You Know You Could Have Been A Candle



You Know You Could Have Been a Candle

The woman James Stafford loves is aging. And he loves her because of that, not despite it.

I’ve grown immune to the use of sex to sell products. I can’t tell you who the starlet of the week is. I’m immune to beer commercials and other “buy this product and have sex with hot hard bodies” advertisements.  What I find attractive has aged along with me.

I have no more interest in twenty-year-olds than they have in me. Flirty young waitresses just embarrass me, but you wouldn’t know that from commercials, movies, and television. According to pop culture, all I want is a girl gone wild.

And because pop culture insists on making every woman believe that she isn’t beautiful if she isn’t a twenty year-old size zero, and on making every man doubt his virility if he’s not chasing (and catching) supermodels, I decided to break the man code and tell you the truth about what I find attractive.

I love the gray in your hair, not only because it’s a beautiful color but because you are comfortable enough to be yourself. Okay, it makes me a bit more comfortable with the gray in my beard. Yeah, I admit it.

I love the wrinkles at the corners of your eyes and mouth. You’ve spent a lifetime smiling, which means you might give my nerdy jokes a mercy laugh.

I love that your jaw line has softened. You were always beautiful, but that young, angular face lacked gravitas.

I love your glasses, and not in a Van Halen “Hot for Teacher” sort of way.  Well, a little bit in a “Hot For Teacher” sort of way, but mostly because they say, “I’m getting older, too,” better than Stevie Nicks ever could.

I love your belly. It’s soft and womanly and without pretense. It’s a belly that loves life, not vanity. “It’s unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same,” Pulp Fiction’s Fabienne tells the Seagram’s Wine Coolers guy. Seldom doesn’t mean never. I’ll take curves any day.

I love that you don’t care what people think about what you read, watch, or listen to. Those facades we hauled around as younger people were exhausting.

I love that you let me adore you. I shouldn’t complain, but it’s hard sometimes to be a man. I’m not your boss, your competition, or your coworker. I’m not The Man trying to keep you down or put you in your place. I just want to open the door for you because it’s polite. I want to pick up the check, open the jars, hold your hand. There’s no gender politics at work. That you realize that says everything about your character.

We age — embrace it. Kindness, humor, confidence, and intelligence mean so much more than anti-gravity breasts, six-pack abs, and a heart-shaped behind.

Female beauty as portrayed in pop culture is timeless because there’s always another 20-year-old waiting for her big break, starving herself, living at the gym, surgically adding, removing, or shifting parts around. They are a visual lie, these pop culture goddesses — women but then again not.

Inevitably they aren’t real, but you are, and you are absolutely beautiful.

 

photo: sleepyjeannie / flickr 

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About James Stafford

James Stafford is an executive editor for The Good Men Project.  You can follow him at www.jamesostafford.com or on Twitter: @jamesostafford.

Comments

  1. OirishM says:

    I love your belly. It’s soft and womanly and without pretense. It’s a belly that loves life, not vanity. “It’s unfortunate what we find pleasing to the touch and pleasing to the eye is seldom the same,” Pulp Fiction’s Fabienne tells the Seagram’s Wine Coolers guy. Seldom doesn’t mean never. I’ll take curves any day.

    This isn’t an aging thing, either. Convex bellies are fine by me. They’re cute.

  2. James,
    Thank you for writing the piece every bright, mature woman needs to read. While you might be unlocking a “Secret” for some, Millions of red blooded males everywhere have sought the very words you convey so well in this piece.Bravo!
    ~JKD

  3. Michael Rowe says:

    This is beautiful.

  4. This is one of my favorite James articles ever :)

  5. Love this and wish more women had men like you in their lives. Thankfully I do and this could easily have been written by him. He tells me all the time how much he loves my curvy body and thankfully I now believe him.

    Thank you james for putting into words what mean feel but can’t express

  6. Kile Ozier says:

    In 1991, there was a film made entitled, “Late for Dinner,” starring the Marcia Gay Harden and Brian Wimmer and Peter Berg. In the film, Wimmer and Harden were young marrieds. Wimmer and Berg went to run an errand and ended up (bear with me) accidentally being cryogenically frozen for 30 years, essentially just disappearing from the lives of their loved ones. Hey, it’s a comedy.

    But there’s a scene, when Brian Wimmer tracks down the wife he inadvertently abandoned. Life has gone on, but he finds and goes to her. When she realizes it’s him, unaged from when she last saw him versus her additional 30 years, she tries to hide her face and stay in the shadows…and he says the most loving, amazing things to her about how beautiful she is to him and how sad he is to have missed all the laughs and tears that have left their marks on her face and that he loves her as deeply, if not more so, than ever. That scene has remained with me since seeing that film; and this article brings it back, yet again. Neither authentic beauty nor true love are skin deep…

  7. Hi James
    I warmed my hearth to read you article .
    Fortunately also women love aging men in a way it is hard to describe.

    The tired look on a man’s face can be so much more sexy than any young mans face.
    Thank you James. This was beautiful words from you.

  8. Your words could have been my husband’s. About the belly – or at least mine – it’s speaks also of the children a woman’s body produced.

  9. Lezlie Long says:

    Your writing makes me happy. More please.

  10. Such a well-articulated and inspiring tribute to true beauty and enduring love. I feel the same way about my partner – her beauty only grows and deepens with time. Thanks for sharing.

  11. James, really like your writing. This piece reminds me of an article I cut out and saved in 1978 (really!) called “What Men Really Want.” It also was written by a man, and he expressed much the same things as you. Now, after 10 years of widow-hood, where are these men???!!!! Or, maybe it is only when you age with the man? Or, maybe because I don’t look my 59 years? Oh, well, maybe he is there somewhere.
    Please, keep writing pieces like this and the advice on manners. Very enjoyable and ring true.

  12. This makes me feel a deep, profound sadness and yet a similarly deep and profound joy all at once.

    You see, as a wife I feel this way about my husband as he changes, ages and grows. My ‘middle-aged, softening, balding history professor’ is in all honesty more comforting to me than the ‘teen weird shocker who got attention everywhere’ ever was – and I love these changes in a way and at a depth that I didn’t know existed until it developed inside me (my 17 year old self wouldn’t have said the same, I would guess!). The sadness is because he has not had the same experience. I have heard these words from his mouth flow emptily out when read on sites like these, and seen as ‘good’ and ‘right’ and as compliments that may win me over or buy him time, but I can relate to the feeling of them only as the one having them exist in me as his come without the obvious tie to emotion that I can feel from James just by reading his piece. I have been made out to be bizarre, weird and so on because of that – not only by him but by many others.

    For this reason – not just for my own benefit but for all women like myself, I wish the ‘man-code’ was broken more often. Men need to know this is not weird or ‘unmanly’ or whatever else it gets called just as much as women need to know not all men expect them to be ageless, changeless walking post-edited perfection.

    • James Stafford says:

      I’m terribly sorry to hear that you’re in that situation, Kelly, and I’m thrilled to hear that there’s a place in this world for middle-aged, softening, balding men. We don’t hear that too often, either!

  13. I’ve always wondered why people say an ass is, ‘heart shaped’, when the heart is upside down. Isn’t an upside down heart a spade?

    • James Stafford says:

      Great observation, Gabby, and my guess is that calling someone “shovel butt” isn’t too flattering :)

  14. Women desperately need this sort of commentary in their lives to help combat the barrage of harmful attacks throughout their entire lives from the opposing perspective.

    Upon becoming 35 I’ve realized more and more how uninterested I am in young men. Youth is lovely because it is newness, but it’s all too often accompanied by naivety, which isn’t very attractive to most older people. I’ll take a grown, mature, and responsible man who I can relate to in vastly more ways than I could a young man any day.

  15. Marni Karpel says:

    Had to take some deep breaths in order not to cry. My husband, David Karpel, just said that he wishes he wrote this for me. Well, honestly, so do I, but I am even happier that your wife had it written for her. I get my share too from my own WordMan. So happy you have the kind of love my hero and I share. And I’m sure y

  16. Marni Karpel says:

    Had to take some deep breaths in order not to cry. My husband, David Karpel, just said that he wishes he wrote this for me. Well, honestly, so do I, but I am even happier that your wife had it written for her. I get my share, too, from my own WordMan. So happy you have the kind of love my hero and I share. And I’m sure your wife loves “The Way You Do The Things You Do…”

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