Please note: I stumbled upon this while looking for a writing sample, so the sentiment is not the result of any current angst. But maybe there are ladies in this world who can appreciate it.
An Homage to Welty
I just don’t understand them.
They roam around the earth as if they own the place, like it’s their God-given right to be in charge of everything. I guess that was the plan, sort of, but they forget we have rights, too. And feelings. They definitely forget we have feelings.
It all started with Adam.
I take that back. It actually started when I was twelve years old with a boy named Lance who smiled at me twice and I thought I might faint. Lance and I skated during the couple’s song when I was in sixth grade; he held my hand and we roller-skated in darkness, traveling in mindless circles amid the flashing neon lights. I knew it was a pity skate—he was popular and sporty while I had coke-bottle glasses and made straight A’s—but even so, it crushed me when I found out he told his friends I wasn’t pretty enough, or “well-developed” enough for him. That was when I first recognized there was a problem with the male species and tried to keep a safe distance from them.
Anyway, zooming ahead through ten years of childish fairytale romances and transient Prince Charmings, I met Adam. He wasn’t even my type. He was bulky, like a beer keg, and sort of pig-like, with an upturned nose, but he had a soft quality that made me think he was part puppy. It must have been his eyes; those sad, green eyes.
He asked me out to coffee when we met, which was, ironically, inside of a coffee shop. But he was on his way out at the time, so we made a date for the following Sunday. I don’t know what possessed me to go—I have never been interested in beer kegs, not even during my young and hardly-wild undergraduate days—but I showed up that day wearing my Sunday best: gym shorts and a tank top, so I could hit the gym right after.
Unfortunately for my weekly workout goals, our coffee date lasted four hours, and I did not make it to the treadmill as planned. He turned out to be charming and funny and all of those things that make one lose track of time. He seemed impressed by me, too, and given that I had put up no frills on our Starbucks “appointment,” I was impressed that he was impressed. And then there were those sad eyes. They’d plead and grovel even when they were smiling, and I couldn’t help but want to hug the poor giant every time he looked at me in that questioning way.
So that’s how it began. He liked me and I was indifferent. And then I liked him and he turned into a troll. Such is the way of love. Despite his thick skull and womanzing habits, I continued to see him as the knight in shining bronze that I fell for, just like a dead weight in a shallow pool. It wasn’t until I met Stanley that the love blinders were removed and I saw Adam for who he really was.
Stanley was different. Stanley was subtle. He hovered unassumingly in the friend zone while I moped and wallowed over Adam. He made me dinners with sweet potatoes and took me to plays and brought me ice-cream drumsticks. He was chiseled and solid, the anti-Adam, but he lacked the forceful confidence that the barreling beer keg had. His eyes were piercing, and yet they were palest blue I’ve ever seen, and his gaze went on forever.
It took me a long time to figure out he was the one I should be impressing, and by then, he’d retreated into a shell of solitude. Stanley the Turtle loved me but could live without me, and so I did the only rational thing and prodded him inside his turtle shell hoping for something to happen, but nothing did. Years of searching for a Stanley-replacement only devastated the cause and brought me back to wishing Stanley would return. “How about now? Are you ready now?” I asked on an unannounced visit.
“You deserve better than me,” he said. “There are a lot of fish in the sea,” he added, trying to indicate there were better fish for me, as some sort of consolation I suppose, though I think he was consoling himself more than anyone else.
And that’s when I decided to join a convent and take the vow of chastity. No marriage, no children; just gardening and God. It’s a nice life, a quiet life. I no longer say things like, “To hell with men,” even though that is, in all likelihood, a plausible scenario. But if it weren’t for men, I probably wouldn’t be here. “Love thy enemies,” the Good Book says, “and pray for those who persecute you.”
Well, gentlemen, this prayer is for you.