In honour of father’s day and my deep appreciation of men and the masculine energies that I just don’t get enough of.
It’s definitely one of my longer letters, so settle yourself in with a tea or coffee and enjoy.
Click play to hear me read this piece:
I was at a talent show/dance party about 5 weeks ago. It was a fundraiser for my daughter’s school, a grown-up party, with dancing, live music, a DJ, snacks, a bar and – old throwback of throwbacks – a talent-show. It was called ‘Who Knew’ as in, ‘who knew so-and-so could do that!?!?!?’
There was a great deal of incredible talent, it was a fantastically fun night, but the best act of all was the last one, and it probably contained the least amount of ‘talent’ of the entire evening.
Picture this: 10 chubby-ish middle-aged men onstage, dressed in sailor outfits, all in white, singing, dancing, and pulling off a well-choreographed and staged routine despite at least half of them being smashingly drunk.
And picture this: I loved it. I can’t even begin to describe how much I loved it, and how cool this is, except to say that probably 5 years ago I would have thought it was the stupidest, most embarrassing ditty ever and would have cringed at how the fellows were embarrassing themselves.
Hmmmmm. So what’s changed? Well, I have. I’ve discovered a sense of delight in not only the silly, the outrageous and the bizarre, but most especially, a sense of delight in men.
The lights were low, the curtains were closed, with rustles, mutterings and a few giggles coming from backstage. We were in an old-style school gymnasium which still had high ceilings and a deep stage with velvet curtains, high enough for everyone to see what was going to happen. As the curtains drew back, and the lights went up, we saw an expanding panorama of bare legs, tight white shorts with a couple pairs of pants interspersed, some bellies poking from between waistbands and the tops of white T-shirts, grinning red faces and finally, sailor hats. The white sailor hats covered bald heads, framed long ringlets, were brushed by tufts of medium length hair sticking out from the sides. There was a moment of silence in which anticipation and dread rose up like steam from the audience, seated cabaret style, and then with a flourish, one tall, slim, handsome sailor on the right side stepped forward, drew his microphone to his mouth, and burst into a rowdy sea shanty.
He was a fabulous singer, he really was. Another sailor sat behind him pounding away on the drums and a third sailor played guitar. The rest of the men danced. They danced in front of a backdrop of moving wooden waves with elbows cockeyed, knees akimbo, everything awry yet surprisingly glued together with an underlying sense of rhythm as they sang along, occasionally stumbling into one another but always righting themselves before they fell over.
They got so rowdy and happy as they worked their way through about three more high energy songs. It was awesome. And after, still in their sailor outfits, standing outside in the smoking area, they rehashed the best moments, reveling in their embarrassment. There was one fellow with the tightest white shorts and shirt, he was the fellow who really shouldn’t have… Imagine a man, mild and meek-looking enough, around 60, suddenly squeezed so tightly into shorts that not only was it obvious he had genitals, but that he had an outrageous moose-knuckle, and I swear you could see wrinkles and hair pressed through his shorts they were so constricting, combined with a belly proudly poking out over the waistband, framed by his too-short shirt. And he was reveling in the opportunity to get dressed up as appallingly and outrageously as possible, sing and dance and then giggle over his and the collective sailor’s sartorial disasters and gross-outs.
This pack of men from about the age of 35-60 were the perfect image of a gaggle of 6 year old boys, giggling and grossly joyous.
I loved it.
So, I think you’re getting the idea that I’m really really loving men right now.
It’s pretty awesome. Especially because I haven’t always loved men. In fact, for most of my life, I’ve found them to be mostly scary and incomprehensible. I haven’t always known how to relate or talk to them, or connect without feeling nervous and strange. In fact, there was a time when I wanted to work in the trades, but the fear of being around all those men dissuaded me from carpentry/welding/pipes.
My little brother made the point a few years ago that he felt I carried an anger and fear around men that he didn’t understand. He was right. But it’s one thing to be aware that you have feelings that don’t make sense, and it’s another thing to get to the point where those feelings can transmute into the opposite.
Over the past year, I’ve noticed that my fear and misplaced anger has been softly sifting away, and in it’s place I’ve been having an awestruck experience of masculinity, of a complexity, a tenderness and a sweetness that blows my heart right open.
I’m so loving men right now.
This doesn’t mean I have a boyfriend. Far from it. For so long (at least since my mid teens), I’ve been desiring love in one version or other of husband, partner, boyfriend, or lover. But right now I’m not looking. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still love to have a lover-friend-partner-playmate. However, isn’t it interesting that now……. I’m finding I’m really loving men. There are so many things I’ve never properly noticed before.
To the men in my life – how did I not know how amazing you are?!?! I think women will agree….
And does anyone ever tell you these things? I don’t know, but I’m going to:
You’re amazing. It’s all about……
Your large hands, so capable, strong, and also gentle.
The specific ratio of your male frame – the triangle of broad shoulders and chest to narrow hips, with arms that hang straight down, a ratio that does such melting things to my insides.
The nape of your neck – on even the oldest man that space between the base of the neck and hairline exhibits such a vulnerability and makes me want to kiss it.
The way you nurture and express your caring in acts of service, in the doing of things – chopping wood, helping out, making things, finding ways to delight the ones you love.
The pleasure with which you approach having specific tasks – particularly if it has to do with fire.
How insanely hot you are when you’re confident in your masculinity and leave your selves and your body hair be – sexy, natural and radiating heat like the sun in the saharan desert.
The ways in which you can become so frozen and mute, fumbling to avoid talking about what you’re feeling, even when they roll off of you, yet still trying your best to carry on and do the right thing.
The way you smell!!!!! Oh my god, it’s an intoxicating elixir that makes all thought drain out and away.
The way in which, in the embrace of a man who bends down and engulfs me in a circle of arms and shoulders, I feel so safe and cared for.
The sweet boyishness that shines through the man you’ve become.
I’ve been witnessing the amazingness of men in so many ways lately:
Watching my friend’s husband, a new dad, snuggle and cuddle and adore his newborn daughter with such an incredibly smitten thunderstruck sweetness.
Watching another friend look out for his friends, and seeing how men pull together to care for each other in ways so different from women, more wordless yet so tightly-knit and fiercely loyal, carrying each other in attention and thoughts.
Witnessing the outer hard shell – the only thing I used to see in men – and then seeing right through it to the sweet and tender, intensely vulnerable interior.
Seeing the cutest thing in really hot men – having something humbling going on. A tiny bit of belly chub. Or a spot you missed shaving. Or circles under your eyes. Or a shirt buttoned awkwardly.
Don’t you know that when you’re attractive, it’s so hard to handle that the imperfections make you human enough to engage with?
I’ve experienced some exquisite tenderness with men too:
Three days before dad died, we had a mini routine. He’d decided he wanted to get outside and go on some walks before his passing – ‘promenades’ he called them. He would make it to the edge of his bed, set his feet on the floor, and shakily, his arm linked in my arm, stand up, then we would shuffle around the house. Once or twice we made it to the front door and out to the bench, where we sat. He took such deathbed delight in joking that day, pretending he didn’t know me, and talking about ‘taking a stroll with a beautiful woman’ only to pretend surprise ‘oh! it’s my daughter, oh!’ as if I was still 4 years old, gullible and delight-able. The thing is, I still was delight-able, and I so happy to be sharing a light moment with my dad before he left our world.
Working with my male clients and having a window into their worlds – hearing about their children, partners, heartache, the self-awareness they have of their limitations, their desires to feel better and do the right thing; seeing their subtle bashfulness standing in their underwear in front of me – they are such inspiring men.
The sadness I feel when I see that men seem to be getting as anxious as women about body hair and physique – shaving armpits, pubic hair, chest hair, obsessing about weight.
Dating a man who talked freely and appreciatively about being with women, and what he loves about the female body. It was the first time I’d heard a man say anything along the lines of ‘I love pussy’. It was amazing to hear about my female form and how it was appreciated and enjoyed by a man in such a different way than by my hypercritical self.
I’ve discovered that if I want to enjoy the energy and company of men, I need to let them into my world. This whole independent capable self-sufficient thing? Ppphhffgg… By learning how to ask for help, by being willing to be helped even if I can do it myself, to receive that help and enjoy receiving it, I’ve gotten the gift of expressions of love in acts of service, and had my own load lightened a little.
And so, I’m appreciating the men in my life. No, I don’t have them in my life in a romantic way right now. But the ways in which I’ve been experiencing them and noticing them is so much richer than it would be if I only had the one man, the one way. I’m seeing and feeling the richness of what masculinity is, what men are, and how diverse, powerful and sweet it can be to be carried along in the swell of a cresting wave of masculine energy.
And how did I not notice this really key factor!?!?! This secret big secret about men?
Shhhhhhhh…….. Let me share it…..
(you men are so hot when you’re yourselves in all of your powerful, sweet and vulnerable tenderness).
Finally, Falu – a spoken word poet, in her piece ‘10 Things I Want To Say To A Black Man’, says it all so well.
Women in my life – seek to love like that – imagine the poetry of loving a man with Falu’s confidence, sensitivity, sensuality, power and clearsight.
Men in my life – seek to be loved like that – by a woman who has hands like the ocean and a voice like velvet who will see right through you and scorch you into life.
As always, I’m curious – men and women… what is it that you love about men?
Until next time,
ps – if you enjoyed reading about men, you’ll probably enjoy this post about an afternoon adventure with my daughter and three male friends.
pps – I love sharing my stories and thoughts here and in my newsletter. If you like my stories, you’ll get more of them by signing up. Twice a month.