Maybe I’m Not That Guy Anymore

by doodaddy on May 10, 2007

I didn’t live up to my expectations of myself as a friend today.

Park Buddy had an emotional, trying experience this morning. I won’t say exactly what it was — while I’m way out there in writing about my own problems, it feels unfair to write about hers, anonymous though we be. I’ll just say that it was really hard, it involved family, and there’s no real way to “fix” it — and “fixing it,” of course, is every man’s dream.

I’m really good at being that friend you can talk to about your problems. Have you ever known That Guy — probably it was in your twenties, maybe in the college dorm, or he was a family friend? That Guy would listen without judging or giving crappy advice. You’d run into That Guy in the laundromat consoling a neighbor who’d just broken up with her boyfriend. He’d also be the one you’d call when you went to the E.R. with a kidney infection, or to go along with you when you had to put your cat to sleep. You’d take That Guy to lunch to tell him you’re pregnant, even before you tell your husband, and you’d confess to him how scared you are. So, have you known That Guy? I’m That Guy, and I’ve done all those things.

So I think can be counted on to listen and support and comfort. Today, though, I sucked at it. I mean, I did some of the right things: I asked leading questions, kept her talking, and, most importantly, just shut up and listened. But we didn’t have enough time or energy to devote to the converstaion. We let ourselves be constantly distracted by the kids and the park, “parenting” so fully that we didn’t get much time for “friending.”

I didn’t hug her.

I have no idea why I couldn’t be a better friend today. I was tired, moderately preoccupied by a couple of Boo’s boo-boos, and I have a mountain of chores (and what else is new?) — but with me, friends have always come first. In an ideal world, I think, we’d wait for the spouses to come home and take over parenting duties, then go out for a coffee to finish our conversation.

But we won’t, obviously, for the same reason we didn’t hug goodbye. Because to do so would be to tread ungently into a grey area that would worry our spouses and possibly (when they’re older), our children. There is absolutely no romantic interest between myself and this woman, not even a spark. (And you know me, I’d tell you if there were.) We’re just good friends. Good friends who can’t have unfettered conversations after 6 p.m. without the aid of a little sneaky text-messaging.

It’s hard to hug via text-message, though.

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in Challenges,failure,friends ·

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Ann Marie May 10, 2007 at 4:18 am

ahh sweetie.. do we EVER meet our own expectations of anything? I know I don’t most of the time. I am constantly thinking I could have done better!

but it sounds like to me you did what you could at the time. It wasn’t like you could say .. lookie here boobaby.. Park Buddy has a problem.. sit there and don’t bother us, don’t run off and dont get hurt for the next two hours so she can talk.. k?

See that just wouldn’t work.. you did exactly waht you could at the time and that is what makes a friend!!!

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twinbabiesdad May 10, 2007 at 9:23 am

DD,
I have a lot of thoughts about this post, ya know, the fix it dream, but no time to sort them out and make them coherent.
So briefly – I’m not “That Guy” anymore either. My “That Guy” is slightly different in the details, but the feelings of noticing his loss are similar. SUCKS.
BUT, most of the time, I like This Guy, the parent, flawed partner, etc.
And, I don’t know you, but I like you too.

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doodaddy May 10, 2007 at 7:52 pm

Thanks, all, and you’re right… we change, and change is good and important and all. This is just something I’d like not to lose about myself.

I made up for it today with my friend, though, which made me feel better. I’ve still got good buddy instincts — they just takes a little longer to be expressed.

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Blog Antagonist May 10, 2007 at 8:36 pm

Here’s a secret…women don’t want you to guys to fix stuff for us. We don’t want you to offer solutions. If we want help figuring something out, we’ll ask, but otherwise all we want is for you to listen and offer sympathy and we want to feel like someone gives a shit. That’s all. .

And that’s exactly what you gave her. You are still that guy.

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doodaddy May 10, 2007 at 9:08 pm

Yeah, I know I shouldn’t try to “fix” anything… the intended irony was that although we guys might know that, we still have that impulse. I just didn’t feel I was giving her my full attention yesterday, but like I said later, I think we straightened it up today, so all is well.

Sigh. It’s hard to be there for other people when you’re so incredibly there for your kids!

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