and little things that form romance – a characteristic that used to be to a large extent the sole province of women. Not sure why that is, or how it came about – although I’ve actually heard some women complain about it. “He wants to go out on a date, and I just need him to take me on the floor” – that type of thing.

      Maybe I’m hanging with the wrong crowd. : )

      Although frankly: I enjoy making out in the middle of a dance floor, or walking for hours. The anticipation of that eventual entirely private time together. Yeah – I think I’m a romantic idiot sometimes. (Although – I have *nothing* against the thought of taking her on the floor, too.)


  5. Jack says:

    This is pretty much shocking stuff to women, but to men it’s like “of course!”

    Recent research following on from the Harry met Sally “revelation” has backed up that if men could bang their female friends and get away with it (i.e. there are zero negative consequences) the vast majority of us would.

    As far as I can tell, we’re biologically wired to pass on our genes. Depending on where you sit on evolution, monogamy makes sense for a woman, but not for a man. Women are vulnerable more than virtually any other mammal pre and post partum and have historically needed males for provision and protection. Men on the other hand fueled by testosterone are biologically wired to sow their seed far and wide pretty much any time of the day or month for that matter. (The book Super Freakonomics explains that this is why prostitution is the oldest profession – i.e. men’s sex drive has always and will always be greater than women’s, thus a supply/demand equation exists in this area).

    So where does all that get us? Bottom line is the desire to get our rocks off with our female friends is always there, but that’s where our cognitive executive functioning kicks in and we decide against it for all kinds of reasons and most of them you’ve touched on.

    I was however interested to hear recently an author discussing that extra marital sex can actually be good for a marriage and was pointing particularly to france and other european countries where “liasons” are much more culturally acceptable, have a higher incidence and who also experience lower divorce rates…. go figure.

    Good on you for discussing this WS, and tread where no man dares to tread :)


    • wolfshades says:

      Hey Jack! Glad you stopped by.

      Frankly, I think you showed more courage in writing a response than I did in writing it in the first place. It’s easy to be courageous when you don’t have a loving member of the mightier sex glancing over your shoulder. Being single has few advantages – I suppose this is one of them. Bleah. : )

      Funny that you mentioned executive function: in my research and hobnobbing with fellow ADHD enthusiasts (hear the sarcasm when I say “enthusiast”? No? Well it’s there.), it would seem that one of the many many indicators psychiatrists use when assessing a patient happens to do with impulse control. And – surprise surprise – one of the common consequences for people with ADHD is a propensity toward getting busy with whoever’s closest at the time. “Love the one you’re with” isn’t just for breakfast anymore, for them.

      In this case however, since ADHD doesn’t limit itself to only the typically hornier side of the population, the fly-by-night sex thing is common to both. And the whole condition is tied into poor executive function capabilities: usually it shows up with day to day stuff, and appears to others as though we lack self-discipline. Which is really akin to saying “well imagine that – the cat is obviously defective because he can’t hold a screwdriver” – while ignoring the cat’s lack of thumbs.

      Lest anyone get the wrong idea: this doesn’t excuse infidelity for anyone, I believe. Unless that person with ADHD actually gets openly down and dirty with someone in front of his wife or girlfriend (not speaking of “open relationship” situations, obviously). Put simply, there is always a measure of control. Always.

      Which leads me to another observation/question: just how much can someone be “out of control”? I’ve seen methheads completely lose it uncontrollably, so we know there’s a measuring standard out there somewhere. But……is the “problem drinker” *really* a “problem drinker”? Or is he able to not drink on the street when there’s a cop on the corner? Or what about the people who are “addicted to sex”? How addicted are they, actually? Are they able to keep their pants on while in church on Sunday?

      Maybe – and I’m just guessing here – it’s matter of degree, and the above is just too simplistic an approach. Maybe the problem drinker can abstain – and maybe he’s *dying* for a drink – until he gets someplace private. Ditto for the sex fiend.

      Anyway – man did I digress there – executive function is a thing of curiosity for me. I don’t know enough about it yet.

      You also mentioned cultural differences. The comments from your friends certainly dovetails from similar stories that I’ve heard too. One of my former bosses was a wonderful British woman (married of course) who spoke openly about the upper class culture from which she came. She said that her parents took lovers, with the expectation that neither would openly display those relationships to anyone or embarrass the other. It wasn’t an “open” relationship either. It was an “understood” sort of relationship – which apparently was common to the artistocracy. Amazing what you find out sometimes isn’t it?


  6. Robin says:

    Affairs. Hmmmmm…..So, why exactly is it O.K. for men? Because its been “Understood” through the ages? Because it’s O.K for a man because his testosterone is higher? When the above mentioned needs are met by both, why can’t the man connect on a deeper level than just with his second brain. What makes him so willy nilly compared to the more controlled woman? I suspect it has a lot to do with Wolfs addiction argument. It basically comes down to selfish and sometimes destructive behavior. Evolution has to kick in eventually.


    • wolfshades says:

      I think you nailed it with your last sentence there, Robin. Evolution (I think) *has* kicked in. We are absolutely not slave to our impulses: we have interested into an age of awareness and understanding. One expects apes to act out according to their nature, but we expect civilized people to conform to some sort of moral code. Further, in our awareness we have this amazing ability to understand that we have free will. Free choice.

      You mentioned the “controlled woman” – and therein lies the variance. Honestly I think some women are like camels when it comes to sex: they can partake once and go for months without it. The Seinfeld episode about masturbation comes to mind, when Elaine wanted to go in on the bet to see if she could hold out longer than the three guys:

      Jerry: It’s easier for a woman not to do it than a man, we have to do it, it’s part of our lifestyle. It’s like shaving.
      Elaine: Oh, that is such baloney! I shave my legs.
      Kramer: [while eating] Not everyday.

      I suppose the upshot of all of this is: if a guy can’t have sex as often as he needs, he has two choices. One, go extramarital. Or two: commit the cardinal sin of self-abuse. In the interests of maintaining his relationships, he’s better of choosing disgusting choice #2. :)


  7. Robin says:

    For the “Needs” argument sake. So if one of the women’s is security which basically comes down to the need to run a wholesome environment for their family and the bread winner stops producing bread, should the women stick it out or get her needs met somewhere else?

    BTW, I also think that the man blames the women unfairly most of the time regarding sex. After the initial fun and cute antics that bring a smile and a glint to the eye of the women fades off into the sunset. So, the women is stuck with generic ho hum of everyday life but the man still expects the same attitude about sex without the fun and cute antics that brought them together in the first place.


    • wolfshades says:

      I wonder if the “needs” thing (man’s need for sex vs. the women’s need for security) we aren’t trying to compare apples and oranges? Men – whether they like to think so or not – need companionship too. Many of us tie our sense of self-worth to being the breadwinner, or in having a job (though there are always exceptions to this and every other rule). But that need isn’t nearly as important/visceral as the need for sex, or the need to eat when we’re hungry. The sex drive, for us is very much like hunger in that respect. Whereas self-fulfillment through productivity isn’t nearly as instinctive. We’ll usually feel like there’s an option to have a job or not. Close to none of us – again, bearing in mind the small percentage of exceptions – will feel like there’s an option not to ejaculate on occasion. (Sorry if that’s too blunt, but I wanted to be as clear as possible).

      I’m trying to think of a comparable example for women and just can’t. Maybe there isn’t one. I don’t know. I’m not the one to make such a statement.

      As far as blame goes – I absolutely and emphatically agree with you. I just don’t understand the logic around a guy complaining about his wife, when clearly he takes her for granted every minute they’re not in bed together. It doesn’t compute here, and it’s as bizarre as it gets. And anyway, the emphasis is all wrong: you don’t please someone because you want something. You please them because you love them. The natural (or should be natural) result of that is intimacy, which often leads to sex.

      In the dating world, I never understood the dynamic of “well I bought you dinner so you’d better put out”. I think that’s the sentiment of a man who is close to as misogynist as it gets.

      Although I rarely talk about my family here, I’m making an glaring exception, just for this one example. I kind of idolize my little brother, who has shown – not talked about – how to treat the woman he loves. He has gone way out of his way to prioritize her, and has done everything he can to make sure she knows she’s loved. And he’s not a pansy or a pushover either: he just has his priorities straight. I’ve seen him arrange with her boss for some time off (behind her back) only to surprise her with tickets for a cruise. He has left her notes in her lunch. Flowers when she least expects it. He has sent her off on trips with her girlfriends. Even more: he has prioritzed her and his children over other friends and family members, whenever there’s a situation which comes down to a choice of keeping his promise to his family, or accommodating any of the others.

      The woman I end up with is going to know the full extent of what I’ve learned by watching him.


  8. Robin says:

    Lucky woman! Now I think we answered your last question in the original post. No. :)


  9. Laura says:

    I feel like it’s tough because there is always some underlying sexual tension, and maybe that constant thought in the back of their heads, like “I wanna bang this chick.” But maybe I’m just a tres cynical girl.

    Check out my blog, if you’d like. I feel like you’d dig it:


    • wolfshades says:

      Hi Laura. Sorry that your post didn’t get published right away. Out of thousands of spam comments that get caught in the spam filter, there are a rare few legitimate comments which also get caught. Didn’t realize until today that yours was one of them.

      I acknowledge there’s always a sort of sexual tension there, even when both parties have the sense to ignore it when one of them has a mate. Despite that though, I think they can be friends. They just have to careful friends. : )


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