Friday, 10 August 2012

Good Men We Know

This morning I am pondering the fact that this is not a "Let's All Talk About Men" blog but a blog for Single women, about thriving in Singleness, whether or not that Singleness is temporary or permanent, virginity, widowhood or, er, something in between.

However, since over the past several days we have been pondering difficult or downright wicked behaviour of various men, I think it is time to celebrate the good men we know.

By the way, Charming Disarray, where is your guest post on a good man you know?

As I wrote earlier this week, my worldview changed and my life began to improve when I took a leap of faith that most men are good and the rotters are a minority. I certainly made a lot more male friends, especially when I went to theology school and met many male religious.

However, it wasn't just the male religious who were great. There was an engaged layman who was fantastic. He lit up rooms with his presence. He was unflaggingly cheerful and open-hearted and unabashedly in love with life and his fiancee, who was a cheerful, open-hearted girl. They were both incredibly friendly and laid-back.

"Wow," said my colleague to me one day, without a hint of guile or unfaithfulness or sexual interest or anything like that, "I just noticed that you have really pretty eyes."

As a matter of fact, I do have pretty eyes, which until then I hadn't noticed myself, and I was pleased to hear my colleague say so, particularly in that way, like a little kid. In fact, that particular compliment has stuck with me ever after and constantly cheers me, especially at the MAC counter.

My colleague and his fiancee were both Americans, one with a Southern accent and one with a Chicago accent, and they told everyone around how much they loved Canada, which naturally pleased us all very much.

Meanwhile, my colleague was very smart, although he would never have said or hinted so; in the toughest lectures and seminars, he had a sort of humble, cheerful, wait-I'm-not-sure-I-get-this air. If he didn't get something, he wasn't afraid to say so, but then he'd work his brain until he got it. He's now a university professor.

I don't know if there were any sighs among the women students over this clearly unavailable guy although I don't think there were among the under-30s, or I would have known. We just LIKED him, and we liked his fiancee, too, so much. I went to their wedding; they wrote their own vows and he cried when he read his. It was really sweet.

Anyway I am sure I have written about this colleague before because I'm sure I've written about a conversation I had with my spiritual director at that theology school.

I was in the middle of a "There are no good Single man" rant. It seemed to me that all the good guys I knew were male religious, and there were just no good Single men.

"But [Colleague] was once a Single man," said my Spiritual Director.

That ended my rant because there was no denying that [Colleague] was a great guy and had been a Single man.

"Oh, yeah," I said.

This thought gave me a lot of hope, and lo and behold some years later I met someone just as kind, cheerful and laid-back as my colleague, although in a different way.

Incidentally, my colleague's Christology was so low as to be tremendously heretical. I suspect I would have seizures if I read his work, unless his thinking has very much changed. But, socially speaking, I have met fantabulous Catholic men who are tremendously, ahhhh..., innovative in their theology, and I have met fantabulous Catholic men who are reassuringly orthodox. Oh, and at least one great Evangelical guy that I had a massive crush on. It wouldn't have worked. But that's okay; he was still a great guy.

Right! Your turn. In the combox, write about a stellar man you know. Make up a name for him, though, or the testimony will get very confusing.


rhinemouse said...

I have known a number of incredible men, starting with my father. Perhaps he was not quite a saint, but I doubt I will ever meet anyone closer, and I am sure that his purgatory did not last long.

Sometimes, though, it's comforting to think of the less mind-blowing but still excellent men. Here is the story that I like to recall when I feel cynical:

Once upon a time, a friendly male acquaintance did something that upset me.

"Dear Sir," I said to him, "that really upset me. Don't do it again."

He said, "I am so sorry. Thank you for pointing that out, and please let me know if I make you uncomfortable in the future." And he never did it again.

That was when I decided he wasn't just a friendly acquaintance, he was an actual friend.

leonine said...

I will mention my friend "Joe." Joe is a colleague of mine and has been tremendously supportive through all the ups and downs of the five years I've known him. He's funny, and just as kind as he is honest. He and his wife are unfailingly hospitable, and invite me to stay with them everytime I'm in [Nearest Big City]. I'm very thankful that we're friends.

Maggie said...

This is incredibly timely because I just had a car situation yesterday and there were several good men who stepped in to help:

My father, who helped me diagnose the problem from 300 miles away.

My grandfather, who helped me pay for the new part I needed.

My friend J, who was several hours away, but called around to find a shop for me to take it to AND started calling his fraternity brothers to find one who could assist me if necessary.

My friend H, who was also several hours away but checked in once an hour to see what progress had been made.

My friend C, who spent 7(!!) hours with me working on this, driving me all over creation to get the necessary parts and tools, and finally doing the work himself to save me money.

Yes, I know some good men

Joan of Quark said...

Oh, there are too many! I think I'd have to list the creeps instead, as that's a far shorter list.

My favourites are 'my' priests, the 40 or 50 priests who I have mostly known by name and loved, and who I pray for.

I didn't grow up with the best male role models, but throughout my life, priests have been outstanding in their friendship, kindness, generosity, listening, compassion, and protectiveness. They have taught me, corrected me, laughed at me, comforted me, given me the Sacraments, prayed for me, and suffered in silence for me as well (I am sure of the last, but obviously I never knew it at the time).

And all this and celibate too! I can't imagine married men being that free to help someone like me, but priests were always there when I needed them.

Thank God. Thank you thank you thank you God.

Joan of Quark said...

PS If you're looking for a new Swashbuckler protector, may I suggest Ronald Colman? I had a HUGE crush on him in my teens, especially when I saw him as Sydney Carton in A Tale of Two Cities.

Tommie Gold said...

I could name my dad, my brothers, my grandfather, or my brothers-in-law but I'd really like to tell you about all the men I see from every kind of background throughout this large city that I live in that is often characterized as rude and too fast paced: these men help women carry strollers up and down the subway stairs, open doors, carry your suitcase for you (also up and down those stairs) offer to carry your laundry, give up their name it. Not all the time but for the most part. Some are covered in tattoos, some are in suits...

One of my favorite stories is a time I was on a bus that passed by a shelter for homeless men, some of the occupants were a little rough around the edges and began to make borderline lewd comments. One of the homeless men--in a wheelchair--said, "Stop that! Don't talk like that to this young lady." They stopped, I said thank you and he said, "No problem, sweetheart." Hooray for good men!

Gregaria said...

Yay for good men! One of my good friends is also one of the best men I know. I'll call him Jack. He can make friends with anyone (literally) and genuinely cares about their well-being. I always respected him for his ability to be a confidant to so many people and yet stay away from gossip. I knew I could trust him. He always seemed genuinely happy at other people's good fortune. He had a contagious and ready laugh. And he had a way of making me laugh even when it seemed like the world was going to end. He was very positive. Of course, he had his faults, but he was also a genius at self-deprecating humor and admitted those faults willingly which was refreshing. He, my dad and grandpas are the reason I've never been one to indulge in man-bashing. I'm fortunate I knew him when I did. I truly believe God brought him into my life at a time when I needed that kind of friendship and example the most. I am a better person because of him. He hasn't stayed quite as stellar as the years have gone by. He's accumulated a few vices and sins. However, he is still better than many men I know. I've recently become friends with less-than-stellar men. It helps to remember the way Jack was back in high school. He should be the model against which I judge other men.

Gregaria said...

I should also mention one of my uncles. He is a gentleman through and through.

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

While exercising prudence regarding certain men, I also don't bash them, because there are in fact quite a few good ones I've been blessed to know.

I will also include my father. Sometimes I think he could fit into a stereotype of Mr. Conservative Such-and-Such, but he also finds ways to be quietly generous to people in need. My mom held a humorous surprise "funeral" for him on a milestone birthday last year, and while I couldn't be there in person, the one "eulogy" I saw video of had a family friend talking about how she'd "caught" him in the act of leaving her some money when she was in a rough spot. He was trying to do it in secret- he didn't want the glory, he just wanted to help someone. Also, on a personal level, I still remember him helping me out in high school when my car was drifting backwards down a hill on slick snow. He freaked out when I started to walk to where he'd parked it (which proved well-founded as moments later a girl I went to grade school with fishtailed the whole way down)- and I've had a healthy respect for parental love and instructions since then.

I am also proud of the men my brothers are growing up to be. I happened to have a lovely crowd of fellow Christians this summer, and never had to walk home late at night by myself in a big city even though it was out of the way at least once. I also remember a lovely young man in the far east I met through a church there - he was a convert from atheism and was so dedicated to the conference for Catholic young people, and praying for the friend who had brought him to faith but has since fallen away, etc.

And I couldn't go on without mentioning a dear friend of mine who is getting married to another dear friend of mine this month. It is very good to know that a young woman or man cannot change the person he or she loves. However, that person can always change him- or herself. My friend was, perhaps, a bit harsh on himself, but he really wanted to address his own failings. He was further inspired by wanting to be someone who could be a good boyfriend and now husband to our mutual friend - he wants to be his best for her (I think they were a great match in terms of values and personality from the start but I admire his determination). I hope someone loves me like that someday, and I am so glad to be going to their wedding. :-)


Charming Disarray said...

I'm so sorry--it's been a crazy week, but I will get on that soon. Just to clarify, do these have to be men I know in real life or can the list include ones I admire from afar like, uh, Mark Zuckerberg?

The other day I was at work and my boss noticed I had a slightly flattened tire on my car. I hadn't seen it that morning, and tried to shrug it off and told him it's leaked before, and he insisted I leave work early and get it checked. He called my coworker's husband, who is a mechanic, and asked if he could look at it right away, and he did, and found a small nail in the tire which no one had been able to find before even though I had gotten it checked twice. He fixed it in about ten minutes and then gave me lots of advice about things that hadn't even occurred to me but were useful. I had an appointment that day and the next thing I knew, I was there in plenty of time with perfectly functioning tires instead of being stuck on the side of the road somewhere with a blowout, which is probably what would have happened if both these men hadn't gone out of their way like that.

Meredith said...

My brother took my sister and I to lunch today, and replaced my busted hard drive. My fiancé has been in San Francisco all day but has been sending me sweet texts. Really, I know so many great men!

Linda said...

My brother has always been a good brother to me. He's a lot older than I am and he has unfortunately left the Catholic Church. Over the years, my time spent in youth ministry (both as a teen and as a young adult leader) brought me in contact with a man we'll call Chris. Chris is my brother's age and he and his wife have been an excellent model of faith for me while I was growing up. They taught me about ministry, the culture, Theology of the Body, and the theology behind Lord of the Rings. :-) I recently told Chris that I've been blessed to know several men his age who are like big brothers in the faith for me. It's one area of life (and an important one) that my older brother cannot fulfill. Chris told me he's happy to be an older brother for me in the faith, anytime. And he meant it.

Alisha said...

My dad - easily the most dedicated husband in the world. My brother who is a deacon and whom everyone always speaks highly of to me. My other brother who is a hard working dad and husband and has friends everywhere he goes. My youngest brother who makes me laugh more than anyone else in the world, who helps out with great organizations like Rotary. All my brother's fellow seminarians & priests I met. Nearly every priest I've known well. My two best male friends whom I call my twins, who know my heart & soul better than anyone. My ex who was with me in the very worst time of my life and didn't leave me. And many more...even the not so good men have surprised me with flashes of goodness in my presence. To all of them: here's the song A Good Man by Emerson Drive