Men are students of women’s behavior, as women are of men’s. But we sometimes abandon our studies, feeling women are unknowable, their mysteries unfathomable. Our bewilderment is a measure of women’s power and charm.
Men are awed by women’s beauty, bewitched … but you knew this. A boy’s ultimate passage to manhood is making love to a woman for the first time. His confrontation with her nudity is slack-jawed, breathtaking wonderment. Ron Jones’s story, “Cool,” finds him, as an adolescent, fumbling with this first sexual encounter, one all men feverishly wish to get right, but rarely do.
Like Ron, most American boys are lost in their first intimacy with a woman, because unlike a girl, whose mother has often given her “the talk” by then, guys don’t always learn about it from Dad or any man. Some of what my generation of boys thought we knew about sex was locker room jive. But even a well-conceived talk (or talks) would not prepare a boy for the astonishment of being with a girl for the first time.
Stories in this section include Marc Wilder’s, “Planned Parenthood,” about a boy trying to do right by his girl. John Biesecker’s “April 3rd,” a poignant tale of young parents, is followed by Michael Morgan’s “A Premeditated Starving,” which shows men taking care of a woman. In “It’s Always About the Girl,” we see Michael Estabrook protecting his interest in the love of his life, and in Jordan Legg’s “Sharpie Stones,” we read about a teen pregnancy.
These poignant stories are rich with guys’ honest efforts to understand and navigate the opposite sex. By watching men look at women, you will see us more clearly.