I’ve had a lot of fun enjoying pop culture this past week, and it’s coincided with some thinking I’ve been doing about the differences between men and women.
Last night Faith and I went to a Josh Groban concert at the Pepsi Center. She is completely gone of Josh, and heckled me to buy the tickets over three months ago. Good call, as it was nearly a sellout crowd.
Josh is a funny little duck. Maybe five nine and a hundred fifty, when he starts to sing the disparity between his appearance and his voice is startling. He has this booming baritone that fills the entire arena. He also graciously shares the stage with a twelve piece band, that includes French horns and violas. Violas! In a pop band!
He sings in several languages, and writes most of his English songs. One, “The Bells of New York”, is about as heartwrenching as can be. It’s funny to hear someone sing about something shared-the siren call of a place that perhaps maybe you’re supposed to be. Other songs about melancholy love and desire disguise a merry heart of a gifted performer.
He cavorts about the stage between numbers, and makes these random lame jokes between songs of the highest musicianship. (Josh: “I heard they banned “Rocky Mountain High” here because it supposedly had a drug reference. Maybe we should use “You Lift Me Up” in a Viagra commercial?” Boo! )
It’s a funny thing to ponder, too, what makes a man appealing. On the way home, Faith announced she could die happy, she had been 300 feet away from Josh for a whole evening.
I supposed you could start with the obvious. Josh has the goods. A full head of tousled black hair. A symmetrical face. A ready smile, and a voice that could melt butter.
What else though? Here’s something not so quite so shallow. Faith has shown me from time to time Josh’s video blog. He keeps this thing and shoots it out to fans who sign up for it, and it is hilarious. He sits in front of a webcam, looking like he just rolled out of the sack. Classic bed head, unshaven, and the best part, he wears these thick, unstylish, Coke bottle glasses that he peers through when he squints at the camera.
I think women love that kind of vulnerability. I know I do. Maybe another word for it is “unselfconsciousness”. How wearisome to be around men who are constantly concerned about their appearance or accomplishments. It’s always better to be more than you appear to be, and Josh has that in spades. He doesn’t have to brag on himself, that happens when he sings.
Some of my best men friends are the same way. JR, a real estate developer from New York, made millions in the eighties and nineties. He’s not much to look at, but when you talk to him, you realize that his brain is sparking away. His wife calls him a curmudgeon, which is true. But this curmudgeonly guy was as broken up for me when we lost Chris as anyone else in the room. He’s stuck by us, taken Christopher out for ‘manly’ events like fishing and long runs. What a gift.
Here’s something else. Perhaps I’d call it ‘selective blindess’. JJ is a friend of mine in retail, and manages a night shift at a local store. A big bear of a dude, he probably carries around seventy extra pounds that puts his health at real risk. (Are you listening, JJ?) JJ doesn’t look like Josh, or Daniel Craig either. A couple of columns ago I reminded you of a great guy we lost to cancer named Mick. (Miss you Much, Mick) Liz, his wife, called me in the middle of the night when he passed, and I jumped in the car to see her. As I was driving over there, I texted JJ.
“JJ. A friend has died and there’s no lunch food in the house for the boys. Help?” I texted him a list to pull off the shelves, and said I would be in shortly.
After sitting with Liz for a few hours, I went to the store for the provisions. It was about 6 am and commuters were beginning to come in for Starbucks, and the store was beginning to fill. JJ pulled up a full cart with a gentle smile, and helped me check out. It wasn’t until I loaded the car that I realized how bizarre I must have looked. I had on my flannel pjs with the floodwater jammie pants, clogs, and a ski jacket. I hadn’t washed my face, brushed my teeth or hair. Gah! What a fright. But JJ didn’t care. He saw only my concern and not my looks, and in a manly way, gave me quite a lift.
I have been blessed with dozens of these acts of masculine kindness, now that I sit down and think about it. I guess God really does love me.
I wonder though, what it would would be like to love someone at my stage of the game?
My birthday was June 19th, and some friends had offered to take me to the movie “Cowboys versus Aliens.” Now, when the trailer for that came out I just about laughed myself silly. Spaghetti Western Meets Alien? Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig must need to make their ranch payments. What a goofy concept! I just had to see it.
It was a goofy concept. It was completely ridiculous and charming in every way. The gritty, parched feel of Daniel Craig toughing it out in the prairie as part of a ‘robber gang’ and Harrison Ford as the rugged cattle rancher, I’m giggling even as I write this. I found a picture down below that makes me certain both those men laughed heartily between takes.
There was one sequence though, that was heartwarming. Daniel Craig’s character is searching for a lover he can’t remember, and Olivia Wilde’s character is helping him. She becomes gravely wounded. The only thing he can do for her is carry her under the blazing sun to get help. The sky is clear, not a drop of water to be found. As he muscles her over the prairie, you can see the strength just drain away from his body. He keeps up a reassuring verbal patter-
“It’s okay. We’ll be okay. You and I, we’ll get to where we need to go. You hang on here. We’ll find help soon.” On and on and on. He treasures her enough to spend his last ounce of strength on her.
Eventually he hands her off to Harrison Ford, and drops to his knees in the scrub, spent.
Imagine that. I think that’s first on my list of What Makes a Real Man.
1. Someone who treasures me more than himself. One might almost think that’s Biblical.