Middle-aged man seeks bromance

I don’t mean for the title to sound like a personal ad, but it’s the truth. Plus I can’t resist a catchy title. At 50 I’m certainly middle-aged, and faddish as the word may be, I went with bromance because it’s the kind of friendship I’m looking for. I certainly don’t expect this blog post to catch me a bro; I just feel the need to write it, and I imagine a lot of other men out there can relate.

My situation is that I am a 50-year-old man married to a man, yet I don’t have a friend. I have a friend within my husband, but without my husband I have none. The only friends I have are the coupled ones my husband and I see together; I don’t have a friend of my own. I am not writing this as a cry of self-pity; I am saying it to speak the truth. I am taking stock of what I have and what I haven’t. I must recognize that I am married to one person who could conceivably die at any moment and leave me without any kind of mate at all, either romantic or bromantic. Anyone could die at any moment, of course, but my husband has health problems that are constant reminders of his mortality, and my recent achievement of a half-century alive is a reminder of my own mortality. I mean, I’m a survivor so far, that’s for sure, but how much longer will I survive? No one knows, but I sure don’t want my remaining years to be lonely.

My husband is not lonely. He has not only me but also a best friend. He talks to this friend from his hometown on the phone everyday, several times a day, for maybe an hour a day, maybe more. This does not bother me at all; it just worries me that I don’t have the same kind of relationship in my life. All his phone calls with his friend remind me that I don’t have one. But I want more than phone calls. I want a guy to “bro out” with.

How does a man whose spouse is a man justify wanting to spend time with another man? A straight man can say he needs time away from his opposite-sex spouse to spend time with his same-sex friend so he can be with his own gender; a gay man cannot say that. A straight man could justifiably say that he wants a friend as well as a spouse, but how would it be if a husband told his wife “I need a friend as well as a spouse, so I’m going to be spending a lot of quality time with my new friend, Julianna”? I have a feeling that wife would be jealous, wouldn’t you? It is one thing to spend an hour on the phone with a friend who is a member of your preferred sex; it’s another to leave home to spend hours at a time with that friend. I would not be jealous if my husband’s best friend lived here and he went out with him, because I know their friendship very well by now, but I would probably be envious and lonely since I can’t currently do the same. I am not saying my husband will be jealous when I start spending hours of quality time with my new buddy (I say when because I am hopeful), but I’m not saying he won’t be, either. And how will I feel? Unfaithful? I’m afraid so. It is certainly a guilt I will have to get over if I ever want a buddy.

One solution to “the sex problem” could be having a best friend who is a woman, but I don’t want that. I am homosocial as well as homosexual; I’m a man’s man. I like to be with my own sex. I want to have a male friend. I don’t want a “girlfriend,” and I don’t want to be a woman’s gay best friend. A gal pal is not what I’m looking for; it’s just not. “Never say never” and all that, but I think I want a buddy, a mate, a bro.

I have read many articles about the importance of friendship and the health hazards of loneliness. I am not going to quote research here. You can read that by following the links below if you want. What I have done is spend hours reading about having a best friend because, until I have one, I don’t know what to do with myself but get myself ready. I guess reading everything you can about something you don’t have yet is a lonely nerd’s way of prepping for the “test” that is the real thing. One’s never fully prepared for the challenges of reality, but at least I’ll be as ready as I’ll ever be.

Where will I find a best friend and what will I do with him? These are two of the biggest questions. As a matter of fact, the question of what we will do together once we find each other is even more puzzling to me than how we will find each other. What is it I want to do with a friend that I don’t or can’t do with my husband? Then again, do I have to justify the things I do with my friend by telling my husband they are things he won’t do with me? No! Now that I write it and say it out loud, I see how wrong it is. That’s one good thing about writing!

I think I will end here for now. There is plenty to write about this subject, and I don’t have to do it all at once. I just wanted to get some of these thoughts out of my mind and into written words. I hope maybe this helps other men who have these doubts know that they’re not alone. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment. Thanks!

Related readings:

This year’s resolution: Don’t waste time

This year I resolve not to waste time: not to waste time doing things I don’t have to do, not to waste time wondering what people think about me, not to waste time feeling guilty about my errors, not to waste time making excuses not to do what I want to do. This from a man who agonizes over every little decision, from a man who spent an hour just yesterday agonizing over which liquid should go into which of the six travel bottles he bought (two sets of shampoo and conditioner, a conditioning shampoo, and a body wash in two pink, two blue, and two clear bottles), who spent a half-hour in the men’s section of Target yesterday agonizing over how to spend $35 worth of gift cards. Should I get these compression pants? Should I get these shorts to wear over these compression pants? Is it wrong for a man to wear compression pants without shorts on top? (A Google search taught me the term MAMILtoe.) If I get these shorts, what color shorts should I get to go over these compression pants of medium blue and black? Black? Medium blue? Or this contrasting maroon? This from a man who spent weeks over the summer hand-coding an XML database containing a listing of 115 interpreters to get the formatting out of tables within tables within tables and into a more moble-friendly format. Or does this look better? Or did that look better? Should all their degrees be abbreviated with or without periods? Or… Or… Or… until he spent his whole winter vacation not using a computer (nor using social media, thank-you-very-much) yet hurting in his shoulder from all the editing and re-editing over the summer. This from a man who just this morning spent 15 of his first minutes of the new year Googling whether it were true that Vera Ellen’s costumes in White Christmas all had high necklines to cover up a neck ravaged by anorexia (apparently not). This from a man who will spend too long writing this post and still publish it with errors, or at the very least feel a fool for publishing what was far less than his best work.

I will fail at my resolution. I will fail again and again. But I am more resolved than ever to try. God help me make progress! Or if there be no God, may my highest self pull my agonizing self, slave to its own tyranny, out of its misery. I have so much to give. I have so much time, really– time that I waste doing things I don’t have to do. I have a feeling I have a higher purpose than to waste minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years of my life on things of no importance. I have things to do this year that will require that I make the best of my time, and I will do it. I have the will to do it. I will myself to do it.

Granted, the judgment of whether time is spent or wasted is a matter of perspective, and all is relative. Certainly there are worse things I could do with my time than decide how to use travel bottles or edit a database or choose an outfit. How long “should” it take to make a decision? How long “should” one take to get something right? How long is too long to lie in the grass watching the clouds drift by? I don’t know the answer, but I do know it shouldn’t take me as long as it does to do things other than relax. I need help. From without and within, I need help managing my time. It isn’t that I don’t get done what I need to get done; it’s that I do too many things I don’t have to do. It isn’t that I don’t meet deadlines; it’s that life has a deadline, and I deserve to enjoy what time I have left either creating or recreating, not demolishing myself with indecision.

Another of my resolutions is to have a buddy, a mate, a best friend– a “bromance,” if you will (I’m using “How to Start a Bromance” as a guide). Having a friendship in addition to a marriage will take time; that’s where the time for recreation comes in. It is already a challenge to limit the time I spend on work so I have enough time for family. It is going to be an additional challenge to limit the time I spend on work — and mindless minutiae — so I have time for friendship. I was taught when I was young that in order to have something you want you have to create a space for it. When I met my husband, I had done the internal work I needed to do to be ready. I had created space in my head, my heart, and my schedule for him before I met him, and when I met him, I was ready. Now I’m 50 — and oh, I am in the throes of a midlife crisis! — and I don’t even have a friend. Yes, I have colleagues, Friends, as Facebook calls them, and couples my husband and I occasionally have dinner with, but I do not have a friend. I do not have a person, as Merideth Grey would say. I do not have a mate, as the British would say. I need a friend, not just a husband. The idea that one’s spouse is one’s best friend is no longer real to me. I believe I need at least two significant others– a spouse and a friend. And for these and other priorities I am resolved to spend my time wisely.

ASL “I Love You” sign is now an emoji!

I was thrilled to learn yesterday that the ILY (I Love You) handshape from American Sign Language (ASL) now has its official glyph in Unicode 10.0 Emoji 5.0 character set! This glyph may or may not appear to you now, but soon it will.

Here is the “I love you” gesture emoji:

🤟

And here is a picture of the “I love you” gesture:

“I Love You” gesture emoji
I’m happy to say I helped bring this about because two years ago I petitioned Unicode to adopt it, and wrote a blog post urging others to petition Unicode to adopt the ILY emoji as well.

Quote

“Nos ganamos la vida por lo que conseguimos, pero hacemos la vida por lo que damos.”

Mi traducción de la cita malatribuida a Winston Churchill:

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

*Yo encontré otras traducciones similares pero sólo después de hacer mi propio trabajo con un nativo hispanohablante.

How I met my husband fourteen years ago at the Claire de Lune Coffee Lounge

It was a Saturday morning fourteen years ago when I met the man I would marry. I was at the Claire de Lune Coffee Lounge in North Park, San Diego, where I had a scheduled meeting with a man I was working with on a volunteer basis. I saw my future husband walk in wearing sweat pants, a tee shirt, and a baseball cap. (He later told me he was running late and didn’t have time to dress right and do his hair because he also had a meeting with other people in a volunteer organization and had overslept.) I practically bumped into him as we both got in the line to get our coffee and pastry. He said, “HELL-oh!” as if he were gladly surprised to run into me. We did a bit of a dance as to whom should go first. I don’t remember who went first, but the next thing I remember I was stirring my coffee at the condiments bar and he walked up to do the same and said “Good MORNing!” as if he were happy to meet me. We were both in such a rush to get to our respective meetings we didn’t dare exchange names or any further pleasantries; we just left it at that buzzing undercurrent. I swear to God, as I watched him walk to his table, I thought “he would be good for me,” like the lyrics in the song from Evita:

I don’t always rush in like this / 20 seconds after saying hello / Telling strangers I’m too good to miss / If I’m wrong I hope you’ll tell me so / But I think you should know / I’d be good for you / I’d be surprisingly good for you.

I looked over at the table where he sat, and recognized one of the men he was sitting with; in fact, I had that man’s number in my phone. After my meeting, I texted the man and asked him to give my number to the cute guy with the reddish brown hair. I never heard from my mystery man, but I went to a Memorial Day pool party two days later and there he was! I went up to him — or he came up to me — I forget which. I found out his name was Andy, and learned more about what he did for a living and as a volunteer. I got out my sunscreen and he asked me if I would like him to do my back. I said, “You don’t have to… I mean… if you want to… I mean… yes, thank you.” I was so flustered, I was bumbling for the right thing to say. Looking back now, I’m glad I got over my nerves and took him up on his offer. We got to know each other at the party, and after a few hours, when he said he needed to go home and walk his dogs, he asked me what time it was, and I said “time to take me home with you.”

(I never thought about it until just now, but I get annoyed now when he asks me the time, because he does it all the time. Nowadays the answer is sometimes “time for you to get a watch,” but if he hadn’t asked me the time that first day, I wouldn’t have had that clever response, and who knows how I would have made my move? Hm… makes you think… the little things that bug us about our loved ones are what makes them them, and we would miss them if we lost them and their annoying little quirks.)

Well, I’ll just say the rest is history because I don’t want to get too intimate here. And speaking of history, here are a few fun facts about the coffee house where we met, the song that inspired the woman who opened it, and the poem that inspired the song. I Googled it this morning and found out that the correct spelling of the bittersweet song by Debussy is Clair de Lune, which means moonlight, and the song was based on the poem “Clair de Lune” written by another Frenchman, the poet Paul Verlaine (who, coincidentally, had a scandalous love affair with the then seventeen-year-old French poet, Arthur Rimbaud). The reason the coffee house had an e at the end of Clair was that the owner’s name was Claire. I also learned that, sadly, Claire closed her coffee house in February of last year.

Here is the original french text and an English translation of the poem “Clair de Lune”:

Clair de lune

Votre âme est un paysage choisi
Que vont charmant masques et bergamasques
Jouant du luth et dansant et quasi
Tristes sous leurs déguisements fantasques.

Tout en chantant sur le mode mineur
L’amour vainqueur et la vie opportune,
Ils n’ont pas l’air de croire à leur bonheur
Et leur chanson se mêle au clair de lune,

Au calme clair de lune triste et beau,
Qui fait rêver les oiseaux dans les arbres
Et sangloter d’extase les jets d’eau,
Les grands jets d’eau sveltes parmi les marbres.

From Fêtes galantes (1869)

Moonlight

Your soul is like a landscape fantasy,
Where masks and Bergamasks, in charming wise,
Strum lutes and dance, just a bit sad to be
Hidden beneath their fanciful disguise.

Singing in minor mode of life’s largesse
And all-victorious love, they yet seem quite
Reluctant to believe their happiness,
And their song mingles with the pale moonlight,

The calm, pale moonlight, whose sad beauty, beaming,
Sets the birds softly dreaming in the trees,
And makes the marbled fountains, gushing, streaming–
Slender jet-fountains–sob their ecstasies.

And here is the song played in a video “with an animated graphical score”:

There is a bittersweetness to all of this, but as the French say, c’est la vie! At some point, if one of us loses the other, that will be bittersweet too, but the bitterness of the future doesn’t diminish the sweetness of the present. For today, and for the fourteen years we have loved each other, I am blessed.