Just as that little bead of sweat hanging on the very southernmost tip of her nose takes its plunge toward the gym floor, she grits her teeth as she grips the bar balancing on her shoulders and powers through another set of squats.
That girl, the Hope Solo-lookalike in the neon green sports bra, the one so dedicated to the temple of her body or her chosen sport, the one spending hours before and after class and weekends sweating it all out on the gym floor so often that her muscles slightly bulge and ripple as she goes to complete yet another circuit of fitness?
God, do I appreciate her.
And you know that guy? That skinny dude in the skinny jeans at the coffee bar that drives a beat-up Volkswagen with the “Free Tibet” bumper sticker and listens to Ani DiFranco in between reading The Feminine Mystique and writing verse upon verse of poetry in enviably perfect, yet slightly scratchy cursive?
He, too, is amazing to me.
I find myself thinking the funny way many who ascribe to the LGBT club sometimes do—I appreciate the exact opposite behaviors and physical characteristics in the opposite sex; i.e., assertive women and sensitive men.
The beauty in valuing and appreciating both the sexes (though we could argue there are not only two sexes, or genders, in this world, but that’s a different column) is that you are open to the best, and yes, worst, of both worlds.
But sometimes, to put it simply, because they’re stereotypes for a reason, girls will be girls and boys will be boys.
The most awesome thing about men and women, however, is that the variety of them runs the gamut of the sun to the moon. And whether you like cayenne or paprika, hard muscles or compassion, variety is the spice of life.
She worked countless hours, and loved what she did, but she never loved it more than she loved me.
When I was young, all I wanted for Christmas was a Jerry Rice 49ers jersey. When my sister jumped on my bed that cold Christmas morning, I ran out to see a 49ers football, a 49ers mini-locker and a 49ers Steve Young jersey. I complained.
During the summer, she would ask me to do one thing. One simple thing. Do the dishes. After nine hours of work, she would slowly make her way up the steps with the rest of the day on her mind. Cook dinner, work out, clean and get ready for the next day.
When she made her way into the kitchen and plopped her purse down on the counter, I couldn’t hear the grief in her voice.
“David Graham Stein. I asked you to do one thing!”
Like I could hear that over the Spongebob Squarepants episode I was watching.
When I wanted to be an Egyptologist, I had books about Egypt with paleontology kits for children.
When I wanted to be a professional football player, I had all the equipment.
Could I sell all the Pokémon cards, Hot Wheels cars and Power Rangers toys for her to have no stress for a night?
The nights sitting in a basement staring at a television, the messy room and dirty dishes. Could I trade those in to spend a night playing gin rummy with her?
Yet she is still so proud of me. Women like my mom forgive.
That’s why I’m thankful for women.
You worry about us. You provide for us. You take us down to earth when our head is in the clouds. You keep us organized. You are the ones who brought us into this world.