The Intimacy of Being a Clumsy Boyfriend
When we talk about intimacy, we often conveniently leave out the part about vulnerability. Getting close with our partners requires more than getting naked in front of them, it’s showing imperfections we don’t want anyone to see.
Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time around me knows I’m not nearly as smooth as I appear to be. I know I may come off as someone who is like water because on this blog or on social media, I’m well-spoken, articulate, and quick-witted, but I’m only not clumsy with my words. Physically, in person, I am fidgety, at times unkempt, and have the robotics of a clown. I may sound and at times dress like Stefan, but I move like Urkel.
My clumsiness, my tendency to run into stuff, to break and spill things, to slip and fall without anyone’s help used to not be a big deal. It used to be something I could laugh about and others would too. As a kid, my lack of spatial awareness could be dismissed by older people as cute. Look at Jozen falling over himself, isn’t that adorable?. In high school, I worked as a busboy, and I dropped so many plates as I took them to the dishwasher you would have thought there was a plate-breaking contest happening. Once again, it was laughed off by me and my co-workers.
Like other awkward parts about me, I figured at some point, this would be something I could grow out of. So instead of trying to be a more graceful person, I just worked on other parts of my game. It was social skills over motor skills.
Well, here I am, 33-years-removed from my mother’s womb and still walking around this world looking like Bambi when she was born. I am a human rough cut, and while flaws can be endearing, lately I have been occupied with editing out my clumsy shortcomings. I’m fine with having a blooper reel as part of my life movie, I’m not fine with the whole movie being a blooper reel, but at the rate I’m going, a film on my life story could just be the third installment in the Mr. Bean film series.
Manliness is not about being perfect, but I have always thought it had something to do with not being clumsy. Part of being a man, or at least the man I wanted to be, was being fluid in motion and in mannerisms. I was always mindful enough to be well-groomed, and though I went through a phase where I wore some ill-fitting clothes, I would never be described as rough-around-the-edges. My problem was, and always has been, being rough around edges, corners, and other blind spots.
My enthusiasm to play these maladroit moments off has been diminished from sheer embarrassment. At no time is this more true than when I have them around Gina.
Just this morning, I was carrying out some trash as we were both leaving for work. While walking down the stairs, the bottom of the bag tore open, causing a used candle in a glass case to fall and shatter over the steps. Now of course you might say this is something that happens to the best of us, but with me, something like this is usually the first domino falling. Follow along:
When I go back up the stairs to get a broom and a dustpan, I hit my side on the staircase.
Before I come back down, I grab a jacket I originally forgot, which, caught on the door knob of the closet as I was taking it out, almost causing a rip.
As I come back down the steps, Gina says, “Be careful you don’t step on the glass.” I’m frustrated so while I listen to what she says by slowing down, I don’t acknowledge her. Then, as I start sweeping each step, what do I do? I step on some glass.
At that moment, I had to count to 10 in my head because I wanted to throw everything down and cuss myself out.
Instead, I readjusted my footing, luckily the glass did not go through my sole, and when Gina offered her help, I gave her the broom to sweep the piles of glass as I held the dustpan.
Once the mess was cleaned up, and we were on our way, I didn’t say anything. The two of us were planning to get coffee at a nearby shop before we got on the subway but we had to cancel that move after my latest debacle in order to avoid being late. Gina knew why I was quiet. As we were standing next to each other on the subway going downtown, she gave me a kiss and whispered that it was okay. But, it wasn’t okay, not to me.
It’s not popular to say we should change for our partner, and I understand, changing for our own individual betterment is always the way to go. But I have always been able to shrug off a spill when nobody was watching. It’s only when someone saw me in all my imperfect glory have I been motivated to be more careful.
These days, I’m working on being more aware of my surroundings, and more mindful of how I handle inanimate and/or delicate objects even when I’m the only one in the room. This isn’t because Gina is telling me to do so. She’s actually never even come at me sideways and I’ve stepped on her feet enough times to give her a reason.
Gina and all my friends can attest, being blunderous is probably not my biggest issue, but it is an issue nonetheless. Take it from me, drop enough boxes in front of your woman and those drops are going to register somewhere deep in your lady’s subconscious, serving as a warning that you aren’t ready to be a father because Lord help us all if that box was a baby.
It never really bothered me when I would tell a woman I played sports as a kid and she would chuckle at the thought because sports requires physical prowress I lacked. I didn’t mind tripping while walking on the sidewalk with a woman because I could always make her laugh when I would use that moment to break into a light jog, in a humorous attempt to look like I meant to do that. I even had a joke ready for the moment I spilled drinks on myself: See? I would say. This is why I can’t have nice things.
For some reason, I thought it was all a part of the charm, but not anymore. I am trying to get it together and I know it will take some time, and the process will not be without it’s mistakes and embarrassing mishaps. But I like nice things too, I’m not trying to trip over myself the day I walk down an aisle, and should the day come that I have a child, I’d like the the mother trust me when I say, “I got this.”