Gentle men are like unicorns. Elusive. Solitary. Almost impossible to find.
A gentle man listens carefully but has an opinion of his own. He nudges the status quo and encourages his partner to do the same. He is considerate and expresses appropriate gratitude when warranted. He takes notice. He makes eye contact when you are talking to him and hugs you when you need it. He is not selfish or arrogant or childish (hence…the word “man”). He communicates his needs and understands the needs of others. He views you as a priority. He is also human and makes mistakes but apologizes, learns from them and grows. The sight of you smiling makes him grin at the thought that you are feeling joy. He never takes advantage of you for personal gain – physically or otherwise. He lays his hand gently on your low back but doesn’t run it over your ass in public. And if he runs it over your ass in private it is only with care and with your permission. He is a considerate lover who wants to connect with you, not just fuck you. He tells you when you are beautiful and has the courage to tell you when your behavior is ugly as well. He is loving and fair and wise.
Often gentle men, because they are gentle, remember to hold the door for you rather than leave you on the street after walking into a restaurant themselves. They put their iPhone away at dinner or on the train or when you are having a serious conversation. The pick up the heavier bag to carry it without complaint. They make you tea and simply sit beside you when you are crying. They offer to pay the bill but also allow you the joy of paying it yourself when you insist.
Regretfully, my life has been largely lacking gentle men. The list of transgressions and aggressions is long, hideous, and (frankly) a little discouraging.
I would like to say that gentle men are more apparent as I grow older, but that is not true either. New Year’s Eve was indicative of this.
I wore a lovely LBD (Little Black Dress) with a pair of red boots and went out dancing where I always go. But, somehow the energy was peculiar. Men whom I knew were looking at me differently; and men whom I did not know were grazing my butt with their hands, staring down my cleavage and making me feel generally uncomfortable enough to leave well before midnight. There was nothing gentle about it.
I was grateful to be sitting quietly at home by myself just before midnight reflecting on my year. And 12:00am until 12:03am were absolutely glorious – quiet and peaceful, no children home, no ball drop, no countdown, no lights on...just contented solitude.
Then, through my front door, I received a visit from someone I knew. He is a friend who has been here before as a guest of our family for pizza and subs and has generally been welcome in my circle of friends. I certainly never expected him to stumble through my front door smelling like puke and rancid liquor. In his drunken flailing, he struck me in the face leaving me with a concussion and a jaw and ear injury. He then attempted to pull my dress off, stripped to his boxers and demanded that I spread my legs for him in my very own family room.
This is not a gentle man.
The next 90 minutes were chaos as I negotiated a relatively safe outcome for myself and for everyone else on the road that night by managing to remove him from my home and confiscating his keys. Come to think of it, I'm entirely sure I saved his life that night as well. I am still hurting two days later in every way but, most of all, a bruised sense of Hope to complete the collection.
Until I remembered this…
There was one particularly gentle man on New Year’s Eve. The quiet bouncer who, when he saw I was leaving alone, insisted on walking me to my car. He gave me a short and appropriate hug to wish me a Happy New Year with his hands well-North of the equator and, despite feeling unwell himself that evening, waited patiently while it snowed on him until I had my seatbelt on and was pulling away. He gave me one last wave as if to say “I see you” and “be safe”. And because of him, the first three minutes of my New Year were perfect; even if the next 90 were not.
The thing about both unicorns and gentlemen is that only the people who believe in them can see them. To everyone else, they just look like the rest of the jackasses out there.
But they do exist.
And despite everything that happened in the early morning hours that day and during my colorful life before that I will continue to believe, to be patient, and to take notice when they are standing right in front of me.