So here's the thing - I love men. Oh sure, I could talk about coconut macaroons, or the gluten-free seedy bread from the Silly-Yak bakery, or movies set in Ireland. But, if I'm going to write every week about things I love, I think I should start at the top of the list, and right up there are men.
When I was 17 the boy I hoped to marry (we weren't actually dating, but for some reason that seemed a minor detail at the time) drove my 14-year-old girl cousin and I back to our grandparents' home from the local ski hill. During the 2 hour ride the banter turned to a seemingly inevitable and admittedly immature battle of the sexes, which dear sweet cuz interrupted with a naive and unequivocal "I think boys are WONDERFUL!" We knowing older teens laughed, and I agreed, and the three of us finished the ride in a happy quiet. I've never forgotten that moment. I long for my cousin to get married so I can tell that story at her wedding. And I covet her candor, then and now.
I started a post along these lines a week or so ago, but didn't have the nerve to say everything there was to say then - it was too personal, or I imagined someone having a reaction, or that I wouldn't make sense. But really - is there ANYONE out there who isn't already totally clear that in all things guy I'm a 'hell yes'? If you're a guy I'm interested in - guess what - you have a shot! That's good news! If you're a guy worried that I might be interested, grow a pair and deal with it. And if you are someone who has some concern about my liking men and talking about it ... what's that about?
I don't mean 'oh wow look - I'm hetero - who knew?' or that I want to get with every guy friend of mine (though I truly appreciate your contributions in my life). What I am trying to say is, I really like being around men. I like their strength, and their smell, and their energy. I like looking up to them (even the ones I'm taller than). I like the difference between their muscular bodies and my soft one. I like the roles they play in society, even as those roles are continually re-written. I like their paraphernalia, and their short finger-nails. From little boys to gentlemen with fedoras and canes, I like men - relatives, friends, lovers, clients, colleagues ... the whole gamut.
Just to be PERFECTLY clear, I also am not talking about sex (though I like that to); I'm talking about deep voices and warm bodies and the ability to make a car start when it wouldn't a minute ago. And I am the first one to admit that as a woman and a feminist and an independent single mom who fixes toilets and helps my son with his car (the irony is painful), I have some insanely traditional ideas about what a man is, or isn't - ideas that have to do with physical presence, and voice tenor, and having a tool box. Around what he reads, and how he thinks. In fact, I'm basically a cross between June Cleaver and Carrie Bradshaw. It's sad. I have standards and ideals and rating systems. Some of them I'm clear about, and some of them are hidden from my conscious, but I know they are there. And you better believe I have a list.
In the past I've been so pro-guy that it's gotten in the way of my female friendships. I've never actually thrown anyone under the bus to get a guy, but the impression has been that I'd do that. I won't. But I acknowledge that the impression was there. And now I say unabashedly (but not indiscriminately), I truly enjoy the company of men. I adore my female friends, and I love my mom and my sisters, and ... all things being equally I generally prefer to spend my time with men.
It's not even just talking about friends & lovers. I am so thrilled that I have two sons rather than daughters. Really masculine sons. Sons who thump on the stairs, and try crazy sports, and who - as pre-schoolers - urned every bulding block or video case into either a vehicle or a weapon. Sons who lift weights and hang with other guys, and leave stubble in the bathroom sink (okay, that's not my favourite part) and get into fights when they think something is unfair. I wouldn't have known what to do with glitter and lace and ballet classes, and I never have to figure it out. Instead I get to sit back and relish my sons and their boyness.
I know I've often gushed about my fantastic dad, but I also grew up surrounded by fantastic uncles who skied on snow and on water and who built things and told goofy jokes and preached and prayed. Who served God at home and in Africa and who loved my aunties and participated in raising my cousins. And I had two fantastic grandpas who read and prayed and took care of their families - one who left us early in my life but left stories and poems and joy and love. And one who listened to a rambling adolescent crushing on the church boys and smiled and made sure his grandgirls had all their favourite treats when they came to visit. In a large and loving family, the men were active, visible, engaged and masculine, and they set a high bar for those we'd later love by choice rather than by birth.
My earliest 'boy crazy' memory is from when I was only 5, and it was both humiliating and exciting. It was one of those moments - the moment I knew I was supposed to like boys, but never to admit it. And then I was 11, and the sweetest boy ever (wish I knew what'd happened to him) gave me a pet bunny, and invited me to be the only girl at his birthday party and then made sure his mom had a tiara and a special chair for me. A boy who wanted nothing more but to hold my hand under the table at church dinners. And then I was 12, and a bad-boy wannabe let me wear his cowboy hat and I ruined it, and he still holds it against me. The stories roll on - love dreamed of and sought after and pined over and lost. So many years and so many stories, and in many ways the pattern continues.
The only real difference is that finally I can't see any real reason to apologize for it. There seem to be people who would like it if I just gave up on love. Who think it's a waste of my energy to want to be with a man. Who believe I could just take up a hobby and the warm thrill of a man's hand on my back, or the exciting reassurance of a deep voice in my ear would never come to mind. And they may be right. But what's wonderful is that in the meantime, while I'm waiting for the man who will touch my back and whisper my name, I get to be with and learn from and adore all the rest. And I'd say that makes me a pretty lucky girl indeed.