Flashback Friday: The Truth About “Bromances”

Story by Paul Nakayama 

I recently returned from a trip to Vancouver where my writing partner and I celebrated New Year’s Eve. To quote our generation, it was epic. Now, judging from the photo (below), you might assume that we went there as lovers, or perhaps even newlyweds. But, no, dear readers, it is, in fact, a “bromance” of the highest caliber. For those of you who’ve never heard of a bromance, it’s defined as a very close, or homosocial, friendship between two straight men. You’ve all seen examples of a bromance through television shows like Scrubs and Friends or movies like I Love You, Man. There are even real world examples like Ben Affleck and Matt Damon or George Clooney and Brad Pitt. It’s a strong bond formed from common interests and long periods of time spent together. Hearing this, my editor was unsatisfied, or rather, still suspicious, and she demanded a better explanation. I took a look at the photo again, and I thought maybe it is in my best interest to provide a few insights into this new definition of brotherhood.

The concept of guy-love is lost on those who have never experienced it (so, men from older generations or women). It’s not weird or strange anymore to see men display their affections for their buds physically. I’ve seen grown, bearded men shove aside a fist bump request and instead firmly place their chest against another man’s chest. It’s strange and perhaps unnerving to them to see men platonically bond while throwing in the occasional hugs, butt-slaps and friendly wrestling. Whatever happened to the good ol’ days of stoic machismo, they wonder? Well, these days it’s cooler to be cool with man-love.

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I remember one time in high school I spent the night at my best friend’s house once. His dad, an old- fashioned type, raised an eyebrow when we went into the hot tub to relax. When it was time to turn in, his dad seemed nervous about something, as if the fate of his son’s future rested on the events of this particular evening. He kept hanging around the room, which was a drag because we wanted to close the door and talk about girls. Finally, after long periods of pacing and internal debating, he looked at us and pointed at the bed. He stuttered, “You know, I don’t think the bed is big enough to hold both of you.”

What do you do when your dad, like many others, mistakes guy-love for gay love? It’s not like we were planning to share the bed, but we did what anyone would do when faced with an awkward opportunity to teach someone about tolerance. We went with it and antagonized the poor man. Arms around each other and a big grin on our faces, we said, “We’ll make it work.”

I thought some more on why bromances are so common these days. When did it all start? I wondered if it was somehow a natural progression from the emergence of the metrosexual man. I thought that the heavy use of high-end conditioner and facial moisturizer made our hearts as soft as our hair and skin. In all seriousness, though, single men these days are simply less concerned with the notion of being identified as gay than their fathers and grandfathers. If anything, I’ve seen bromances take pride in their ability to ride the razor’s edge of platonic and sexual. Take me, for instance. Whenever I get drunk, I tend to lift my brothers into the air a la Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing. I’m not trying to cop a feel (usually); there’s just no better way to show a brother you love him than by doing a ballet lift together.

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Bromances aren’t just an American thing. I’ve witnessed and experienced it on many of my travels, like Anthony Bourdain, but instead of food, I sampled male bonding. In Brazil, I befriended a group of the tallest, largest men I’ve ever met, and when I had trouble wading through the packed crowds, one of them actually lifted me up above the people and placed me in front of the bathroom. I said to him, “Obrigado, my gentle giant. Obrigado.” (True story.) In Hong Kong, I spent several nights drinking with guys that simply liked me because I could hold my liquor. Imagine that — bonding with strangers over such a superficial reason, and yet we were inseparable for days. In Singapore, I saw a club full of guys perform a synchronized interpretative dance to Madonna’s “Like a Prayer.” Actually, wait, that might’ve been a gay club; it was kind of confusing. Finally, in Korea, I saw men holding hands and kissing each other’s faces. Well, I wasn’t ready for the master class bromance, but you know, I just wanted to give you another example.

While most women comment that it’s “cute” to see men bond so closely, I’ve also had plenty of girls poke fun (with a hint of “what-the-eff” in their voices) at my bromances. When that happens, my buddies and I shrug it off because we know that it’s just jealousy. Now before I get angry letters from you (which I wouldn’t mind actually since it’s at least some evidence that someone is reading this), I’ll explain the source of the jealousy. It’s not uncommon for men these days to be more emotionally available to their man-mates than their actual girlfriends. There’s less emotional risk and you still get the satisfaction of catharsis. There’s no regard for what comes in the future; there’s only the enjoyment of the now. In other words, men can enjoy the intimacy of a long-lasting relationship without the dreaded “so-where-are-we-headed” talk. You combine that level of hassle-free friendship with man-dates that involve common interests in video games, sports, music and entertainment, and it’s not ironic that even the most commitment-phobic guys have at some point in their lives said to another guy: “Dude, if you were a girl, I’d marry you.”

Now, with the context I’ve given, does the above photo of me leaping into another man’s arms make more sense? Still weird, you say? Yes, there was alcohol involved at the time this was taken, but that’s not an excuse. There’s no need to make excuses for something as beautiful as the friendship of two men. If anything, I will fight like a Black Friday shopper to defend my right to be cradled in the arms of my best friends. It’s a great thing that the taboos of the past are being cast off to create a world where men are OK with showing feelings, affection and love. Why not have a world where men can accept and hug instead of front and fight? I think it’s awesome. Well, except for those really aggressive huggers that linger. That’s just awkward.

This story was originally published in our Spring 2012 issue. Get your copy here

Mind & Body | Detox & Cleanse

Spring cleaning’s not just about the house. After a season of over-indulging followed by months spent bundled up under a pile of layers, our bodies need some serious purging and purifying if we ever want to see the light of day.

ISSUE: Spring 2012

DEPT: Mind & Body

STORY: Audrey Staff

Skin

Seaweed is known for its detoxifying and restorative properties; birch as a skin toner and swelling reducer. Both are incorporated into the Seaweed Birch Wrapat Le Posh Salon, an invigorating wakeup call of a treatment. After an exfoliating dry brushing, the seaweed birch mask is painted on and then you’re wrapped in foil. Soon, your body feels like a giant Altoid — the mask is so cooling you’re practically shivering. A hot shower offers relief and your skin is left baby soft. Details Salonleposh.com.

Diet

Everyone from celebs to co-workers tout the purported wonders of the cayenne pepper-maple syrup cleanse. Personally, I think it’s an urban legend. I mean, a spicy, sticky liquid for two weeks? No
wonder you lose weight. Chef and nutritional therapist Gurpareet Bains, has a better idea. In his new book Indian Superspices, the Indian British author of the best-selling book Indian Superfood offers more natural (and tasty) detox remedies incorporating spices that metabolizefat, boost metabolism and suppress appetite. Try his green tea augmented with fat-metabolizing cinnamon and ginger, and appetite-suppressing fennel; the protein packed Prawn and Baby Spinach Quinoa Biryani; or the rich and creamy (yet “almost bereft of fat and calories”) Ultimate Detox Soup. (Go to AudreyMagazine.com/Indian-superspices for the recipe!) Details Gurpareetbains.co.uk.


Courtesy of Ricky’s NYC

Hangovers

There are plenty of hangover remedies. There’s only one that’s FDA-approved. Blowfish is hangover relief in a fizzing tablet you dissolve in water. Because of the effervescent delivery system, the results are more immediate: you rehydrate, a maximum dose of aspirin fights headaches, a neutralizing agent settles your stomach, and you get a hit of caffeine without the acidity of coffee. Staffer Y. Peter Kang gives us his minute-by-minute play-by-play:

10:52 am I just downed the 16 oz of fizzy water. It was not bad.

10:55 am Three minutes. Nothing yet. Still have a monster headache.

10:57 am Whoa, feels like my headache is actually a little worse. Wha??

11:03 am The tide has turned; I think I’m feeling better than pre-ingestion. Also feeling the effects of the caffeine. I can tell because I began reading an article about gold-infused peanuts with great interest.

11:26 am I am caffeinated, but I still have my headache. Started out a 7/10 headache; it’s now down to a 5. Not out of the woods yet.

12:05 pmThe headache’s down to a 3 — it’s dull and lingering. Caffeine was nice. Interesting alternative to drinking a cup of coffee and taking two Advil. Would try again.

Of course, the best hangover remedy is to not get drunk at all. If you think you’re drinking too much too often, you may need to detoxify from drugs and alcohol to achieve a full system cleanse.

Details Forhangovers.com.

Works For Me

Tara Miko Grayless, 35, was stressed out and suffering digestion problems in her job in the fashion industry. After a health food store owner educated her about the power of hemp, she decided to try it. According to Grayless, after several weeks of incorporating the super food into her diet, not only did her digestion improve, but “I lost 10 pounds, my energy levels skyrocketed and I was no longer overwhelmed by stress. My hair took on a new sheen, my nails grew stronger and my [dry] skin had a rosy glow.”

So the Japanese-Irish American started Happy Hemp to share “this gift with the world.” Touted as “the most nutritionally complete food source in the world,” hemp seeds are vegan and gluten-free, and boast nature’s highest botanical source of essential fatty acid (more than flax or any other nut or seed oil), says Grayless. Just sprinkle on yogurt or eat straight out of the bag.

And in case you’re wondering, no, you will not get high off hemp. “Hemp seeds have nothing to do with its distant cousin, marijuana,” says Grayless. “Hemp seeds are legal and you will not test positive on a drug test.” Snack away! Details Happy-hemp.com.


Vision Shock

It seems everyone I know makes a living in front of the computer, and the American Optometric Association confirms that 45 percent of all Americans spend more than five hours per day on a computer. Such prolonged use can lead to something called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS), which may include eye strain, dry eyes, headaches, fatigue, blurred vision and loss of focus. Add to that the fact that Asian Americans have a very high prevalence of nearsightedness (myopia) — upwards of 70 percent — and are at higher risk for age-related cataracts, according to a 2011 study by Transitions Optical with Wakefield Research. In honor of Save Your Vision Month (March), optometrist Dr. Brian Chouprovides some simple lifestyle changes we can make to minimize our risk for developing eye conditions.

1. We must be aware of the harmful damage that can be caused by the sun’s UV rays. UV rays are present 365 days of the year, whether it’s sunny or cloudy. See your eye doctor annually for a comprehensive exam to check for eye diseases such as cataracts and macular degeneration, which have been linked to UV exposure. A comprehensive eye exam not only evaluates the need for glasses, but also eye muscle coordination, color-blindness and internal and external eye health, and can help to flag other health-related conditions such as hypertension and diabetes.

2. Wear protective eyewear covering the entire eye area with UVA/UVB protection, such as sunglasses. If you wear prescription lenses, try Transitions lenses, which are everyday eyeglass lenses that automatically go from clear to dark when outdoors to block 100 percent of the sun’s harmful UV rays.

3. Drink at least eight to 10 glasses of water each day to keep both the skin and eyes hydrated.

4. Maintain a balanced diet and be sure to eat fruits and vegetables containing vitamins A, C and E and beta- carotene — important for the body and the eyes.


Wax Eloquent

All of spring’s filmy, sheer clothes are going to make an extra smooth body all the more important. Rose Wu of Oasis Day Spa in New York offers some tips for waxing after a long winter break.

  • Prep time: You have to take care of your skin before andafter waxing. If you’ve been shaving, you have to let the hair grow to a certain length so the wax can grip the hair. Exfoliation is very important, as well as personal hygiene, so that there are no ingrown hairs or buildup of dry skin.
  • Constancy: Once you start waxing, it’s best to stick to waxing. Don’t shave in between your waxes — it’s bad for your skin and makes it harder to wax in the future.
  • What’s trendy: For bikini waxes, the best “style” depends on the client and her preferences. Lately, women are leaning towards leaving some hair, as opposed to a full Brazilian.

Details Oasisdayspanyc.com.