I do something terrible every morning while riding the subway: I judge other men. I don’t do it out loud (I’d be dead by now), but my inner dialogue is a catty, fierce firestorm of “Those ratty boots? With that suit? C’mon, dude. Get it together!” or “Is that… are you… are you really not combing or conditioning your beard? What lives in that thing?”
“Who told you that looks OK?” I think at all of them.
That’s the thing: No one is telling them it looks okay. More importantly, their friends aren’t telling them that that doesn’t look OK.
If your buddy is doing something that just isn’t working, whether it’s something he’s wearing or how he handles himself in certain situations, say something. If you don’t, who will?
I don’t know about you, but friendship is built on trust. Trust is built on honesty. Honesty is built on full disclosure.
If your friends aren’t telling you that you: look fat, dress sloppy, stink, or any other personal care infraction, they’re not very good friends.
Just last week, I confronted a good friend about his hair, or lack thereof. Let’s call him Luke. Luke is still a pretty young dude, takes care of himself, and in pretty much all walks of life has his shit together. People like him. He’s doing pretty well for himself: Married, an amazing daughter, works out, eats well, the whole deal.
Luke is in his 30s and he’s losing his hair at a rapid clip. But he’s still getting his hair cut like this isn’t happening: Long on top and short on the sides, styled with plenty of product. It ends up looking like an early-onset comb-over, and it’s not pretty.
So we were at our usual post-work whiskey spot in the city. It was a pretty slow Monday, and he’d just come from a fresh haircut. He was feeling good, and I vacillated on dropping the bomb, but I knew I had to. It was time. I was a friend. I was a good friend. He would do it for me, right? He’ll thank me!
“Luke,” I begin, “Let’s talk about your new haircut.”
“Okayyy,” he stumbles.
“It’s over, man. You’re losing your hair. It’s time to go short or just shave it.”
He was stunned. Crestfallen. Deflated. Emasculated. He hated me.
“No way, man,” he began. “Christine is the best. She knows men’s hair.”
“She also gets paid to do what you say, Luke.”
He sighed. He took a sip of whiskey. He took another. He stretched his back and clenched his fists. I prepared for the worst. I surveyed our surroundings for exits, spotted the nearest staff member who could dispel a situation. I was regretting my decision to be straight with him.
He breathed in, held it, looked me in the eyes, and said, “Thanks” flatly. He then said “Thanks” again, this time more conclusively, nodding his head. He looked relieved. He smiled at me. He did a nose laugh. He punched me in the shoulder and said, “Your jeans are lame.”
The next day, he went to a barber, and for $6 got his head shaved. Turns out he’s got a pretty nice dome and his wife loves the new streamlined look. She thanked me on Facebook this morning, in fact. I’m pretty sure Luke got laid. Luke’s feeling good.
So if your buddy is doing something that just isn’t working, whether it’s something he’s wearing or how he handles himself in certain situations, say something. If you don’t, who will? His mom? His wife? Blake?? Trust me: He doesn’t want to hear this from his wife or his mom. But coming from you, he’ll digest it. He’ll take it at face value. He’ll listen. He’ll punch you in the arm and take care of it, and you’ll both be better men for it.
If you see something, say something. No one else will.