A few days ago I spoke with a group of wonderful high school students in Pittsburgh, the morning after participating in a conference at the Carnegie Museum. After I flew back home, I began to sort through the remainder of the girls' questions. With nearly 300 girls present, I wasn't able to answer all their questions, so the girls had written them out on notecards, while others simply raised their hands.
Later on, these notecards proved so much fun to read through, since I had asked the girls to doodle if they did not have a question. (This was so that no one would try to guess who was asking the more private questions.)
Thus did I find--in between cards that read, "I'm hungry," and "Go Steelers!"--one plaintive card bearing this query in light blue marker: "Where/How Do You Find a Good Man?"
Before I could properly consider the matter, an interesting message popped up in my Facebook inbox, from a young man who had attended the previous evening's talk at the Carnegie Museum. And it suddenly occurred to me that his e-mail was the best answer for this particular girl. (The author, Joe Muir, has generously allowed me to reprint his email with his full name so as to confirm that he does, in fact, exist). And without further ado, here it is:
"First off, I want to thank you for your talk last night, and for the
work you are doing... . Due to my having two sisters close to me in age, and being
relatively close to them, and their girlfriends, I'd like to believe
that I've learned first-hand how to treat women with respect and
I think and read about subjects pertaining to your field of
study with much frequency; it is something which is very close to my
heart. I think the four groups of people that are under attack the most
by society today are the unborn, the old, the disabled, and women. It
pains my heart in ways that I can't express in words to see so many
young, beautiful women today buying the sham lie from society,
dwindling their beauty down to nothing other than their breasts.
I regret not commenting last night, so thought I'd share with you what
my thoughts were. If I said anything, it would've sounded something
I am definitely in the minority tonight, being but one of a
very few men here, amongst this sea of beautiful women, women not
content to buy the lie from society regarding where their beauty lies.
I want to thank all of you for being here, and encourage all of you
continue doing what do. I also want to encourage each of you to never,
ever settle for second best in a relationship, as you deserve the best.
It is far better to not be in a relationship, wishing you were in one,
than to actually be in one, wishing you weren't. Be willing, I pray
you, to be single for the rest of your life, if that's what it takes to
not settle for second best; as that would be far better than marrying a
man who cannot love you.
I really appreciated Joe's message, especially because I am loath--and I mean loath--to unveil some kind of magic formula for finding a good man. We all know talented, amazingly kind and beautiful women who have done everything in the book and yet they haven't found the right person just yet. So I would never want to imply that we are in total control of our lives (especially since it's probably better that we aren't).
At the same time, the good men are most assuredly out there.
Yet one of the great frustrations of life is that you can't really look for them in any particular location, like Denny's or the mall. ("Sale on Good Men! Only $1,999--Grab, Hug 'N Go!") And perhaps that is just as well, too. To me, Joe's commentary touches on a paradox: the more you search within yourself and keep your standards high, the more likely it is that a good man will find you.
And last but not least, thanks to all the great ladies at the Commonwealth Education Organization for making these events happen, and for your kind hospitality during my fabulous stay in Pittsburgh.