Impressionable young men may regard action films not as fiction, but as documentaries and training videos. And it can hold them back.
I grew up on typical guy films: action, horror and organized crime.
My father wasn’t much involved in my life after I had left home in my late teens, so the men in film were sort of surrogate fathers to me. Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Charles Bronson, Clint Eastwood, Jack Nicholson, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson.
All were—and are—captivating actors, able to portray their characters precisely. Sadly, as an impressionable teen and young man, you start seeing these films not for the fiction they are, but rather as documentaries and training videos.
Even in high school, several inches under five feet tall, I’d stand up to bullies and jocks with a foul mouth and a puffed chest. Sometimes, they’d just laugh at me. Other times, I’d get a justified beating for it. Usually, the beatings weren’t as bad as I’d get at home, when I lived there.
Into my adult years, I had a growth spurt and started attracting females. I dated often, seeking a suitable spouse, but most of these relationships and/or friendships would end. Sometimes they’d end upon my walking away or I’d get dumped.
I was a generous type, almost clingy and insecure, so I’m sure that played into it, regarding the confident, experienced ladies. Sometimes, I’d imagine W.W.S.R.D. (What Would Sam Rothstein Do?), the lead character in the film, Casino. Of course, if something about the woman wasn’t right, I’d kick her to the curb.
I don’t know if my religious upbringing had anything to do with it, but I’m sure I felt that I had entitlement, that I deserved something excellent and perfect.
In a way, I do deserve someone awesome, but it didn’t come in the form that I thought.
I had met a friend, and we had chatted online for several years. Through this time, my mind developed, and my emotions became more mature. This woman endeared our friendship, and encouraged me in all of the dreams of mine I shared with her.
Just shy of my thirtieth birthday, I asked this friend to give me a shot. At this point I had not dated anyone in several years, the time I spent developing my character. I didn’t necessarily set out to internally grow, but it happened nonetheless.
This maturity attracted my friend to me, and we ended up getting engaged the same day we finally met in person.
Something changes when you’re not trying to be something or someone else. I had to become a man on my own, without mimicking tough guys on TV.
I’m not an action star, I’m not a monster, and I’m certainly not a corrupted person of power. But I’m somehow great and big in my wife’s eyes.
Photo credit: Flickr/Faith Goble