Men are taking a beating today as more and more sexual assault/harassment stories come out about Harvey Weinstein and victims of sexual violence and harassment across the world are updating Facebook statuses to say “#me too.”  Yes, so many men and even women deserve more than a beating for their behavior.  Every time I think of an example of when it’s happened to me I think I am done making my list until another incident pops into my mind.  It’s disheartening to see how many of my crew are impacted.

On the other hand, I want to tell you a little about what I call my “Man Village.”  You hear all the time about my big group of gal pals but I don’t talk much about my boys.  They are worth mentioning.

This won’t be an all inclusive list and isn’t going to span any other moment in time outside right now.  There have been others along the way just as critical and they may circle back in and out over time.

Bud.  Bud’s as complicated as it gets.  Once the love of my life, then person who broke a piece of me that I still struggle with fundamentally- he is the dearest of friends in my life.  I was not always great to him either and I did some pretty vile things he has accepted and forgiven.  That’s actually a major crux of our friendship now….the forgiveness piece.  It has been powerful and redemptive…allowing me to free myself of some heavy baggage I needed to toss before I would probably ever be truly open to appreciating myself and being able to have genuine relationships with other people.

In whatever shape or form, Bud has been my compass for the better part of 20 years.  He was the one who flushed my fish down the toilet when I couldn’t do it.  He was the one who sat on my balcony with me when I found out the man who had assaulted me had committed another crime.  He is the one who let me cry that night and that was the one and only time he ever told me I was beautiful.  In fact, he is the only man who has ever said it whom I can believe.  He was the one I called when my male massage therapist made me uncomfortable.  He answered my collect call from Block Island and spent hours talking to me on a pay phone while I smoked like 10 butts.  He reads my posts/blogs and suffers the knowledge of the ones that he figures are about him during not so great times.  He never says a word.  Never complains.  Never comes back at me with my flaws and sins.  He lets me have my art.

He’s my Game of Thrones guide.  The guy who tells me when other guys are just being dumb.  He puts up with my odd drunken texts/pictures from concerts because he actually knows and likes most of the music I listen to.  He checked in on my mental health after Trump got elected even though we have some differing political opinions.  He knows the worst things I have ever done and he doesn’t judge me.  He lets me know how easy it would be for him to do the same things.  His life with his wife and children make me happy for him and gives me hope for myself someday.  He is just simply my compass, my “Bud.”

Then there’s Dave.  You know the guy who has a crush on you when you are dating his friend but you are too self absorbed to notice?  That’s me and Dave and a pattern which has repeated itself a few times 20 years later.  And when you finally catch on and think you could be in the same place, he very logically tells you that because of your dog you aren’t compatible.  The best part is, it has only taken me a month to be able to laugh at that which is the beauty of Dave.  He made it a very solid point to keep the friendship alive and bought me chopsticks in China.

Dave is the guy who picks up the pieces from the other guys.  Kind of like cleaning up after elephants at the circus…an incredibly thankless job.  He doesn’t patronize me and tell me another guy will come along.  He doesn’t tell me I am overreacting to calling myself severely damaged.  He actually gets what I am saying and tries to help me figure out a way to make it liveable.  He’s an engineer.  He has an entire skill set I completely lack.  But I have the light and silly and live out loud emotions he needs a little more of in his life.  And while we have differing opinions on God, he actually understands the religious components to what causes me such intense inability to forgive myself for transgressions going all the way back to my single digits.  Yes, these are the kinds of conversations we can have over Mexican food and beer.

Dave also takes care of me.  Literally.  On multiple occasions I have over imbibed with him.  Partly because I suck at judging my booze since gastric bypass surgery and mostly because I can trust him with my life.  He would never in a million years take advantage of my inebriation for personal gain despite probably wanting to and likely having trouble sleeping knowing I am only feet away on his couch.  Instead, he covers me with a blanket and rubs my feet until I pass out and then makes sure I am up in time for wherever I need to be in the morning.  He’s the kind of guy who could make my parents sleep better at night.

He has been a New Years date, invited me to join a work outing with his friends, the guy who will pull over so I can puke behind a dumpster, my confidante and the guy who is teaching me how to use chopsticks once and for all.  Everything Dave does is far more generous than anything I could give in return.  Again, because I am self absorbed and damaged in so many ways.  I am guessing I have broken his heart a few times but part of that is because I am actually trying to avoid hurting him in even bigger ways than unrequited crushes.  He is far too good a man to get involved with someone like me.  But if he ever really needed me for something, I’d be there in a heartbeat.  He’s just not as needy as me.  He’s also infinitely smarter than me so he just doesn’t get himself into the messes I do.  I guess that’s why I go to him whenever I make a mess.

There’s a new one I will just call T.  T started from less than honorable intentions on his part and something like too much open mindedness on my part.  T wants me but he can’t have me.  He’s got someone else which is kind of why he was looking for me in the first place.  And because he was totally honest about it, I listened instead of slammed the proverbial door on him.  I have control of the situation so I can afford to be a little liberal in this case.  Forget the fact that T makes me at least feel fuckable (which I do deserve to feel,) he actually gives a shit how other guys treat me.  And I give a shit about his situation so I listen and try to give whatever insight I can into how she may be feeling which causes her to never want to have sex with him.  Believe it or not, I actually feel bad for a guy whose significant other won’t sleep with him.  That inevitably leads to cheating, right or wrong.  If he’s not cheating with me, he will cheat with someone else.  It’s never a one way street.  I want them to figure this out, get aligned and be happy.

T is the one who told me this summer that I am hands down what every guy he knows says they want in a woman and yet his gender continues to disappoint him in how men relate to me.  They fail every time they finally get the chance.  I don’t know why that affects me so deeply but it’s kind of the coolest thing any guy has ever said to me.  And he isn’t even getting anything from me.  That’s just his own free will.  We go back and forth every few weeks.  When I have a man fail and reach out to him, he feels honored that I will talk to him about it.  He checks in periodically to make sure I am giving myself some “grief” time and then he may feel slightly hopeful that he has found a potential opening even though he is pretty careful not to try and take it.  For something I thought was originally a bad thing that would peter out quickly, it has turned into a really neat friendship where we can be very raw and real in conversation with each other about those we love and lust.  We help each other navigate and we have a ton of laughs along the way.

I’ve got my old high school buddy, George, too.  George reads every Facebook post and every blog.  George messages me and encourages me to keep writing by letting me know how “on point” I am with most of what I say.  He has this amazing, brilliant, strong daughter who, unfortunately, has some similar health issues to mine so he has been able to reach out to me in angst and for help.  We have talked recently about spending more time fostering our friendship as we have begun to realize how much we have in common as tortured grown ups.  Plus, I am invested in his kid.  She has a bright future ahead of her and needs to know she is not alone in what she is fighting.  Finally, a friendship where I may able to give more than take.  At least, let’s hope.

These are solid guys.  Well, maybe not T so much….he has got a little work to do.  But overall, these aren’t the guys out there cat calling women on the streets.  They aren’t taking advantage of women who have had a little too much to drink.  They don’t feel entitled to the woman sleeping on their couch.  They don’t patronize the sexual harassment/ assault topic and they don’t protect their “bros.”. It’s not just because some of them have sisters or daughters.  They do the right thing as humans.  They are honorable.  Again, maybe not T so much but he is really trying hard.  I am rooting for him.  This is my Man Village right now.  The characters change and intersect over time.  Who is your Man Village?  Let them know you notice them, especially during times like this when their gender is being vilified.  They are your good guys, the ones who protect you, the ones you are safe with. They are the ones who may just help us change the narrative.  They matter.