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Boys never tell their friends they love them. They’d rather punch each other in the arm, or make fun of their girlfriend’s new glasses, or call each other words they’d never say in front of their mothers. That’s one true thing about love; there’s only one way to say, “I love you,” but insults are infinite. There’s a sense of depth to them – and darkness, too – like the ocean at night, and there’s a sort of undertow that leads you away from the safety of the beach. But despite all of that, it somehow feels warmer than the kiddy-pool praises handed out by parents, teachers, and everyone else.
(Oh, and yes: You do get used to the temperature once you jump in.)
Back to boys: They’ll hand each other a wrench when they’re fixing their bike, or later, their piece of shit used truck that they protect like it’s their last kidney. They’ll offer suggestions, they’ll give feedback, they’ll debate, they’ll dream, they’ll drink, they’ll drink some more, they’ll throw it up and never let each other forget about it. They’ll drink borrowed beer and stolen whiskey in parking lots at night and smoke weed in park bathrooms in the morning. They’ll pass them the ball on the basketball court and block for them on the football field. They’ll cover for each other, make up excuses, invent signals, blow smoke, cause distractions. They’ll lie, as big and as often as necessary, and then lie about the first lie, wash, rinse, repeat. But if they have to (and only if it’s necessary), they’ll tell the truth, the hard truth, the uncomfortable truth, the truth that hurts, the truth that is heavy enough to split the ground and suck at least one person down.
They’ll be a wingman, a main man, a best man, they’ll grow close, they’ll grow distant, they’ll reconnect, they’ll move away, they’ll grow up. They’ll get laid and married and arrested and, if they’re lucky, get out of their hometown. They’ll go to work, they’ll go to war, they’ll drag each other across the desert on the other side of the world, bleeding, speeding, screaming toward death completely unafraid, just to save the buddy that they love…
…but they never tell them that they do.
Ryan K. Mason is a confessional poet, entrepreneur, and educator living in Connecticut. He draws his inspiration from visual art, sex, travel, and of course, other writers. His work has been featured in the Anak Sastra, Litro, Good Life, and Prenumbra Literary Journals.