Issue #125 – “Brogreement” – February 25th, 2008

-I was at a house party in Santa Monica a few weeks ago when my friend told me that he was leaving his job to work for a buddy on a pretty big film project.  I congratulated him on the great news and for signing what must have been a lucrative contract.  But my friend replied that there was no formal contract, saying, “My buddy was just like, bro, do you want to work on this?  And I was like, dude, totally.”  I guess I should have realized then that when two close guys friends commit to enter into a business arrangement, no lawyers are needed.  And so a new term was born: the “brogreement.”  Brogreements happen every day and are used to determine everything from who is gonna pick up the beer to who is going to succeed you as CEO.  But before you enter into one, it’s important to examine who these jackasses you call your friends really are.

-Customarily, when one of my friends crashes at a buddy’s place for more than just a night or two, he either takes him out for a nice meal or buys him a bottle of vodka as a gesture of thanks.  Last year, Brian and Triplet #1 came out to visit me in LA, and when the check came for our final breakfast, they announced they’d be picking up the tab.  My share of the bill?  $12.  Without compunction, I promptly began giving them shit for not having picked up a bigger check.  Whoever said “It’s the thought that counts” probably never shamed their friends into buying them a handle of Goose.

-When women ask what he does for a living, my buddy Eric, who’s a bond trader, enjoys describing his job in the most unnecessarily complicated terms possible.  I’m not sure if he thinks this will impress girls or merely confuse them into hooking up with him, but I have to admit that it works pretty well.  It’s kind of like asking someone for directions in a foreign country – you have no clue what they just said but you figure they spoke with conviction and had a nice watch on so they must be trustworthy.

-You know the classic Seinfeld episode where Jerry complains that the car rental place knows how to take reservations but not how to hold them?  That’s like Triplet #1 but with plans: he can make plans; he just doesn’t keep them.  If you make plans with him, he tends to sort of pencil it in until something better comes along, and then cancels on you at the last possible moment.  I love the kid, but sometimes we have to remind him that guy code clearly stipulates plans can only be broken for three reasons: a death in the family, the opportunity for sex, or playoff tickets.

-My buddy Chi, on the other hand, can keep plans, though they’re often the absolute worst plans ever.  Back in the day, he organized a trip for me, him, and Brian to fly to Tucson to visit his brother Danny.  We took the redeye and got in on Saturday morning, then flew out at like 5am on Sunday.  Our entire stay was less than 24 hours.  The only positive thing about the trip being so short was that at least we didn’t have to buy Danny any vodka.

-There is another type of brogreement implicit in all friendships: a solemn promise not to let your buddy become an asshole.  Ever try to wear a weird shirt or get a radically new haircut?  Your friends destroy you as soon as you enter the room.  They’re not doing it out of malice, but out of love.  It’s their job to make sure you stay true to yourself.  That can mean giving you job advice or it can mean making you take off that fucking thumb ring before leaving the house.  It is this solidarity that makes brogreements in the business world carry so much weight.  After all, legal contracts can always be challenged in court, but who would dare renege on a commitment to a friend who once stopped you from popping your collar?

-As always, here are some random things I’ve been ruminating about lately…

-I think that walk-up apartments on really high floors can be great for parties because whenever someone gets to the door it’s a grand entrance – newcomers exult in having made it all the way up and then comically overdo the heavy breathing.  Plus the party goes all night because people would rather drink stale beer and make idle conversation than climb back down all those fucking stairs.

-Having written and sold several sitcom pilots, I’m a member of the Writers Guild – despite never having gotten one of my shows on the air.  So I’m really glad the recent labor strife is over.  Not because Hollywood can now get back to work, but because I’m tired of my friends teasing me with such ingenious questions as, “How can you be on strike… from nothing?”

-I’m not sure if this is weird or not, but I don’t like driving with anything in my pockets.  I always empty everything into the armrest or passenger seat.  That’s why I hate valet parking, because I have to make a mad scramble to gather my things before handing over the keys to the first guy who approaches wearing a red jacket.  I just want to be like, “Dude, back away from the fucking car and give me a second to pry out this chapstick that’s jammed in the cup holder.”

-It’s official!  After living here for two and a half years, and navigating a bevy of red tape (as detailed in Ruminations #116), I finally have a California driver’s license.  It’s really weird taking out my ID and not seeing my New York license; I keep thinking that I accidentally picked up the wrong wallet.  Of course, while applying for the license I almost fucked things up at the last minute.  Since I’ve had LASIK and could see the eye chart all the way from the waiting area, while sitting there forever I decided to memorize it.  When my turn came, I spouted the letters almost before the tester finished telling me what line to read.  She looked at me warily and my heart skipped a beat before she finally passed me.  So I learned yet another lesson: at the DMV, no one likes a show-off.

-Although not one of you noticed it, there was a major milestone in last week’s issue of Ruminations: I used the word “whom” for the first time in the history of the column.  Along with my former bans on the use of emoticons (annoying but efficient) and semicolons (confusing but useful), I am now lifting my embargo on “whom” as well.  I still don’t really understand how to use it, but the time has come to learn.  But don’t fret – my other core positions remain unchanged (cigarettes, white chocolate, American Idol: bad; wife-beaters, black olives, “Lost”: good).

-And, finally, one way to get insight into your friends’ true character is by observing them when they’re drunk but you’re sober.  You’ll quickly realize that some of your buddies merely exhibit heightened versions of themselves when they’re fucked up, while others become completely different people.  Your friends’ drunk personalities will in some ways reflect how they act when the chips are down.  These are important qualities to be aware of – especially in the rare instance a brogreement goes awry.  They will either maintain some semblance of control or fly off the handle.  The downside to this exercise, of course, is that by witnessing the moronic behavior of your drunken buddies, you catch a glimpse of what you yourself must act like when inebriated: one part asshole; one part maniac.  And thus you begin to think that, perhaps, it wasn’t such a good idea to lobby for that extra bottle of vodka.  Fuck me.