One man fights back against the old trope that becoming a father means losing touch with your homies.
I was sitting myself in the dark by reading University of Michigan football-recruiting news on my phone when a difficult question posed itself. Why, as the family man ages, does he become more reclusive, sedentary, ursine? Retreating into himself and getting a little deranged and feral and starting to eat out of the garbage and walking on all fours, ending up unrecognizable to his family?
Meanwhile, it's different for women, or at least for my wife. I discovered recently that she has been having all these affairs. With her friends. She goes out and drinks wine and smokes secret cigarettes with April and Melissa and Robyn and Krista. They're in love with each other, I tell you. I surprised my wife and her friend one night when I came home late and found them flushed and dewy-eyed and unable to wipe the euphoric intimacy from their faces before I could see it.
They get plowed on natural wines and eat fine European cheeses and tell each other everything. They tell each other about their periods, about early menopause, about sex with their husbands and what their husbands' penises are like, about the terrible fears they have about their children and how we're all going to die in the end. Because they talk about it.
And I have to admit that I'm jealous that my friends and I aren't like that. I think part of the reason for this state of affairs is that, at this point, I kind of don't want another relationship in my life. I'm in my mid-40s and I have two kids, and the idea of having to relate to more people makes me want to start crying. I relate to my kids. I relate to my wife. I relate to my wife about my kids. I relate to my kids about each other. I relate to the people I work with. All I want to do at night is drink a Negroni and not relate to anybody.
And I think the other part is that men are brittle, ego-obsessed little freaks. When I come home after having a drink with a friend, and my wife is like, "Well, what's going on in Eric's marriage?" I have to say, "Oh, I didn't ask him that." Most of my friends are not predisposed to spilling their darkest secrets as soon as the whiskey has been poured. I know virtually nothing about most of my friends' sex lives, wifely relationships, erectile dysfunctions, fears of death and bankruptcy. I have no idea what my best friend Zach's wife's vagina is like. And I think it's because we mostly talk about work. That, at least for me, is because we care too deeply about seeming like we're doing okay. That we're winning. That we have achieved a place in the world. That we are not failures. But how much fun is it to meet your friend for a drink and lay out an argument for how awesome you are?
Not that much fun is how fun it is.
So here's a proclamation: I'm going to get more intimate. I'm going to have an affair with my friend. I feel like the way to do it is to be forthright and real and…you know, intimate. As a gambit, but also maybe as a better way to live. I expect middling success. But look out, Zach's wife, because I'm about to know everything about you.