I used to think that men should smell like cold air and cigarettes, like the scent of my father when he came to pick me up for his weekend visit; or earthy and sweaty, like my grandfather when he came inside from milking cows or baling hay in the hot Texas summer. Dad always smelled like he just stepped out of an air conditioned room or car with a cigarette hanging from his lips, beer on his breath and cologne on his collar. Dad always wore loafers, I never saw him in oxford type shoes. He wanted shoes that he could slip in and out of easily. He seemed to sweep in and out of my life just as easily. Now that he's old, he wears comfortable shoes, but he doesn't seem to be very comfortable in general. He's 6'1", but he seems small and vulnerable now. I don't have much anger left to direct toward him anymore, just pity. He's not happy with himself. I'm the same way. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree.
Papaw smelled like sunlight, tractor grease and freshly tilled soil. He wore cologne only when attending weddings or funerals, also the only times he took his precious Resistol cattleman's hat out of the box. It wasn't a cowboy hat. He wore straw cowboy hats in the hot weather, but cooler temperatures and fancier occasions called for the cattleman's hat and the pointy toed boots. Papaw always wore overalls for work with long sleeves and a neck cover even on the most oppressive summer days. He wore a gimme cap to keep the sun off of his bald head and round toed leather work boots, suitable for slogging around in blackland mud and cow manure. He didn't complain about his life, he just got on with it. He doesn't have to drive his tractor very often nowadays, but he tools around in his scooter and drives his big pickup truck. He enjoys his life. He's worked hard since he was a child. Now he gets to go fishing whenever he wants; not a bad trade off.
I'm glad that I had both my father and my grandfather in my life. They were the male yin and yang in my social awareness. If all men were like my father had been like when I was a kid, I would probably have grown up to hate men. I also had my grandfather and my uncles in my life, who were all good, solid men who took care of their responsibilities and treated their loved ones well. They gave me hope that I could someday find a good man to be with.
As I've gotten older, I've come to realize that men are flawed human beings, not terrifying mythological creatures with the ability to wreck my life or make me hate myself. If only men could feel this way about women. We're both human beings and we have only one world to live in, so we have to learn to live together. We also have to learn to be honest about ourselves. That may be more difficult.
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