The other night I had dinner with of my good friends, who also happen to be “real-men.” By this I mean that besides being tall and physically fit, they happen to drive around in pickup trucks, drink good beer, wear baseball hats, and love sports. Most of them own chainsaws and guns, or at least know how to use them, and they generally don’t dance.

Stereotypes aside, they are all intelligent, articulate, and well educated, but have simply chosen to make a living working with their hands, which they do well, while leaving most of the child-rearing to their wives.

As you might have guessed, being a stay-at-home dad doesn’talways afford me a lot of opportunities to bond with them. In fact, not only do I spend more of my time around mothers, but I’d never even owned a power tool until last year.

Having children, however, has an amazing way of opening doors that may not have existed when you were single, and at the very least, gives people a commonality from which to bond. Such is the case with my “real-men” friends, all of whom have children around the same ages as ours.

This makes getting together not only easier, but almost necessary. After all, every parent, for both altruistic and selfish reasons, welcomes the chance for their children to play with their friends. When mom and dad get to socialize as well, perhaps indulging in a little wine and cheese, everyone comes out a winner, right?

Well, sort of.

Now I readily admit that I created this situation, and I’ve got nobody else to blame but myself, but for whatever reason I decided to make a zucchini quiche for the occasion. Not the best choice, I know, but at the time we were inundated with summer squash from our garden, and the quiche is a great recipe. Besides, I’m the cook in our household, and being the slave that I am for approbation, I was shamelessly hoping to get a nod or two of approval, at least from the moms.

I should be more careful of what I hope for.

The evening progressed in the usual manner. Like most social gatherings I go to, a curious but predictable dynamic seems to ensue. While we are all good friends, it seems inevitable for the guys to gather together on one side of the table and the women on the other, each in their own respective camps.

And of course, I just happened to be sitting right smack in the middle, moms to my left, “real men” to my right, symbolically caught between two worlds.

Now I’d just like to point out that that while I’m a city boy at heart, I’ve turned over a new leaf since we moved to Vermont. This entails forsaking my urban ways (i.e., paying people to do everything) and adopting a self-sufficient approach to our lives. While I’m not yet ready to replace a kitchen or redo a bathroom (not yet!), basic home improvement like painting walls and fixing leaks are well within my grasp. I can also pull off simple woodworking projects like building a shelf or a wood box, and this past summer I even split five cords of firewood. By hand!

So, as you can plainly see, I was well on my way to being a “real man,” if I wasn’t already there.

And then, of course, my quiche came back to haunt me.

In retrospect, I should have seen it coming. The moms, after all, were only trying to be considerate and include me in their conversation, but when they asked me about the crust of my quiche, everything began to crumble - no pun intended. Did I make it myself? Did I use whole wheat flour? (Just for the record, the answer is yes to both).

I sat there in silence, hoping the questions would just go away. I should have been talking about “real man” topics like football or power tools, but instead, here I was, being asked about quiche. I stole a quick glance at the guys, who were staring at me as if I were from another planet while the women waited patiently for an answer.

My mind raced for a way to quell the situation, wondering why, of all things, I’d chosen that dish. I took an extra large swig of my beer and wanted to remind them that I’d split five cords of wood last summer.

By hand!

But that didn’t matter, and in the end, I simply answered their questions. What else could I do? After humoring their obligatory requests for the recipe (I’ll email it to you) I turned back to face the guys.

By that point, however, they had already moved on and resumed their conversation about the Red Sox. Or was it asphalt shingles? I can’t recall.

I took a bite of the quiche and quietly chewed it, savoring the rich, buttery crust, which in case you didn’t know, I’d made myself with whole wheat flour. And as I eased back into the conversation, putting in my two cents worth, it occurred to me that life isn’t easy when you’re a “real man.”

At least, that’s what I’ve been told.