The Kinds of Men I Like Best

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A few weeks ago, I went out dancing, the only people who asked me to dance were over the age of 75 (and one of them had really nice dentures, and gave me his business card). Last weekend, I attended a school training, and the only people I hung out with were “about to retire in three years”. And, I always seem to run into the most random retirees who want to take me to coffee and discuss ‘politics and education and life in the old days’ (and I obviously love going and gaining from their wisdom). In lieu of Father’s Day, I wanted to dedicate a post, not only to my own father, but to all the wonderful men who continue to influence and inspire me everyday. The kinds of men I like best:

Come from humble beginnings: Growing up in the eighth wealthiest county in the nation, I have been to some pretty incredible houses. It was a norm to go to a friend’s house with a built in movie theater (don’t worry, this was not the house I grew up in). The kinds of men I like best are those who started off dirt poor, and worked their way up to these statuses. Of course, just by looking at them, you would never know the great empires they have built, because they still shop the clearance sales for jeans and go to dollar taco night at the bar and drive their old beat up truck because “the engine still works”. It was not through their parents’ money nor immoral actions, but rather dirt, sweat, and hard work. My Opa, for example, came over from The Netherlands in the 50’s with literally nothing, and built himself up to be one of the most powerful businessmen at Woodward Governor. They are the kind of men who have every reason to brag about their success, and yet, they still believe in serving others. The Benevolent One, a very successful pilot (a very prestigious position in our society), once told me, “I am just a glorified bus driver. When all the passengers are off the plane, I put on my gloves and help the crew clean. I am no better than they are”.

Have distinctive traits: This is actually true of people in general, but the kinds of men I like best are individuals; they have their own distinct personality traits, their own distinct views and opinions, their own distinct ways of doing things. They love their country. They know exactly who they will vote for in every election. And, don’t even get them on the topic of “what kids these days are up to”. But, I love that they have distinctive traits, because they own who they are (and, it makes it easy for me to make fun of them). My dad loved sugar and Kool-Aid so much that he gave himself diabetes. My brother drives around in the ‘Lucky Lady’, a purple 1992 suburban with shag carpet and Christmas lights hanging in the back. My grandpa, for example, was known to be stubborn and independent. As his Parkinson’s developed, my grandparents needed to sell their house, and my dad and I went over one afternoon to help fix up the backyard. We got there, and no grandpa was to be found. About fifteen minutes later, he came shuffling down the backyard. Despite the fact he could not see, and did not even have a driver’s license, my grandpa, a prideful man, went to Lowe’s, loaded the cart with mulch, put it in the car, and drove it home. But, we would never expect anything less, because he was his own person.

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Are big, giant softies: Despite their man-covers, and their love of all things destructive, grotesque, and burly, the kinds of men I like best are big softies. My brother moved out of my dad’s house because his wife accused his cat of pooping on the chair. When my dad’s $1 plecostomus fish got bloated, he made a special trip to the grocery store to buy it zucchini to cure it of constipation. We one time brought my room mate’s dog to visit him at work, and he petted her like she was diseased, but as soon as he got home, he was smushing his face in her and giving her kisses and talking to her in baby voices. They may try to act big and tough on the outside, but on the inside, they have the biggest hearts.

Carry wisdom: Some of my most life changing moments stemmed from conversations in an empty classroom, impromptu rides home when my car broke, sitting beside the campfire under the starry night sky. These men have taught me how to orchestrate a classroom, how to write a quality paper, and how to tie a fishing tackle; they taught me how to recover from a breakup, how to change my cabin filter, and where the tradition of putting limes in Corona’s came from; they’ve taught me important leadership skills, what to do when one’s credit card gets compromised, and why the devil horse at DIA is haunted. My dad gets a call from me just about every day, seeking his wisdom, solving my conflicts, and helping me make decisions—anywhere from what should my thesis statement be, to which classes should I take, and how I submit a claim for hail damage, to how I should most tactfully respond to that person. It is the wisdom of these men, and their strong moral compass, that drives my own intellectual foregrounding.

Love their women: There is nothing more enriching than to watch a man taking care of his woman, whether it is him scurrying to open the door for her, or pushing her to the inside of the road so he can face oncoming traffic, or insisting on carrying her purse for her. I am so blessed, because since I don’t have my own boyfriend, all these other great men come to save me when the Corolla slips off the side of the road or holds my phone for me while I go to the bathroom or walks me to my car late at night.

Yes, the men I was raised by, and continue to be influenced by, are the best kinds of men.

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