I was once sold on the idea that having a gay male best friend would be so much fun! He’d be like Stanford, Carrie’s gay best friend on “Sex and The City,” or like Will, Grace’s gay best friend on “Will & Grace.” I was certain of it, because back then, I was quite naive and thought that what was shown on TV was real life.
Therefore, it was shocking to me, that the first male best friend I made, Ubongo (not his real name to protect his privacy), was not only straight but is also a combination of Ted in “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” Neo from “The Matrix,” and a Yakuza member. Really.
The first time I’d met Ubongo, back in 2004, he was dressed entirely in black. His hair was down to his shoulders, motorcycle jacket (correction: Ubongo says it’s a leather jacket with a small Star Wars rebels insignia), some chains, and a few tattoos. He was 6’2” to my 5’0”. It was not an exaggeration to say I was more than a little bit intimidated by him.
Luckily, his wife, Mrs. Ubongo, was super friendly and nice. She is even more petite than I am and seemed to not fear Ubongo one bit. She gave me the confidence to try talking to him.
Once I did, I never stopped. Ubongo and I bonded over our love for handball, board games, table tennis, Tetris, Coca-Cola, and instant noodles. What really cemented the friendship for me though, was how much I admire him.
I admire the way Ubongo treats every single friendship as precious and unique. I think Ubongo has around 9 or 10 best friends, both male and female, and he has never spoken about anything private relating to any of the best friends over the course of our 16+ years of friendship.
I admire the way he talks about all people and things. I don’t recall ever hearing him say anything mean, hurtful, or judgmental. If a person or event really made him upset, Ubongo would say something like, “Well, that’s A being A.” or “It’s messed up. What can you do?” All in a gentle, contemplative, therapist-like voice.
Most of all, I admire the way Ubongo gives me advice. He only gives advice when I ask him. He goes out of his way to assure me that it’s his opinions only. He’s stands on the side of reason and logic, which means many times in the past he was not on my side.
Ubongo changed my life. Sometimes I feel a bit embarrassed that he’s pretty much witnessed all the low points of my life. At the same time, I’m extremely grateful that he’s helped me recover from every single one of my faceplants onto the pavement.
From Ubongo, I’ve learned how to make friends with the opposite sex. Because of him, I now have an equal amount of male and female best friends. I’ve also learned how to be more caring and less judgmental. I’m extremely thankful to have met Ubongo.
Over our 16+ years of friendship, I’d always felt and continue to feel that I’m the weaker one, the one that needed protection. My hope for the future is that I will one day become capable enough for Ubongo to ask me for help.
I love Ubongo the way Troy loves Abed in “Community.” To many more years of friendship. Cheers!
Dear readers, what are your thoughts about platonic opposite-sex friendships? Please share in the comments. I’m curious. 😃
P.S. Have you ever seen an interrobang? I didn’t know what it was until Ubongo was grammar-checking this entry and telling me he is not feeling the dieresis over the “i” on the naive. However, he feels interrobangs are the shiznit.