Everything that's right about men these days
Published October 19, 2023
I went to a wedding last weekend. It was joyous, mostly traditional and affirming of all things loving, honoring and cherishing. A good time was had by all.
There was this one moment though I loved the most because, honestly, I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have happened even five years ago in my small Southern city.
The groomsmen, dressed in light gray tuxedos and athletic shoes made their way down the aisle joyfully dancing with one another; holding hands; hugging arms over shoulders; or linking arms tightly like it was third grade and they were going to play Red Rover.
How they processed down the aisle was gentleman’s choice, apparently, and the people said “Amen.” Well, no. But they clapped wildly at this unabashed, unscripted, truly affectionate moment between…men.
We often hear men don’t have friendships like women do; how many don’t have even one close male friend to hang with; how the toxic alpha bro culture snuffs out deep convos about things that really matter and how all of this contributes to an increase in depression. “The New York Times” recently reported American men are in the midst of a “Friendship Recession.”
Not these “dancing kings.” I could easily envision them getting together to contemplate the tough questions in life without any self-consciousness or judgment.
What kind of father will I be?
Should I keep grinding at a job I hate just because the pay is good?
How do I help take care of my aging parents when I live 1,000 miles away?
Where exactly is this whole Travis Kelce-Taylor Swift thing headed?
The wedding dudes, who looked to be mostly in their 30s and 40s, were supremely unconcerned with how their festive PDAs might land in a room dominated by middle-aged folks and more than a few Boomers. Happily, it landed very well indeed, even better than the couple’s dog-as-ringbearer appearance. (Which always kills by the way.)
Maybe we’re entering a long overdue era of men learning how to be friends in the way women do it: really putting in the work, refusing to not pay attention because there’s just too much at stake. I’m not talking about braiding each other’s hair—although why not?—but I am talking about the willingness to prioritize friendship.
Perhaps it’s no coincidence that even beefy Kansas City Chief Travis Kelce made a friendship bracelet to present Taylor at her concert (and famously didn’t get to do so, making him no different from millions of young women and girls). I’m happy to have lived long enough to see a football icon proud of his playful, softer side.
One of the most gratifying takeaways of Taylor Swift’s record-breaking Eras tour was looking at all the pictures of families turning out, including armies of Dads who gleefully shared videos, selfies and Insta posts proclaiming themselves “Swiftie Dads,” their hairy forearms sparkly with bedazzled friendship bracelets they had made to trade with their seatmates.
Crafts? Friendship? Who are these marvelous dads not complaining about having to go to work in the morning or how bad the traffic is going to be unless they skip the encore (insanity)?
Dancing groomsmen, crafting dads who now know their way around macrame and puffy paint because their daughters and wives have taught them the Gospel According to Taylor? Yes, please.
Men who aren’t caught up in machismo can help counter the ugliness out there and help us defeat the misguided, the petty, the ignorant, the cruel.
Proud Boys, etc.: Put down your silly torches and dance it out. More ebullience, less hate. It’s a prescription for the ages.