So there's this new guy at work..

Here's the thing -- I'm kind of bad at making guy friends. I've got a few buddies here at the office, but in general they're "work friends." We suffer my manager's stupidity together, and that makes us compatriots of a sort, but it's not like I'm asking those guys to help me move or anything. Pretty much when the workday is over the conversation stops, because we're not really friends as much as we are allies of a sort from 9-5.

Shared struggles aren't really the same thing as shared interests.

I had great friends in school. Growing up I had my boys, and we did literally everything together. The guys I played in bands with were the dudes I surfed with. Those same guys were my college roommates. I still touch base with most of them on a regular basis despite the fact that we live thousands of miles apart.  And while the phone calls and email threads are still fun, the truth of the matter is that I don't really have anything here n my day-to-day life that I can look at in the same light -- and it's hard sometimes not to feel the weight of that void.

For a long time I ran with the bartenders at Endo. John-O, Matty, Rickdiculous, and Ralph -- sounds like a second-rate boy band when I type it out now -- but for a long time that was my group, even though when you got right down to it I barely knew them. We partied at the club, and there were a lot of Sunday Fundays -- but once the bar closed up those guys mostly faded into the ether. I met some great people through them, and I still shake a hand now and again when I see some of the regulars out and about -- but the simple fact is that all we ever really had in common was what we did for fun.
Same work friends, different job.
Do women do that -- have situational friends? My observation has always been that women can make connections with people through circumstance (working together, going to the same gym, whatever) but that when they do, they tend to make the effort to make them into deeper relationships by inviting them to hang out in other situations to strengthen the bond. Women I know will go on girls nights with ladies they see at the grocery store 3 times in a row.

And while I suppose I could borrow that model, the only people I could use it on right now are the few drunks and scoundrels that I see regularly when I'm out on the weekends getting drunk and being a scoundrel myself. And no disrespect, but I'm not sure if that's any kind of real basis to see if any of those guys wants to grab lunch "just because."

Then again, maybe that's the whole issue. Maybe I see too much into the situations where I meet people. Hell maybe I over-judge the guys I kinda know just because I've seen them puke in public. Maybe when they're in the daylight hours they're actually normal people worth knowing. But for whatever reason I never seem to make that leap.

And while it would seem like dudes finding other dudes who like the same kind of dude-stuff would be a simple proposition, it's something I've always found really tricky -- especially post-divorce.

A big part of that is on me.

My schedule is constantly wacky with the time I spend with my son, and I'm at a point in my life where hitting a bar every single night isn't exactly practical anymore. I still like to get out and prowl, and it would be great to have people to roll with when I do -- but I've been riding solo for so long when it comes to that stuff that I often wonder if I really want to have to coordinate schedules or whatever anymore.

But honestly, the real deal is that I'm often surprised by how shy I can be. How insular I tend to behave when I'm in day-to-day situations. When I'm at work I'm almost always wearing headphones. I rarely take lunch breaks  I've been told people know me, but I rarely get out and shoot the breeze with people here. Because let's be honest -- small talk is awful.

Which is a weird thing to say because I'll talk shit about nearly anything online.

That's the other thing that's kind of weird -- because I've got tons of guy friends online. OHN and the social networks connect me with the kind of people I enjoy cracking jokes with, and I feel like if I lived in Chicago or San Diego or Portland or Houston or Denver or Brooklyn we wouldn't be having this conversation at all -- but I'm staying here in Jacksonville for a very important reason, and I haven't been able (or willing) to try to find people who match that same sort of energy that I seem to fit in with so easily when I'm on twitter or whatever.

I don't know if you know this or not, but adults my age kind of suck.

Especially dudes. I know some people make a lifestyle out of gabbing about whatever their college sports teams do every night or blaming Obama and Beyonce's lip-synching for the state of our economy, but I hear about 5 minutes of that shit and I want to jump off a bridge. Seriously dudes, your stories about golf or mowing your lawn are goddamn torture to listen to.

Plus, most guys my age are married. And even in the best of situations, being the 40-year old single friend of a married guy means you're always some level of third wheel. Always at the risk of being set-up with the wives friend, or at least looked at just a little sad because you couldn't find something that apparently everybody else already found.

Over the holiday break I got to meet all these cool people, friends of friends and everybody seemed copacetic and funny and interesting, but those possibilities seemed to disappear the moment the mutual friend I was hanging out with went back across the country. And I know when you get right down to it the responsibility was on me to try to wedge myself into their lives based on that introduction, but for whatever reason it's just a horribly awkward thing for me.

"Hey I was at your house drinking your booze and talking about how cool your kitchen is, can we be pals?"
..Yeah, that ain't happening.
What I really need to do is just get out there. Gussy up and snare myself a man. Join some thing or signup for the local douchebag kickball league or whatever. But everytime I see those people out and about they just seem awful.

Besides, it's not like I'm the easiest dude to roll with either. I like death metal and cartoons. I'm waaay too internet for most guys my age ("I don't have a facebook. What is twitter anyways.. like how does it even work?") And yet these are the same people are the ones demanding that I watch Duck Dynasty or whatever the fuck that is like it's a pre-requisite to getting into the cool kids club. Basically I'm immature for knowing what a hashtag is but you have a shelf for all your fantasy football trophies? Kiss my ass, Tucker Max.

..So there's this new guy at work.
He's younger. We've worked on a project or two together in passing. Smart guy. Seems like he relies on headphones to survive the day too, but every now and then we'll say hello in the halls. Conversations try to start -- but there are meetings to get to and whatever.

But recently he caught up with me at the coffee machine and was like, "So what are you listening to?"

And suddenly there's like this common thread. For as popular a band as they are supposed to be with guitar nerds everywhere, finding another actual human being who had heard of Periphery, much less dig their sound was like trying to find a left-handed unicorn.

Luckily we started up the trivia thing at work again, so I used the momentum from all our new music talk to  invite him to it -- and got all internally giddy-tween excited when he actually showed up. And now there are emails between meetings about bands and this Between the Buried and Me album that he swears I'm going to like once I hear it.

And I'm trying to play it cool, not be too slutty about my new friend interest-level or anything (AMIRITE, LADIES?) -- but it's just weird trying to figure all this out.

I don't know, it's like so many things are new all over again lately. Things I've honestly been neglecting in my life for a long time that I know would actually be good for me. It makes me wonder sometimes how I got this so far off the track, how I painted myself so far in a corner that the simple act of making real-world friends is somehow daunting and scary, despite the fact that it shouldn't be at all.
Hey, I just met you and this is crazy -- but here's my number and.. dude, don't make it weird.

[Now Playing:  Between the Buried and Me- "Swim to the Moon" ]


wigsf3 said…
I hope for your sake it doesn't but you know, it'll get weird.

Just keep your pants on and I'm sure it will be fine
Beth said…
What I really need to do is just get out there. Gussy up and snare myself a man.

this made me laugh so hard when I first read it
Just don't make any Silence Of The Lamb jokes and you should do just fine. Seriously. Don't do that.
Heff said…
I'd be your buddy if we were closer.

One thing I LOVE about female relationships is their inate ability and willingness to swap clothing & underwear at the drop of a dime.

Thank GOD men aren't that way.

"Hexacorde, those Fruit Of The Loom briefs look GREAT on you ! Would ya take 'em off and throw 'em to me so I can try them on ?"

Hex said…
wigsf -- Why do I get the feeling your advice is based on experience?

Beth -- It's hard out here for a sister.

Cinnamon Chocolate Dreamer -- I find people react badly to most Johnathan Demme movies when you quote them out of costume.

Heff -- I hear you buddy, which is why it's an interesting topic, because I think I would have lots of friends in different places -- but I'm a little stumped as to why I can't seem to match that energy here.

Then again, you're one of a kind bro, drawls and all.
wigsf3 said…
Shit happens when you party naked.
Anonymous said…
I've had a similar experience making friends out here in Albany. Most of the people I consider friends here were my wife's friends first. Since she's a few years older than I am and many of her friends are a few years older than she is, I'm in the odd position of being 26 years old with a group of friends whose average age is about 41.

And at the law firm I work at I'm surrounded by middle-aged secretaries, who are nice enough (except for the weird cougary ones) but still aren't the kind of people I would invite over for drinks.