So, fair warning: This maybe just the beginning!
Today I’m going to start a post that’s either of two things: a one-off piece, or the start of a series. (Fingers crossed, I should know by the end of it!)
Why so indecisive you ask? Well, quite frankly, it’s been a thorn in my flesh for some years now, so part of me thinks I should just say it this once and never again. Who wants to harp on a thorn anyway?
Yet there’s also a part of me that feels this is an important topic that deserves more airtime, and I can’t unpack it all in a single post.
Well, let’s see how it goes. If at points I might sound like I’m rambling, please bear with me. I promise I’m going somewhere with this.
So, what is this “this”?
This “this”, is friendship. More specifically the kind men past 50 years young have. Or don’t have, to be more precise.
Since I made the jump to the big 5 exactly two months ago today, I think I’m in a good place now to talk about it. Or rather, berate about it.
(Warning: Yes, here’s where some rambling’s about to happen!)
You see, with guys my age or younger, friendship’s all about sports, games, outdoors and women. I may have missed a few other stuff like music, movies and mayhem, but I think you get the picture.
Basically, it’s about what I call “externalities“, or stuff outside of one’s person.
With the gals though, friendships are built more on the basis of what I’m calling ‘internalities‘ – feelings, emotions, community and…again, you get the picture.
Okay okay I hear you. If this becomes a series, I shall bring in the research so you know it’s not just one grumpy old man’s private musings. For now, just hear me out alright?
So, what’s the problem?
The problem (with this age-old gender divide) is that most guys seem content with this script, sticking with the externalities as a basis for any interaction and connection with other guys (and if the rising divorce statistics hold true, wives and kids too).
Which means that if nothing of the above-mentioned events like games and sports happen, then most men (married or not) are content to just stay home and be couch potatoes. This is the case in many cultures worldwide.
Any wonder why aloneness and the shrinking of social circles is so commonplace as we men age?
For a while, I thought I was okay to get by on all that machismo aforementioned. So, to connect with guy pals, I must ‘go with the flow’. So, yea a movie, why not? Or drinks and a meal? I’m down. (Pre-Covid people, pre-covid)
But even without the pandemic’s onset, I’ve had just about enough of all the “Yo, bro! You called? Wassup man?! Yea sure, let’s meet and let’s do ____” crap. And mind you, half the time it’s really just talk, and no action (as in, they never fix to meet!)
Cos even if we meet, it’s all downhill small talk from there, even when it’s friends that you’ve had for many years. The best part for me is that, even the few I thought were close friends, I’ve come to realise actually weren’t cos, you guessed it, they just want to have small talk. And that’s assuming they have time for you in the first place.
So, small talk is as good as no talk!
What’s that you ask? What do I define as small talk among men my age?
Play (sports and games please, not theatre God forbid!), politics, power-play (the corporate kind), portfolios, paycheques, pot-roast parties (preferably with lots of alcohol), properties, porsches, puffery, physicians, pills, prosperity…
To me, all these are good for like, oh I don’t know, five minutes of idle chit chat? But c’mon, when you hit 50, time’s not really on your side anymore. So why waste it over frivolities?
I want to talk about the real stuff, the hard stuff, the rubber-meets-the-road stuff.
Play (this time I mean theatre), passions, pains, pursuits, philosophies, psychology, privacy, personality…
But no. Not even men of faith I connect with regularly will go deep with me. It’s all about problem-solving, having the last word, less-talk-more-action, mood-lifting, hearty slaps on the back and inane stuff like “Don’t think so far.” “You got this man!” “Stop worrying so much; it’ll all work out.” “Just keep up the good fight, or pray hard and it’ll all go away.”
Oh and my favourite: “It’ll be fine!” (And here my eyes are firmly rolled up!)
So, what’s it gonna be? Your move champ!
Hmmm…come to think of it, I really can’t write what I wanna say about this issue in one post.
So yea, I shall seriously consider turning this into a series. Not simply because I want to vent (okay, maybe a little).
But I seriously think men are losing something valuable by ignoring this issue, and letting friendships skim the surface, when in fact it’s capable of deeper dives with far more wonderful sights and discoveries, like underwater scenes from the Great Barrier Reef (before climate change that is).
And if there’s ever a time to dive deep and explore the very depths and edges of the ocean of unspoken thoughts and feelings, shouldn’t this be the time?
When we have fewer tomorrows than yesterdays?