I do not speak for all of women, of course, not even some of them, but I will tell you what I, Merry, love most about men. This article is a tribute to them. It is not a wish list of attributes I want in a man, rather, this is drawn from my experience of men. Here, I’m highlighting some of the gender differences to convey to you my deep and abiding respect and admiration for men.
Masculine men are absolutely delicious. Men “do” more, “talk” less. They are action-oriented. When I was a wee girl, I’d traipse behind my father into his workshop. You see, he designed and built furniture. I was curious to watch what he did there all day. He worked industriously, silently. All day. Totally focused. At the end of the day, he smiled at me, saying gently: “My Pearl, I had a lovely day with you. Thank you for your company. Now, go wash up for supper.” And I understood. To bond with men, do things with them, side by side. And speak very little, if at all. Fast forward to present day, I’m in the same vicinity as my lovely brother-in-law, who is programming for fun at the dining table–he’s a computer engineer who works remotely sometimes. I’m doing my own work silently. All of a sudden, he lifts his head and pipes up: “What do Canadians do to get chestnuts? In France, we go into the forest and pick them.” I listen, imagining them doing that, and probe with more questions. Boom, a 45 minute conversation from my strong and usually silent brother. I love that men are doers who use communication as a support of their actions.
Men are curious. How else do we explain the insatiable drive in explorers the world over, since time immemorial? They seek, they brave obstacles, they endure cold and hunger, they find, they discover, they learn: New places. They create, they invent, they build: Tools, gadgets, buildings. They observe and study: Inventions. They improve what is already working: Computers, Quora. They make toys…and great movies! Fun, fun fun!! They create a better world for us. We benefit from their endeavours.
My boyfriend is always learning. I ask him about seals, he goes and researches them, and comes back to tell me all about these animals. I have a friend who hunts and shares his harvest with me. Both my godfather and father garden avidly. They embody their curiosity in so many ways.
Men stand up for their convictions. Men volunteer for the military. Men in uniform are so handsome…on so many levels. And that’s just looks. Their substance is even more attractive. If I’m being bullied, my male friends step up to the plate and shoo the bullies off. They walk me to my car at night. They walk on the outside of the sidewalk, and they shield me just before we cross the street. They make sure that my home is in working order, and ask if they can fix anything. My techie friends fix my computer problems; still others offer to move heavy furniture, help me organise the garage, and take out the trash. And when it comes to these men’s families and friends, don’t get me started. They selflessly sacrifice if it means their families get their needs met. They take up menial jobs just so they can put a roof over heads. Menial, you say? “No matter! At least my family can eat!’ is a classic reply.
Many of these characteristics overlap. Fiercely protective men provide for their loved ones proudly. Fatherless boys get whatever jobs they can, as soon as they can, to help their mothers and siblings. My father was such a boy. These men finance their younger siblings’ higher education. Their wives live in comfort, thanks to their hard work. My brother-in-law is such a man. (Don’t get me wrong, my sister stays at home to care for their two children, and does a great job of it. She is his partner in every way. But this article about the wonderful things men do that earn my respect.)
Real men are great nurturers. They are awesome teachers. I don’t know how my father put up with me, an odd girl. But he did. The countless days and nights he sacrificed his own comfort and sleep to care for me, when I was sick, when I was scared and he held me tight until I was okay. He patiently read to dyslexic me until I could sound out the words. Both he and my mother took turns to stand behind me to hold my right hand (a leftie learning different voluntarily), giving me the grip I needed. I am ambidextrous. (This is now a “Neurobic” exercise to stave off age-related cognitive decline.) They fought friends and church acquaintances who criticized me and wanted me to conform with words such as: “Our Merry has other gifts. Now more tea?” You can only imagine the sense of acceptance and safety I felt as a little girl, overhearing this conversation where my inadequacies were detailed.
Logical / Practical
Men are direct, clear and simple in their priorities, organized, uncluttered. If they need gift wrap, they just go to the store and get it: simple, uncluttered, uncomplicated, really. Whereas, I have some saved on hand, and that’s good too. But isn’t it great we have both options?
And what about the way they write? So much fun to read.
Men are so easy to communicate with. Their yes is a yes, and their no is a no. I do not need to guess. They are honest and they live their integrity. They are so easy to please. They do not fuss. They show their delight quickly, and they refrain from pouting when things don’t go their way. This takes me nicely into the next characteristic that I love about them…
Men are quick to forgive a mistake. Last week, I apologized to my boyfriend for a stupid thing I said that really hurt his feelings. Without a pause, he forgave me. Poof!, just like that. And we moved on. They do not hold grudges.
Men are so much fun to be around. They love to play, eat, play with fire, play video games, watch sports, and rough house. They know how to have fun. They golf, camp, swim, fish, hunt, run, bike, hike, ski, garden. And the gym rats! They are so cute. And what about them playing musical instruments, eh? Classical, jazz, rock, and their singing! And then there are the filmmakers. Men cook, and make new sauces for the barbeque. How cute is that? Some even knit and sew. My favourite tailor is a man. So is my favourite cook. Wow! Life with men is a festival of the senses!
Men are hilarious! Behold: the number of stand-up comedians! Their idea of funny is far-reaching and varied. Slap-stick, pranks, understated humour, play on words, irony, metaphors, visual gags, bodily-function jokes, and teasing…they are up for them all. They tell jokes, send them to you through e-mail, save you comic strips and snail-mail them to you. And let’s not forget the magicians! Aren’t they a hoot?
When a man finds out what you like, oh my goodness, be prepared to be spoiled! When I was little, I inherited my father’s stamp collection. Next thing you know, men from church I didn’t even know existed gave me their duplicates! This is how I scored a copy of the very first stamp!!! My father is the same way. Love to read? Boom, subscriptions to a half dozen literary magazines; I was eight, for crying out loud. My boyfriend, same thing. He stocks my fridge with favourite foods. My brother-in-law, same thing. My friends, same thing. Men I work with, yup. I’m serious. Men live to give.
Men are very relational…not in ways women do it. That might be one reason women do not recognize it. But that’s okay, we learn. And we girls will figure it out…slowly. So sweet men, be patient with us please. We’re learning to listen to you. You relate by being in action. Like, when my friend Zach invites me to go fishing with him, I go. Go to the range…yeah, let’s!
Men are romantic. I once dated a man who on our first date brought his cello and guitar with him, asking: “Which one would you like me to serenade you with?” I melted.
Men are poetic. My boyfriend sweetly whispers Dr. Seuss-like poems to me when he first greets me. When he puts it in writing, I fold it up and wrap it with a pretty ribbon. I take it out to read it every now and then. Because, in a moment which he can never get back, he thought of me. And here’s the evidence! How lucky am I?
Men are affectionate. If a man loves a woman, he is f****d. Yes, it’s that serious. Men are not biologically built to love a woman. And when a man does, he is placing his happiness in my hands–this is a real, legitimate emotional need our men have. For starters, he will depend on me to affirm him. If I withhold it, his emotional health will be profoundly compromised. Most women don’t know this, and they waste this opportunity to uplift their beloved. I totally see this as a sacred responsibility, and I am happy, happy to take it up. I should be so lucky! I offer my boyfriend all the affection he asks of me, and I invent new ways to surprise him.
Perhaps it’s their amazing curiosity, and/or natural tendency toward leadership, men are exceptionally spiritual. I am surrounded by such men. They practice their faith quietly, steadfastly. We experience their faith in their actions. While overseas filming episodic television on weekends deprived me of my faith community, I told my pastor that I would sing and study scriptures on my own after work, he got up from behind his big desk, and motioned me to follow him. He took me to the sanctuary, picked a church hymnal from the back of a pew. Handing it to me, he said: “There, that should help you to feel at home.” “But, isn’t this…stealing?” “I’m the senior pastor of your hometown’s biggest church, and I give you this book. I say it’s okay.” That hymnal travels with me everywhere I go. He leads and teaches from his heart.
When a family man steps up to be that family’s spiritual leader, ah, then I, the woman, can focus on doing my job–being the heart of the relationship. What a delightful, fulfilling partnership!