In the 1963 film “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father,” a boy, portrayed by then 9 year-old Ron Howard, schemed to find a mate for his recently widowed father. A 1969 sitcom of the same name found the youngster, worried about dad’s imagined loneliness, playing matchmaker for three seasons. Bill Bixby, who would go on to play the mild-mannered David Banner to Lou Ferrigno’s green menace in “The Incredible Hulk,” would always end his son’s failed attempt to marry him off with some Saturday-morning-special retelling of how the boy was “his best friend” and that no other person was needed to fulfill his emotional needs. In fact, the program opened weekly with a montage of father-son moments set to the Harry Nilsson lyrics, “People let me tell you ‘bout my best friend, He’s a one boy cuddly toy, my up, my down, my pride and joy.”
Good. We should be close to our family, especially our children (of any age). And, good, it is not necessary to have to have a spouse or partner to be complete humans. But, should an adult man make a little boy his best friend? Can a 9-year-old carry the weight? Conventional wisdom suggests that a dog is man’s best friend. They don’t talk much. Now, it has become an almost expected convention at weddings to hear the groom and bride wax poetic about how their betrothed is their best friend. Ask the question of the internet: Who should be my best friend? The answers include spouses and pets. Buzzfeed earnestly outlines how to pick a celebrity BFF.
Maybe it’s all semantic. Still, can a spouse be a best friend? Can a child? Could a pet? Aren’t they something more, something immeasurably extra, sublime, profound and enduring? Can parent, spouse, adult and friend be vested in one bestie? Should they?