Sure, I was upset by what she did -- but then, I was just as upset with the guy. He was, after all, my best friend.
I didn't know it at the time -- it being fourth grade and all -- but I see now that it was my first experience of "the bro code."
As far back as the Stone Age, or at least since the Rat Pack, men have abided by a set of rules. These include the general "bros before hos" but can be broken down further into "Thou shalt not cock-block your buddy" and "Thou shalt not bring up the time he totaled your car while he's trying to impress a girl."
"Most of the rules have to do with alcohol, gambling and women," says Frank S., a music industry consultant.
"The obvious ones I can think of are don't date/hump your friends' ex-girlfriends, your friends' sisters, your friends' moms," says writer Michael K. "I have held true to all those codes, and my friends have honored those codes as well."
The very idea of a "bro code" leads Kate Reid to what she calls unwelcome mental images of Brody Jenner. Son of Olympic champ Bruce, Jenner is a former featured player on the MTV "reality" show The Hills and currently stars in his own series Bromance.
"I think 'bromance' has always been around -- surprise! guys are friends with each other!," responds the 24-year-old Vancouver writer. "But someone decided this was the year they'd market the shit out of it and Jenner is riding the wave."
Besides the Jenner show, the writers of How I Met Your Mother have written a book, The Bro Code, presumably "written" by the Neil Patrick Harris character who popularized the concept in the CBS sitcom.
And of course, the HBO series Entourage is all about bros behaving badly.
"It's straight guys looking for vocabulary to talk about their strong friendships with other dudes," says Reid. "The guys aren't homophobic, for the most part, but they know their tight friendship could be construed as [gay] so they're making light of it."
Michael K. thinks the bro code has arisen to avoid sticky situations. "My brother married my sister's best friend, which although not a bro code offence, is treading on potentially awkward ground, which I think is the underlying reason for a bro code -- the avoidance of awkwardness."
The code is largely informal. You don't learn the rules in Kindergarten or from your dog. Having an actual brother, preferably older, helps. But most guys are left to muddle along, figuring out the code through trial and error.
Men not being the greatest communicators on the planet, sometimes a dude doesn't even know he's broken a bro code rule until it's already been broken. Not that it necessarily would stop him, especially if the girl in question is really cute.
Simon, a single bartender at a hip Vancouver restaurant, recalls instances of breaking the bro code in his early manhood. "There've been times I've been sneaking out the back door when my friend arrives home, yeah," he says. Now, he says he knows better. But would he date a friend's ex?