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If the bromance is fading, maybe it's time for a man-date Add to ...

The question

I met this dude in school and we've been friends for 10 years. But the last time we spoke I had that feeling - a bit like the feeling you get when your significant other is about to break up with you.

I'm thinking the bromance is over.

This is someone I used to look up to and admire. Now we are both married and have kids, but we have diverged somewhat. In the past, I would dump a friend for the slightest offence, but I stopped doing that because it seems petty. So now I think, well, I probably offended this friend without even knowing it. Should I just call it a day, or should I, after all this time, send him an e-mail asking WTF?

I don't talk to my wife about this because it has a tinge of gay to it. I mean, why would one dude be all knotted about another dude not calling him back, right?

The answer

If your "bromance" is starting to fade, maybe you should invite him out on a "man-date," and "bropose" to him, then the two of you can get "manried" and head off to a tropical "mancation" destination for a bromantic "manlimoon."

Ah, I'm just messing with ya, bro.

Also, I guess I'm poking a bit of fun at the "brocabulary" of man-prefixed terms that have been in vogue lately.

But I think I've got it out of my system now.

Cast off your fears of gayness, dude. First, there's nothing wrong with it (as they observed in Seinfeld).

Second, there's nothing wrong with loving your male friends. I have several male friends I'd be crushed to lose. If one of them said he was finally fed up with me and my antics, my heart would be bro-ken (okay, it's not out of my system). I'd have to walk around in the rain so no one could see I was crying, my manscara (okay, it's never going to stop) running down my cheeks.

Or I'd have to cut onions and if my wife asked what was the matter I'd say: "It's (sniff) just ... the onions, Pam."

But if she pressed me I'd probably crack, break down and sob onto her shoulder: "Oh, my God, I miss him, Pam. It hurts so ... much."

Does that make me any less mantastic? Any less heterolicious? I don't see why it should. Women - unless they're all lying to me - like a man with strong male friendships.

In fact, it was a crucial moment in the seduction of Pam, when, after our third date, I introduced her to my "bros." Then I crossed my fingers and prayed they'd behave.

They not only behaved, they outdid themselves. They cracked her up. "I love your friends, Dave," she said afterward. And at that moment, gentlemen, I knew: The deal was sealed.

In any case, I'm a big believer in keeping your friends at all costs. As Polonius says to Laertes in Hamlet: "Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried/Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel." It's hard to find friends. So when I do, I hang on to them like grim death.

So they screw up sometimes: so do you. I thought it was a great sign of maturity that in your letter you wrote that you no longer cut off friends for slight offences. I've had to forgive most of my friends something, and most of them have had to forgive me something.

The worst was when one of my friends in grad school made out with my girlfriend in the bathroom at a party.

Meanwhile, I sidled up outside, wanting to use the facilities. "Man," I said, laughing, to a group of people standing nearby, after about 15 minutes had elapsed, "whoever's in there sure is taking a long time." They shot me a funny look, I noticed, a look of pity mingled with consternation.

"What's with them?" I wondered. A couple of moments later my question was answered as my soon-to-be-ex-friend and my soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend stumbled out, clothes in disarray, hair messed up, lipstick smeared everywhere.

The humiliation and hurt were instantaneous and shattering, like a punch in the face from Mike Tyson. I thought I would never talk to him, or her, ever again in my life.

But life is long and in the end I got over it, and I'm glad I did. Today he's one of my greatest friends, a valued part of my world. And all that stuff that happened - it seems so long ago, now. It feels like it happened to other people.

So don't be afraid of making a "broverture" to your buddy. Not via e-mail: E-mail's too distanced a medium for discussing friction and problems. Call him and offer to buy him a drink. If he says no, well, you have your answer.

But at least you gave it a shot.

So yes: Go for it. Run, run like the wind, like a guy at the end of a bromantic comedy - or better yet borrow a motorcycle and zoom to his house, popping wheelies, the music swelling as you ride up on the sidewalk, weaving in and out of pedestrians and knocking over fruit stands - and materialize in his doorway with a UFC DVD in one hand and a six-pack in the other and, your face working with emotion, say to him: "Dude, it's killing me how we never hang any more."

Hang your heart out there. Show him how you feel. You've got nothing to lose, in my opinion, but your well-founded feelings of manxiety at the prospect of losing a good, old friend.

Okay, I'm really going to stop now.

David Eddie is a screenwriter and the author of Chump Change and Housebroken: Confessions of a Stay-at-Home Dad.I've made a huge mistake

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