The Wall Street Journal has a bizarre story of four grown men who’ve been playing a game of tag for 23 years:
It started in high school when they spent their morning break darting around the campus of Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane, Wash. Then they moved on—to college, careers, families and new cities. But because of a reunion, a contract and someone’s unusual idea to stay in touch, tag keeps pulling them closer. Much closer.
The game they play is fundamentally the same as the schoolyard version: One player is “It” until he tags someone else. But men in their 40s can’t easily chase each other around the playground, at least not without making people nervous, so this tag has a twist. There are no geographic restrictions and the game is live for the entire month of February. The last guy tagged stays “It” for the year.
I guess this game beats Facebook pokes, but:
The participants say tag has helped preserve friendships that otherwise may have fizzled. Usually, though, the prospect of 11 months of ridicule overrides brotherhood.
This was a timely piece for me, as this was on my mind over the weekend: can men and women just be friends? In an op-ed for The New York Times, William Deresiewicz writes:
There’s a history here, and it’s a surprisingly political one. Friendship between the sexes was more or less unknown in traditional society. Men and women occupied different spheres, and women were regarded as inferior in any case. A few epistolary friendships between monastics, a few relationships in literary and court circles, but beyond that, cross-sex friendship was as unthinkable in Western society as it still is in many cultures.
From his own personal experience, the author concludes:
Consult your own experience, but as I look around, I don’t see that platonic friendships are actually rare at all or worthy of a lot of winks and nudges. Which is why you don’t much hear the term anymore. Platonic friendships now are simply friendships.
The one portion I disagree with:
Friendship isn’t courtship. It doesn’t have a beginning, a middle and an end.
Friendships can begin and end as easily as romantic relationships. Your thoughts?
Related: a must-read on solitude and leadership, also by William Deresiewicz.