I’ve known Stan my whole life. He and my dad were friends in college and kept in touch afterwards. I don’t remember ever being formally introduced to Stan, I just remember him being around. My dad would invite him over to watch sports from time to time, and the two would spend the day chatting about the current games before inevitably remembering some obscure sporting event from when they were in college. Almost comically, they would alternate who’s turn it was to invite the other over. And they never broke the cycle.
As a child, I thought all adults were married, and so I always wondered why Stan wasn’t. On the surface he seemed like a nice guy. He had a steady job, wasn’t bad looking, and was in shape (he was a dedicated runner). Yet for as long as I can remember, he’s been living with his mother in a two-bedroom apartment. He was always nice to me even though it was clear he wasn’t really sure how to deal with kids.
Nearly 32 years after I was born, Stan and my dad still get together regularly to watch sports. My dad, of course, has a wife and two sons. Stan still lives with his mom.
This past weekend, a friend I hadn’t seen in a while sent me an email inviting me to a barbecue. I see him periodically, and I looked forward to catching up with him and seeing how big his son has gotten. Then it occurred to me: the last time I saw him was also at a barbecue at his place last year. I wondered if his son, who was three last year, would even remember me. I’m not sure what his wife thinks of me – this single guy who never asks to bring a girl over. She and I always chat politely.
All of a sudden it hit me: I am Stan. I’m the single guy who comes over every once in a while. Granted, I don’t live with my mother, but that distinction seems particularly arbitrary at this point in time. That’s me. My friend’s son is going to know me from his childhood, and maybe into adulthood, as the guy who stopped by periodically…alone.