There was a meme going ‘round on social media recently I shared, because I liked it. It described a person’s traits in evocative words and terms, asking ‘what fits you best?’ with header words like woodsmoke, ink, saltwater, and such-like. My First Reader looked at it and pointed out that most of the sections were much more feminine than masculine. “So write up a manly version,” I suggested to him. “I don’t have the brain to do it today.” neither did he, nor the other men who commented along similar lines.
I don’t recall if I talked about it here on the blog, but recently I came up with a first-edition Robert Service. I loved him, and Kipling, and read them both often as a girl. I know I’ve talked about – as has the First Reader – our mutual affection for the works of Louis L’Amour. And his fondness for Mickey Spillane’s work led to my writing Pixie Noir to make him laugh with a send-up of Fae and Noir. The commonality of all those written works is manly men.
There’s a concept being pushed, hard, in certain circles, to demonize men. “Toxic Masculinity” they call it, and preach that men who follow the traits that make men great are bad things, evil and should be exorcised from our boys. Fighting. Lack of emotion. Holding doors open for the people coming in after them. Toxic? Anything taken to its extreme is toxic. The poison is in the dose. Feminism, in the doses currently doled out to our children, is extremely toxic. Masculinity is something to be celebrated, not eradicated.
So yes, the meme needs a masculine version. His woodsmoke to my violets. His calluses to my inkstains. Men and women are similar in many things. But the differences… ah! The differences!
Woodsmoke – a quiet stride, quick hands, confident smile, tang of smoke and steel. Slow to speak, until they know you and trust you with their tales, worth listening to, a companion to ride the river with.
Peregrine – never fits in, makes friends but doesn’t keep track of them, can find a friend anywhere and years later pick up where they left off. Always looking at the horizon, never satisfied, wanderer, explorer, brilliant, fickle, shooting star.
Saltwater – deep laugh lines, tanned, calluses, infinite patience. Knows how to tie a sound knot, how to hold a crying baby, and how to navigate the tricky tides. Kisses deeply, laughs infrequently, works until they die.
Quill – good with words, a velvet touch, uncertain goals. Sometimes speaks with a husky voice and faraway eyes. Settles for too little, dreams too much, loves too deeply.
Frostbitten – Sometimes indecisive, has regrets, boldly strides down the road less travelled. Never looks back. Loves fast cars, the feel of wind-whipped hair, the distant vistas of what might be.
Cordite – Keeps their head in chaos but can’t face a loaded diaper. Takes chances, is lucky, is always prepared. Hurts deeply but you’ve never seen them cry. Passionate in bed, dispassionate in the courtroom.
Starry – Dreams of impossible things, leaps off this mudball into the galaxies beyond, feels like joy is always just past their fingertips, often stares into nothing with a faint smile. Seeks excitement, adventure, a lover beyond the wildest dreams of mankind, settles for nothing less than the best.
Rebel – thrives with the purr of an open throttle between their legs, supports lost causes, brings home wounded kittens. Dances without care, drinks with friends or alone, faces death with clear eyes.
Granite – Never shows emotions to strangers, is a rock when crisis comes. Staunch friend, bad jokes, shares whiskey with those he likes best. Insults for a love language, trusts rarely, loyal to a fault.
I’m inept with words when I stop and think about the things I love in my Beloved. I can’t possibly capture him in a brief thumbnail sketch like those… But I can try, because he has my heart and my heart is full of words. He doesn’t want a gift for his birthday. He got this, instead. What would you say about the man who you love? What about him is brave, strong, true, and adorable?
All I can say, in the end, is mine.