News, commentary, and fiction by Barb Hendee, co-author of the Noble Dead saga (; author of the Mist-Torn Witches series, the Vampire Memories series, and more.

Women, Men, Friendships, and Sunday Afternoon D&D

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I don’t believe in love at first sight.


I believe two people who enjoy each other’s company can create a strong bond, and if they are kind to each other and find ways to share a life together, then over a period of time, the bond simply grows stronger, and they become a couple.


But as I’ve grown older, I realize this is true of friendships as well. I’ve known women who say, “I much prefer men friends. I don’t normally make friends with other women.”


I’m the opposite. When it comes to hanging out with friends, I prefer the company of women. There are four women in my life with whom I can talk openly. I have two close “writer” friends, Shannon and Elyne. My daughter, Jac, is a grown woman now, and she is a close friend. My brother’s wife, Deb, is also a good friend. These are the four main women in my life. These are the four people (except for J.C) with whom I would most like to go out to lunch . . . or have a nice glass of wine with and just talk.


But Shannon now lives on Ocas Island. Elyne is now in Colorado. Jac is Houston, and Deb lives up in Washington State. About five years ago, I became poignantly aware that I had no geographically close girlfriends anymore. We email. We text. We call. But it’s not the same as having someone geographically close who I can just call up and say, “Hey, let’s go out for lunch or go for a walk.”


So somehow, through one of my guy friends, I started going to lunch every Thursday with a small group of left-brain software engineer types (all men) who play World of War Craft and thoroughly enjoy spending time mansplaining to each other on well . . . just about anything. Hah! Somehow (and I’m still not sure how), after a while, I started to fit in.


Regarding friendships, this was hardly love at first sight. Honestly, it was barely “like” at first sight. And these are hardly people I would have initially chosen as friends (or them me). For one, they are men, and two . . . they are software engineers who play World of War Craft. But I started inviting some of the guys over here for dinner and movies—so J.C. could take part. I started going to the dog park with one of them—and his black Labrador retriever. Recently, I went with two of them to see the Van Gogh Immersion Experience and then out to the Red Robin for hamburgers. We had fun.


This past week, there was a scary emergency with my mom, and at our lunch yesterday, I found myself telling the guys about it, and they listened. They were kind. They are not really into empathy, but I could tell they cared. They listened.


Recently, they started a D&D game (they are in their late 40s to late 50s) on Sunday afternoons from noon to 7:00 p.m. At lunch, Ken looked at me and asked, “Barb, do you want to join the D&D game? We need a fifth player in case someone can’t make it.”


I stared at him. D&D? I certainly can’t leave J.C. at home for seven hours every Sunday, so I politely declined, but I thought it was sweet that he asked. It made me realize I am one of them.


Last night, a few of the guys emailed me the backgrounds they’d written for their characters to see if I could help deepen their backstories.


As I was going over one of the character's backgrounds (a celestial warlock named Brundoff Cassalanter) I realized that I may not have girlfriends who are geographically close, and the people with whom I now have lunch and go to the museum and watch movies with are a group of geeky, male engineers, but they are my friends.


And I am grateful for them.

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