When you’re 13, and easily a foot taller than all of the girls and almost all of the boys in your middle school, and you’re in theater, you are pretty dang likely to wind up playing a dude in the school play. Which is exactly what I was doing almost fifteen years ago – playing one of the mighty forest rangers in Rolling Hills Middle School’s production of Little Mary Sunshine. I’d been called back for the romantic female lead and lost it to a cuter, shorter, girly-er girl named Katrina. To add insult to injury, I had a huge crush on the male lead, and instead of being conveniently, theatrically thrown into his arms, I was cast in my usual role as his buddy. But I digress…
I found myself remembering Little Mary Sunshine last Saturday night. My friend Annie, who is fantastic in ways that merit description in her very own blog post and simply cannot be squished into this one, had a birthday party with a Great Gatsby theme. And though I didn’t have to dress as a dude, I did have to dance like one. Swing dance lessons (continuity check?) and a shortage of men put me back in my eight grade position – on the wrong side of a partnership, trying to reverse everything my body naturally wants to do and lead.
Men, we owe you an apology. We give you a lot of flack about not stepping up into your leadership roles. We complain about how you never want to get married, you never take initiative, you don’t ask us out. We whine and whine about the lack of strong, capable men who want families and responsibility and picket fences. We lament our singleness, praise each other for being patient and strong, and completely fail to consider one major detail: leading is hard, man. Seriously hard.
I mean, there I am, doing absolutely nothing that even resembles difficult on the dance floor, and I’m stressed out. What do you mean, I have to make a decision? I have to know I’m going to turn her how early? I’m losing my mind trying to keep my feet moving while thinking two steps ahead and attempting to decide what our next move is going to be. And the whole time, this girl across from me is just looking at me like “Hello? Anytime! This is painfully boring and you’re taking for-ev-er and just make a move already!” I’m caving from the pressure, and this isn’t real life. This is just a costume party in somebody’s living room.
Men, I’m sorry. I’m sorry because the task you have before you is not an easy one. I’m sorry for the times I’ve been impatient, or belittling, or just plain whiny in your general directions. But you should know, we believe in you. That girl across from you, the one looking at you like she’s never seen anyone more clumsy or awkward in her whole life, that girl has total confidence in your ability to make a good call. She’s on your side. She and I have probably spent hours talking about you, and you always come out on top. We won’t fight you if you try to turn us, and we won’t think less of you if you step on our toes in the process. We want this whole thing to go well, too, and we’ll help you out in any way we can. We’re not expecting perfection- hell, we’re bored to tears by perfection. We just want to dance. Even with, especially with, two-left footed, overwhelmed, directionless, charming, fearfully and wonderfully God-designed you.
I’m glad, ultimately, that I only have to play a dude in musicals and at dance parties. Because as lame as it sometimes is to wait, as frustrated as we sometimes get, every once in a while we get to let someone spin us around and around. And that’s pretty great.
Go tell the men in your life you appreciate them. Pray for them. Say yes if they ask you to dance.