I’m not watching the Giants-Cowboys game next week. Well, I’m going to try to catch the start and the end, but my friend scheduled a going away dinner for that night and I’m going to be there starting at 8:45. There’s a bar across the street from the restaurant where I can catch the game, but the restaurant itself doesn’t have any TVs and, if memory serves, crummy cell reception. So I’ll focus on spending my last few moments with this friend before he moves to LA.
I’d never really had a friend go to the hospital with a life threatening condition until a few weeks ago. I heard about my grandparents’ deaths or imminent deaths over the phone, so I know that used to be the m.o. But now you hear about people going to the hospital over IM. When a friend IM’ed me “did you hear about N?” I assume he meant that he was getting engaged. No, he was in the hospital in critical condition.
I won’t pretend that N is my best friend or that I was his, but he is probably in that second tier of friends who you know well, have some in-jokes with and are invited to the bachelor party even if you’re not a groomsman. So I freaked out. It was a Monday at work and I had a big project due. I ran into my boss’s office and told him that I couldn’t think straight right now and had to go home after about 30 minutes. The boss told me to go.
The next several hours were spent on WebMD and spreading word to that third-tier of friends with whom I was closest. N and I were the same year in college and had lived in the same house together, but I was closer with the younger guys in the fraternity so I spent my time emailing and gchatting them to make sure they knew. N is in the hospital. It’s not good.
Guy friends cycle in and out of your life. I spend a lot of time with my coworkers now, but who knows if we’ll still be doing the same in 5 or 10 years? But I have noticed that of all the friends I’ve made; high school, college, law school, work; the ones who’ve stuck have been sports fans. We always had that. Especially the football fans. They’re always guys I can go to the bar with, catch a game, and let the action take over for lulls in the conversation.
Making guy friends isn’t like picking up chicks in bars. ”Oh, that’s Bobby, met him at The Riv. Solid dude, loves the Giants and UVA. Probably an 8 out of 10.” But I do know a few guys that I met sideways through friends of friends who I’ve hung out with because they’re football fans too and, hey, I always am down to watch the game and grab some drinks.
That first week, N stabilized. He’s young (a month younger than me) and in good shape so that helps. The process makes you realize just how helpless and worthless you can be sometimes. It’s the doctors’ show now. It’s not like visiting would help. His parents and girlfriend are already overwhelmed. They’re grateful for your support, but they don’t want to hear from you. He’s helpless, you’re helpless, and it’s not in your hands right now.
N is a big Eagles fan. Friendship can easily survive cheering for rival teams; I have more in common with a big Eagles fan than I do with someone who hates sports altogether. It’s like how a really religious Jew has more in common with a really religious Christian than they do with me, an agnostic who hasn’t set foot in a synagogue on his own volition in more than 5 years.
I wonder if the Eagles doing well will help his recovery. We know that it won’t be easy, and if the Eagles do well it might give him a boost. I’ve never had to come back from a hemorrhage, so I don’t know if it really can boost your spirits and help your recovery. All I know is that I’m N’s friend and a Giants fan. If we were watching those games together he’d expect me to make fun of their lack of Super Bowls and I’d expect him to bring up DeSean Jackson. I do nothing but wish him the best every day. But I don’t think he’d ever expect me to wish the Eagles the best. So screw it, fuck the Eagles.
N is doing better now. For weeks it’s been “he’s made progress, but he’s not out of the woods.” It’s still scary to see someone as vigorous as he was (sometimes a little too vigorous for his own damn good) be forced to recuperate from this. But we’re all hopeful for his recovery.
The last time I saw N we were at an airport, headed back from a wedding. Him to Washington, me to New York, our flights a few hours apart. We sat around drinking watery beers, talking about how far we’d come from college, how we were both successful guys, how things were going well for us. Little did I know that he had a weak group of blood vessels in his brain that would burst two months later. Now I don’t know the next time I’ll get to see him, or what he’ll be like when I do.
So I’m missing the Giants game to say goodbye to another friend as he moves to LA. I’ll try to make it out there at some point, but his wife is pregnant and he’ll be busy with their new son (knock wood, of course) for a while. But I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t be sure of anything. Best to cherish the friends you hold dear now.
It’s football season! I’m going to miss a lot of games though. Weddings, bachelor parties, trips abroad and other stuff take their toll. Most are to be with friends, some who I haven’t seen in a while. One weekend I’m seeing my sisters; I’m one of those lucky people whose siblings will be the last two people in his corner when he hits rock bottom. And I’ll miss a Giants game on account of my parents; I’m not big on religion but the Fifth Commandment does hold a lot of sway with me.
Football season is to be enjoyed with friends, not at the expense of them. So this season, remember that missing the games isn’t the worst thing in the world. And always try to catch them with someone you like. Oh, and Eagles suck.