A Bunch of Gorgeous Guys

A few days ago, I thought I’d do a little computer housekeeping. You know, erase the 26 episodes of the Daily Show I’ve been hoarding, see if Jon Stewart’s the reason why I keep getting the spinning disco ball whenever I try to do online banking. And while I was at it, I thought I’d put some documents in folders of my own choosing, maybe even answer some emails. That sort of thing.

But what began as a quick cleanup occupied the better part of two days.

That’s because at the same time I was doing my electronic housekeeping, I was also taking care of a flu-stricken 11 year old boy. He seemed to regress every six hours into an even more helpless version of himself. Every time I started to do something that required concentration, he’d shout my name (which is mom, by the way, but pronounced like it’s a three syllable word, like this: maaaaahhhh-ahhhhh-aaaahhhhhmmm). And then, when I’d come running upstairs to see if he needed immediate medical attention, he’d ask me to do something like hand him the glass of water that was on the bedside table inches away from his hand.

Before long, I was muttering dark things about the male sex and their well-known difficulty dealing with illness. Right around then, I got to my iPhoto library. And right around then, any irritation I might have felt about having to take care of a helpless pre-teen was banished. You see, dear reader, what I found on my computer was something that made me look at men and boys in a completely different way. I discovered — right in front of my eyes — six gorgeous, inspiring, amazing 21st century male role models. And I didn’t even know that’s who they were when I took their pictures. It could be that’s because most of them were dressed in Halloween costumes. Still, here they are — the sort of men I wouldn’t mind any of my sons growing up to become, after he gets over the flu, I mean, and starts growing up again:

I’ll start with Farmer Jonah. He’s new at the school. The regular school farmer is named Farmer Ben. But his first baby arrived over the summer and he took a leave. He won’t be back until January. So Farmer Jonah arrived. He’s dressed, in case you’re wondering, as a giant ear of corn. Obviously, he is not bothered by itchy things and he loves the garden. He’s a gentle soul — and very funny.

Oh, here’s Farmer Jasper. He dressed up as an ear of corn for Halloween too. In this picture, though, he’s holding a giant sign he and Farmer Jonah made. It announces the First Annual JackRabbit Juice-A-Thon, in which I assume, things will be liquefied and then drunk. He’s explaining this to a child in the lunchroom. Y ou will also note that he is wearing a sticker. It says I voted. And a good thing too. Thanks to Farmer Jasper and others like him, we now have the first woman House Majority Leader, Nancy Pelosi.

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Farmer Ben came by the school on Halloween. I’m pretty sure he’s dressed as Che Guevara. His daughter’s very cute. As is he. All the farmers at the school have lovely patches of color on their cheeks because they’ve been working hard showing children how to juice things and how to bring in the harvest. Everyone misses Farmer Ben. He could be counted on to play long games of kickball after school. He went to this school when he was a child. The children love that.

This is Damian. He’s the student teacher in my son’s classroom. He plays the congas. He was responsible for the spirited parade around the neighborhood on Halloween.

He’s also a wicked dancer, even when he has a lollipop in his mouth. Here he is with my son’s teacher. What you don’t see is the swirl of little kids all around him, dancing along.

Here’s Luis. He’s one of the fifth grade teachers. He dressed up as a very natty Latino guy. Come to think of it, Luis IS a very natty Latino guy. It’s just he doesn’t usually do his hair like a pop star.

Luis is a fabulous kickball player. He and Farmer Ben are the go-to guys for kickball. But in Farmer Ben’s absence, Peter’s been in charge. Peter works in the afterschool program. It was dusk when I took this picture, but here he is, Peter, a man who loves hanging out with children:

One last note, something I think registers a sea change in what it means to be male. Peter is wearing Ugg boots. The kind of boots Kate Hudson wears.They’re not very practical for kickball. So, when they started getting in his way, he took them off and played in his bare feet. He was very matter of fact about it. He liked those boots. But he didn’t need to try to run in them. Every child out there, including the little girls who’d been wearing those princess shoes that kill your feet earlier in the day, must have been delighted to see Peter take those boots off and run around the playground barefoot. It’s probably not allowed, regulation-wise, but as a model of how to get around your gender get-up, it seemed perfect to me.

And that’s what all these men have in common. They’re very male — but they also mix it up with things you’d think of as female: they dance, they dress up for Halloween as sexy pop stars, they wear impractical shoes, they show little kids how to make juice, they take time off to be with their new baby. And they all play a really fine game of kickball and every single one of them has chosen a job where they look after children and teach them how to grow up in the 21st century, a time when maybe men and women will be allowed to be whoever they want to be.

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18 thoughts on “A Bunch of Gorgeous Guys

  1. Um, BlogLily? At the risk of Steve ever seeing this, let me just say…Farmers Jonah and Jasper? EXTREME YUM ALERT. Wow.

    There are some other definite cuties in the bunch, but geez…your child clearly attends the Droolicious School in Drooltown. Or something.

    Wow. No one who looks like that wanders out of the corn here in Iowa…believe me…

  2. Well BlogLily, your post just made my Saturday morning! They certainly are all gorgeous to look at, and seeing them being all happy, smiley and effective around children also gave me hope for my son. It certainly seems like a great school.

  3. Yes, well, as you know my MAIN point was how effectively these men have defined masculinity, how they are not tied to stereotpyes, how their appeal is precisely their ability to evade expectations and become who they want to be.

    Still, it’s also true that we’re never late to school. We wouldn’t want to miss saying hello to the staff!

  4. What a bunch of sweet guys! Doesn’t it feel good to see your children surrounded by so much love? And yes, I love it that a.) Peter is wearing Ugg boots; and b.) that he kicked them off to play ball. I wish all the schools had a set up like this! I hope your flu bug boy feels better, BL. Fondly, Marymom

  5. It does make me feel good. My youngest son’s elementary school has the lowest test scores in the district, and the highest number of children eligible for free and reduced price lunches. So, it has considerable work to do. Schools can’t do everything — they can’t (as the principal pointed out the other day) find jobs for parents.

    But they’re doing a lot of fine things. They’re teaching children dispute resolution, and good nutrition, and they’re trying very hard to provide extra help for children who’re struggling academically. Where all the great guys came from I’m not entirely sure. But they’re there, and they’re awesome and we’re lucky to have them.

  6. First of all, I’m so sorry your little boy has been poorly, and I hope he feels much better soon. Secondly, thank you for the lovely eye candy. You know, Christmas is coming, and if you felt like wrapping one up and popping him in the post to me, that would be great. I think I’ll take the one dressed as an ear of corn, if that’s ok. Thanks.

    Oh and good news about the dissolving gender stereotypes. As if I needed another reason to be impressed!

  7. I no longer feel nervous about the possibility of moving to California, what with the hunky, multi-cultural, multi-dimensional farmers. Here in Michigan our farmers are weathered before their time, drink too much, smoke too much, and generally possess the palor of poverty. Yours are much, much nicer.

    In all seriousness – an excellent post. It’s wonderful that your boys have such tremendous role models besides their dad!

  8. I’m confused about the farmers. What do they do at the school? I am imagining they come in and teach animal husbandry or crop rotation during Agricultural Studies Hour, or, alternately, supervise those children who forget their homework and must work in the alfalfa field all morning as punishment.

  9. Hello No Shower Girls and Ella — My son’s school has a great farm and garden program. There’s a big garden in the middle of the school, where the children grow all kinds of things (and they have some chickens too). They harvest what they grow and cook with it and talk about food and nutrition while they’re at it. It’s part of a program the school does that’s about nutrition and science, funded in part by the Chez Panisse foundation. And so, every week, the children spend an hour in the garden, with the two nice farmer/teachers. But, Ella, come to think of it, that alfalfa field thing isn’t such a bad idea.
    Courtney, I’m so glad to hear you’re finding something about the west a bit enticing. You & Genie make me think that maybe “farmer” means different things depending on your time zone.
    Oh Sue, a calendar! They’re such sweet modest guys, I’m sure they’d be freaked out at a suggestion like that.
    Hello Litlove, Consider that done, in spirit anyway! You know, the dissolving gender roles interest me very much. I want that to be the way things go in the 21st century….but I there seem to be so many things working against that. Still, there’s reason for hope.
    Hi Fencer — The conga line was a ton of fun. I’m glad you liked it. xo, BL

  10. Oh, gee, I am so jealous that I did not get to go to a school like this, with a garden, and learning how to cook and all about nutrition. And filled with men who are not locked into gender stereotypes.

    Schools like this did not exist when I was a child going to school.

    Thank goodness for the gender breakers, but even more thank goodness for the redefinition of what becoming educated means.

  11. Me too, Ms. Magic Hands! I’ve been noticing recently that men in the decades behind my own — guys in their twenties and thirties — show up with some regularity at my sons’s schools. At least here in the bay area, working with children is a valid career choice. That gives me more hope for my kids than I can say.

    As for the garden, it’s a lovely spot in a very urban world. There are tons of things that can be said about Berkeley that aren’t so great: the holier than thou-ness that runs rampant, the gap that’s all too apparent between what is said and what is done, and the earnestness that seems to preclude a sense of humor. Still, I do love that garden.

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