What ever happened to “man-friends”?

In a post on men, the “Why I am Catholic blog” asks a good question and makes an observation:

Question: Has an open discussion of homosexuality made it easier or more difficult for heterosexual men to talk intimately? Here’s a provocative statement on the matter:

I think the whole gay discussion has been a huge detriment to men (not bashing homosexual men, just noticing how it affects everyone). A couple decades ago, nobody cared, but now we have to almost prove we’re not gay. We can’t even say homosexual, we have to say gay. Why?…

My answer: Our culture is so over-sexed that society has come to view all relationships through a sexual lens.

I recently saw the movie Old Dogs starring John Travolta and Robin Williams. I remember thinking how unusual the movie was because the plot centered on the relationship between the two main characters who had been friends since high-school. A joke used a few times in the movie was that other characters would look at the two friends as if they were homosexual lovers while the friends seemed oblivious to the suggestion.

There was no sexual tension between the men. They were entirely heterosexual men, each pursuing a woman he desired. Each man had strengths that complimented their friendship and made them successful business partners. Each knew the other’s hopes and fears.

I admit I do not have that type of friendship now. I did have that once with a friend I met while I was in elementary school. Darin and I were especially close throughout high school and into college. People saw us as a duo “Jason and Darin.” I still know him, but I now live in another state and distance has created, well, distance. When we get together, we can take up right where we left off but it isn’t quite the same only because we do not have the opportunity to see each other often.

There are guys who I enjoy spending time with but I wouldn’t say that I’m especially close with them. I thought it was family life, work, and (before last May) grad school that kept me from being better friends. I’m not so sure now. So yes, I think the “gay” issue has made it a problem for men to be close friends.

To be sure, that is not the only problem. My friendship with Darin was built on years of shared experiences. Our transient culture – where people frequently change jobs, find new churches, or move to different states – means that we do not get the years needed to build those relationships.

Between not getting enough time to build friendships and viewing close friendships with other men as being inappropriate, we find ourselves without the friendships that all people benefit from having. And we are worse off for it.


This evening my wife hosted dinner for some family and friends at our house to celebrate my completion of graduate school. After dinner, Honeybun gave me a graduation gift: the Michael Parkes stone lithograph “An Angel’s Touch.

I first saw Michael Parkes’ art on our honeymoon. The gift shop of the hotel we stayed at had a framed poster of his “The Juggler.” We ended up buying that print and it hangs in our house still.

Just over a year later I was taking a humanities class for my undergrad degree. I was assigned to write a report on a piece of art. Coincidentally, I had just bought a book on the art of Michael Parkes. That book included a picture of An Angel’s Touch. I choose that piece to write the report. It was my favorite of the book.

Perhaps it was because of thinking about the piece for so long and the work that went into the report, but having one of the original lithographs became a dream of mine. I took that class in January 1999.

Tonight was a complete surprise. In fact, I at first thought it couldn’t be one of the actual lithographs. Honeybun started working toward buying it more than a year ago. She has secretly been putting money aside to save up for it. During that time, she spoke with our family and friends about it and many of them contributed to the gift.

This piece of art is something I’ve thought of for the last ten years. To me the image represents our desire for holiness. The contrast between the purity of the angel and filthy sow is striking. The beautiful angel deigns to touch the pig. The angel has to lower herself to do it. The sow is extending her head as far up as possible seeking that touch and seems to be happy for the slightest contact. I can sense the joy in the pig for even the slightest touch in that brief moment.

I dreamed to one day have one of these lithographs but knew that it was a fantasy; an item on my if-I-win-the-lottery list. I really am blown away. That my wife would work so long and hard to make this happen and that my family and friends would contribute to make this a reality amazes me.

I do not consider myself materialistic. OK, I have a bunch of gadgets. But really, if the house burned down tomorrow (God forbid), I would not be heartbroken over losing “stuff.” But this lithograph is something else. This work now represents more than its subjects. It also represents a thread that goes back to the beginning of my marriage, the joys and many, many trials we have been through to get to this point. It includes the achievement of my educational goals through both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Most importantly now, it represents the love of family and friends who care enough to help make a fantasy come true.

I am touched and blessed to have these people in my life. Thank you Honeybun and Bailey. Thank you Mom and Dad, Sally and Dave, Grandma Stone, Steve, Jay, Melissa & Brent, and Julie, Shawn, Cody & Tyler. You are all angels to me.

An adoption story

My friend (and former boss) David and his family were featured on a local news station in a story about adoption. Here is the video. You’ll have to watch a 15 second ad to see it, but it’s worth the time.

Last November, my family and I had the honor of attending the final adoption hearing for their son Luke where the legal proceedings were completed.

David and I are polar opposites in political views. We used to entertain coworkers by our intense debates. It speaks to his integrity that I, as his subordinate, never had to be concerned with retaliation for my differing views. Even professionally, I could tell him where I disagreed with him. One of the marks of a good manager is knowing that disagreement alone is not a threat to authority. David understands that.

David and I got along well because neither of us took disagreement with our opinion personally. We also have something even more important in than politics in common, our love of family and understanding of priorities. Family comes first. Work is a means to that end.

When I worked for him, David put in his 40 hours a week but rarely more than that. Don’t get me wrong, that was not because he was averse work. I think he may have called in sick two days in the 5 years I worked for him. After work, he would spend his non-work time with or doing things for his family. There were a number of times that he would finish his work day, then go do more hours of volunteer work to raise money for his son’s hockey league.

One thing the news story doesn’t show is the difficulty in bringing an adopted child into the home. I know that David and Shannon’s road was not all rainbows and sunshine while expanding their family. In spite of some difficult times, I think they would say the rewards are worth the effort.

My own desire for another child (or children?) has grown, especially in the last few months. I am beginning to accept that Bailey is likely to be our only one – biologically anyway. Honeybun and I have talked briefly about adoption. Anyway, we understand it to be an possibility. David and Shannon’s example encourages me to think more seriously about it. I would like Bailey to be a bit older and I want to get my post-graduate career in place first, but it is something I want to pursue.

David and Shannon are doing God’s work. I pray He blesses them for it. I think He has.

Best rum cake ever

Rum cake, originally uploaded by semperjase.

Honeybun came back from visiting her parents this week. My in-laws have the best neighbor ever. Whenever she hears I’m going to be there to visit, she bakes a rum cake.

No, not merely a rum cake. She bakes a little piece of heaven.

This time I wasn’t able to make the trip, but she sent back a slice of her famous rum cake with Honeybun.

Too bad the blog doesn’t come with Smell-O-Vision, because this stuff is AWESOME!

Eating the cake
Did I mention how good this tastes?


This moring Honeybun and I were driving all around Denver doing some shopping and errands. While we were driving the flow of conversation reminded me of a comment an old friend had once told me. We talked about him for about 30 seconds and the conversation moved on, my old friend quickly forgotten again.
I met Jeff about 11 years ago at work while we were in training for a new position. We became unlikely friends. He was 10 years older than me and married with a 15 year-old daughter. I was still single (although living with Honeybun) and had no plans for children. We just didn’t seem to have much in common, but, thanks to a similar sense of humor, we hit it off and were good friends.I remember one time at an after work off site meeting, a VP from out of state was giving a talk about the direction of the department. Jeff and I had been joking around and by the time the VP started to talk we had each other in stitches. We could not stop laughing during the speech. We finally had to stop looking at each other to compose ourselves. I wouldn’t say we were “best” friends, but Jeff was one of those rare people you meet who is just comfortable to be around.
About a year later he moved to another company. We kept in contact for a couple of years but eventually lost touch because of time and distance. I haven’t seen Jeff in seven or eight years.
Later in the afternoon Honeybun and I decided to look in Kohl’s for something we had been looking for at six other stores. As I walk in the door, I hear “Jason?”. Wouldn’t you know it, Jeff was standing in the check out line. I would have walked within 20 feet of him and not noticed if he hadn’t called my name. This is just weird. I hadn’t even thought of him in years. Yet on the very day I briefly remember something he told me and wondered what he is doing now, I see him at a store.

Now this is where my mind is blown. Honeybun and I have shopped at Kohl’s exactly one other time in the past 10 years. Not only that, but Honeybun had suggested I drive around the building and park in front of a different entrance. Had I done so, we wouldn’t have seen him. And my not taking that suggestion is rare in itself.
What are the chances? It seems so incredibly strange.

I gave him my number. Hope he calls and we can catch up over lunch.