Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Big Susan's - It's not just for girls

There is a lot written about women and friendship. Hell, that is what this blog is about.  But, my mother did not just have daughters. For her son, my brother, the apple did not fall far from the friendship tree.

There is much to admire about my brother, R.  He is funny, wicked smart, successful, a terrific dad, a doting GP, a funny drunk, a warm host, great advice giver and a mighty snappy dresser (overall, he has pretty good taste – except for that hot pink and black horizontal striped dress he gave me years ago – what the fuck was he thinking???) 

He is also a great friend. 

R has some really good long time pals. One started out as the boyfriend of R’s ex-wife. Many go back to high school or earlier days.  There is a solid group that have seen each other through adolescence, young adulthood, the early married years, divorce, re-marriage, parenthood and now grandparenthood.  These are relationships borne over many years with much history. They know each others secrets and have war stories galore.  But these aren’t the only ones. 

He places just as much value on friends gathered in adulthood.  The R part of the family D is one of his nearest and dearest.  Some neighbors have become very good friends, golf pals and travel buddies. R heads up an annual Mexico trip that includes a handful of these friends. The trip is just a long weekend but full of guy things and guy smells.  They always have a great time and I’m sure that no one – other than the guys on the trip – know what really happens south of the border. 

I know he has struggled with friendships lost.  We’ve talked about it – wondering whatever happened with one or why a friendship with another fell apart. I know it hurts him to have walked away without that person in his life and though he moves forward, I know he feels that void.

I really admire my brother and his friends. These friendships are honest and true.  They are caring and real.  I know there are conversations among them that are deep and heartfelt. They’ve suffered losses and shared success. There have been arguments and likely a grudge or two.  Sometimes, some distance is required but they come back together, the friendship likely stronger for it.  They’ve grown up together from boys to men without losing their sense of fun and adventure.  They’ve seen each other through some tough times and relished the good. 

I know these friendships are nurtured. He calls. They email. They keep in touch and catch up. When I ask how a specific friend is, he can usually tell me, with fair detail, about what is going on in that person's life.  They hang out. An afternoon on the beach may evolve into drinks (who am I kidding, the drinking probably started on the beach) and dinner.  A round of golf may turn into lunch. A trip abroad may have been hatched over dinner or drinks by the fire.
Unlike women's friendships - these seem to be without the catty competitiveness that seems to thrive among the estrogen crowd.  Do men compete with their friends? Does jealousy threaten the friendship or make it run hot/cold?

There is an old saying that strangers are just friends we haven’t met. That is very true for my brother. He and I both have the gift of gab, like our mom. We’ll talk to just about anybody and he is amazing at gathering friends along the way. Some turning into more significant friendships and others just a friendship fling along his travels.  He leaves his mark on friends new and old – those sticking around and those just passing through.

Clearly, this friendship thing isn’t just for girls.  I don’t know much about men and how they perceive or value friendship – this is totally subjective based on my observations of R and his pals.  I’ve been lucky enough to join in their fun but often sit back and shake my head ‘cause I’m not sure I always get the joke. But, I admire what they have and respect my sister-in-law, V, for letting those friendships continue to bloom, a sure sign that she values friendship and what it brings to someone’s life.

So, to my big brother, R – I know you have a Big Susan or three. And those guys are the luckiest guys ever to have a Big Susan in you. ‘Cause it’s not just for girls.

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