When a man tends not to be tender, chances are he’s pretending. Does he think we don’t notice those quiet moments when he is gentle as a fawn? Does he imagine the nurses were too busy to hear him whisper so softly into his wife’s ear during her thirty-fifth hour of labor? Could he actually believe they all looked the other way when he held the young boy’s hands close in his own, and slowly told the news it was his job to deliver? We know what he does. We know that he pulls over and stops along the highway to bury road-kill animals with a prayer; that he gently stroked the silken ears of his best friend as the last sleep overtook her; that he murmured a Russian lullaby while changing his aged father’s soiled bedclothes. Not wanting to stare, we saw him lift his college roommate out of his wheelchair and lower him into the water with the most exquisite care. What a sweet, quiet joy, when a man stops pretending and allows himself to be powerfully tender.
Excerpted from my out-of-print book, What There is To Love About A Man (Sourcebooks, 1999). New copies are no longer available, but used and imperfect (remainders) can be had for cheap on www.bn.com and other places as well. Or, just keep visiting this blog and you’ll eventually read most (if not all) of the pages right here!