Rick / Guy Whisperer Case 119.
I would love to find a woman I could be weak with…
I sit at a small sunlit table in a hotel restaurant on Peachtree Street. Like ninety-percent of the guys I’ve interviewed, Rick has been referred to me by a previous interviewee. I imagine I’m the best-kept secret in guy-world.
Rick is African American, twenty-four with copper colored skin and deep brown eyes. We have a short time to talk before the lunch hour crunch. We’re five minutes into the interview. He tells me, “When I came to Atlanta, I didn’t really have family or friends here. Everything I have is at home in Pittsburgh, everything I loved or that loved me. I grew up in a single parent household. I watched my mom work at least two jobs at once to support us.”
He seems to be deciding how much of his story to share. “With me being in love with Aileen and her deciding to stay with her family, it was a very sad time for me. Everything I have is back home, everything I loved and that loved me. I really had to get into myself and stay focused on my reasons for coming here.
“I was at a point where I could turn back or I could go forward. One of the reasons I went forward was Aileen’s decision not to come with me. It was clear we didn’t have a strong enough foundation for me to go back home.” He speaks softly, hungry for intimacy of any kind. I prepare myself emotionally. These interviews have become roller coaster rides where I have no control over how long or how low they go. The lows are so low that they frequently scare the stuffing out of me.
The Ability to Buy Time
The waitress brings our coffee. Rick continues, “I want to accomplish the ability to buy time. So many people don’t get a chance to do whatever they’d like to do because they don’t have the time. That would have been my gift to Aileen . . . time. A person who’s successful has the ability to make money to the point where even when they’re resting, they’re earning money. And that gives you the chance to grow, the time to love.”
Hmm . . . Does love require time – in order to survive?
He fiddles with the creamers, placing two side-by-side on the white cotton tablecloth. A clip of silence hangs heavy in the air. I give him the space to adjust his thoughts.
Rick speaks, “Men still don’t understand that honor is a big part of love – not just honoring the woman, but honoring yourself and your word. That’s why love doesn’t last – not like it used to.”
This I hear from a man-child young enough to be my kid. We’re close to some real answers. Tread softly, I tell myself.
“My mom did the best she could to tell us about people in general and how to set the guidelines. But there are lots of details you can’t see until they happen. Men have a tendency to sweet talk to get what they want. We promise the world.”
“Tell me about guy-promises,” I ask.
His laugh is light, angry. “What’s going on in a guy’s mind when he promises whatever? Lust. A male without refinement can’t see a woman in the proper light that she deserves to be seen in and appreciate her for her qualities. It’s just another form of greed. Because he wants sex, he’ll do anything to get it.”
“How about guilt? Ever happen?”
“It depends on the man. The majority of the time no, because then you have to acknowledge what you’re really doing. There are people who on the outside appear good as gold, but inside they’re beasts. When you’re dealing with an animal, they’re operating on instinct. They see something they want and they’ll do whatever they gotta do to get it. I feel women have been put in a position where they have to react to what’s coming at them.”
I check his face looking for the con. I can’t find it. He’s genuine.
Rick shakes his head in a weary way. “It’s definitely men that created the climate we have because a woman can’t be herself even in today’s work force. She has to appear emotionless. People don’t understand that there’s no greater or lesser when you’re dealing with a man or a woman.”
This young man has given me a lot to work with. I pick my words carefully. “You’re carrying a lot of whom your mom is with you. Has she been able to prepare you for fatherhood?”
He nods. “I would have to say I was prepared by my mother seventy-percent and by the streets, thirty-percent. The streets teach you intangible things. Things you’ll never see being in the home. There are certain passages and hardships. The streets have no mercy. The streets will beat the hell out of you until you stand up and be a man or a woman.”
He goes silent. I wait until he’s ready to speak again.
“My mother would tell me how not to get into a predicament, but I’m hard-headed. Sometimes there’s no advice on how to get out of trouble. I felt like I didn’t want to go to my mother, because she told me not to do those things in the first place. There’s no one I could turn to except my peers and they’re just as ignorant as I am.”
I lean back in my chair, arms crossed, protecting myself from his words.
Rick continues, thoughtful. “The streets teach you that time is precious. You never know what’s gonna happen from one minute to the next. The streets don’t teach you how to think cause you don’t really have time to think.”
He studies my face to see if I’m following. “On the streets if a man is with a woman, they both have each other’s lives in one another’s hands. Being the way men are today, there’s certain remarks street men are gonna make towards women, that’s just the way men are. And I feel that if I’m with a woman, it’s my nature to protect her. There’s no telling how things could escalate. So I feel that when we both step outside we have to be careful how we carry ourselves. Short skirts and stuff hanging out, that doesn’t attract me, but it can attract trouble, big trouble. We have to trust each other with our lives.”
He describes a life or death situation based on what his date is wearing. I realize I’ve been holding my breath. I exhale.
Rick looks at me concerned that I’m shocked by what he’s revealed.
“It’s okay. I just never thought about it that way before.” I speak matter-of-factly, but that’s not the way I feel. How sad that his wish is to “find a woman I could be weak with…”
“A lot of single people who have goals, they’re time is so used up in working that they really don’t have time to get to know a person. Sometimes you just don’t want a relationship because you know it’s gonna cause problems. So you’re alone. You meet somebody and it’s perfect because they don’t know you and you don’t know them. So for that moment, it’s good.
If you could freeze it, you could stay in that moment forever. As that time wears on you’re gonna want to become closer to that person. You start thinking in the back of your mind, it’s not gonna last.
“You just want to draw it up to as high a level as you can draw. Sometimes the highest level is sex, that’s as close as you can get. Two people becoming one. My current girlfriend cares about me but it’s not love. She tells me she loves me, but if you don’t love yourself, you can’t love anybody. It’s not that she does things that are self-destructive, it’s that she doesn’t see the beauty in herself.”
Men are very simple
“It’s not that hard to figure men out. We’re very simple. We have a one-track mind. We’re not as smart as we think we are. It’s extremely easy for a woman to gently mold the man in the direction she wants him to go. Then he thinks he came up with the idea himself.”
We sit, silent. The interview has been top notch.
“What’s it all about, Rick?”
“Life or love?” He smiles. “A woman would have to understand that she’s my heaven on earth. When we step outside of our home it’s hell. So when we come home, there has to be a lot of communication and a lot of mending.”
“But how do you mend?”
“You try not to break in the first place. You show your woman that your word is your bond. You have to give her the security of knowing that you’re gonna do the best that you can do. At the same time, you have to be a man. No woman likes a man that she can control one hundred-percent. You have to be a man at the right time.”
Rick continues, “The natural balance is so good. A woman has the ability to console with just a touch. Women need to learn about their power over men.”
“What do you mean by that?” I ask.
“Make a man prove that he’s a man. A woman does a great favor for a guy when she makes him strive to be a man.”
Rick pulls a small red rose from the vase on the table and hands it to me as we leave.
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