20 December 2008

Leading and Following

Tonight Dominick and I went shopping but didn't buy anything. I'm not quite sure that either of us had planned to make purchases, but it is rather strange to go to a mall and not bring something home.

But, to tell you the truth, I'm glad we didn't buy anything and that we didn't stay any longer than we did. The selection of many things was limited, and after a while, I was tired of the crowds.

One thing I'd forgotten is how difficult it is to walk through crowds when you're holding hands with someone. At least, it's difficult to do when you're as clumsy as I am. But one thing gave me a sense of deja vu, in a good way: Dominick was leading. That is, I was walking at his pace, and I followed him when we snaked around other people and obstacles. And, even though I suggested some of our stops, he was piloting both of us.

Now, some feminists I know would burn whatever bridges of friendship we have upon reading the above paragraph. But, my sisters, hold those torches! The way Dominick and I navigated that crowd at the mall is the same way Tammy and I used to zig and zag through similar flat slalom courses.

Yes, Tammy used to lead whenever we walked hand-in-hand. She was taller than me and, in some ways, more aggressive. If anything, she pulled harder than Dominick whenever she wanted us to pass slower-moving people and vehicles.

OK. Now I'll make a confession--as if any of you will be surprised at this. That was one of the things I enjoyed about my time with Tammy. More than one person commented that I was "the girl" in the relationship. Those people, at the time, didn't know what was in my closet, though they could've guessed! Didn't Shakespeare say "Clothes make the man"--or the woman?

Whenever we danced, she led. When we met other people, she usually introduced herself first. And, as often as not, she held doors open for me, whether or not I was en femme.

Ironically enough, her family never questioned my manhood or masculinity. They always said they were happy that Tammy found a "nice" man. (At least, that's what she told me.) But her father and one of her brothers warned her that she would lose me, as she lost her ex-husband, if she weren't more feminine. Never mind that her ex-husband had all sorts of issues of his own (or course, I have none! ;-)) and slept with her female friends. Little did they know that when the girl in the relationship started to become a woman, more feminine as well as more female, our relationship fell apart.

Now, Dominick is no macho guy or very many people's idea of a "man's man." But he is a sensitive gentleman who is at least as vulnerable as I am. Those qualities, to me, matter so much more than ruggedness, or the appearance thereof. After all, if I'm not mistaken, the Marlboro Man died of lung cancer.

So he's more than enough of a man for me. And, although I'm the woman in this coupling, I have a kind of aggressiveness that comes out as protectiveness. I want to take him in my arms and hold him to my breasts when he's tired, physically or spiritually. And he does the same for me. That is why I wish I had more time with him. Hopefully, after the holidays, I will. And I hope to follow him, and that he'll do the same with me, into the new year and the new phase in my life that is only six months and a couple of weeks away.

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