5/25/15

The Dream Boy List



In high school my girlfriends and I wrote a list of the things we wanted in a man. We called it the "Dream Boy List". It's merely 10 pages were lined with elaborate qualifications for the perfect dream boy that our 16 year old hearts were holding out for. Of course, the list detailed each and every one of our absolute non-negotiables. It included important characteristics like, "wears hemp necklaces and converse shoes", "listens to Dash Board Confessional" and "is fit but not too fit", as well as some more minor qualities such as, "is kind to children", "isn't awkward" and "treats his mom well". It was a master list. We spent countless afternoons with our feet kicked up, hair flattened out on the bed delighting away at our curated dream boy. We had no idea what men are really like. We had no idea what love is really like.

In college my list had evolved a bit. This time it wasn't typed out and stapled pages for girls to pass around at a sleep over, but I had a mental list. I had a visual outline. I'd know if it "felt" right. I had learned a few things in my dating years. Red flags are pretty easy to spot. Texts but doesn't call. RED FLAG. Only calls late at night. RED FLAG. Doesn't ask you anything about yourself. RED FLAG! Asks you to drive and gives you the wrong directions and wants you to pay for your own movie ticket. RED. FLAG. I was getting closer to cracking the man code, but I still held tight to my superficial ideals. I still wanted him to dress in retro t-shirts and have unkempt hair and like camping.

***

When I met Alex he had no hair. It was buzzed down to a dull brown stubble. He was wearing sports clothes. He had never been camping.

The thing I didn't know before that I know now is that it's actually the unexpected things that keep you, the things that sneak up on you when you're not looking. It might have been that Detriot Tigers hat or the manly beard that first got you, but it's the Dad that donates to the boy at the door whose raising money for his baseball team that keeps you. The boyfriend who cleans the house to welcome you home that makes you collapse into him. It's the things you can't anticipate that you actually fall for.

When people who haven't met Alex ask me what I like about him, often I find myself sputtering off silly things, but truly I think that's when you know you've got something good. The big normal stuff becomes lost next to all the tactile, intimate moments you've shared. Your view of them becomes something no longer separate, but almost a part of your own reflection, impossible to depict with any real amount of clarity.

The night I gave birth to our daughter, Alex was by my side. In the months leading up to that night, I had gone through the various scenarios in my head of how he was going to handle this humanly chaotic, intense process of child birth. I warned him that it would be quite grotesque, that I would probably be quite frantic and moody and everything that a laboring woman should be. I knew medical things made him nervous. He nearly fainted in the hospital room while visiting after my dad's heart attack. I gave him the pre-approval to excuse himself out of the labor and delivery room if he needed to. But that night he didn't need to leave the room. He didn't get nervous or anxious or worn out. He stayed and smiled and spoke only enough to keep me remembering I could do this. In my desperation, between the wails and the moans, I remember looking down at his hands around mine thinking, these were meant for loving me. 

***

There are things that I would put on my list now, if I was to rewrite that dream boy. My new list would include an archive of things like,
Responds to me in Spanish when he's half asleep.
Makes up a dorky new nickname for me on a daily basis.
Will always beat me at Geography even though I have a degree in it.
Will always win at Risk.
Makes eggs for breakfast everyday. Everyday.
Gives me history lessons about the city on our afternoon drives.
Wears flip flops in the shower.

These are the things I never knew I'd want. I couldn't have written them down in a list. Their value would have been unknown to me then.


1 comment on "The Dream Boy List"
  1. Aly, I've just discovered your blog recently; this was the second entry I've read-- it was the title of course that intrigued me 😊 I was in tears at the end, it's totally everything that never made it on that list that defines why Andrew is my other half. I miss you old friend and I am so happy for you.
    With love,
    Kayton Marie

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