We sit at the bar, free drinks in our hands, discussing our hopes and dreams. Well, Walter’s hopes and dreams.
“30 before 30,” he says earnestly, “That’s the goal.”
I look at him in disbelief, “Oh really?” I laugh.
“Yep,” he sighs, “But it’s looking like that’s not going to happen,” he says and makes a heart wrenching sad-face. Walter is a master of making faces. If we were sitting at a bar in ancient Greece, sculptors and mask creators would swarm us, all hoping to model their art from Walter’s visage. Alas, it is 2012. Thus Walter is an actor/bartender, like nearly everyone at this bar.
I grab his shoulders, look him in the eye. My face the picture of (faux) sincerity, “Don’t you say that, buddy!” I mock, my voice laden with sarcasm, “You can do anything if you put your mind to it! I believe in you.”
I’m usually an incredibly supportive friend, I swear.
It is a blogging cliché, a meme you have likely seen bogging down the blogosphere or your Facebook wall:
30 before 30!
1. Give up soda to fit back into high school jeans and run a marathon while wearing them
2. Explore Africa and get a to-scale tattoo mapping out travel route on ass (butt crack = the Nile)
3. Learn French and read the complete works of Shakespeare in French translation (Être ou ne pas être, c’est la question.)
And so on and so forth, a list of 30 things the author hopes to accomplish by age 30, to be crossed off and dated upon completion.
Break agency rules, go on internet, and update blog while temping at a consulting firm in the middle of Times Square. 2/8/12
I do not know if Walter has a blog (that said, he doesn’t know I have one), but it wouldn’t surprise me. We met working at a renaissance faire. He devotes hours to video games and subscribes to gamer magazines. When I work a video game promotion, he’s the only one of my friends who appreciates the swag. He created scavenger hunts for my past two birthdays. His hobby is juggling clubs, rings, you name it. He was the fat kid on the playground (I’ve seen pictures). It’s easy to describe him as a total geek.
However, it’s also easy to describe him as a total frat boy. He pledged ΦΩζ his freshman year. We became friends doing push-ups. It took weeks of constant berating, but I finally got him to stop calling them “girl push ups”. He takes his liquor seriously and can drink more than any one I know. I finally learned to stop having drunken heart-to-hearts with the guy because he has no memory of them come morning. Now I get him to tell stories: of his frat-boy college days, of the time he slept with three girls in one 24 hour period, of how he wants to multiply that number by ten before her hits the big 3-0. Stories of how that prospect is so close, but so far. There is one obstacle thwarting Walter’s plan. The poor guy has a triple threat of a girlfriend: actress/dancer/model. Smart/beautiful/great-sense-of-humor. She’s a dream killer!
Walter’s “30 before 30” is the stuff chick-flicks are made of. The stuff of frat boy fist bumps. The stuff of drunk-at-an-open-bar conversations. The stuff of cliché (I told you men come to Manhattan for 2 Fs! Food and Fucking!)
But it’s also the stuff of fat-twelve-year-old boy-who-pretty-girls-won’t-look-twice-at dreams. Wally’s very lucky to have that boy in his past. He’s grown up to be a well-rounded, attractive man who walks the line between charm and douche like an incredibly skilled tightrope walker. I feel lucky to have him as a friend. There’s no one else with whom I could have a similar conversation (“I want to fuck 30 bitches!”) and feel the same.
“Wally,” I say poignantly, “If it is the night before your thirtieth birthday and you are 29 for 30”, I pause dramatically, “I will be there for you.” It’s never going to happen, but hey, I told you I’m an incredibly supportive friend!