Hey Dad…Be My Friend?
By Matt Park
Being a dad gets lonely sometimes. I spend most of my free time taking care of my daughter and any time left is spent sleeping. I haven’t seen my friends as much as I’m used to. Most of them don’t have kids, so our schedules don’t really line up to socialize.
My daughter is almost 3 and she is starting to make friends in her daycare class. It’s great to hear her classmates shout, “Cassandra!!!” with joy and wonder when I drop her off in the morning. They run up to her and hug her and she asks them to hug her stuffed bunny and then they ask her to hug their stuffed animals. It’s pretty adorable. Even for someone who doesn’t really like children.
Imagine how awesome our lives would be if we greeted each other with joy and wonder every day.
A few months ago, my wife Amy and I were at the park playing with Cassandra. We were watching a group of parents socializing and my wife turned to me and said, “Should we be making friends with other people with kids?”
I responded, “God, the thought of having to go out and make new friends scares the bejeezus out me. I wouldn’t even know what to say. What do you say? Do you just walk up to parents and say, hi, we have kids… you have kids and we’re lonely… we need new friends… can we be friends? They would probably look at you like you were crazy!”
Amy laughed and said, “You’re overthinking it. Human beings are social creatures. We like making new friends.” She looked over at a dad playing with his daughter and said, “Look. There’s a dad that could be your friend. He looks normal. Why don’t you go over and try and be his friend?”
I gave her a look like I just shit my pants. “You gotta be kidding me! What if I freak him out? What do I do?”
“God, Matt. Just go over there with Cassandra and introduce yourself.”
I looked around as if we were being recorded. “Man… I wish I could smoke some weed before doing that.”
“Matt, we need to make new friends with parents. We don’t know anyone else with kids. Also, any new parent friends can be potential babysitters for us when we want to go out.”
I was starting to sweat. “Can’t you go over there with me and be my wingman? Or maybe you can introduce me or something”
She laughed and said, “Nah… that would be weird. Just go over there and be yourself. You can do this.”
I took a deep breath, stood up and said, “OK… fuck it. I can do this.” I grabbed Cassandra and we walked over to the dad.
I introduced myself. He shook my hand and noticed I was wearing a Replacements T-shirt. He asked me if I was from Minnesota (I am). He said he grew up in St. Paul, which is my hometown. His daughter was playing with some blocks and she offered to share a few with my daughter. She sat down next to his daughter and they started playing together. I thought to myself Matt, this is going pretty well. This guy seems cool and I’m not being weird or fucking this up. Don’t fuck this up, Matt. We found out we liked the same bands. I told him I was in a band, and he seemed impressed. He said he used to play drums but ever since he had his kid, he didn’t have much free time.
“Yeah, don’t I know. Free time! Where does it go? I don’t have much of it these days. I spend most of my time wiping my daughter’s ass,” I said and laughed nervously. I thought, God, that was weird. Hang in there. Don’t be weird. As we kept talking, I got less and less nervous. An inner monologue began:
Hey. Maybe I’ve met a new friend. We’ll hang out in a few weeks. Bond about being dads. Our kids will become best friends and maybe they will even stay friends like Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey in Beaches. But one of them won’t get sick and die. They will both live long lives and tell their grandkids about how they became friends because their dads were friends. Maybe I’ll form a band with this dad and we’ll record cool DIY low-fi punk albums together. Maybe we’ll go on tour and get famous or something. Who knows? Maybe he’ll introduce me to other cool dads and moms and Amy and I will have new friends and they will give us great advice on how to parent an insane 2-year-old who is slowly draining our zest for life?
Suddenly I heard Amy’s voice. “We should be getting home for dinner.” I had lost track of time. I introduced Amy to the dad and we said our goodbyes and our daughter gave his daughter a hug and we all said, “Awwwww.”
As we were walking away, Amy said, “Well, that seemed to go well.”
I smiled. “Yeah. We really got along. He grew up in Minnesota. We both like the same type of music. He plays the drums. I think I made a new friend.”
Amy smiled. “That’s great. Well, you should call him and hang out soon. Maybe we can arrange a playdate.”
The joy ran out of my face. “Oh no. I forgot to get his number.”
“Matt! That was the whole point! Go back there and get it.”
I looked back at the dad and his daughter. They were getting ready to leave.
“OK. Hold on. I’m going to go get it.” I sprinted back toward the dad.
“Hey, I forgot to get your number. I mean. I just think that we really hit it off and… well, y know. You’re a dad. I’m a dad. We should hang out sometime. I mean. I hope this isn’t weird, right? I’m not being weird, right? I mean. It just gets so lonely sometimes. I don’t have any other friends -- I mean I do have friends. My wife and I have friends. We’re not weird… or desperate. We’re just… We’re just lonely and want to make new friends. We should be friends. You like music. I like music. We’re both from Minnesota. I’m sorry. I don’t know how to do this.”
The dad laughed and then I laughed. He said it was OK and we exchanged numbers. I ran back over to Amy. She gave me a look and said, “You were weird.”
I looked back at the dad and waved goodbye. “Yeah, I was weird. I’m probably going to wait a week until I call him. I don’t want to come across as too desperate.”
Amy shook her head as we left the playground.
I never called the dad. I chickened out. I waited a week and then I thought that I waited too long. A week turned into 2 weeks and by then I thought it would be even weirder if I called the dad. He may have even forgotten about me.
OK. So I messed that one up, but it was my first try. I’m just going to keep putting myself out there and I know I will make new friends that happen to be dads. If any dads are reading this, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. We should get together and hang out. I promise I’m not weird.
Matt Park is a songwriter, guitarist, poet, and actor. He co-wrote music for Ma-Yi's production of Peer Gynt and the Norwegian HAPA Band at ART/NY in the winter of 2016. He played lead guitar in Diana Oh's My Lingerie Band and performed in My Lingerie Play at The Rattlestick Theater in the fall of 2017. He is 1/2 of the band CUTE with Diana Oh and co wrote 24 Punk with her which was performed at The New York Musical Festival, Joe's Pub, and The Bushwick Starr. He is currently working on orchestrations for Rebecca Lee Lerman's Heartbreak Hotel which is being works shopped at the Tank and Gallery Players in the winter/spring of 2019.