Monday I went to the Cubs game with my boy Roberto.
I’ve known Roberto for about nine years. I met him when I started salsa dancing. My first memory of him is when he was hitting on a girl who I ended up dating for a short time. He’s 50 years old, from Columbia (he grew up in Chicago), and I think that neither of us are exactly sure what the other one does for a living, but we have things in common and we connect. I consider him one of my best friends in Chicago, probably my best guy friend in Chicago at this point in my life. We go to movies together, we text each other to decide where to go out dancing, we talk about baseball, women and other BS. People sometimes snicker about us going on “man dates,” which is ridiculous. Why should it be strange for two men to be friends? Perhaps they are just jealous.
I have other people I consider friends—people at work, my crew from the salsa dancing scene and a few folks I know from various other places. But in Chicago I’d say that I have three “good friends,” Roberto and two other women, with whom I’ll talk on the phone and do stuff with one on one.
I had some good friends growing up, as well as in college, but many of them live in faraway places like New York and Indonesia. Many of my old friends have wives and kids and have become so absorbed in that life that they have no time for friends, or at least they don’t have time for me.
I don’t know if it has to do with the social climate of 2016 or if it is just the way it has always been, but for a lot of people, especially men, it seems like finding a good friend is quite difficult. Getting involved in a social hobby could help someone meet a friend, but if a person doesn’t join a group, where can he meet new people? Bars? NPR did a story about a guy who moved to Austin, Texas, who actually memorized baseball statistics and studied up on beer brewing just so he could make small talk at bars to hopefully meet a friend.
We live in a world in which many of us have hundreds or thousands of “friends” online with whom we share photos of life events, giving strangers a window into intimate moments of our lives. But with how many of these “friends” do we actually talk to about intimate things, go fishing, or go out for a beer?
I burn (perhaps waste) a lot of my time on online dating sites like Tinder, JSwipe (the Jewish Tinder) and OkCupid. What’s funny is that a lot of the women on those sites claim to be “looking for friends.” I’m not sure if all of those women mean the same thing when they write that on their profiles, but when I ask them about it many say to me that it’s hard to meet new good friends so why not try on Tinder. It’s sad but true, I guess. But I still have to roll my eyes when they say this because these same “friend seeking” women have online profiles that feature photos of themselves in bikinis making seductive faces. Also, these women ought to know that 99% of guys on online dating sites are not there to make friends—they are there to either “get some” or find a girlfriend (or boyfriend). I haven’t read an official statistic of this, but I’m quite confident with that statement.
But I digress. I feel bad for people who don’t have any friends. Even if a person has a romantic soulmate to provide lifelong companionship, sometimes a person needs someone with whom he or she is not “involved with” to share interests, whether it be a love of slasher films, crocheting or curling. Friends can also be great to listen to our personal fears and relationship nonsense, although it may not even be necessary to verbalize those intimate feelings—I know that’s not everybody’s thing. Just the feel of someone by your side while you’re bowling, golfing or merely chilling out on your front steps doing nothing I believe is a natural human need.
Question: Where did you make your friends?