Yesterday we went to Brooklyn to participate in a potluck celebration of the birth of my first and probably only grandchild. It was a lovely event; the room was filled with young faces and lots of love. What surprised and impressed me most were the young men who were present.
As I moved around the room, I encountered faces I haven’t seen for maybe a year or two, some for five years, and others for almost ten years…faces of my son’s “guy friends” whom I’ve met at various stages in his life over the years. It was fascinating to see how much they have changed in some ways, yet still kept their sweet boyish personalities. As my daughter said, “the girls were lovely and sweet, too, but a bit more reserved. The boys were ” no pretenses; what you see is what you get!”
The first young man I noticed was S. who welcomed us with a very warm embrace then returned to his hosting tasks, helping his partner set up the room. He is my son’s most recent friend of a few years and they have collaborated on several film-related projects, so I was curious to get to know him better. Every time I saw him throughout the evening he was busy attending to one thing or another: picking up discarded plates and cups, helping to set the food items on the table, making sure everyone had what they needed. I found myself watching him in amazement at his awareness of what needed to be done (not so common a trait among most men I’ve known) and his good nature at getting done what needed to be done. More than once I patted him on back or the arm in affection and appreciation. His wife, the host, was also very warm and friendly.
At first I didn’t even recognize the second BFF (Boy Friend Forever), but I think that’s only because I haven’t seen him in several years. When he was pointed out to me in his baseball cap, R. looked surprisingly like he hadn’t changed much at all. He was still very youthful looking and still full of boisterous exuberance. As I crossed the room to say hello, he recognized me and enfolded me in a very warm and close embrace. He physically hadn’t aged a day! When younger, he was very exuberant, but his conversations were generally more me-centered rather than connected to his specific audience. He has become much more aware of making a connection with whomever he is talking to and I felt he was genuinely happy to see me. His girlfriend had just proposed to him and he was full of endearing emotion when sharing that story.
A third young man appeared much later in the party. At first I didn’t even recognize him and asked my daughter who it was. When she replied, “It’s T., I immediately felt a wave of fondness sweep over me.” He had been my son’s first close friend at Georgetown. Both passionately interested in filmmaking and inseparable, they collaborated on projects for several years after graduation. Back then T. had a classic Italian face, a shadowy beard and very intensely beautiful dark eyes. Now his face is finely chiseled, his features more refined, his eyes as beautiful and intense as ever…. He, too, welcomed me with a warm embrace but seemed a bit more reserved than the others, probably because it’s been so long since we’ve seen each other. I inquired about his wife whom I’ve never met, but she had another engagement. I watched him walk away and admired his cool elegance.
The fourth and last encounter was a complete surprise. Introduced as the boyfriend of a friend of my daughter-in-law, M. was a complete stranger to me. When the potluck shower was over a few of Kate and Matt’s friends moved to a nearby spot, the mini-bar on Court Street. We were invited to join them and were introduced to M. He is a very tall, thin and striking-looking Greek, his hair pulled back in a pony tail and sparkling dark eyes. I told him my daughter and I had been to Greece recently, and we immediately launched into a conversation about Greece, its history, topography, culture and so on. He is a PhD. researcher studying glaucoma. With all the qualities I admire in a man, I quickly developed a crush on him. He reminded me so much of an old fling I had with a passionate Hungarian in the graduate English Department at SUNY Buffalo.
All of the “boys” I had met that night were at the minibar except T. who had left the party earlier. As I sat there and watched my son interact with his BFF (Boy Friends Forever), I felt a warm glow. I knew he was in good hands in this community of warm, talented and loving men (and their partners) who would be by his side through life’s inevitable challenges. And I knew that the reason they were all present is because my son is one of them: a smart, talented, humble and loyal partner and friend. (He is on the far right, facing the camera.)