While there's no particular age when men become quintessential, best friend material, by the time we're Boomers, most of us have a pretty good idea what the term best friend means. A best friend trusts and supports his friends unconditionally. The comfort of knowing your best friend is a phone call away is priceless.
But it's the fun aspect of best friendship that I enjoy most. The opportunity to be a boy again, even if only for a while, is still magical. I remember with a smile how it felt to be a boy without responsibility or expectations, with a dime in my rolled-up dungarees for a soda, ready for the next adventure. I remember how I felt waking up, particularly when the weather was warm, thinking about what kind of fun I was going to have that day.
My best friend, Tony and I have been buddies for nearly thirty years. We've ridden our motorcycles together more than 250,000 miles on the spectacular California and Oregon back roads, up mountains and into valleys, and along the Pacific Coast. It's the closest to how I felt when my boyhood friends and I rode our Schwinn bicycles from morning until dark. Our bikes had no gears, no hand brakes, no fenders, and weighed a ton, but they survived a myriad of crashes. Riding bicycles was never about the destination then, and it isn't now. It's about the journey, the camaraderie, and the boyish sense of having fun together without a care in the world. When Tony and I ride motorcycles together it's with a boy's carefree attitude. Sometimes, on the road, we look at each other and just laugh because we're having so much fun.
A burger, beer, and movie night is also great fun, and gives friends an opportunity to catch up on the latest personal news, but mostly just to be boys again, even if only for a few hours. We usually go to a movie that the women in our lives aren't interested in seeing, and afterwards, a burger and beer is all about laughing and critiquing the movie. Being serious just doesn't come into it.
An afternoon hike with best friends is, like motorcycle trips, not about the destination, but the journey. Sharing the outdoors, working up a sweat, and catching up, is just fun. It isn't meant to be anything more. We don't talk much about problems we're having because we typically have that conversation in our men's group.
Does every Boomer guy remember what having fun felt like when he was a boy? I wish we all did, but the most important ingredient for some men is missing. They don't have any real best friends, and they have forgotten how much fun they had as boys hanging out with other boys. Somehow their lives became bogged down with money and family responsibilities, and fun took a backseat. While that's unfortunate, it's not terminal.
If you have friends and are enjoying some occasional boyhood lightness, you might want to make room for a fellow you know who isn't on that path. An invitation to join you and your friends on your next activity could change the way a man feels about himself. Alternatively, making friends is as close as joining a local bicycle or motorcycle club, adult basketball and baseball team, theater group, hiking club, and lots of other fun pursuits.
Getting out of our heads for a while, and into our bodies feels terrific, and the health benefits are a plus. It's about letting go, not thinking about the consequences, and just being boys. It's about breaking the inertia that keeps a man on his sofa, alone, in front of his television on a sunny weekend afternoon, watching other men play.
Next weekend think about what you might do that you haven't done in a long while. Call a guy you know, even casually, and invite him to join you for the day. Just hang out and enjoy being boys again for a while. Hit the open road and end up wherever. Carpe diem.