They say real men don’t cry, but that is not at all true. Men cry. Men just cry for the right reasons. Men feel deeply, love openly, and cry.
Men follow in their father’s broad footsteps. They follow his shadow through the house in the morning, carrying pieces of a wooden train set, and as their father brushes his teeth and combs his hair, men sit on the floor behind him and meticulously fit the pieces together to make a track. They tap their father on the knee, and when he looks down they grin, and they point at their accomplishments. This is what real men do. And as their father puts on his coat and shoes and gets ready to leave for work, they run to the closet and come stumbling back with their own shoes. Men sit on the bottom step of their stairs next to their father and wait, proudly holding the tiny black Velcro sneakers. Men smile, adjust the shoes in their lap, and patiently wait their turn.
Their fathers see them. They slowly squat down in front of them at the base of the stairs. Men already know what is coming. They look away. They frown down at the shoes. The shoes they can’t put on by themselves no matter how hard they try. No matter how much they push to get their feet into them. The shoes that are the only barrier between themselves and their one perfect desire. They begin to shake their head slowly back and forth. And they cry. Before the words are even out of their father’s mouth. They cry.
“Gideon… Gideon you can’t come with me.”
Men wipe at their eyes and they cry. They hold the shoes up above their head in open palms, an offering to God, a shield to block their tear lined faces. “Shoes?” they whimper quietly. “Shoes?” they say again. But they know it is hopeless. Their father must go. They hold each other for a moment and then he is alone.
A man, in a house, watching out the window as his father pulls away. A man that is not afraid to cry as he waves and pats the glass silently.
A man, in a car, that takes a deep breath, chokes back tears of his own, and waves back at the house. A man that slowly pulls out of the driveway and goes to work, alone.