I saw a billboard the other day while driving my big rig through West Hollywood, right next to the rainbow flags that the city so proudly flies, that promoted a movie titled “I Love You, Man,” or something, or other, like that. Underneath, I suppose this was supposed to be the “teaser,” it read, “Are you man enough to say it?” The image on the billboard was two men. I believe the men were Paul Rudd and Jason Segel. The movie is something about a bro-mance that grows while one is needing a best man for his wedding, or something like that.
I tell many men “I love them,” and they understand the connotation of the phrase without me having to explain it, or at least I hope so. Some non-Christians seem to think that the only man a Christian believes he can tell he loves is Jesus.
I used to tell my father that I loved him, long ago, before he died in 1999. He would usually just respond, “Mmm, hmmm.” I knew he loved me, in his own way, and I never pressed the issue beyond the words. He had other ways of telling me he loved me. When I was a kid he, and his siblings, took me out to plays and operas, in a gesture of love. My aunt owned an art gallery she loved almost as much as life itself, and I spent some time there as well. She also bought me hundreds of dollars of books every Christmas. I suppose that is the reason I love to read so much. Anyhow, to show their love, without having to say it constantly, my father, and his family, introduced me to “The Arts,” and I have a certain level of “culture” as a result.
Dad, the step-dad that was more of a father than most fathers could ever be, said “I love you,” back when I told him (and tell him), but I was never sure how automatic the response actually was. I am not saying that I doubted his love, but I am not sure he ever initiated the love-fest of verbiage. He didn’t have to say “I love you” often, anyhow. I figured out that it must be true because he worked hard to provide for the family, and he never treated me any different than the children he made with my mom that had his blood running through their veins. He disciplined me in the same manner as my siblings, and he taught me the meaning of principles and values, as well. From him I learned some of the wisdom of the United States Marine Corps. Once you fire your weapon, for example, you can’t take the shot back. No since in worrying about what happened with the shot. If you want to stay alive, your concern has to be getting off the next shot. And so it goes in life. The past is the past, and though we should not forget it for fear of repeating it, the past is not something to be dwelled upon. Look forward, move forward, move ahead.
I enlisted in the United States Navy when I was older, and learned first hand much of the wisdom of the military that many young men have had the honor of acquiring. Some ask me why I didn’t get into the Marines, as my dad had been. I normally just grin, and say, “Because I have already been in the Marine Corps – he raised me.”
My best bud, who I have been friends with since the 1970’s, is like a brother to me. I think I tell him, in fact, that I have love for him more than I actually tell my own brother. Nacho has returned such sentiments often, and we are still on the phone often to talk about the goings-ons in our lives. I don’t think, however, that I have ever referred to our friendship as a “bro-mance” as is being conceptualized by that “I love you, man” movie.
Nacho and I, as friends, have been through a lot together, so I suppose we have earned the right to say to each other, “I love you, man.” We hit it off right off the bat when we met, sitting next to each other in our seventh period Language Arts class in Middle School. I tell people we conversed well immediately. He tells people I began to talk, and he was willing to listen, and listen, and listen, and listen . . . then he says something about becoming my friend because he felt sorry for me – I am sure he is joking when he says that. I think he is. I am pretty sure he is. I hope he is.
Of course, in this world of changing attitudes, a change for the worse, if you ask me, regarding gender roles and relationships, it sure does give that line in that Flinstones cartoon opening song – you know the one – where it says, “We’ll have a gay ol’ time,” – new meaning.
Perhaps I am old fashioned. I have done things the old fashioned way. Few people I know, in fact, have treated love in that old fashioned way that I have.
I know it is strange, but I married my wife because I love her. There was no “convenience” about it. In fact, it was quite inconvenient, considering I set aside athletic and academic scholarships to do so. My aunt set aside money for me, hoping I would go to Occidental College, and she was quite disappointed I chose a different path early on in my life. Instead, I married, had a kid on the way, and enlisted in the U.S. Navy.
Sure, it was difficult. What things in life worth having aren’t? But after a couple dozen years, Mrs. Pistachio and I will be celebrating our 25th Wedding Anniversary this August.
Who does that anymore? What kind of people actually fall in love, marry the one they love, and follow the stipulations of the marriage contract that say, “For better or for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer?” As far as I can tell, the moment things get worse, the spouses go packing. A little disability or major health issue, and one of the two are telling their friends they don’t know if they can stay in the marriage. When the wealthy aren’t wealthy anymore, the other member of the couple bails, in search of a new sugar-mama or sugar-daddy. Heck, sometimes they don’t even wait for the monetary riches to subside – and take half on their way out the door.
My mom and dad have been married for forty years. Sure, like any marriage, the road has been rough, but they didn’t part ways after the kids grew up and moved out. The marriage wasn’t about the kids. It was about love.
When Proposition 8 was on the ballot there was a lot of discussion over gay marriage. Some folks were saying, hey, since the heterosexuals can’t seem to get it right with their high divorce rate, let the homosexuals have a crack at it. Another proclaimed that he was in full support of gay marriage because he felt the gays should be just as miserable as the rest of us married slobs. I am in the belief that marriage was given to us by God and that it was designed for a man and a woman – Civil Unions provide everything a married gay couple could ever want, minus the word marriage on the paperwork. But nobody will arrest you if you use the word “married” in conversation.
I remember when my children were younger, and my daughter came to me and said, “Daddy, of all my friends, I am the only one whose parents are still married.”
That statement is more true now, than it was then.
I was speaking with someone at my Credit Union yesterday who was happily proclaiming she had five kids. Two from a previous marriage, two step-kids, and one from her current marriage. The two from the previous marriage, however, were with their “daddy,” to her glee, in another state. They were a handful, and she was glad to dump them off on him somewhere in The South.
Between abortion, and women dumping their kids off, I wonder, sometimes, what happened to the now nearly gone concept of “motherly instinct.”
In this brave new world where gender roles and identities are being neutralized by changing norms perpetuated by a minority of people who have decided that men and women are too alike to be different, even though the differences between the sexes are obvious. I ask myself, sometimes, in light of society’s changing norms, “Isn’t it nice that some folks have stuck with tradition?” After all, isn’t it the strength of the family unit that made this nation great?
So when I take my wife out today to lunch, and dinner, and give her a handful of flowers along with a little gift (sshhhhh – it’s in a little white box – don’t tell her) on Valentine’s Day during this cool year of 2009 (so much for Global Warming), my affection for her signifies more than just a marriage that has lasted a quarter of a century. Our relationship is more than just a successful navigation through the stormy seas of a Godly relationship. We represent something lost and forgotten. We are Americana, and a symbol of the long history of worldwide relationships sealed in marriage – an institution that is on the verge of being washed away down the storm drain of history if we are not careful, and vigilant. We, the families of America, are the strength of this nation, the embodiment of all that is good and moral and just.
Of course, if you ask my wife, she doesn’t necessarily recognize any of those things. She just says that we figured a way out of loving each other for a long time without killing each other. Sometimes, indeed, love conquers all.
Happy Valentine’s Day. May yours be filled with happiness, a joyful date with the love of your life, a lot of chocolate hearts, and a reminder of how important your bond truly is.
And to my wife, Happy Valentine’s Day, Virginia. We do, indeed, have the love of a lifetime.