One reading subject dominated my growing-up period–The Hardy Boys. Most little girls I knew were reading either Nancy Drew, which I get because my mother is a huge fan even today, or Goosebumps, which was not up my alley. No, my passion was to be one Frank and Joe’s “chums,” off on crazy and reckless adventures with them.
Boys were a cool and awesome enigma.
Oh, I had friends who were boys, but I could never understand them! There was even a short time when I was about 11 that I had two boyfriends at the same time. Not because I’d asked them, but because they asked me. It was crazy.
My interest in The Hardy Boys blossomed out of a desire to know and understand the opposite sex. Why do little boys or teenagers or men do the strangest and wildest things? Why do they jump off a cliff into a waterfall, screaming? Why do they love supping up old roadster cars so they make that awful roar when you rev them? And where do they come up their stash of the most stupid jokes known to mankind?
The male sex were, and remain to this day, an enigma which is why I still gravitate towards stories with male leads, particularly male leads that are little boys or teenagers. Those are ages when you can still weasel understanding out of them because they’re not fully grown yet and haven’t learned to hide all those mucky emotions. It’s why I love Cornelia Funke’s Mirrorworld starring Jacob Reckless, The Maze Runner series about Thomas and Newt and Minho, Netflix’s Stranger Things with the cleverest and silliest group of little boys imaginable, S. E. Hinton’s book turned movie The Outside about Ponyboy and his brothers and friends growing up in the 1960s, and even the 1980s film Stand By Me based on a Stephen King short story. Each of these stories deals with the relational realities of a group of friends who are boys.
It may surprise you to know boys and girls are different. I mean, come on, I’ve known this for a long time, ever since I was three-years-old and my best friend was a little boy named Christopher. Little girls, teenage girls, and women form relationships with each other differently than the male sex. We interact differently and we love each other differently. I get the female friendship. I am part of female friendships! But I will never be more than an outsider looking in on male friendships, which is why I’m so darned curious about them.
The part of my brain that wishes I’d gone in for psychology treasures the stories I listed above because it helps me understand something I will never be a part of. Call it an anthropological study if you will. One thing I now know for sure is I LOVE that men and women are different. This way I can tilt my head to the side, quirk an eyebrow, and wonder to myself “huuuuuuuh,” when I see a guy tackle another guy because they’re playing football outside my workplace. Does it make sense? NO! But it’s normal to them. How did I learn this? Because I read The Hardy Boys when I was ten-years-old. I learned boys roughhouse and play and it’s normal.
I love it when society allows little boys to be little boys where they battle with light sabers or play video games or a herd of them charges down the street on their skateboards. In fact, one thing each of these stories has in common is imagination. These characters, whether it’s Thomas or Jacob or Frank or Joe, have vivid imaginations that are a part of their identity. Calling them born to be wild might take it a step too far, but born to be tough might be closer.
My heart warms when a man opens a door for me. It also warms when I watch the same man teach a cohort how to use a slingshot, or better, teach me to use one. He knows being goofy and imaginative and masculine is his identity. This allows him to acknowledge and appreciate the feminine, not romantically because we’re not, but in the simple manner of equality while acknowledging uniqueness.
I still don’t get guys. I probably never will! But I’ll keep reading literature and watching movies that showcase the masculine zaniness because I want to understand and admire them. I know what it means to be a girl which is why I don’t like reading a lot of literature where I’m inside the female psyche. I live there. Why would I want to add more to it? But guys, ahhhhh, the mystique remains.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carissa Horton works at Compassion International whose tagline reads “Releasing Children from poverty in Jesus’ name.” She is an avid crafter, a prolific blogger on Musings of an Introvert about all things literary and film-based, and dreams of getting her stories published.