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The lusty month of May beim Spo-Haus is a quiet four weeks compared to its counterparts to wit there is nothing particularly interesting in it. June-October is full up with fun times but not May. Jonathon Coulton and Julie Andrews are just big liars. May is mostly a slightly tedious countdown to Memorial Day weekend. Until then it is daily doings and drudgery:  get up, go to work, try to lose weight – try again that sort of thing. This year I have Memorial Day weekend plans. Someone is working all that weekend so rather than staying home and wandering about like Henrik the Ghost I will go north to Flagstaff to stay at my friend’s B&B. This is the last time to do so as Richard recently sold the place. I am to be one of his last customers before he turns on the ‘no vacancy’ sign for good.

My friendship with Richard is what my aunt called a ‘context friend’. This is sort of pal for only one task. Apart from that specific activity there is no contact otherwise.  I see Richard when I visit Flagstaff; we don’t call or hang out otherwise. I sense when he moves to Washington we won’t stay in touch.

When I lived in Chicago I had a friend named Chuck I saw once a year. We went apple-picking every autumn. We did not meet at any other time of the year; neither one of us seemed to want such. Context friends seem to be a guy thing as I don’t think there is a female counterpart.* Context friends often happen in male social settings like sports teams or clubs. In these activities guys are chummy but they don’t dream of contacting each other otherwise. It is sort of an assignment-type friendship; after the task is done you all go home. One often doesn’t know much about the other guy even after years of doing the mutual past time.

Brother #4 goes hunting every fall with a bunch of dudes and Brother #3 gets together every autumn to attend U of M football games. They often tell me how fun their buddies are, yet they don’t seem to know much about them.  Their wives find this incredible.

“How is Joes’ new baby?” one of their wives might ask when he comes back from his boy’s night.

“What baby?”

You spent all afternoon with Joe and you don’t know about their new born??”

“He didn’t say anything we were hunting”.

Context friends are/were seldom viewed by men as a problem or something that needed expansion. Guys are more at ease perhaps with comrades they walk with only brief time while on Life’s road. Chuck and I were happy to go apple picking once a year. I will miss Richard when he leaves but apparently not enough to keep in touch.

Context friends seem to be more of a thing of the past.  I sense the decline in context friends is more about men not having time to hang out with each other than an improvement to share more about themselves. Context friends at least were something; nowadays men seem to have almost none.

*Spo-fans: do you have context friends? Do you feel OK with them?  Spo-fans of the female persuasion: do you have context friends?

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