A couple of nights ago I was talking to my girlfriend, my sweet love, Widow Centauri. We talk on the phone as often as is possible given her hectic schedule as a Grad Student and Sex Intellectual and the three-hour time difference between Coasts.
She mentioned to me that she had seen Mac, or rather, someone who looked just like Mac. Which is a strange and difficult thing, because Mac was really a pretty unique creation.
And Mac was me.
We talked about this “Mac” character as if he had been an old mutual friend. Not directly disassociating, but rather, distanced from this person, a friend whom neither of us had seen in a long time.
This Mac doppelganger apparently had the height, the hair, the clothes and the distinctive shoes.
It had been kind of a piecemeal look for our own Mac. Drawn together from years of watching and learning and picking at pieces of what Mac felt it was to be a Man in the world. Standing straight and tall because that’s what John Wayne or Jimmy Stewart would do. Hair wild and wavy because, well okay, because frankly that’s just what his hair did and there was no use arguing. Clothes and style a distinct distillation of Punk, Film Noir Detective, English Country Gentleman and well dressed old black men.
That last was his favorite and also where the distinctive two-tone shoes came from. Whenever he moved to a new city, Mac would find out where the well dressed old black men shopped. Where the shoe stores were in the run down urban parts of town.
He never wore sneakers. Even though his primary form of transportation was his own two feet. He liked to hear the slap of a funky pair of Stacys on the pavement. Even when he wore holes in the soles he would simply change those out as his “beater” shoes.
His attitude and mannerisms were the result of a lifelong study of what a Man ought to be. The best parts of what he felt it was to be a Man in the world. He was polite, courteous, friendly, kind, well-spoken and well-dressed. Or at least he tried to be.
It was a strange moment hearing Widow referring to our old friend. Obliquely referencing the man I tried for many years to be. I often miss him. Very like an old friend. I do not for a moment regret my choice to be who I am now. To be the woman I always knew myself to be. But I did like Mac. I am even proud of who he was. He was the best man that I could be. And I would not be who I am today without him.
She thought it best not to speak to this new Mac. It remained unspoken, but she has been down that road before.