Sometimes a dude talks to a woman just to talk to a woman.
We watched the kids on the playground years ago. Idle talk. How old’s yours? That’s a fun age. Yeah. Mine’s older. That’s her. Yeah, the one hanging by her toes and singing P!nk songs. Sure, I’m proud, and surprised. It was an AC/DC day this morning.
My toe hanger manager to sneak off the bars and ambled to my elbow.
She stood breathless, hands on hips, like an Olympian waiting for the judges’ reaction to that. She sized up the young mom at my side. “Gee dad,” she proclaimed as she galloped back to havoc. “You have tons of girlfriends. Gabi, Shelley, Kesha …”
Never mind that Gabi’s a 2004 Pontiac Grand-Am. Or that Shelley’s my sugar-voiced GPS. And that Kesha’s just one of my musical crushes. So are Diana Krall and Basia. Jules Day and Norah Jones. Cher Lloyd and Ingrid Michaelson.
It’s a wide range. That’s the beauty of a woman. (Bloggers everywhere will examine the beauty of a woman today. Check out more work here, and look for the hashtag #BOAW.)
Boys learn this in increments. If you learn it right, it might begin with Judy Jetson and Cinderella. You graduate to your kindergarten teacher’s aide and Brooke Shields. It evolves into prom dates and the women we’ll marry and our one day daughters. As long as you draw breath, it grows.
When you’re 4 …
The beauty of a woman begins with mom. It starts the day you were born. It’s in Snoopy sheets and bedtime stories. It’s the warmth of home and security of love. It’s your favorite colors on your birthday cake. Mom’s is the first beauty in a woman you’ll experience.
When you’re 11 …
The beauty of a woman shows in a teacher who believes in you. It’s in the little sister you’ll pick on and tease, and will always stick up for. You’ll even throw crab apples at bullies. It’s the way your pulse races when your crush sits next to you in a reading circle.
If your knees touch, it’s magic.
You find it in the first girl you kiss. When you ask the boys at lunch who’ve been there, and some who haven’t, ‘how does this work?”’
It’s there when you dig a girl enough to ask her to be your girlfriend. It’s there when you can’t understand why she breaks up with you the same day. It’s learning that a teenager should spend his recess with his arm around his girl. Not playing football. Girls mystify.
For years and years …
It’s an art appreciation teacher with wavy hair in a hippie skirt. You’d wind up in an art museum on a Saturday afternoon for extra credit. Also just so you could hear her speak about art. It’s sneaking into a concert for a glimpse of your favorite soulful jazz singer. It’s finding yourself under the spotlight as she sings to you and holds your hand.
That’s the beauty of a woman you notice at age 19. It’s that rush you remember 5 years ago when the swimsuit issue arrived. It’s different, though. It’s lingering on the eyes for reasons you can’t understand.
By the time you’re 26 …
You recognize the beauty in a woman’s eyes and it compels you kneel and propose. You hear it in your first-born daughter’s cries. They’re so overwhelming you cover your mouth with both hands the moment she’s born.
It’s there as your baby’s cries subside. When her tiny hands find your finger and your familiar voice soothes her.
It’s seeing her mother’s beauty in her. It happens again in a second daughter born just as your world seems to crumble around you. Your heart expands with the rebirth.
The beauty of a woman, by age 32 …
It’s in the nurses’ work at Duke Hospital. In the women who let you stay beyond visiting hours. It’s the one who, after you decide to turn off life support, returns to shave his face one last time – with tears in her eyes.
It’s in the daughter, born three months after dad dies.
It’s in her blue skin after birth that comes alive in healthy pink in an instant. It’s in her mother’s fight through complications.
It’s in the light a brown-eyed baby can bring to a man’s darkened heart.
It shines so bright for a man lucky enough to welcome a third daughter into this world. It shines brighter as she grows and thrives and loves … even as he reaches 40.
A man’s eyes will falter and crow’s feet will wrinkle his face. He still sees the beauty of a woman, though. It’s on the soccer field when girls fight through adversity and doubt. It’s there through injury and first goals and championships and heartbreak.
He sees it as they hook their soul on the pride of team. It’s clear to him with wins and losses, goals and gaffes, ebbs and flows.
It’s a goalkeeper with head held high and tears flowing after a state playoff loss.
It’s in the woman who can somehow spot beauty in him when he feels his most dim.
It’s in a community of women writers who support his work and comment and share the love. It’s in kids, not even his own, who brighten his soul with their smiles on the field.
It covers the expanses of time and the fissures between it. It’s as grand as Amelia Earhart’s courage and as minute as a favorite rock. It’s rich and it’s true. It’s in the women we adore or the child who calls you out on your widespread adoration.
Sometimes, a dude just talks to a woman.
He can see the beauty of her, everywhere.