One thing that will reliably trip up any man is trying to express his complicated feelings about women. Especially as they grow older and more experienced with them. I have been with the Woman on the Verge for twenty four years now and I am every day hamstrung by my bewilderment at her astounding ‘her-ness.’
She is no man. She is something altogether richer and more strange.
You can put me in front of a fire, or flood, or avalanche, and I know what to do. You can tell me, “Beyond this door, a monster awaits, with fang and claw and foul breath,” and I know what to do.
But let me open a door and see three strong and self-contained women on the other side, and you will see me undone.
My mother, I am certain, set the stage for this. But also gave me a back-stage pass- so that’s kind of a double-edged sword.
She raised my brother and I almost alone for the bulk of our childhoods. Imagine, if you will, a Phd candidate in European History, with a focus on British Socialists and the Second International, recently divorced from a handsome, dashing policeman who chased off after some tall, chestnut-haired beauty, trying to raise two small hellions on her own. She worked menial jobs and talked Gloria Steinem and Ralph Nader to us while we lit ants on fire with magnifying glasses and hit each other with sticks.
We hid our toy guns in the toy chests of our neighbors.
So I learned that the macho-man, G.I. Joe, James Bond, Walking Tall, John Wayne figure was a kind of boogey man, one to be feared or ridiculed. A kind of Frankenstein creature that didn’t understand the need for love and sharing and communication and compassion.
The fascist ubermenche.
Batman, Superman, The Rifleman= misogynistic halfwits who did not understand the need for real emotional connection and love.
Men who mistook violence for effectiveness.
And, of course, from my father, I learned to belittle and scorn the whole of the feminine approach to the world. Women were to be seduced and objectified, they existed as exotic prey and beautiful bounty.
There was no higher calling than scoring the finest among them.
Is it any wonder that I am Janus faced?
That I embrace all of the worst of both points of view?
But I think I have been successful in integrating the wildly divergent world views of my two parents. I love and honor male strength and power, and I equally love and honor the female expression of that same strength and power.
I sought out for my mate a woman that could outstrip me in every way.
I sought out for my profession a challenge that would ask all of me, and more.
I wanted always to honor both my mother and my father. And all of life.
I have given it my earnest best in all endeavors.
Perhaps I will die in my narrow bed, alone. Perhaps I will.
But I may lay down my life on the field of battle.
I may die alongside my sweet wife.
I may be ripped from life with no seeming reason.
I may limp out, silent and broken.
I may go out swinging, giving as good as I get.
I know that it is how I have chosen to live that matters most.
I don’t get to choose how I exit the stage.
I get only to choose how I move and speak
while I have my brief moment in the spotlight.
I will give life a good show, I swear it.