We dated the Zeros… so you don’t have to.

08
February

Man Up and Say I Love You

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Our first “I love you” moment happened at the airport, like it has in so many films and novels. After months apart we spent a weekend together in Nashville, laughing on the couch, talking, cooking and eating, listening to music, watching bad movies, and enjoying each other’s company. But now, sadly, it was time for me to head back to New York. As we pulled up to the curb, it happened. “Love you, man,” he said. Admittedly caught off guard, I said the first thing that came to mind. “Love you too, sir.” And not only did I mean it, it felt pretty good.

That’s right, love, non-romantic love, exists among men. Confirmed and vocalized in the South, no less. My best friend Andy and I have been through a lot together – the good times, the fun, the deep shit. We met in college, lived together, were horrible writing partners (I blame him), and still fly cross-country to see one another when we can. His girlfriend calls him “our significant other” and his mom calls me son. He’s annoyingly intelligent, incredibly talented, genuine, and a sounding board whose emotional vocabulary extends beyond, “Sucks, dude.” And even though mutual interests dictate we have no business being friends (he’s a musician who hates sports, I’m a sportswriter bored by new music), he’s always been there, accepting me for the shitty person I am and helping me be less shitty. Sounds like love to me, just with a lot more punching. No homo.

Still, for any guy, expressing love to a dude feels just as weird and vulnerable as saying it to a woman. This inability and hesitation to open up is worse, of course, maybe because the idea is still somewhat socially unacceptable. Namely, it’s still pretty gay. It doesn’t help that Facebook has downgraded friendships to casual connections and the ability to share cat pictures, which leaves men with nothing in between.

So instead guys go on living life in beer commercials – talking about hot women, making fun of each other, watching sports, touching only when it’s violent enough. But the opportunity is there to up the ante of that bond by simply saying, “Dude, I got your back. Whether someone’s coming at you with a pool cue or someone just broke your heart, I’m here for you and I love you.” Don’t worry, no one’s asking you to cry, though hugging it out is totally cool.

For my money, the most honest, interesting scene of Love Actually happens when Brit-rocker Billy Mack tells his portly assistant, Joe, that, despite all the women and sex that fame has brought him, the person he wants to be with during the holidays is him, Joe, a man. The scene starts with a declaration of feelings that says a lot about love, sacrifice, friendship, and devotion in very simple terms. It ends with a tearful embrace, some punching, and two men deciding to get drunk and watch porn. Everyone wins.
So with the Christmas Valentines spirit in mind, find the person that you’ve loved for years and tell them why. Someone you’ve never rolled around with in bed or dreamt about walking with down the aisle (though feel free to tell those people, too, I guess. It is Valentines day…) It doesn’t matter if it’s a man or woman, platonic love comes in all shapes, sizes, and genders. Tell them on February 14 and then, fuck it, tell them on the fifteenth, too, because love isn’t a once a year event of cards and cookies.

Tell them you love them, and then punch them. And then watch porn. No homo.

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Matthew Kitchen

About the author: Matthew Kitchen

Once at risk of becoming a zero himself, Matthew Kitchen has turned to writing, intelligent women, and turkey sandwiches for his reformation. He currently freelances around New York and moonlights for publications including Sports Illustrated, Forbes.com, and Esquire.com. His best assets are his abilities to dress himself and act polite in front of your mother. Follow him on Twitter @matthewkitchen Follow him on Twitter @matthewkitchen

Matthew has written 4 articles for us.

2 Responses to “Man Up and Say I Love You”

  1. February 8, 2012 at 8:45 am

    Is that hairy guy wearing a shirt that says “Andy”? That is…incredibly apropos.

    Great article, the first paragraph cracked me up, and the rest of it is just true. The manlove stigma may not be limited to Americans, but it certainly isn’t universal. I think we, as men, do ourselves a disservice by not being frank about our emotions with each other.

    Thanks for sharing your story of how you came out of the closet.

  2. February 8, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    Yes, a shirt which I bought for him.

    Thanks, David. At least Judd Apatow and Jason Segal are doing something to stem the tide stateside. And to be fair, I think we do a disservice to women by not being frank with them, either.

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