Is it simply me … or does everyone lose friends in their 30 s?
Max Liu is about to get married. The only problem: he doesnt have a best man. Is it normal for men to let relationships slide?
I dont know how Ive ended up standing on the doorstep of a long-lost friend, too scared to ring the buzzer. Well, I do. Last year my girlfriend Lucy and I decided to get married, and ever since one question has run over and over in my intellect. Who can I ask to be my best man?
Im not even certain Im at the right house. Can it actually be five years since Ive is right there? Prior to that, Owen and I fulfilled every week for tennis and coffee, over which we discussed work, films, volumes, relationships, just as we did in the sixth sort, half our lifetimes ago. Last time I considered him, he was helping me move. We argued about politics that day and, after that, we both let the friendship slide. Now here I am, hoping to patch things up and ask Owen to be my best man. Ive been trying to pluck up the courage to do this for months, but once again I lose my nerve and run.
Some people suppose devising the seating scheme is the complicated part of organising a wedding. For me, it is finding a best man. At 35, I find myself with no close male friends. I havent fallen out with anybody, but I have allowed relationships to take a back seat.
Ive been busy with work, with Lucy, with her friends, with household. Old friends are only a bellow or email away, but it never feels like the right moment to get in touch. The more time passes, the less likely it seems theyll want to hear from me. Its only now, when Im forced to confront the situation, that I realise how cut off Ive become. But am I the only one? Or are my friends, and other men my age, feeling the same way?
Growing up in Cornwall, I was fairly popular and played squad sports. Ed, the scrum-half in the rugby squad, was the drummer in my band or, as Ed might tell, I played guitar in his band. At school we were a sarcastic duo, but we supported each other through our teenage trials.
Ed and I went to separate sixth sorts, so I formed another band with Jack. When my first girlfriend dumped me, Jack listened to me drone on about my heartache. He fell out with his parents and came to live with us for a while. When I left for university, though, Jack stayed in Cornwall. In the holidays we picked up again and smoked weed on the beach. Gradually, I came home fewer and, whenever I did, I hurried past the fish restaurant where Jack worked, keen to avoid an awkward encounter.
My best friend at university was David, who impressed me with his leather coat and passion for Beat poetry. We chatted between lectures and, on wintertime mornings when my fingers were too cold to build roll-ups, he offered me his Marlboros. David fostered me to ask out Lucy, our classmate, and before long Lucy and I were rarely apart. We graduated and together endeavoured to Manchester, merely an hour from David, so I expected to see him soon. But I never did.
In Manchester I fulfilled Tom, who was a few years older than me and already a successful playwright. On Tuesday evenings I went to his flat for Scrabble and always lost. Tom was a pacify presence throughout my directionless, post-university phase, and I appeared up to him. I hadnt find Tom for three years when, the morning after this years general election, he tweeted: Shout out to everyone who decided to support the carve-up of the NHS. I hope none of you get the expensive various kinds of cancer. In the pits of political hopelessnes, I recollected how comforting his surly wit had always been. But it had been so long, I didnt even dare to click favourite.
Lucy and I moved to London, where I got a job editing a blog. I liked some of my colleagues but I never joined them for brews after work because I expended most evenings writing book reviews. Eventually, I left to try my luck as a freelance writer. Everyone, including me, was shocked when, on my final day, I burst into tears.
I supposed I was exclaiming with relief but perhaps, subconsciously, I was scared. I was fed up with writing banal transcript but, in a city where I was otherwise anonymous, there was something comforting about the office: its murmuring of chattering, bleeping phones and familiarish faces.