Sunday, May 07, 2006

A Real Man

The men got together on Saturday morning. It is a group of male motor bikers who meet once a month to share our questions about life (for more about this group see The question for this week asked “What is a real man?”

And I know a real man. He is my friend the bullshit detector. He is an ex-naval officer who now works in a very tough job that takes no prisoners. And he is trained to ask very difficult questions, and to discover untruths. Some say he is brusque. Others, less charitably, call him arrogant. But the fact is that he is often right. Only he does not clothe his opinions in much by way of tact and social pleasantries. Then again if he did he would not have become a naval officer, or hold the current directorship.

This man’s man wants to celebrate his 30th year of marriage. His wife is half his size in physical stature – but everything his size in feisty personality and coping skills. So he knows that a bunch of flowers will not do. And this is the measure of a man: that he plans the ultimate romantic event. On Friday evening I attended the 5 course dinner he laid on for his wife. The guests were sworn to secrecy. He had booked her into a lovely room for the night. She was pleased. Then he opened his suitcase and took out some new clothes for her (he had used a piece of string to record her dimensions off her clothes in the cupboard, and then taken this string to Woolworths and with the aid of a shop assistant bought clothes for the evening). His wife was under the impression that he wanted a dress-up dinner for two. We waited in the private lounge of the venue: their daughter from Plettenburg Bay, his son and daughter-in-law from Richard’s Bay, and her lifelong friend from Cape Town. She walked into the lounge expecting sherry with her difficult husband: and discovered instead a man who loved her enough to take the trouble to arrange an event that made her feel special.

I am humbled by the measure of this man. He has reminded me that it is not the words we use, but rather the costly extravagance of our actions that speak of our worth. Pray that I too may be man enough for my wife.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The warrior of light sits around a fire with his companions.

They talk about his conquests, and any strangers who join the group are made welcome because everyone is proud of his life and of his Good Fight. The warrior speaks enthusiastically about the path, he tells how he resisted a particular challenge or speaks of the solution he found to one especially difficult situation.

When he tells stories, he invests his words with passion and romance.

Sometimes, he exaggerates a little. He remembers that at times his ancestors used to exaggerate too.
That is why he does the same thing. But he never confuses pride with vanity, and he never believes his own exaggerations.