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Strong as Gay

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I was talking with a good friend this morning. We were lamenting on the fact that we were both sort of married to the Marlboro Man, well different versions of, not the same guy, lest you be confused.

You know. The Marlboro Man! Rugged. Strong. Masculine. Not bad to look at. Works hard. With their calloused hands no less, which always have grease lined-nails and jagged edges. Yes, they are the quintessential man’s man who know the definition of HARD WORK and have an inexhaustible supply of energy to draw from in order to work– usually ten or twelve hours (on a slow day).

Maybe you know a Marlboro Man. He probably smokes. And cusses when he gets mad. They leave the seat up just for you, ladies. They like steak and potatoes and they despise casseroles and anything that comes from a recipe. They like a nice cold one after work. They like Monday night football and they don’t do chick flick—ever! They don’t see dust and above all they never ever cry.

They’re Dodge Ram tough! They fix transmissions and they fix broken sinks. They have tools that are too heavy for you to carry. But mending broken hearts? That’s another matter.

Ah yes, these steel boned, iron-willed men are what we chose and what we are indeed grateful for. But sometimes, if life were absolutely perfect, we wonder what it’d be like to at least borrow a man like this:

Strong as Gay

Yes, I said it. For just one night, I want a reprieve from reality. I want to spend time with someone who is characteristically and fastidiously neat and would be horrified to see urine on the side of the porcelain and would instantly reach for the nearest spray bottle of Clorox.

In this alternate universe we’d have our moment. My dream date would go down something like this:

First, I’ll go out to dinner to an elegant restaurant with a name I can’t pronounce, attached to the arm of a man who has never publicly belched or farted and knows what a linen napkin is for. I want to see that Polo pony emblazoned proudly on his shirt in all its embroidered glory. Yes, this is the steed for me.

I want to smell some nice Givenchy or Hermes with fruity overtones waft across the candlelight as this beautiful man sits there and compliments profusely my long ago-forgotten beauty. As he gazes into my forty-something eyes, he’ll reach for my hand and hold it softly in his, as I’m acutely aware of how his baby-bottom like soft skin touches mine. He’ll look longingly into my eyes as he gently inquires how was my day and how am I doing? Yes, how are you actually doing–he’ll insist on knowing. Then he will even wait for and even listen to my response.

Even if it involves tears.

Especially, if it involves tears.


“Oh dear, dear, dear, dear,” he’ll say as he wipes my eyes. “We can’t have this. This absolutely won’t do; your mascara will run.” At this point, this perfectly caring strong beautiful man will jump up and then kneel down beside me on my side of the table and wipe my tear before it even starts the slippery descent down my cheek. He’ll lean over and kiss the crown of my head and my heart will just melt. I will think for a moment what did I ever do to deserve such a sensitive man.

By the time the maître d arrives, the perfect Pinot Noir has already been ordered and the definite possibility of dessert is being discussed. No, make that relished. We are laughing as we fork through our shrimp and avocado salad discussing dessert choices. Next the topic of conversation will slowly shift to the time-treasured topic of:

Hopes and Dreams

We’ll slowly savor each bite of our pan-seared salmon entrees with asparagus as we spend a good hour discussing the finer details of the above-mentioned topic. Yes, I’ll try and get a word in edge-wise about what about you and your dreams, but this strong as gay man will have none of it. We’re not here to discuss me he’ll say; tonight is all about you. “But it’s not even my birthday,” I’ll insist. “Shush, shush,” he’ll say, “as you were saying?” He’ll beg for more details in his compassionate quest.

After dessert, we’ll sit facing one another in his new luxury Mercedes S class Sedan. As I inhale the fresh-off-the-lot cleanliness of new leather, I’ll surreptitiously notice that not a solitary object exists in his car, save for the most recent copy of Architectural Digest and Traditional Home tucked neatly away in the backseat. He’ll check his watch and remind me that we still have an hour before the movie starts. He’ll ask me which movie I want to see more, the one with Sandra Bullock or the one with Hugh Grant. He’ll tell me he is good either way.

We’ll continue talking about life and he’ll offer wisdom and real words of encouragement when I mention the things that are bothering me. He’ll lean over and say, “Is it okay if I just hold you?” This will make me cry and I’ll say, “Of course!” Then I’ll start crying in that slobbery kind of way reserved only for deaths of loved ones and true break-downs, and he’ll just keep holding me and have a hanky close by on ready reserve just waiting to wipe away my tears. In between sobs and slobs, he’ll just say, “There, there, it’s gonna be okay.” And he’ll just lightly kiss the side of my face once or twice but mostly he’ll just hold me.

I will calm down and feel strangely comforted. I may even feel like this is LOVE. I’m relieved because I know I don’t owe him anything later for this abundance of kindness and caring.

As the evening winds down, we’ll finally go and see our movie. We’ll laugh and cry together as we stuff our already full bellies with popcorn, soda, and chocolate. Yes, we’ll have lots of chocolate. He’ll probably reach over for my hand just to hold it during the tear-jerker scenes.

Finally, he will take me home. He’ll look into my eyes one last time and say, “Thank you darling for tonight. It has been such a lovely evening. You mean the world to me! Never change, okay?”

We’ll lightly peck one another’s lips as I savor one last time the smells of his car, of him, of a reality that isn’t mine, never was, and never will be.

He will drop me back off at the house of the Marlboro Man. The house where I live. The house where there is both duty and love. Heartache and heart full. But every now and then, I will pine for the man who comfortably wears pink, has a small stud earring and smells really good, and a heart that goes so deep I think I’d like to drown there for just a little while sometimes.

Yes, we suburban wives of Marlboro need just such a strong man sometimes or at least the dream of one. Even if it goes up in a puff of smoke.

Post Script: John Stillman who played Jack Wrangler, aka The Marlboro Man, first worked as a model, than became well-known for his rugged good looks as The Marlboro Man. He then went on to become a porn star and died from emphysema at age 62 in April 2009.

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