Men, how many of you have male friends?
I mean close friends — not just co-workers, a brother-in-law or virtual friends on Facebook. And I don’t mean your “bros” with whom you might watch a game once in a while.
I mean flesh-and-blood friends whose numbers you have programmed on your phone and who you could call and rely on to help you out of a jam at 2:30 in the morning?
I bet that most of you can count on one hand – or less — the number of friends who truly qualify.
A recent story in The Telegraph from the UK reported that 11 percent of single men said they had no friends to turn to in a “serious situation” and that figure rose to 15 percent among married men.
Those numbers came from research conducted by the Movember Foundation, which is raising awareness of mental health issues among men.
It’s a stunning statistic but one that I can readily attest to.
I had about a 14-year stretch where my friends from my childhood — truly my only friends — were out of my life.
It was, to borrow a cliché, “just one of those things.”
I had gotten married and moved 300 miles away, and then when I moved closer to my friends, so much time had passed that it felt difficult to pick up their trail. Plus, I was busy raising a family, advancing my career, etc.
You get the picture.
I would pick up morsels of news from my mother, who was still living in my old neighborhood and remained plugged in about whose parents had died, who was working where, etc.
I pined to reconnect but somehow just could not get out of my own way to make it happen.
Then a crazy thing happened: Unbeknownst to me, my then-fiancée connected with Pedro and John by email and arranged for them to make a surprise visit at home.
The night of their arrival, she was acting all kinds of peculiar. I wanted to go to bed early and, she was like: “Don’t you dare! Stay up!”
Meanwhile, she would leave the room and have these furtive phone conversations with the guys, who in keeping with a time-honored tradition, were lost and late.
If memory serves, I think they were supposed to arrive at around 8:30 p.m. and instead showed up at 10:30 p.m.
It could have been 2:30 in the morning and I would have been just as thrilled.
In the years since, my circle of friends and I have made it a point to be in contact and to get together regularly. One of the side benefits of the About Men Radio podcast and website is that it bonds us and allows us to share our feelings for one another in a way that is funny and genuine.
A photo that Carla took of me the night of their surprise visit captured the absolute shock and joy I felt at seeing them as they came up the stairs.
Doing my best to be an impromptu host, I got out the grill and whipped up barbecue hamburgers and hot dogs, all the while Pedro busted my stones: “What? We come to your house at 10:30 at night and there’s no lobster and filet mignon?”
It was as if nothing had changed and I knew then that a great hole in my life had been filled.
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