‘I’m going to be real’

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Jonathan Gordon sometimes wishes his college buddies would talk about more serious topics. The group of four men, who met on their freshman floor at the University of Virginia and are now in their 30s, have all been groomsmen in one another’s weddings. They have gone on international trips together. They all consider the other men in the group their closest friends.

So why don’t they ever actually talk about their feelings?

“I’ve always thought it’s funny that we talk about things that are completely inconsequential 80 to 90 percent of the time,” said his friend Alex Hyde, 32, over a joint Zoom call last week.

When the friends get together in person, for a beer or dinner, the deeper details “sneak in by accident,” Hyde said. Now that they can’t, the more serious topics don’t come as naturally over text. It feels more raw, Hyde said. “In general with other guys, there’s a certain amount of harassment that goes with anything you say … you got to be ready for that.”

It feels impossible not to revert to making fun of each other, Gordon said. “We have no self-restraint. … I can’t not crack up. We set each other off,” he said. “In an ideal world, we wouldn’t do that.”

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These are the kinds of conversations Argueta, the 35-year-old in Falls Church, had come to expect from his friendships with other men.

On Saturday, when a couple of friends came over to help him set up his PC, Argueta expected them to roast him for looking like a “broke college student” in his new studio, where he has barely put anything on the walls and he has cords all over his desk.

But instead, the two friends asked him to talk about what led up to his breakup, and how he was handling the past few months. Argueta opened up to them — about his past relationship, the move, the pandemic, everything. He was more personal with them than he had ever been before.

One of his friends reminded him he could call the group on Discord anytime. “Just talk, just say anything,” the friend said. “Somebody’s going to answer.”

Argueta planned to send them a group text message soon, thanking his friends for coming over and for “bailing me out in more ways than you think.” He wanted to keep being honest about what he was going through.

“I’m going to be real,” he said.

He wondered if they would do the same.

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