What ever happened to real men? I don’t mean just the obvious stereotype of John Wayne or Ward Cleaver, I mean the actual soul that makes dad’s instead of fathers, family instead of friend, and sweetheart instead of husband. Somewhere between erectile dysfunction and Son’s of Anarchy, there is a little know oasis of life known as the “soft spot” and trust me when I say it is worth more than any screaming “G” spot this side of Tijuana.
I often wondered, as I lived my day to day life, against the cowboy encrusted Rocky Mountains, why the dearest friends in my life were gay men, and why I emotionally broke right along with them, at the loss of the gentle and gorgeous figure of a man that was John Kennedy, Jr. Then after returning home from a trip to New York, it dawned on me. We laughed – at each other mostly and we shared –everything from bites of food, fork to fork, to stories, opinions and a few other substances medically only authorized in most states for pain. The bottom line is there were no walls between us, that said I have to act “this way,” because I have this chromosome and you obviously know “Y.” There was only pure communication between us, mutual delight, admiration and comfort. Picture a basket of puppies, warm fire and some cosmos and you get the general idea.
Many of us – at least me, have encountered such incredible men in life, and just as fragile as translucent bubbles, they disappear too fast, and we long for them forever. My first understanding of this character trait, in a strong, testosterone driven, husband/father figure, was seeing my father hold a tiny guinea pig, that was my pet at the time. We were very loved as daughters, and our children also celebrated this connection with their grandfather. However, in my youth seeing this man who was so respected and even feared by some, hold this furry critter with a wiggling nose lovingly, and speaking in almost child like tones say, “How’s my widdle guy, such a good widdle guy.” The man and his myth became a memory which opened the door to his soul, showing me then what a real man was all about.
As years went by I saw such silent love now and then, when least expected, like when Dad was past eighty playing little ponies, and my daughters encircled his chair with brushes and bows. Another sacred memory was when he expected my mother to return from cancer surgery. She wasn’t on the elevator as planned, unknowingly, she had been put on the second one. When the doors opened, he leaned down to kiss my mother, with such a look of love on his face, only to see a strange unconscious woman, close to ninety and resembling an antiquity in the Egyptian museum. He stood up with the fright and response, of a well placed cattle prod, and in the same tone said, “What did they do to her?” Yes, when the heart speaks, it also laughs – indeed, what a man gave me life.
In so many years that have now gone, my daughters and nieces not only have known, but married, loved and even given birth to this legacy of men. It gives hope. Recently I saw a rough young man with tattoos down both arms, with the ability to climb mountains – which he has and I do mean literally, sit with a pink crayon outlining a flower, having a deep discussion with a little girl not yet articulate – there was no need for a translator, they both knew what was being said. Another such “man” recently set a small rat loose in a field, with parting words heard by his wife on cell phone, “Okay now, here is a good home, you go on out there, you’ll be ok.” In a world of suffering, self serving attitudes and a general lack of compassion, these moments shine with hope.
It would be wonderful, if for every bathtub pre-sexual innuendo, musical video with vulgarities, degradation, violence and video game giving points for death, that once again someone would want to be my neighbor. I mean this in the most sincere way with a sweater and a smile, and not a dateline to catch a predator set-up with wine coolers and condoms. As the mother of daughters and now the grandma to both sides of the gender fence, I want these little people, as well as those they grow-up with, to be nurtured, cherished and able to look back, as their mommies and I can, with heart warming moments, that add character never learned from a book, video game or god forbid an ‘App.”
Loving without walls builds relationships that stand the test of time, age and loss. Those individuals, who accept who they are, share in a moment, what some never learn in a lifetime, and are indeed real men who make a difference.
No, we are not all alike – and to delight in the difference, makes the difference, that makes a world worth living in and even more, worth remembering.