Saturday, February 21, 2015

Girlfriends, boyfriends, and man crushes

I had two experiences this week that caused me pause. Though separate, as I've pondered the experiences, I have begun to see the two as somewhat related.

The first happened when my wife and I went out to dinner with a couple of friends. As often happens when new people are getting to know each other, the "how did you meet" question came up. We've told our story hundreds of times since we got married. It's not that the details change, but with each retelling, our familiarity with those details and with each other has given deepened meaning to the story.

My wife and I have a great story. It's one that I can't share on an anonymous blog and hope to remain even remotely anonymous, but a very generalized version would go something like this:
We met and were friends. My now wife wanted to be more than friends, but I missed the subtle and then not so subtle hints at this, leading my now wife to conclude I was clueless. We didn't see each other for a few years then caught up again just as friends. We had both changed. Three dates later we were engaged. Three months after that we were married.

At the end of this particular retelling one of the other couples turned to me and asked, "Are you OK with how this story was told? Do you want to add anything?"

No one had ever asked me this. As I thought about our story (which I still love) and the question they were asking, I realized that in our story I come off as slow on the uptake. My wife clearly knew what she wanted in a boyfriend. I clearly DID NOT know what I wanted. With the question "Do you want to add anything?" came an invitation to defend myself, to prove I was not so clueless. In that instant I realized the only way to tell our story honestly would be to end, "In spite of the impression you may have received from this story, really I always knew what I wanted in a girlfriend. Simply stated, I wanted a boyfriend."

I didn't say this though. Not because I'm just a clueless boy. But I'm just in the closet.

The second happened around our dinner table a few days later. The conversation turned to my wife's list of celebrity crushes. She has long maintained a "Mr. Darcy list", her utterly harmless list of guys who set her heart aflutter. The list is clearly named for Colin Firth who at one point was somewhere near the list's top. (I think the unfortunate Mamma Mia! did not help his standings much, but The King's Speech definitely gave him a boost.)

One of my kids asked if I had a similar list. We spent a few minutes debating whether my mild Julia Stiles fandom constituted a crush. (We decided it did.) Then I admitted I had a few man crushes. My wife (who has known my sexual orientation since before we wed) tried to get me to share my man crush list.

Her: Who's on your list of man crushes?
Me: These are not the questions you are looking for...
Her: [not having any of my Jedi mind tricks] I noticed you haven't answered my question
Me: No. No I haven't.
Her: Is there any overlap between our lists?
Me: Likely minimal.
Her: Hmm...

A few uncomfortable minutes of avoidance and she gave up the subject.

At the end of the day, I didn't want to answer my wife's man crush questions for basically the same reason I didn't answer my friend's "Do you want to add anything?" question. It's not that I don't know the answer. And I don't think it's that I'm ashamed of the answers. But I'm relatively happy in my closet. (That doesn't mean insensitive church leaders don't offend me... more on that in a later post... maybe.) At the end of the day, I've become relatively expert at living my quiet, secretive life and I'm OK with that.

That said, my wife was gracious enough to write down her "Mr. Darcy List" so I could compare lists not in front of my children or for that matter in front of her. I wanted to do this because the nerd in me too was curious about the overlap between our lists. (What can I say. All the world is a Venn diagram, no?)

As I suspected the overlap was small:

Topher Grace

and from my teenage years:
Robert Sean Leonard

And now... to show myself that I'm not afraid of posting this (and for the benefit of my wife, knowing she reads my posts) in no particular order a few others from my list:

Nick Hoult
He made being undead adorable. The pic below is mighty nice, but also enjoyed him in X-Men. I'm partial to guys in specs.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Again with the tie. Apparently I like guys in ties.

Christian Bale
If rumors are true and he's a jerk I'll be happy admiring from afar. He is, after all, Batman.

I'm sure there are more, but these are the three that first came to mind.