This is a tribute to my male friends, for who would I be without them? To many, being single isn’t an enviable state, but it’s afforded me the luxury of having not just relationships, but also friendships with men.

I am fortunate to have always had male friends, even in the ’60s when it wasn’t that common. I remember admiring the friendship that Mary Ellen Cross and Mike Dumas had in high school (and still have).

Ken Stevens was my first guy friend in high school. I remember his dropping by my house one Saturday morning and serenading me on his guitar with Bob Dylan songs.

Friends I had at the University of Maine at Portland were Frank Bean, Jay Lemont and Dennis Halsey, all basketball players. When I transferred to Orono, I used to ride my bicycle to visit my South Portland friends at their fraternity, a dubious one – but only in daylight! During study breaks I had coffee with “Skid” Rowe and his fraternity brothers in the Bear’s Den.

After I graduated and moved back home, Greg Scully and I became friends. He took me skating at the civic center and included me at gatherings with his Cheverus friends.

My men friends have ranged in age from 40s to 80s. Most of them I know from workplaces or sports. They all offer me companionship, a male perspective, support, humor – and sometimes a lot of teasing.

Things can get awkward. One colleague from Auburn, with whom I had ice cream “dates,” one day abruptly told me they had to stop. The woman he had started dating had given him an ultimatum.

Also, things can go a little wrong. The Edward Little principal’s son, a friend, asked me to be a stand-in for his girlfriend (yes, she knew) at a co-worker’s Christmas party. Before he picked me up for the party, I lighted a few candles for ambiance at my apartment. Shortly after he arrived, my Advent calendar was up in smoke and he had to put out the flames. Years later I ran into him at a store and hoped he hadn’t remembered that incident, but of course he had.

Don, my friend at Andover College, was actually more like my office husband as time went on. We would talk, bicker and banter, even after work.

Carroll Rines, a much older man, and I worked in tandem at basketball games. He was my escort for sports banquets and my companion at the tournaments. To this day I miss his chuckle.

Nelson, still my friend, worked with me at Macy’s in shipping and receiving. He keeps me up to date on all the newest movies and CDs.

The men I used to work with at Cheverus 27 years ago are still my friends.

As the years go on, sometimes my friends and I have gone separate ways and sometimes we find each other again.

So here’s to you, Gary, Hank, Nelson and Stephen, for livening up my life!

— Special to the Telegram

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