Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Breaking the Code

I Love You, Man is a “bromance that’s out and proud,” said Ty Burr in The Boston Globe. In the past few years, buddy comedies have nervously danced around the taboo love of “one straight guy for another.” Paul Rudd and Jason Segel fearlessly confront the intricacies of male friendship in this hilarious comedy. Rudd plays a slightly effeminate man about to get married; needing a best man, he realizes he has no male friends. That’s when Segel walks into his life, and the two bond over a mutual love for the band Rush. I Love You, Man doesn’t just acknowledge male friendships, but “exalts” in their awkwardness, said Stephanie Zacharek in Salon.com. Director and co-writer John Hamburg “focuses on the unspoken codes of male friendship that few people think about.” Grasping guy-speak and perfecting the fist bump turn out to be surprisingly tough, said Christy Lemire in the Associated Press. But I Love You, Man isn’t afraid to show its “sensitive side,” and that makes Rudd and Segel’s friendship an affair to remember. -- from The Week magzine
Men are cowards when it comes to friendship.

Male friendship isn't an easy thing. It must focus on activities -- baseball, fishing or some other shared activity -- and it must abide by an unspoken fuzzy code of behavior. Feelings and personal issues are kept hidden. We learn at an early age that if expose ourselves to a group of men we will be assaulted like a wounded gazelle captured by a pack of hyenas.

On the rare occasion that a man breaks the code in what he considers a safe one-on-one conversation he may not get the response he's seeking. Many years ago on a warm Friday evening a friend and I were sitting on a bluff below a grove of cedar trees. We had checked his cattle and were talking and winding down after a week of work. As we talked he somehow steered the conversation around to personal things and the forbidden topic of sex. He made some statement that ended with a laugh and the words "it might help my wife's sex life". Being young, stupid and not willing to break the code I ignored his comments and turned the conversation in another direction.

Over the years I've thought about that evening and other small comments that he made at other times. Looking back I realize he was dealing with some marital struggles and both needed and wanted to talk. I was a rotten friend.

I like getting older. I wish I had gotten old earlier. I'm at the age when I can break the code and enjoy doing so. After seeing the movie last weekend I was talking with a co-worker about my age. He seemed open to talking so I brought up the movie and made a few comments about male friendship. His response was "I'm glad to hear you say that. For a long time I've felt...". This morning I received an instant message from him: "Morning - Thanks for the man conversation yesterday."

I'm anticipating tonight's meeting of the Men's Group. We break the code weekly!

3 Comments:

Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I often feel a little jealous over the sisterhood that women share. I'm glad you have found a group that breaks the code.

4/16/2009 05:16:00 AM  
Blogger THE Michael said...

I LOVE you, man!!!!!

Now back off........

4/17/2009 05:09:00 PM  
Blogger Malcolm said...

What the world needs is more code breakers!

4/20/2009 12:38:00 PM  

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