You may remember the show Eastbound and Down. It chronicled the life of fictional former baseball pitcher Kenny Powers as he tried to make a comeback. Powers endured several setbacks along the way, many of them self-inflicted. He often conflicted with would-be friends and family, mostly because despite having a heart, that heart was buried under several layers of asshole.
In the fourth season, Kenny Powers had finally retired from baseball and was living a relatively mundane life in the suburbs with his wife and children. However, the quiet life didn’t quite agree with him. He resented that he wasn’t famous anymore and had to work a regular job. Instead of doing drugs and partying all night, his social life was reduced to having dinner with other couples in the neighborhood. While at these dinners, Kenny could barely contain his contempt for the inane small talk that took place.
As I watched, I found myself relating to one of the characters on the show…but it wasn’t Kenny. I’ll admit that I can be an asshole at times, and can often make social situations uncomfortable for those around me. But I’d like to believe that even in my worst days, I was never quite as bad as Kenny Powers.
Instead, I’m probably a lot more like Gene:
Aside from realizing that actor Tim Heidecker should be the leading candidate to play former Eagles coach Chip Kelly in the movie biopic, watching Gene makes me think we have a lot in common. We both like to follow our sports teams (he talks about Wake Forest football), we both like to play sports (assuming you want to qualify golf as a sport), and like all cool men, we wear visors. (Honestly, this is probably the real reason I identify with him.)
Gene was probably a fun enough guy back in the day, but now he’s settled into his comfortable existence as a husband and father. He just wants to get through life without receiving too much harassment from his boss, his wife, and especially this idiotic “friend” who has been forced upon him. Gene doesn’t really want to be friends with Kenny. However, their wives are friends, so they’re forced to hang around with each other.
I’m sure nobody remembers the short-lived Paul Reiser show. (I doubt more than a few episodes made it to air.) I wouldn’t remember it either, except one part did strike a chord. Reiser’s character talked about how his current friends all seem to either be the husbands of his wife’s friends or the parents of his children’s friends.
That’s pretty much how it works. Every time Mrs. Cutter makes a friend with a married woman, she REALLY tries hard for me to become friends with the husband. Sometimes she becomes a bit overbearing. “Oh, you like professional wrestling? You should talk about that!!!”
The good news is that so far, most of my new friends seem like okay guys. While I can’t claim to have found my new BFF, at least there aren’t any Kennys in the group who I dread having to talk to. I do accept the possibility that I am the Kenny of the group, and the other husbands cringe when they see me coming. But that’s okay. They’ll learn to find me charming eventually. After all, unless our wives or kids get into a fight, they don’t really have a choice.