Which would be a particularly unfierce but somewhat sad 1970s Shel Silverstein poem except for the fact that when I was a kid, I was Very Definite about things. Insanely so. Not stubborn, just over it, and not willing to discuss further once I'd made up my mind about things, because if those nonnegotiable things became problematic, it just meant they had to be kept deep, with alllll the other stuff that wasn't up for discussion. Which wasn't really a problem either, because I desperately need to be admired and it just makes sense to hold onto stuff that doesn't belong to other people anyway, if they're not going to appreciate it.
So one of these decisions I came to as a boy was that unicorns were, like my Dad, the best possible option for what being a man actually looked like. Because you have to be able to do both: be strong and fuck things up if necessary, but also capable of holding your son or daughter in your lap, or crying, also when necessary. You have to be absolutely in love with sex, but able to set it aside too, without thinking it defines you. Pretty much any contradictory thing we think nothing of demanding from women, but write ourselves a pass for, that's what you're accountable to. You have to be both things all the time if you can ever hope to stay whole, and the trick is being present enough to stay in control of that, and not get lazy enough to ever be one or the other entirely. How to be strong without turning cold, tough but tender. Soft, but not fragile.
And being naturally a very angry person, a person who will always choose fighting over any other activity, this gayest of all possible ideas has given me a lot of secret support over the years. What would that man do? Somebody's fucking with your life or trying to keep you quiet? Stab 'em. Somebody's going to hurt somebody you love? Kick his head in. But at the same time, if somebody honestly wants in, you have to submit to that and let them in, even if it's super scary and the thought makes you panic, you have to occasionally put your head in somebody's lap. I'm still learning to deal with that, with the idea of other people having the ability to be awesome and not let you down, and I think as a country, it's very hard to get that trust back, and actually believe in good intentions.
Especially when things are incredibly fucking rough like they are right now, it just makes sense to crawl back in the cave and growl until things are better -- which of course they never will be, until you pull it together and realize that acting like a man doesn't always mean acting. David Cook was good at this too: what you have here are two men who are adept at this, in a generation who are just showing their ability to really shine at it, without losing anything in the process: keeping the balance, without letting anybody push them onto one side or the other. And if that's the choice that America's handing us -- the choice between these two men who are soft, but manage to be anything but weak, and are the only two out of the whole Top Twelve you could say that about -- that's the best news I've heard in a long, long time.
And if you ever mention the unicorn thing again, I'll fuck your face up for you. See you tomorrow.