I took them aside and said, admiringly, “that Nick Ostdick is alright.”
Nick took them aside and said, wistfully, “Shawn seems like a cool dude.”
There was a beer here, a beer there, always with chaperones. Then mano-a-mano happy hours that spilled into dinners that spilled into the manliest of frozen desserts that spilled into more happy hours. His fiancé called me his man-wife and warned me not to take him away. I was a groomsman in his wedding; he listened to my unnecessary dating life bemoanings. When I left for a semester abroad, I worried he might leave me for his new, thinner best friend, the one with the Jesus-hair. But soon I returned and Jesus graduated and we were buds again, beating the dung out of each other at racquetball, cheering over publications, glutting on churros.
There’s a genre of story about loves like ours. It involves men at work, men at home, and men at play; fishing, hunting, and camping; burping, farting, public urination, and private regurgitation; women-ogling, beer-guzzling, verbal sparring, aggressive hugging, and fraternal punching. Sometimes the story goes wrong (Tobias Wolff’s “Hunters in the Snow”). Sometimes it goes right (Alan Heathcock’s “The Born Agains”). Hemingway and Fitzgerald’s friendship reads like one mean bromance, with Hemingway declaring that Fitzgerald couldn’t handle his drink, that it turned him into a “small, well-dressed monster”; and what’s Kerouac’s On the Road but one epic bromantic road movie? The genre keeps going strong, with contemporary examples like Joe Meno’s “Happiness Will Be Yours”, Jim Shepard’s “Poland is Watching”, John McNally’s “Sweetness and the Fridge”, Ben Percy’s “Somebody Is Going to Have to Pay for This”, and “Beautiful Places” by Brady Udall, and will continue to do so for as long as men befriend men.
Nick and I have graduated and soon our man-love will go long distance. He’ll drink with other men and I’ll go a-wassailing overseas and over dale. But before we part we’ve decided to culminate our friendship in an anthology celebrating male friendships and the buddy story. It’s called The Man Date: 15 Bromances, and will be out from Prime Mincer in 2013.
Got a bromantic masterpiece in the drawer? Deadline’s June 1st. Submit here.