Shopping BagsI’ve always been a tomboy, so hanging out with guys is pretty natural for me. And they seem to find a good balance around me that makes me comfortable…you know, they tell dirty jokes and talk about women, but they save the really disrespectful comments for when I’m not around. They fart when I’m around, but they generally have the courtesy to crack the window.

In general, having a girl around makes guys better people, and before you hate on me for that, I’ve heard that from many men (including heterosexual men who were not trying to get laid). Certain guys make it their life’s mission to bring the collective IQ of a group of men down to that of a fork, and good guys get sucked in.

Come to think of it, the same thing happens with a group of women. Some girls are hell-bent on gossiping non-stop about pointless crap, evaporating all the positive energy from a room. And again, the rest of the girls get sucked in. You have to have some serious balls (in the male and female scenarios presented here) to stand up to one of those destructive people once they get on a roll. Its easier to tune them out and nod occasionally.

Well, I like to think that when I’m hanging around a group of guys, I’m not a buzz kill. In my mind, we are living harmoniously, balancing one another out, and having a good time. But there are certain scenarios where this gender balance I’ve been raving about is not that sweet. One in particular? Shopping.

The guys and I went to Santa Fe yesterday afternoon, and we got a late start. As we are making the one hour drive, conversation is good, and everyone is excited to see old town. Inside, I’m a little concerned about the fact that we will only have about two hours to see Santa Fe before we need to grab dinner and drive home. How can I possibly see everything?! The guys don’t seem to care, so I go with the flow, benefiting from the male influence all around me.

When we get to the plaza, I see countless side streets and store fronts and shop windows and vendors. Small winding foot paths curving toward unseen shopping areas call my name softly, “There is a sale over here waiting for you lauren, and over here are some amazing navaho baskets to view…”

Bursting with excitement, I turn to the guys with the expression, “Ok guys! Which way should we go first? I can’t wait!” And what do I see? Relaxed men with that look on their faces of total contentment; they are nonplussed. Mellow. Suddenly I realize that if I’m not careful, I’m going to be dragging them around Santa Fe like their moms do on family vacation. So I check myself and adjust expectations; I won’t be hitting every gallery in a one mile radius. We will see what we can in two hours and enjoy each others company. No problem.

I can’t help but laugh today, thinking about how many stores I walked past, looking longingly through the storefront windows at a bunch of stuff I had no intention of buying but desperately wanted to look at up close. I needed a girl with me then. Badly.

Well, after about an hour, the guys were like, “well, looks like we’ve seen everything. I’m cool to just go back to the car early and get my workout done sooner rather than later.” SEEN EVERYTHING?! I thought, completely baffled. Of course a group of women could be in that same place for four days and not feel that they had seen everything. Oh how I wanted a woman around.

When they “ditched me” to do their workout, I could hardly contain my excitement. I was going to woman-the-hell-out-of old town Santa Fe. In sixty minutes, I picked up and put down hundreds of knick knacks; admired countless baskets, pottery, and vessels; gazed at modern art, and ran my fingers down the spines of rows of books in a Central American book store, my nose twitching from all the odoriferous book dust my fingers left behind.

In the end, all I bought was a parallel reader of short stories in spanish with their english translations. But I felt like I had seen Santa Fe, girl style.