BE A MAN!
I had a feeling that life was going to be a challenge when I told some boys at school that my favourite singer was Doris Day. Not that she wasn’t good, you understand, but really because I didn’t actually like her. It was just that I preferred Buddy Holly and I thought it was safer to say that I liked a girl singer rather than a man singer. People talk, you know.
There was the same issue with sport. I started to go and see our local, and at that time prominent, soccer team play and I loved to cheer with the rest when we were good, and I booed, with the rest, when some stupid referee gave a decision against us. I was glad that I was numbered with the fans, mostly men, and glad that my friends and parents were glad that I went too, though in reality I was never so pleased than when the game was over and I was back at home in front of a warm fire, reading a book or three, or listening to classical music.
Then there was the pub! You had to go to a pub, didn’t you! For me, however there was a different challenge because I felt I had to study closely how to be like the other men; how to hold my glass; how to stand; how to laugh loudly; and, how to pay for my round, though I regularly let myself down when I didn’t always remember what everyone had ordered, nor had the faintest knowledge about the different beers some asked for. Worse for me was that I couldn’t easily cope with drinking one whole pint of beer, let alone two, three, etc, like my mates. Not for nothing was I called ‘mini belly’ during one session. Oh the shame!
Things were similarly bad for me when we men got round to talking about fixing the car, decorating the living room, and putting up shelves. My input would sadly have been at the level of asking how you changed a light bulb, had I dared to admit it, and I tried hard, not to let myself down, when talking about a friend’s new car and seeming to be content in simply knowing what colour it was.
LEARNING TO BE ME!
Well that was then, because there was a breakthrough out of all of this. There was a Damascus Road experience (look that up, if you don’t know what I mean – there might be a book in your house called The Bible, it’s all there), and I heard was a voice inside me which said, “be who you are; don’t worry; you will be far happier being you; they can’t really destroy you; AND take heart, you are not alone”).
THE BIG ONE!
So that’s how it’s been, for many years now, and that’s how it’s going to be too, especially from this week onwards, because last Wednesday I discovered I had cancer. Are you ahead of me? Yes it isn’t, lung, or prostate, or bowel or bone, though it could eventually be any or all of those. You’ve guessed, eh? Yes its breast cancer. Just right for me, I guess.
There are about 350 of us men per year who develop it and, I am assured, the number might be growing. All of us learning in an unexpected way that cancer does not discriminate. Many of us probably coping with strange personal issues about gender. All of us, I hope, now proud to be numbered with the majority, and not afraid to be in pink.
So it’s going to be an interesting few months – watch this space; and to those men still struggling with an inner gender conflict, a piece of advice would be to buy yourself a ticket for the musical ‘Kinky Boots’ and leave taller!