Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Girly Man

OK, I admit it. I’m a little different than other guys. Most of the guys I know like to talk about guy things. Manly things. Who’s playing in the PGA. How to repair a clutch on a ’79 Mustang. Which college team is the top seed (whatever that means). I don’t know anything about automotive repair and I loathe sports, so I’m no help in either of those areas. I am, however, knowledgeable and competent if you’re looking to repurpose a door as a headboard, find an area rug that goes with your artwork, or prepare a delicious pot of Coq au Vin.

I have an idea where this mindset and behavior might have come from. I was the youngest of 4 children, the one child that my mother had vowed to raise herself, without help from her mother. Consequently I spent a lot of time with Mom doing things like laundry and cooking. When I graduated from US Army boot camp, I was the only one of 50 or so guys who knew how to iron my Class A uniform. And the first week Mary and I were married, she was shocked that I hung my clothes up or put them in the hamper instead of leaving them on the floor or the couch.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not apologizing for being this way. I love the fact that I can tell a female coworker her shoes are cute and mean it. I think it’s great that I can breeze through the grocery store while other guys are hopelessly lost because they don’t know what a leek looks like or where the sliced almonds are. I find humor in the blank looks on other men’s faces in flea markets and antique shops as their wives chatter excitedly about finials and chargers and curios and settees, and the husbands’ faces practically shout, “What the hell is she talking about?”

Not only do I know exactly what the wives are talking about, I know that the punched tin lamp and the Victorian quilt she’s buying are going to look positively hideous in the contemporary bedroom she’s been talking about. Fine. I admit that I have definite opinions about interior design. I also admit that I like to shop (yes, really). I admit that I get excited about French imported soap. And yes, I admit that I’m dying to see Eat, Pray, Love.

At the end of the day, though, I’m still a guy. I still love a good action movie with plenty of gunfire, explosions, and naked women running around, but I’m equally happy watching Phantom of the Opera. I still play air guitar — badly — to .38 Special and Aerosmith, but the beauty of the theme from Schindler’s List brings tears to my eyes no matter how many times I hear it. I still love pizza and an ice-cold beer, but I get positively giddy when my crème brulée turns out just right.

I consider myself fortunate to enjoy both ends of the spectrum, both hemispheres of the delicate yin/yang balance. I'm sure some of my manly-man friends will have trouble understanding that. Some men have preconceived notions about guys that like to shop and decorate and cook. But that's OK. They're entitled to their opinion. I'll even help them out the next time they're in the grocery store and can't find ginger root.