It was a nine-seater, eighties GMC Suburban, red and tan, peppered with multiple areas of rust. It was big enough to dwarf the 6′-1″ driver and loud enough to pass as a large delivery truck. This was my carriage; my ride to our first date. It was my Cinderella moment; not so much for the vehicle, but for my fairy tale behind the wheel. Looking back, I can see how this old clunker would define the character of the man I still swoon over twenty-three years later.
As the mother of two teenage boys, I am acutely aware of our world’s definition of sexy. Clothing found acceptable today is shorter, tighter and more see through than ever before. Too often, body and looks trump character and people are rated by how much skin they show. Whether it is a Victoria’s Secret ad popping up during our nightly t.v. show or the girl walking down the hallway at school, my boys are saturated with this distorted understanding of what sexy is.
Of course I’d be lying if I said I was first attracted to my husband because he was intelligent, honest and hardworking. The truth is, I was taken with his dark hair, just long enough to have to be swept to the side, his deep brown eyes, perfect smile and confident, yet humble, way in which he carried himself. Before learning his name, my college girlfriends and I used to refer to him as “Dead Poets Society” guy (in case you’ve never seen the movie, he looked just like one of the main characters).
As we prepare to celebrate our eighteenth wedding anniversary, I’ve been giving some thought to why it is I remain not only in love with this man, but so attracted to him. The hair is all but gone and the little that remains is more white than black. After all these years, all his secrets have been exposed. He is no longer this tall, dark and handsome mystery man that has me excited and curious to learn all the wonderful fairy tale things about him. He is now this tall, dark and handsome man with flaws and imperfections, the start of wrinkles and an aged expression that shows the fatigue of being the hardworking man he is.
To me, however, this guy’s more sexy than ever before. He’s real, he’s without pretense and he’s vulnerable. He never hides behind the unrealistic strength men are often told they need to exhibit at all times. He identifies with his human weakness and continually puts his life in the hands of God. There is nothing more attractive to me than seeing him on his knees in prayers, absorbed by a reality bigger than him, strong enough to live on faith rather than cling to some misconstrued belief that he should be able to control everything on his own merit.
His role as father and leader of our little family wins me over every day. I am beguiled by the way he continually puts us first and himself last, by the way he submits himself to the truth that he doesn’t have all the answers and that he has just as much to learn from our children as he has to teach them, and the way he humbly shows that real leadership comes with the full gamete of emotions-fear-joy-humility-and it’s all ok. And last, but not least, I am enchanted with the way he continually sacrifices his own “reputation” for the sake of a good laugh.
This is the kind of man I pray our boys will grow to be. This is the kind of sexy I pray they will seek in a spouse and my future daughter-in-laws will appreciate. I won’t pretend I can shelter my children from a society that encourages, rewards and celebrates anything and everything that has to do with indecency, promiscuity and the “do-whatever-feels-good” attitude. We have plenty of inappropriate jokes flying around this household at any given time. I do however, pray that our children will take note of the kind of man their father is, the joy and strength that comes from his faith and the way he treats their mother with selflessness, kindness and real compassion.
Truth be told, I’ve never been one to care for sports cars. While I guess I can understand the thrill they seem to bring some people, to me, I see a pretense of sorts among the flashy parts and need for speed. I’d take the man driving the old suburban any day — and 23 years later, I’m so grateful I did.
Happy Anniversary Babe…