I like to claim that “dudes” is a gender neutral term to describe the people you hang out with most. I’ve also attempted to claim “bitches” is a gender neutral term to describe people you are excited to see. There’s a problem with both claims, in that interpretation largely forms the meaning of the word. If the image conjured up when I say “my dudes” is that of burly men on couches then that context informs how you read the rest of what is said about said “dudes.”
The fact that you have such a clear vision of who one is referring to when talking of “dudes” is the essential problem . When 90% of relationships represented on TV and film are between men, it is hard to not find archetype idols to follow. It’s tempting to simply fill in the template already created by society with slightly different traits in order to achieve uniqueness, as opposed to discarding the template altogether.
Problems arose when my group of “dudes” in college all grew facial hair. It may have been out of a mix of laziness, fear of being perceived as childlike, and an attempt to subscribe on only a minor level to the hipster subculture that was anything but a subculture at our school, but the result was that the conjured image of burly men on couches was fully realized.
Our common interests were hard to find. Each of us fashioned ourselves intelligent in our field, but our fields had little overlap. Psychology, History, Gender Studies, Mathematics, and Philosophy may seem connected, but only in that they all involve a college education. Instead our common thread became that we had all not had sex with girls that we had wanted to have sex with. Even our closest non-hetro dude (who unsurprisingly found our fulfillment of Apatow fantasies unfulfilling and began hanging out with us less over college) was connected because he was not having sex with men that he wanted to have sex with. So that became what we talked about. It’s not that I don’t like talking about that. I love talking about that. But it’s that that constant of a conversation begins to affect actions. Our other common interest was the nostalgic playing of Super Smash Bros. on N64. Since all we ever spoke of was our inability to achieve our sexual desires, the games became less about Falcon Punches and Down B’s of Yoshi and more about taking out anger on who we thought subscribed to the virtues of the book of “Not Getting Laid But Wanting To” worst – who was least dudely.
This was not a happy house. We once got into a screaming fight because half of us wanted to go to Noodles & Co. and half of us wanted to go to Subway.
Again I have found myself living in a world where my life revolves around a game and some men. Now, though, my conversations with each are different. They revolve around comedy & monogamy, fantasy sports & not getting laid, lady gaga & kanye, and granola & efficiency. I like every one of these conversations, but, more importantly, by diversifying what we talk about, our game (Settlers of Catan) stays about our game. When someone blocks a trade route t’s because that’s the best move for them not because that person has been backwardly bragging about the fact that they made out with some girl. They aren’t better people, and, honestly, I have no desire to hang out with good people, but our relationships are much healthier. The diversity of individual relationships creates a world where conformity becomes more difficult – where there is no template to simply fill in. Where you get to write your own template.
It’s not lost on me that my groups of dudes is significantly less heterosexual, but I think that has less to do with the differences than one would originally assume. Women obviously played a role in both groups, mostly that women became less and less interested in interacting with us the more and more our conversation revolved around our inability to have sex on them, but I think near the beginning of my college dudes’ group our relationship to femalia was similar. That’s all I’m going to say about other theories as to the quality of life because I like the theory that I’ve been writing about for a while and want you to think that it’s true.
Each of the men I’ve talked about from college and now are great people… great dudes, but Darjeeling Limited is a much better movie than The Royal Tenenbaums - relationships between individuals are more interesting than the individuals themselves.
I’ve often said that the only person I hate more than myself is all previous incarnations of myself. I hope that that continues to be true because that will mean that I’m always changing for the better.