June 20, 2010 12:54:00 AM
Shannon Bardwell - [email protected]
There''s something different about men now. I''ve been seeing them in grocery stores. In the Kroger parking lot a man pulled in beside me. He appeared to be alone, then I saw a car seat with a child. As I watched, he entered the grocery store, with child in tow.
Later in the cereal section, I encountered another man. He had a grocery cart full and two toddlers. I gave him wide berth so as not to impede his progress. In my mind I was showing him not only courtesy but honor.
The first man was Caucasian, and the second man was African American. I only mention that because this "man" phenomenon does not seem to be peculiar to any particular race or culture. It appears to be a man thing.
At my house, I''ve watched Sam pack lunches, wash and iron a skirt for the youngest daughter. "It would be better for her to do it herself," I say gently. "I know," he responds, "but I don''t mind."
I flashback to my own growing up; I don''t think my dad knew where the grocery store was. I know that he didn''t know I wore skirts, or that they needed washing and ironing. He only learned about them when the bill arrived.
"What is this boutique bill I get each month?"
"Daaad, I haven''t even gotten anything this month!" I hear that same conversation in my own home now. Some things don''t change.
I''ve watched Sam make caramel apples for the Harvest Party. He can fry fish and make "kabobs" with the best of them. He can vacuum and mop and says he doesn''t mind. I remember his first time in the church''s kitchen; he started washing dishes. The women raved over him. Later he said, "I wish I knew that washing dishes impressed women. I would have started it a lot earlier." It''s very impressive, I tell him.
Sam has taken to decorating. All of a sudden he started asking my opinion on colors, "What do you think about beige above the wainscoting?" or "I was thinking about replacing the ceiling with tongue and groove wood, rustic pine maybe."
After the youngest left for college, Sam decided to redecorate her room. He checked the color with her and proceeded remodeling. I had not, and desired not, one bit of input. He cleaned and painted and even constructed a bookcase. He did trim work while washing curtains. Once complete he stood back and said, "I like it." I did, too. She did, too.
Now I''m wondering about those men in the grocery store. I bet they sing lullabies and rock their babies. I bet they tie their little shoes and dress them for nursery school. I bet after awhile the mothers don''t even have to tell them what matches and what doesn''t.
I think this new man thing is a really good thing.
Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.