Dad's Side: Good Friends Are Hard to Find
Not so long ago, I was hanging out in my home office, talking to Brian, a guy who had quickly become my new best friend. We were deep in conversation and, at once, I was both enjoying myself and experiencing a sobering epiphany: Ever since my daughters, Isabelle and Lorelei, were born, my social life has ceased to exist.
Sure, this happens to every parent to some degree, but it seems to me that mothers are much better than we dads at forging new friendships with other parents. And, frankly, I'm envious. When you have friends who also have kids, you have a support network that provides everything from parenting tips to sympathetic nods. You can vent to a fellow parent in a way that you can't to people who have never been, or forgotten what it's like to be, awakened at 2 a.m., and 3 a.m., and 4:14 a.m., and 4:47 a.m. -- in one night. And, mostly, when you have friends, you feel human.
The evening I hung out with Brian, I was pleasantly surprised. Here I was, breaking the mold, shaking up the system, doing something I should do more often: kicking back, bantering and bonding as we talked about our kids, our careers, and life.
Then my wife called from the kitchen, alerting me that dinner was ready. Embarrassed, I yelled back that I could eat later. She finally peered into my office, insisting that I join her and the girls at the table. Suddenly, I felt like a 12-year-old boy being told by his mom in front of the other kids to stop playing basketball and get inside the house now. "Go on," encouraged Brian, waving me off. "I work alone all the time."
Deflated, I left my computer technician, a guy whose name I had randomly pulled out of the phone book only two hours earlier. The fact that I was paying him $84 an hour to fix my computer doesn't, incidentally, take away from the fact that the man is a darn good conversationalist. Still, during my slow march to the dinner table, I realized that things were even more pathetic than I had thought.
I have no friends.
Okay, that assessment is extreme. That I have virtually no friends is more on target, or even better, that all of my friends are virtual. We communicate through hurried phone calls, voicemails, e-mails, website viewings, and forwarded jokes, but I never see anybody in person anymore. My social network, which I constructed from about age 6 into my mid-twenties, has splintered, with my friends hidden across the country like members of the witness protection program.
Now the only buddy I have, it seems, is my computer technician.
Geoff Williams is a Babytalk contributing editor and freelance writer in Loveland, Ohio. If you live in the area and have any computer problems, he can recommend someone.