On G’s Gratitude List: Men.

They’re unfathomable creatures, men. I don’t understand them (and, actually, I do).

I love most things about them: Their hair. Their skin. The fact that they’re bigger and stronger than I am, even the small ones. Their minds. Especially their voices. I love listening to men talk and sing.

(I’m listening to Tom Waits right now… he wrote this beautiful song)

A lot of this has to do with my father, of course.

I was NOT daddy’s little girl. That was my little sister. My mother owned me—which is why, maybe, for me men are such incomprehensible, mysterious, unreachable, alluring beings. I’m very, very glad I gave birth to a boy.

For most of his life Dad had a big beer-gut, and he was not hairy (I like men with hair on their arms, their legs, their chests. The first thing I ever noticed about the man I married: the puff of dark hair at the top button of his shirt—made it impossible for me to breathe for a minute). When I was growing up, I didn’t consider Dad handsome. I was kind of ashamed of the way he looked, actually, because he didn’t take care of his body.

But this is a picture of my dad in college.

Dad, senior photo, University of Pittsburgh, 1961.

(The skinny tie and round collar kill me.)

He was handsome. He was six-feet-two; he wore a size-12 shoe and a size 46-long coat. He was smart and dependable and spiritual and utterly unafraid of people, and he Read Books. He sang bass.

Dad’s message was, “Everything will be OK.” Sometimes (especially when the Dow crashes, or when one of our kids has a real problem) my sister and I call each other and say, “Daddy would tell us, ‘It’ll all be OK.'”

His hugs were the best. Hugs from Dad were like receiving a hug from the entire planet. Market shares could be tumbling, buildings could be burning, hurricanes could roar through and flood even uplands and when I hugged Dad, the world would be put back together and I’d be standing again on hard, dry ground.

His hands were large but finely boned, with square nails. Like a scientist.

He had blue-gray eyes. Like rain.

My son’s eyes are deep, dark Bournville brown, like my brother’s. His eyebrows are heavy and black, like Dad’s.

//

There are so many important men in my life. There are three gay men who remain extremely important to me. One is Jacques, who is my age and almost 30 years sober. Another lives in San Francisco (he quit smoking in this story), and the third lives half a mile from my house.

There are things I’ve learned from men that I could not have learned from women.

I’ve spent a lot of my life being afraid of men, as if they were bears in old-fashioned zoo cages. My mother taught me that if I trusted them, if I was nice to them, they’d eat me alive. Please Don’t Feed the Bears. My fear was actually not a fear of men but a fear of my own sexuality. One of the primary side-effects of using drugs was the depression of my sex-drive. When I was using, I didn’t look at men. On the whole, I didn’t notice other people. I was immured in my own bubble, within the curved walls of my skull.

Now that I’m sober, I meet new men all the time. As a sober straight woman dedicated to honesty and integrity it’s important for me to pay attention to this fact and to the fact that I have a serious attraction to these bears. Whether I act on that attraction or not, it makes life more alive. If you know what I mean.

Thank you, all you Lovely Masculine Beings, for being who you are.