I want someone to feel sorry for me…
I need attention…
I’m not good at prioritizing my time…
The reasons could be endless, really.
In any event, what follows is the email I sent in total because, honestly, I have no shame..
Dear This American Life,
I felt compelled to write to the show after recently listening to Episode 587: The Perils of Intimacy. While nearly every episode of the show impacts me in some way, I was particularly affected by Act Two (“Why Can’t We Be Friends”) of this episode.
I am not unlike both Chris and Evan. I am a late 30’s male, with three kids, who is separated from his closest friends by 1500 miles. I currently live just outside of Seattle while my four closest friends all still live in Southern California. They are
- The best man from my wedding whom I met, literally, in Kindergarten
- 1’s cousin whom I have known since elementary school.
- Another friend whom I met in elementary school, this time in the 5th
- My last friend was my college roommate (although, so was friend 1). So, though I met him “late” in life, we’ve been friends for 20 years.
Since moving to Washington I have not really made any “friends.” There is one person I have known for a long time in the area (we met 15 years ago worked together for several years). Unfortunately, he, his wife, and small child live on the other side of the Sound and we don’t see each other much. But other than that, there really aren’t people I would say are my friends.
So, needless to say, I felt a kinship with Chris and Evan (even Neil admission, that he’s let the relationships with many friends lag, rings extremely true for me…despite the vast number of readily available communication channels, I do not routinely connect with any of my 4 friends mentioned above, let alone anyone else).
I will also admit that I felt no small amount of panic when Neil started to consider the “odd-couple” like nature of Chris and Evan’s personalities.
“Evan is a deep-dive pop culture junkie. Chris is an English professor who is into sports. They were opposite sides of an eggheaded coin.”
I was actively rooting for these two to make a connection. These two HAD to make a connection. Not only would such an outcome satisfy Neil’s professed Rom-Com leanings, but it would give me hope. So, I was, of course, happy to hear that both Chris and Evan seem to be building their fledgling friendship.
The more I thought about it, the more I got depressed. Not because I don’t believe they won’t hang out again…hey, I’m not the best at following up with people, so I can accept that a few weeks might go by before they meet-up again.
No, what depressed me is that I realized what these two actually need is a third friend. Or, more specifically, they need me as their third friend.
I know, this sounds extremely arrogant…but hear me out on this.
Chris is “an English professor who is into sports.” I’m an English professor who is into sports! Seriously, I teach English as a community college. Perhaps more importantly, each year of my life is equally divided between the MLB and English Premier League seasons. Even though I don’t watch them much anymore, (three kids is really a drain on my time, damn kids) I’m still a big basketball and hockey fan. Look, I’d even watch American Football (which I mildly despise) if I had a friend who was really into the NFL. Also, Chris started a “men’s only book club”?! That’s a genius idea, and I may steal it!
Evan” is a deep-dive pop culture junkie” whose description of his understanding of himself could have been written by me. “The parts of identity that, like, make me who I am, being a nerd, like, reading or writing my comic books and video games and movies, I need somebody to share that with because we don’t have similar interests in that regard for similar tastes. So like, there’s a part of me that feels important to me. And I want someone to care about it and to share that with. And traditionally, that’s where I’ve gone to my friends for.” See, I may be into sports, but I am also a massive comic book/sci-fi/fantasy nerd. My wife is nice enough to attend Emerald City Comic Con with me every year, but it’s not exactly her idea of a romantic date with her husband. In fact, most of my time with my friends in California was spent engaged in RPG and table top war games. I even worked for a video game company after college, damnit! I think I could even give Evan a run for his money in any geek centric trivia game.
Here’s the really odd part. My wife and I seriously considered moving to Austin last year. I won’t bore you with the inane details, but we tend to move every five years or so. From 2000-2005 we lived in San Francisco (another thing I have in common with Chris) and left when I got into grad school. We moved back to Southern California, where we are both from, but left in 2010 when my wife received a job offer she could not refuse. But in the last year or two we’ve both gotten a bit restless here in the Puget Sound. When we were considering where we might want to go next, Austin seemed the best fit for our family. I even applied to a PhD program at the University of Texas. I did not get in, but we are still semi-seriously considering that move.
I’m pretty sure (hey, I have fondness for romantic comedies too…Neil, if you’re ever in Seattle we should hang out) that if I lived in Austin, then Chris, Evan, and I would form the most unstoppable trivia trio of all time….
OK, so I obviously didn’t sign it “kilian” but, you know, internet handles and all.
“Jacket” via Spotify