With our friend Paul’s death several years ago, there are only two of us left in the Fabulous Old Men’s Club, we had an impromptu meeting today. We are still looking for another Fabulous Old Man.
I drove in the wind and the rain over to Pompanuck Farm to visit with my friend Scott Carrino, we hadn’t talked face to face in awhile. Scott was working across in the bakery, sending off clouds of flour dust, he said he was upset reading on my blog that we were thinking of moving to New Mexico .
But he said he wanted us to be happy. He is a good man. (I reassured Scott that it was highly unlikely that we would move to New Mexico, we can’t afford it and we are pretty happy where we are.)
I was touched by that – it’s good to know somebody cares – and men often forget to say how much they care for one another. Scott isn’t like most men, and neither am I.
We talked by his big ovens, I sat on a stool next to Red, Scott was kneading and pounding and tossing dough into the ovens to make bread and pizza crust while we talked.
I once tried to help him shape the pizza dough, but I could not meet his standards and am no longer invited to help. Scott takes his dough very seriously, and I don’t think we would work well together.
This is often how we meet, Scott has little free time these days and I keep Scott company while he bakes. It’s nice.
I’m happy for what we can do, and we stay in touch with each other, our friendship has deepened and grown, a hard thing for many men. It matters to us, and we are always available to one another.
In short order, the topic of sexual harassment of women by powerful men came up, it was on both of our minds. We were both stunned at the stories we are reading about and hearing about.
It isn’t that we didn’t know or believe there was sexual harassment, but the depth and arrogance and cruelty of the stories pouring out of so many women – it was shocking and disgusting to both us.
You know about some things but often they are not real until they hit us on the head. There is only so much people can absorb, until it explodes in front of them.
I’ve heard these stories from women I know and trust for years, but these new revelations are something else, something that will not, I think, be submerged again in the same way or tolerated so mindlessly.
Scott and I both said we were flabbergasted at the depth of these stories and the disgusting nature of so many, behaviors by successful men, some of whom I once admired. It is not a few men, it is many men, across the spectrum of business and culture. And many more yet to come, and even more quaking in their boots.
I said to Scott something must be missing in me, I have never felt easy around most men, and never considered myself man enough. I have never made a good man, a view my father shared. I don’t care for sports, don’t tell sex jokes, and am not good at manly things like hunting or repairing things.
I have never bragged about my sexual prowess, and don’t have all that much sexual prowess. I don’t have a large penis either.
Around men, I often run out of things to talk about. I have worked as an editor of a newspaper and a TV producer and hired hundreds of women and worked closely with them every day for years.I am sure I said or did things that were thoughtless or insensitive.
But I can’t fathom doing what these men have been doing, I can’t imagine a single thing erotic or arousing about forcing any women of any age to have any kind of sex with me, or using my power to force any woman (or man) into engaging in any kind of sexual activity against their will, or even with their consent, if they were working with me or for me.
Love is just the opposite. This is something else, something brutal and ugly.
It did not ever cross my mind to use my position for any kind of sex, and would have been as abhorrent to me as it would have been to them.
It seems an almost unbelievable but undeniably true thing to me, the many testimonies I am reading about. I don’t know a single woman who is surprised, or a single man who is not.
I just didn’t get how deep and pervasive and frequent this behavior is. I can’t imagine how many victimized women there are who don’t live in Hollywood or New York City around reporters and journalists, and are terrified to come forward or speak out.
I believe power disturbs and destroys many men, which is horrific, considering how much of this world men run, and how much harm they are doing to our world.
I believe the silver lining in this horror is that women are forming a new kind of revolution together, this time it seems real change may come. Things will not be the same, Harvey Weinstein may have unwittingly done some good. And perhaps this revolution will help us towards a gentler and more compassionate world.
Scott said I should be proud of the fact that something is missing in me, man-wise. If Weinstein’s behavior is what being a real man means to men, I am happy to stay out of the club. It was good to talk to Scott, and cleansing, because it is often hard being a man in these times and in this kind of culture. Women are our best hope for the world.
I’d like to be proud of being a man, and most of the time, I am ashamed of it. I don’t know a lot of men well, but I believe and pray that most men are like Scott, and find these behaviors just as shocking and unacceptable as I do and he does. Many women tell me stories of their good men, and it heartens and uplifts me.
My son did not live long enough to be a man, but I hope the men of the future will brag about the decent way they treat women and men, will be proud that no one can ever come forth and accuse them of sexual abuse and harassment.
Think of the pride men could take one way if they could look in the mirror and say they never force anyone to submit to them in any way to get work or to protect their jobs or livelihoods. I dream of a world full of good men who brag about the right things.
I believe it is sadly true that man are proving themselves unfit to lead or run the world right now, or to save save the earth, or to make jobs secure and meaningful and fight to offer people dignity and safety.
Oddly enough, I am beginning to feel better about my discomfort with other men, my life outside the club. Perhaps in being such a lousy man, I ended up being a better one without even knowing it.
We men have so much work to do, it sometimes bends the soul.