But then Matt flew back to Seattle and I flew back to San Francisco and we settled back into pretty much never calling each other, and I found myself in the same place I was when he moved, with my wife as my sole, genuine confidante. But this time, I decided to get proactive. I started with an old climbing buddy and two people I knew through married-couple get-togethers. To all three, and mostly through a lack of imagination, I suggested dinner minus the wives. All three said more or less the same thing — "Hell yes, when?" — which confirmed that I wasn't the only middle-aged guy looking for a buddy. In all three cases, the pattern was the same: first, a few pleasant meals together, followed by a sense that dinner wasn't exactly our proper form, and then the acknowledgment that we needed an activity. But that hardly adds up to a male deficit.
I solved the problem easily enough with the dinner-party husbands by inviting them over a little before the wives and kids, so we could shoot the breeze while cooking a meat-centric meal together. My old climbing partner and I began trading emails about adventures we could have together. He voted for a big alpine climb; I proposed a triathlon; and we settled on cycling. We agreed on a 100-mile race a couple months away, signing up online. He sent me an email saying, "Might as well bang out some training rides together, huh? Just to beat the boredom?"
One morning, I got home from a long training ride with him just as Liz returned from dropping the kids at school. She said, "How was biking, honey?"