Pitying Fools

When I was in high school my girlfriends and I would ask each other, “Would you go out with a Ferris or a Cameron?” In case you don’t get the reference (and for the sake of my pop culture-loving soul, I hope you would), it refers to the titular character of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off  (1986) and his best friend, Cameron Frye. Ferris was outgoing, daring, cute, and infinitely confident. Cameron was an insecure, inexperienced hypochondriac with daddy issues. All my friends said they’d date a Ferris. I always answered “Cameron.” Back then I’d justify my choice by saying I wanted to help Cameron, teach him to be a man, heal his sorrow in some way (mostly sex which, at the time, I thought had the power to heal most things).

Cut to five years – and four Cameron-like boyfriends — later when I realized that insecure, inexperienced hypochondriacs with daddy issues (okay, only one of them had daddy issues) make for terrible boyfriends. They’re emotionally unstable, sexually immature, and in constant need of the kind of validation I assumed was covered by my willingness to be in a relationship with them. Apparently my attraction to Cameron was his neediness and my desire to be needed, like the relationship one would have with a dog. Except with a dog, your expectations aren’t as high as with a boyfriend.

Which brings me to Saturday. Joe and I caught a ride home from Alamogordo with our friend D, who was in town visiting his dad. Joe rode in the front with D, I rode in the back seat with a couple of very sweet, very drooly boxer dogs. The sun was just starting to set over the desert, the pink and orange sky making the blue of the mountain shadow and the deep lime green of the creosote stand out.  At some point D mentioned that he hasn’t gotten laid in three years, the longest dry spell he’s ever had since the naissance of his sexual activity. I can’t remember what the context of his statement was. I don’t think we were talking about sex or relationships or any related topics. Joe and I made our condolences and the conversation moved on but his statement stuck with me: three years. Jesus! Longest I ever went without sex was the four weeks after my daughter was born and I was under doctor’s orders (the doctor specified six weeks, but I’m not a saint). I understand that getting laid tends to be more difficult for guys, especially hippie guys like D who don’t get out much, but surely something would have come his way in that three years. He has an open, upbeat personality, a great sense of humor, and a steady supply of fabulous homegrown green chile all of which more than make up for his utterly average looks. And yet . . . three years.

And in the midst of this assessment, I start to feel the old Cameron feeling, the need to be needed by a pitiable creature, the surety of a nurse that I have within my power the means to heal this unfortunate soul. Poor guy just needs a good lay and there was a time when I could have, and likely would have, been charitable. But, by Juno, those days are long past and so I sit back in my seat and scratch behind the ears of a big, drooly boxer who looks up at me with pure gratitude.

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