I got a pedicure today. At a nail salon full of bros who are apparently way more committed to their homies than they are to toxic masculinity culture, because they are, as a group, on a serious long-term Friendship Adventure.
This a group of guys – like five burly, Latino dudes with a kind of cholo/bro/hip-hop aesthetic going on – in there who were all getting pedicures, as a group activity. And they were having a great time, chatting with each other and talking about their lives (you know, like friends do) and that kind of thing.
I overheard them explaining to someone who asked if it was for a special occasion that they want to “chill with the homies but doing the same shit every weekend was getting boring” so now they take turns coming up with stuff none of them have ever done and it’s “hella dope.”
They were totally into it, too; they even did the nail polish (black and orange for the Giants, naturally). Quote of the afternoon: “Bro this is dope. I feel fuckin baller right now.”
This was charming to me for many reasons: the excitement about the nail polish, the fact that they clearly didn’t even have an idea what a pedicure actually *was* but wanted to give it a shot, the fact that these guys have apparently got an ongoing thing where they find new and interesting stuff to do together (I wasn’t intending to eavesdrop, but the one guy was in the chair next to mine). And it seems like they’ve been taking turns at this for quite a while, apparently last weekend they went and played miniature golf and they also went to a dog show or something?
But the thing that made me feel really good about this (besides how stoked these guys were) was seeing a group of guys breaking out of the really stringent social posturing that men are forced into that keeps so many men from making and maintaining close friendships. But here these dudes were in all their cholo, butch glory, having a good time with the boys and realizing that this isn’t “women’s stuff” and not making jokes that say it is.
A group of guys who want to have fun with their friends and have new experiences and not “just drink beer and watch the game”. A group of guys committed enough to actively seek out new experiences to have together just because having friends is fun and why limit yourself?
When I see guys who are getting comfortable with emotional availability and close friendship, it makes me hopeful that there are cracks forming in the culture of toxic masculinity that produces emotionally cut off men, especially in the US. And while many people might say it’s inconsequential, I think it’s important!
Baby steps are still steps, and they still count even if someone is not doing them as a statement or an intentional throwing of society’s strict gender role enforcement to the wind. Actually, I think it counts almost more; when men realize that what they want is friends and closeness and they just go with it, rather than seeming like they’re punching a time card labeled “did my part to dismantle toxic masculinity today” and sort of expecting praise.
I hope they keep up having adventures together. With their amazingly soft feet and hella dope team spirit nail polish.