Thursday, April 28, 2011

Missin' the Fellas.....

I miss my male friends.

Growing up in the 1970s, I wasn’t the best at making and keeping friends. I wasn’t blessed with athletic prowess and didn’t gravitate to sports like other boys so the male friendship thing didn’t come naturally to me. I had to work at it. For a while it seemed like I was destined to be a loner – the “keeps to himself and is happy being alone” kind, not the “lives in his mother’s basement and one day climbs a tower with a high-powered rifle” kind.

It’s true that things change when you grow up. Once I realized that each friendship is different and different guys define things in different ways – one friend taught me that if a playoff game is on TV, I’d better not call even if I’m stranded and it’s dark and stormy outside and a tornado has been spotted less than 30 miles north of me heading south – my loner days were behind me. I even became versatile, crying and making quiche with one pal and spitting and baiting my own hook in silence with another.

With some of my guy friends, there were no rules and few boundaries. We talked about sex and joked inappropriately and burped and argued and didn’t always chew with our mouths closed.

I had to be more careful with other friendships. One in particular took a long time to develop; my buddy was very sensitive and guarded and I really had to earn his confidence and companionship. He was prone to depression and would isolate himself physically and emotionally, but he was brilliant and unique and I respected the sh*t out of him so it was worth putting up with his quirks. For a few months, we were both dating women in our nation’s capital so we rented a car a few times and made the 10-hour Lansing-to-DC drive together and talked and joked and laughed and shared and bonded. It was a sad day when I helped him move into a ground-floor apartment in another state.

I’ve played darts in a league and ogled women and recruited groomsmen and discovered that I lack the intellectual capacity to play poker. A guy named Thom taught me how to throw a perfect spiral every time. I went on an itinerary-free road trip to Madison, Wisconsin, with a buddy named Brad. A colleague named James taught me how to kayak. My friend David and I watched the worst team in the NFL, the Detroit Lions, lose at the Pontiac Silverdome.

I watched the Michigan State University Spartans play in the NCAA hockey championships in St. Paul, Minnesota, with two pals from work; I consumed more alcohol than was wise and I have a fuzzy memory of us leaving a strip club without cab fare or any idea where our hotel was. I would ask my fellow travelers to remind me how things ended up but I’ve lost track of them.

Sometimes I’d forget and start to cry in front of the guy who wasn’t a crier or suggest to the bookish dude that we shoot some hoops, but those glitches were minor.

Now, as a stay-at-home writer, I’m mostly around just one male, a nine-year-old boy who is more masculine than I was at nine and more athletic than I am now. I don’t expect him to try to teach me poker and I’m pretty sure trips to the strip club aren’t in our future. He already knows how to throw a perfect spiral every time.

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