Chuck’s a big believer that as men age it becomes more difficult to make new friends. Loyal readers who know Chuck well will be choking on their latte’s at that statement, stunned that a magnetic personality like Chuck would make such a remark. Chuck’s not talking about becoming buddy buddy with some dude at work that you occasionally head off to a football game with. Think about how many rock solid best friends you’ve made since you’ve turned 30? In all likelihood, that figure would be fairly low. Why you ask? Well consider this, when you’re in your teens and early twenties, you’re running with your pals chasing good times, booze and the opposite sex. Those activities form the experiences and memories that are the basis of friendship. As we age, our lives get bogged down with responsibilities and families that prevent significant time being spent with others and therefore a reduction in super close friendships.
The reason for Chuck’s startling insight on new friendship? Well, not so long ago, Chuck attended his first “Mothers Group” get together.
This is always a daunting step for a new father for a number of reasons.
1) What happens if everyone there is a dick?
2) What happens if you are clearly raising your child in a way that is different (and frowned upon by others)?
3) What happens if you have nothing in common with these people?
4) You’re never going to become great friends with any of these people.
Of course Chuck raised these concerns with Mrs Long before departing and was greeted with a swift “get over it”.
For those uninitiated, once a woman gives birth, they are promptly directed to a community health centre where they are matched up with other mothers who are encouraged to hang out and share their experiences. After 4 weeks at the community centre under the tutelage of a child health nurse, they are sent into the big wide world and encouraged to keep hanging out. The majority of the women live in close proximity and depending upon the area, are of a similar demographic. You’ll hear numerous stories of women who have made amazing new friendships with the women in these groups as they and their children bond and grow together.
It’s a bit of a different story for the blokes however.
Typically the men will be pulled along to events and functions on a sporadic basis – a barbeque here, a birthday party there. These get togethers normally involve a crowd as well. The problem with this set up is that the infrequency and the volume of people make it very difficult to form any sort of relationship or bond with other dudes.
And before any female says it, do you really believe for one second that any guy would turn up to a “Father Group”?
So you can appreciate Chuck’s apprehension at attending a “Mothers Group” function. Upon arriving, Chuck was introduced to the host father, one woman breast feeding, another dad, a random couple with no children and some straggler that was a former work colleague of the host mother and who looked totally lost. It almost felt like the first day of school. Chuck did a quick assessment of the room and rapidly determined that his baby was the cutest, which for some strange reason made Chuck feel at ease.
The ladies all knowing each other made things a bit easier and of course new parents can talk about babies, the challenges of having a baby and the dumb shit dads do endlessly so the afternoon moved on effortlessly. The host baby had a healthy dose of South American in him and a nifty little trick he did with his eye (and which Chuck would encourage all young men to include in their repertoires) that made it look like he was propositioning the female babies. This got a hearty laugh from the crowd and was followed by one of the baby girl’s dads saying, “It’s a good thing her dad can shoot straight”. This in turn got a good laugh.
You may recall in this very forum Chuck discussing the additional stress that comes along with having a baby girl and how one of Chuck’s colleagues has instigated a work out regime so that he’ll be in good shape when his daughter starts dating in 15 years. So obviously Chuck zeroed in on this dude who was thinking on Chuck’s level. He was a nuggetty bloke and through general conversation it appeared he was a Queenslander. As the afternoon progressed however, this bloke used the same line at least 4 other times to lesser and lesser degrees of laughter from the crowd. Chuck thought that perhaps the first try had buoyed his confidence and eradicated his comedic timing. At the 5th and 6th use, Chuck decided that the guy was a dick.
Was he really paranoid about his baby girl being violated in 15-18 years time by some Latin lover? Was he insecure? Or was he just a Queenslander? This was all too much for Chuck who had to get a better read on this ball of nuggetty uncomfortableness. As luck would have it, the dude happened to walk outside on to the balcony with his baby girl while Chuck was playing the role of super dad with his little girl. After exchanging pleasantries, Chuck decided to probe deeper.
Expecting to hear “cane sugar farmer”, Chuck asked what the dad did for a living?
“Special Forces” came the response.
Chuck’s not going to lie, that one was like a jab to the jaw. For all Chuck’s talk about dads looking after their little girls, Chuck had finally stumbled across a guy who could actually kill a boyfriend with his bare hands (or at least set GPS coordinates so that an air strike could take care of business).
The straight shooting line took on a chilling new meaning and made Chuck desperate for a second chance to win this guy over. Bring on the next mother’s group!