Thursday, March 31, 2011

how you measure a man

my daughter is in the other room listening to clay aiken sing about how to measure a man. which, of course, leads my mind in a hundred directions. we measure them by height, weight, stance, white cards or blue cards. by how hard they breathe in zone five. by how much they sweat. by if they can speak while climbing a hill, if they can only grunt, or if they carry on conversations and ask questions as if sitting in a bistro sipping a cappuccino. we measure them by what they drive and what their yard looks like, how many letters they have after their name, and how many of their children are earning straight A's at which schools. we measure them by how much they know about wine and world politics, if they are well-read or not, which sports teams they cheer for. we measure them by how kind they are to waitresses and valets. we measure then by how well they handle pain, how they react in a crisis, who they voted for in the last national election. we measure them by how gentle they can be, how strong they are, how tough their facade is. by how fast they can ride a bike or ski down a hill. by how many miles they can run, or pounds they can bench press. by how good of a cook they are and how often they can tolerate watching a chick flick. how they look in jeans, how they wear their hair, how often they have to shave, what's in their cupboards. whether they choose peace over war, coelho over clancy, the dalai lama over joel osteen. campfires over theatre, soccer over basketball, balsamic over cider. we measure them in terms of what we know, what we have, what we lack. and as challenging as it can be to be female, I can't imagine being a man. we ask a lot out of men, we measure them in five hundred different ways, and then find ways to poke fun at their "guyness." may I just offer to all of you men out there a cyber high five: we want you to be warm and gentle and impossibly strong and resolute, forgiving and loving and made of impenetrable steel, sweet and supportive and kind and always available when we need you, handsome and groomed and tough and capable of taking on the world . . . and somehow, you manage to put up with everything we throw at you and remain who you are. bravo. keep it up. and don't change too much, because, truth be told, some of my favorite people on earth are simply men.

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