Boys and Men

He wore too much cologne. A thick cloud of musk followed them around the restaurant. His expectation for sex was palpable. Leering from the top of a widely unbuttoned shirt, his eyes would dart between her eyes and cleavage. It made her uneasy, but wasn't egregious enough to end the date. After all, he was a lively conversationalist.

Unselfconscious and rather funny, BJ knew how to carry himself. Though twenty pounds overweight and in the winter of his full head of hair, he spoke with authority. No part of him thought he didn't belong on this date. Male virility is a strange animal. A third party might peek in on this date and see a beautiful woman with something of an oaf. When BJ looked in the mirror, he didn't see a receding hair line, or the once muscular chest now obscured by light beer and hot wings. He saw the man he was in college. The one that bedded twins on New Year's Eve a decade earlier.

Jennifer, however, was painfully aware of the face she now wore. She was a knockout, but she refused to acknowledge it. She'd spent an hour and a half getting ready for this date. Trying on a half dozen pairs of jeans before deciding on a skirt. Her jeans tormented her. She was a snake who desperately wanted to fit into her molted skin. His gaze made her feel uncomfortable. She smiled nervously, but quickly relaxed her expression for fear of accentuating her crow's feet.

A few days prior, Jen had been out with Thomas, a colleague who, after months of gathering courage, finally asked her out. The date was awkward and ended abruptly. He wore his pleated slacks and ironed his shirt. But his nervous demeanor held no charm in her heart. She could tell he was kind and that he would love her, but lacked presence. Nothing about him suggested that he belonged with her.

Across town, Thomas sits in front of his computer.  Eagerly waiting for Jen to get home from her girls' night, he hoped for a quick instant message conversation before bed.

Back at BJ's apartment, the lights are dimming. A skirt left in the hallway.

If only the good ones could lean their shoulders back, lift their chins up, and declare that they are worthy of the women they adore. If only our boys would grow up to be men.

It's confidence they love, Boys, not pain.

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