I sat in a small, slightly cramped theater in North Hollywood last night and subjected myself to musical theater. I was dealing with incredible pain, primarily on account of my lower back and moronic refusal to catch only three innings in a baseball game I had just played. Instead, I ended up catching eleven innings straight, and was now paying the price. Lower back. Quads. Shoulder. Elbow. Arm. Even the backs of my knees throbbed, a direct result of poor equipment straps that dug into my legs so deeply that I started actually bleeding. To put it bluntly, watching a musical was about the last thing I ever wanted to be doing. It doesn’t help that I severely dislike musicals, and unless they involve a Phantom or some other geek character I happen to like, I don’t go to them. They hurt my ears. And I wasn’t too keen on adding them to the list of body parts currently causing me pain. I just didn’t want to be there.
This is no reflection of the performers, as I found them to be talented and charming. In fact, I rather enjoyed myself. It was a nice little show, and I certainly can comprehend why people like musicals. I just don’t. It doesn’t seem plausible that someone would break out in song at any given emotional moment.
And yes, I fully understand how foolish I look in saying that, especially when I completely buy into a made-up mystical premise known as The Force.
Nonetheless, I don’t enjoy musicals very much.
But I was there, and I found the moment touching in a private way. Here’s why…
I had come to this particular show to support my friend George. George is a newer friend, newer in the sense of a few years. George and I have an interesting relationship, one filled with equal parts respect and astonishment. That could be my inference of course, but by astonishment I mean that it never fails to surprise me how different we are in certain aspects. George reminds me of something out of the 1950’s, and I don’t mean that in a negative manner. George is the kind of guy you look at and realize… “hmm, I’m not sure I know what he’s thinking.” If George was in pain, emotional or otherwise, you probably wouldn’t know. He has The Man attitude, which is entirely likeable coming from George. On the other hand, I wear my heart on my sleeve and am woefully ill-equipped at hiding my feelings. Believe me, this is where I wish I had a little George in me now and then… because tearing up when trying to explain to a friend how happy you are for them can be utterly humiliating. I can’t seem to get three sentences out sometimes without getting misty-eyed. It’s pathetic! But it’s also the reason George probably wishes he had a little bit of me in him as well, though because he’s George, he isn’t about to admit that. Bottom line, George and I are different. There’s no right or wrong to our differing personalities, only that they’re different. These differences lead to the occasional humorous argument, one in which George and I never seem to give up ground.
But I like George very much; he’s a wonderful guy with a wonderful heart. This is important to the story, as my friendship with George is indicative of the wonderful period of friendship I’m finding myself immersed in at this stage in my life.
I’ve always had numerous close friends. Even when I was young and not very cool (as opposed to now, where I’m old and also not very cool), I was fortunate to have several pals to do all manner of nonsense with. As an adolescent, these friends revolved around baseball. In high school: theater. In college: my fraternity. And after moving to Hollywood, it became mutual actors.
I would never attempt to marginalize these various groups of friends, but I find myself in a unique position right now. I’m about to get married. I’ve accumulated some knowledge, albeit small scraps. I’m figuring it out. And moreover, I’m trying to define who I am and who I want to be. Like the website moniker says, a geek –cliché struggling to become a man.
Fortunately, I’m not alone.
Not only do I have The Angel, but I’m lucky enough to have these lovely friendships that are real. Full of depth. Sincere. And ultimately, filled with love.
This is no easy task, because heading into middle-age finds all of us with certain emotional scars that prevent new friendships from arising. Trust is not easily given away anymore, as the prospect of being hurt or disappointed weigh heavily on our ability to make that next step in developing a friendship.
Men are especially bad at this, and a movie like I Love You, Man perfectly captures how awkward it can be to form male friendships. There’s a lot of ego and embarrassment involved in reaching out male to male, as there always is. And so a lot of times, we stay friends with those we collected over the years, rather than form new ones.
I’m not advocating losing old friends, I’m just saying times change and common kinship varies based on life goals and mutual interests.
And boy, I must say that finding the one you wish to spend the rest of your life with makes things easier. A mutual mate eliminates all previous motives in friendships. I mean, I didn’t know you could be friends with a female without wanting to sleep with her (or at the very least, her hot friend). It’s a treasure, who knew?!
It’s because of all of this that I find myself in the midst of what I like to call The Silver Age of Friendship.
The Silver Age of Comic Books took place roughly between 1956-1970, and sparked a slew of character-driven storylines that helped shaped super-heroes forever. It seems my peers and I are in a similar era, only we’re actually living it.
I know full well it won’t last forever. Kids will come, and time spent will be cut short. But I look around and see a group of my friends banding together in ways I haven’t experienced in some time.
It may have something to do with working in the creative realm, but supporting someone’s endeavors in the past was something done on somewhat shaky ground. Let’s face it, when you’re friends with ten other single male actors, competition is bound to creep in. Sure, you were always happy to see someone succeed, but back then you wondered in your head when your moment was coming. Throw in the incessant need to score with whatever girls were running around at the time and you have the recipe for potential toxicity.
That doesn’t exist anymore. Not in the Silver Age of Friendship.
In the Silver Age, you’re all just hoping everyone will find happiness, in any form. Because now, you just love seeing your friends happy.
And so I looked to the theater seat right of me, smiled at The Angel. I glanced backwards; saw The Angel’s sister and the Hollywood Blonde watching. A few rows in front of me, another pair of close friends sat admiring George. There were six of us total on this night. Considering there were only about twenty seats total, this was a high percentage. And we weren’t the only ones who had viewed George. In the previous weeks, The Nightwings had descended upon the show. They too, weren’t alone. There were others. Friends of friends.
All to see George do what he loved best- perform. It was evident in his energy, his smile, and his afterglow following the show. The show was enjoyable, but it wouldn’t have mattered if it wasn’t. We were there to support George, because he’s one of us and we love him. He's talented, but that's just the cherry on top.
When it finished, I left doing my best to remember this moment in time. This moment. Not quite young. Not quite old. Somewhat wise. Somewhat not. Bonded together.
The Silver Age of Friendship.