This weekend my buddy Paul and I will head back home to celebrate Father’s day with our families. Paul and I have been best buds for as long as I can remember. We were practically raised together, with our parents being close friends before either of us were born. Our dads attended medical school together, our mothers were pregnant at the same time, and as I understand it, we were reared side-by-side.
There’s no truer example to the adage that “opposites attract” than with Paul and I. I’m sure as boys we shared more commonality than we do now. At least by the time we were teenagers our personalities were starkly different. It’s an understatement to say Paul was a wild kid. He partied harder in middle school than I do now (and he’s only gained proficiency with age). He hated school and cut class constantly. It was rarer to find him sober than blazed, drunk, or strung out (or some combination of the three). From a very early age, he knew he was gay, and flaunted it in front of his parents shamelessly. Not that I think being gay is anything to be ashamed about, but certainly you should have some sense of humility about your sexuality when you’re young.
By contrast, I was wild about girls. I studied hard in school, and was sent home on multiple occasions for attending while I was deemed too sick (for fear of missing something important). The first time I got drunk was only at the behest of my friends (I was 13) and ended up punking out and calling my mom to pick me up. She didn’t punish me (my parents always told my sisters and I that if we ended up in a bad situation, all we had to do was call. No questions, no punishment). She drove me home, stopping several times for me to puke along the roadside. Not one of my finer moments, and definitely an early sign of what a pussy I am.
Anyways, the two of us have always been great friends, despite our differences. Each of our fathers use the other as a yardstick by which to measure their sons. Innumerous times my dad encouraged me to “be more like Paul” and live my life to the fullest. Studying too hard for the SAT/ACT? “Go out and make mistakes, be more like Paul!” Paul getting caught, baked, screwing around with one of the other boys in our neighborhood? “Be more like Sam, have priorities!” The two of us did, and still do, find the pedestal-like status each other’s father holds of us very amusing.
I’m grateful for Paul’s friendship in more ways than I can possibly bore you with, but I particularly count my Paul-blessings when it comes to quality dad time, and I know he feels the same. While I love my dad, things between the two of us are strained. And Paul and his father definitely don’t have a healthy relationship (we both experienced highly Christian upbringings, so his sexual orientation seems the equivalent of a plague in his household). Paul’s dad seems to epitomize me – studious, athletic, hetero, while my dad begs Paul to regale him with stories of parties, binge drinking, your typical college shenanigans in general. Paul and I have a pretty effective tag team situation worked out between us, which is the only way I think I can get through a weekend sentence with my father without obliterating my liver.