”We Need to Hang Out: A Memoir of Making Friends” by Billy Baker, c.2021, Avid Reader Press, $27, 224 pages.
You miss your friends.
Oh, they’re not gone-gone — you just haven’t seen them in a while. A couple are locking down, some have new jobs, new loves, new kids and they’re busy. You’re busy and the truth is, life just gets in the way. Even so, like Billy Baker, you miss your friends, and in his new memoir, “We Need to Hang Out” he takes big steps to see his.
Generally speaking, when you’re called to the Boss’s Office, it isn’t gonna be good.
For Boston Globe staff writer Billy Baker, it was even worse: his visit landed him an assignment to investigate and report on today’s friendships and how having few friends contributes to “a catastrophic effect on mental and physical health.”
This was not Baker’s idea of a juicy assignment.
Besides, he had lots of friends, didn’t he?
No, he didn’t, once he thought about it. And those he had, well, it was easy to lose track of them. One had even moved overseas and Baker didn’t know it until he looked the guy up — so, in the interest of journalism, he jumped on a plane and flew to the guy’s new hometown to celebrate close birthdays.
Later, he learned what experts suspect: television is the biggest cause of loneliness today. What little free time we have is precious and it’s often spent on passive entertainment, leaving an average of just over a half hour a day for socializing, in-person. The result, they suggest, is a loneliness epidemic, and Baker was one of its victims.
To combat it, he planned a “Senior Skip Day” for his former high school classmates and it went well, but an evening event he planned wasn’t quite as popular. He learned why we even have friends and the difference between a “man’s man” and a “guy’s guy.” He explored the science behind friendship and how many close friends an average person has but, in the end, he learned that all you really need in tough times is one...
Even in the best of times, it’s hard to keep in touch with old classmates, neighbors, and old friends. “We Need to Hang Out” is a lighthearted, fun look at those connections from a male point of view, and it would be much more fun without two things: the tedious overuse of the term “loser,” and the formerly-accepted, not-acceptable “gaaay.”
Now, granted, these words aren’t the focus here but they both bear mentioning for their tone-setting unnecessariness. Lacking warning, they may seriously mar your enjoyment of author Billy Baker’s stories, tales that’ll strike a chord with anyone who suddenly realizes they haven’t heard from That Friend in a while. Thick with nostalgia, they’ll bring to mind the knuckleheaded (but oh-so-fun!) things you’ve pulled with pals, past and present.
They might even spur you to reach out.
So, pick up the phone and then pick this book up. Forgive the verbal punches, and if you’re a “guy’s guy” or a woman who loves one, “We Need to Hang Out” is a don’t-miss.