Parenting Blog

Experiencing The Bond of Real Male Friendship For The Very First Time

There was never a gaggle of friends, male or (and most certainly not) female, hanging around me as a boy or as a young adult. I grew up alone from a peer standpoint, which wasn’t all bad. I credit the arrangement for keeping me out of a lot of the trouble young men stereotypically find themselves in, but it was lonely nonetheless. I didn’t know what real male friendship was for the first 36 years of my life.

Assuming you’ve been reading OWTK for a bit or have ever met me in person, this chapter of my backstory likely doesn’t come as much of a surprise. I’ve never been uncomfortable having close male friends to share personal struggles and triumphs with, I’ve just never exactly had the opportunity to experience what that kind of friendship feels like, not until a few years ago when I met my Chris Bernholdt, writer of the fine dad blog DadnCharge. Some things Chris and I had common (being tall, raising girls) and some things we didn’t (Blackhawks vs. Red Wings, religion) but we became pretty fast friends and have gone on to share with each other some pretty serious stuff that maybe neither of us would feel comfortable discussing with anyone inside or out of a confessional. We’ve danced to kindie rock together, laughed at bad dad jokes side by side, and cried and held each other up at a friend’s funeral.

Ah, so this is what the bond of real male friendship is like.

Photo by Carter Gaddis

Photo by Carter Gaddis

For the first time in my life there’s exists a guy who is close enough in proximity to me and who I know wouldn’t hesitate to rescue me and/or my family from any scary middle of the night situation if called upon (this has been my longtime benchmark for true friendship) and I think Chris knows I’d do the same for him and his clan, in a heartbeat. Someday, I may even convince him to cuff his jeans.

And yet I think there still seems to be a pretty obvious societal hesitancy to accept and pop culture’s reluctance to show that men can be close in this way, in a way that goes beyond simply sharing a bucket of wings and a 6-pack of crappy ice cold beer while the games are on at the sports bar, in a way that has evolved way past swapping demeaning commentary on the rack or the ass of a waitress every time she passes our table at that sports bar.

Chris and I also like to take pictures of each other taking pictures of each other, apparently. 🙂

I’m writing this post today not because I’m being paid to, but because I feel compelled to. This is a story worth telling, one I would like other guys to stand up and talk about because it is important for our sons and daughters alike to know that men can love each other and share with each other the great and the difficult times we face, and maybe even face them together.

I want to stand and applaud the road Dove Men+Care is now traveling with their new ad featuring Coach Jim Calhoun and his friend, former player, protege and current UConn Men’s Basketball head coach Kevin Ollie. Much in the same way Dove Men+Care has taken the reigns of the movement to show dads in a positive, well-rounded light over the past several years, they have now swung that lamp around to illuminate the power and beauty possible when two men bond over the things that really matter in life and become true friends capable of saying “I love you.” As Ollie says at the top of this video, “a real hero is not the guy who hits the game winning shot, it’s the guy who has your back when you don’t.” That’s powerful and so very true.

Calhoun and Ollie RealStrength friendship

Take a look at this video and think about the friends you have or have had. Maybe give one of them a ring or shoot them a text this week, ask if they want to grab some wings and beers during the NCAA Tournament, to watch the games and catch up on family life, aspirations, shortcomings and more…as a pair of good friends would do.

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