Where We Live: The Bro Show

When you die, if you’ve got five real friends, you’ve had a great life-E Hubbard

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Hank Mandel
Photo:Chion Wolf
Where We Live: The Bro Show
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Where We Live: The Bro Show

Hank Mandel lives by a motto: When you die, if you’ve got five real friends, you’ve had a great life.

But real friendships between men - that’s not always easy.  

So awkward, in fact, that it seems they’re always the stuff of comedy - beer commercials and “buddy” flicks.  They’re called “bromances” and “man crushes” and anything to distract from the truth.

But what’s at the heart of this?  Why can guys only seem to bond over football and beer?  Why does telling your buddy “I Love You” always have to be followed by, “...man” and accompanied by a gentle punch in the shoulder?

Mandel and filmmaker Eric Santiago explore the complex world of male relationships in a new movie called “Five Friends” which is part of the Billings Forge “MashUp” happening all day long in Hartford.

Join the conversation: Do you have close male friends?  Are you able to share your feelings?  Hug each other?  Does even talking about this make you feel uncomfortable?  

Tonight 8:00 p.m. The film “Five Friends” will be showing at the day long Billings Forge “Mash Up” event – Lyceum auditorium - followed by a discussion with Hank.




Listener Email from Laura

My husband has had the same best friend since 1968! They are both wonderful men but.... having only met the friend when the were around 30.... they have very little in common in terms of family relationships, marriage/dating, or careers. Question: How much of men's friendships may depend on inertia - the Jerry Seinfeld line that, after a certain point, "we're no longer accepting applications"? (for friends). Maybe these two have remaind friends for so long because they DON"T talk about their feelings!

Listener Email from Harry

Great show! I look forward to the movie.

The closest my father ever came to hugging me was when his mother died. He was crying – I wasn’t, yet- and he put his hand on my shoulder and said, “That’s okay, son.”

Years later I was about to make a submarine patrol. Our captain called me into his stateroom and told me my father was dying of lung cancer (at age 57). He arranged for me to go on emergency leave to see my father. I flew from Rota, Spain to Philadelphia in my enlisted dress blues, seabag with the “EL” tag attached. I stopped in the lobby of the Philadelphia Naval Hospital and went to a pay phone and called my mother She said, “Don’t tell him he’s dying.” I regret that phone call.

When I went to his bedside, near midnight, I wanted to say, “I love you, Dad.” But I knew that statement would be telling him he was dying. So I didn’t say it. He died 5 weeks later. Oh, I knew he knew I loved him; I knew he loved me. But the words were never spoken.

When my son deployed to Afghanistan, and later to Iraq, I shook hands. My wife insisted, “Hug him!” I did, rather awkwardly, and continue to repeat that greeting every time. And I share the words “I love you.” I know he does with his sons. When I recently visited my new son-in-law, he greeted me with a big hug. Still awkward, but I respect his recently deceased father for HIS hugs to his son.

I’m now 65, and have about a dozen male friends. We always greet with handshakes – no hugs or “I love you” ... Yet – but the handshakes are de rigeur.