Monday, July 02, 2007

Simply My Opinion

There's just something about a guy who knows how to use his hands. What is it? I don't really know, but when I see the labor-strengthened arms and back of a knowledgeable man expertly wielding power or manual tools while fixing a car, truck, or fire engine, or a quietly confident man, seasoned tool belt slung just right on his hips, nails between his lips, rhythmically setting nails into wood with a perfectly weighted hammer, I get a shivery thrill.

Experience is worn in the posture, the gait, the expression. With nothing to prove, there is no preening, no awareness of whether anyone is observing him or not. Who cares? He knows what he's about. He knows what he wants. There's a job to do, a pattern to follow, know-how to practice. Similar to a musician, a man who adeptly uses his hands finds all such work practice. It's what separates bona fide men from weekend wannabes.

When Tom is working on a car he becomes one with it, no barrier, no worry about his clothes, his skin, his hair. I've seen him climb right on top of the engine, worming his way down between hoses and belts for a better look, a hands on feel. He pulls out precision tools which look as if they should be in a doctor's black bag, with fancy gauges and tubes. He bangs to loosen and pulls to move with terrific strength. Focused and determined, he works the vehicle the way I knead bread, subconsciously applying skill, method, and intuition toward the task. It's a beautiful thing.

The same holds true when Tom builds. The sight of him shirtless, tan, his well-formed, lean muscles taut while he easily carries lumber or bags of cement mix on his shoulder causes my breathing to quicken. The speed at which he works, not hasty, not slow, just a well-paced rhythm which gets the job done. Gravity doesn't seem to have the same pull on him as it does on me. He will hoist himself up onto the roof so quickly that I am left to wonder how he did it. Where'd he put his feet? His hands? Hmmm. He seems to just bounce right up!

Today I saw a lean, strong, tanned young man walking out of the building supply store. Wearing a simple navy tee-shirt tucked into leather-belted jeans, along with work boots, and a dark, faded billed cap, he carried his purchases in a brown, thick-papered bag in one hand with an icy bottle of Coke wedged between two work-stained fingers, arm swinging, relaxed. His other hand separated his truck keys making ready to unlock the door. He walked the way I imagine he worked, not hurriedly, not sluggishly, but with measured steps. Not at all self-conscious, he seemed to be doing what I do when I bake, what Tom does when he fixes or builds, he was thinking, planning, getting his stuff together in his head. I wondered if there was an appreciative young woman waiting for him at the end of his long day. And maybe even a baby who would snuggle into the crook of his gentle arm.

It was the observance of this young guy which clarified for me that it is gentle, kind, skilled, physically working men who are at the top of my Authentic Man List. Not red-necks. Not posers in big double-trucks (the kind with the second bench-seat in the cab "for the family"). Not grungy, smelly, dirty-minded, uncouth fellows who really don't know how to do anything well. Not lazy men, no no. Not the big-bellied, smooth-faced, pretty-smelling, perfectly coifed, bit-a-facial-hair type ("I'm sorta baad!"), the tidy dressers who can put together a book shelf from Wal-Mart. Definitely not peacock corporate suit-wearing types. No, I like a genuine man as nature intended.

Tom is perfect that way.

Ben says Tom is the smartest man he knows.

Joe says he's the hardest-working, and 'does only quality work.'

The girls know him as, "Daddeeee. Will you help me? Will you play with me. I love you!" They bring out his gentleness, and he loves it.

Me? I still find myself all aflutter when I see him use his body and mind to work. It puts me right in my place, for I cannot begin to know or do what he does. Awe for him conquers me.

One word describes my husband just fine. Man.


Cassie said...

"Daddeeeee"! Yep Thats him!

I like hearing (... well... reading) you talk about Daddy like that!

Marianne Elixir said...

Ah, this makes me miss being in Eugene when Andrew was still working as a contractor. Somehow seeing him walk out the door in slacks and a button-down just doesn't do it for me the way seeing him come home with the evidence of easy hard work all over him did.
Now I have to get shivers when the weekend attire comes out and he pulls out a tool box to fix a few things and I am reminded of the good ol' days of secretly watching him work on the remodel next door, or of stopping by a job site to bring him lunch, but being as quiet as possible so as not to be noticed until the last minute so that I could watch the wonder of a live-in-the-flesh-as-God-intended man. Thanks for this reminder.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a neat picture, Cherie!

Cherie said...

Yep, Cassie, you and Caroline sure do bring out the best in your Papa, that's for sure! You're a good daughter. Thanks for the comment, sweetie!

Cherie said...

M, I'm so excited to read your comment! Another thing to learn about you and Andrew. I can tell you know just what I mean in this post. How cool is that! There's just something about that sort of man.....sigh.

Cherie said...

Hi, Patti! I'm so glad you like it. Thanks a lot for your comment.

Elizabeth said...

Sounds like love to me!
And your word-picture is most appealing. MAN, indeed.

Cherie said...

Intuitive you, Lizza. Thanks!

Wandering Coyote said...

How eloquent you are, Cherie! I wonder how many women put as much thought into exactly what they think is attractive... The Beauty Myth is still in my mind... It's so exceptional that you can describe in such detail your husband's traits.

Since my divorce and the resultant self-searching, I have continually striven for a definition of what I look for in a mate. I wonder, daily, if I'll ever find anything close to it. You seem to have it, though!

Great photos, too, especially the one with the baby...

cecily said...

It's the realness that's important isn't it?! Some guys are really themselves in a suit, and so long as they're not posturing as some sort of 'I'm so good in my suit, I've made it' then that's great. I always wanted a suited man... well I thought I did. Frank is a real man, and I have to say my heart fills up with admiration and pride when I see his handiwork and the way he handles his customers and all of that. (Tree surgeon)

Thanks Cherie!

tshsmom said...

Totally agree! That's a big shock, isn't it? ;)

What is it with guys and roofs? Do they have some sort of anti-gravity belt, or what?

Cherie said...

Thanks, WC. I have every hope that one day your self-searching will hand you not only your own whole self, but someone who will appreciate all that you are. Thanks for your kind words. Yeah, Tom always gentles right down when holding a baby - and it makes a sweet photo.

Cec, I think you've said it perfectly, it's the realness that's important. I love that Frank's handiwork fills you with pride and admiration. I know how that feels! And he's a tree surgeon... that is so cool! You're welcome, and thanks for the comments.

Tshs: Yep, not a big shock. ;-)

Springs in their feet? Don't know how they do it, but it always makes me feel inferior. Ha!

Deadmanshonda said...

Geez this is tender and amazing!It's nice to hear someone think of their spouse this way....and so very rare. What a gift you give to your children and those around you by your love for your husband.

Cherie said...

Thanks, Leisel. I never thought of it as a gift to my kids and others. That's cool. I'm just nuts about the guy - and we've been together for 27 years.