A kiss for luck..
So I tried to understand why old pop love songs made me a little blue—actually more than a little blue, why they put me in touch with my mortality as I was driving around town last week. It occurred to me that I wasn’t moved by the celebration of human love, or the mystery of it, but by its utter brevity. That Crocker Bank couple of 1970, telling the world “we’ve only just begun,” if they’re even still together, might be considering the assisted care facility right about now.
How’s that for a little Monday morning sunshine?
But lamenting the brevity of human “love,” may sound a little more highfalutin than it needs to me. The truth is, for me at least, and I suspect for many other men, there’s a deceptively wholesome idol falling from its perch: it’s the one you start worshiping when you’re five years old and your older sisters bring their sorority sisters home for Christmas, and they make you chocolate chip cookies. There’s something about all that female laughter, all those tight sweaters and sugar in one place, that most men begin to treasure and store up in ways the cosmic bank just won’t let them keep.
I say “deceptively wholesome,” because it’s a powerfully good thing constantly in danger of misuse, and I’m not talking about overt sexual immorality either, although it can of course go there. I’m talking about what we’re told, as Christians, needs to die, the longings of the old man, the hedged-bet we make without even knowing we’ve made it. We spend our lives preserving that which can’t be preserved, and the more hopeless the preservation the more melancholy the attempt.
It’s difficult for me to even describe the sort of comfort women have always represented for me, and although I’m a tad more confessional than most men, I don’t think I’m alone. There’s the buxom brunette ski instructor who holds me by the arm when I’m six years old. There’s the long trip across town, when I’m thirteen years old, just to sit in the baseball stands and hold hands with my sweetheart. (Who needs baseball? What a colossal waste of time when there are pretty girls in the bleachers.) There’s that impossible absurdity of modern progressive education—the coed dorm—and towel-draped Stanford coeds walking past you on Spring afternoons. (Can you imagine if they had been USC coeds?) There was even a time, when three Stanford senior women took three of us sophomore boys to the Quad at midnight, where we think we were supposed to be made into Stanford men, by a kiss under the moonlight, but were too dumb to realize what was happening.
That comfort women offer, by their mere presence and appearance, doesn’t stop just because you’re a one woman man either. What a wintry world that would be, what a cold walk in a dead forest. I don’t think American men should let Harvey Weinstein and Al Franken spoil the party. Keep telling the women they look beautiful; that might be part of the mechanism that keeps us all sane.
The “melancholy longing,” I’m guessing is what has to die. God sent us through the art museum, not to fret over the dust gathering on the beautiful paintings, but to find Him at the other end of the long hall. It’s an impossible glory waiting there, in the presence of the Artist Himself.