where the boys are …

I asked these goobers to pose for me, and this is what they did.

I’ll tell you where the boys are…behind the scenes doing their thing. I admit that I don’t know what that thing is, but I’m going to give a little tour of what was happening behind the scenes at the CNMC, and maybe we’ll be able to figure it out together. It involved beer, after all, so I tried to creep a little into their world.

First, I have to publicly proclaim my love for the SQPN boys – all of them. You won’t find a better collection of guys anywhere. They are strong  but gentle…funny and serious … solicitous and needy (ha, they are men after all), and they love their mothers, girlfriends, wives, and daughters. And I love every one of them for that.

Too often, today’s culture wants to take away their manliness, those things that give them the strength to lead, protect, and provide for their families in that uniquely masculine way that complements us. The feminists would tell us that men need to listen more, communicate more, show their softer side.

Um, that’s a lot of bunk. I need my men big and strong because I wasn’t going to carry around all those boxes. C’mon. I’m not helpless, but I am a sucker for a man on a white steed. I’m not so blind that I can’t see the tarnished edges on the armor, but hey, my tiara is on lopsided most of the time anyway. It’s about acceptance – we tend to call it unconditional love in our circles, don’t we? Our guys have a lot of it.

So this is what I saw, in no particular order, just snippets of some unsung heroes doing what they do best – being real men:

For every box I tried to move, lift, or shift, there were two men jumping forward to take over the task. Dom Bettinelli had work to do at the Pastoral Center, but he and George were a big part of the set-up. They didn’t have to do it; they were there to do techie things. On Sunday, Dom was excited to tell me he was on a date with his lovely wife, and they laughed as he put his arm around her and proclaimed that they’d take a romantic walk around the parking garage and go home after the tweet-up.

Captain Jeff cracked me up when he handed me his phone to give Linda directions to the hotel because, as he said, “Here. You speak woman.” Like it’s a foreign language. What don’t men get about landmarks, anyway?

I saw Rachel Balducci’s husband, Paul, holding their youngest son in his lap. Later, I saw a picture of Paul, by himself, coloring a beautiful little Thomas the Tank. Made me smile.

I hadn’t exchanged more than a couple of words of greeting with Bob Gohn before I ordered him to distribute chocolates in a room when his wife needed me. He was gracious – and I didn’t process my rudeness until I saw that picture, of a bemused-looking Bob, holding up Jeff Young’s coffee as a prize in the blogging track.

I giggled every time I got a text from my husband, who couldn’t travel with me to the CNMC but very much wanted me to go guilt-free, so he devised a virtual, scandalous vacation at the beach in Brazil. His texts were usually timed shortly after a picture of me surfaced in the live streams, a deliciously silly way to connect and let me know he was okay.

I saw instances of strong men doing all those things that men do well. They do listen: lovingly. They do communicate: clearly. They do have a softer side, and I witnessed that in so many ways I sometimes felt like I was intruding on private moments.

One of my favorite pictures shows an element of manhood that we often forget to celebrate. Men need other men to be role models, mentor them, and guide them, not just in the boardroom but in the world.

And I witnessed the intimacy of lots of hand-holding – a connection, a soft touch to say “I’m here. This is us.”  

What does this have to do with new media? Perhaps nothing at all. Or maybe, everything. Real people are involved in new media, affecting other real people. The internet is not a wasteland, although it could be. In celebrating the community, the humanity behind the technology, the CNMC brought us together as the Body of Christ.

10 thoughts on “where the boys are …

  1. I also love my men strong and that they are able to complement me in so many ways. My friends, my dad… I like men that are men! 🙂

  2. Hear! Hear!

    Maria, you’ve made me cry. (Not that it’s hard to make a pregnant woman cry.)

    Dom and George are two of my heroes and I can’t tell you how much it touches my heart to see them getting a little bit of the acknowledgment they so richly deserve. Not only does Dom move heavy boxes; he also takes out stinky trash and changes diapers!

    This seems like the perfect opportunity (while we’re talking about texting husbands) to share one of my favorite CNMC moments. I was standing outside the main auditorium watching the kids play during the morning keynotes when Ian of Aquinas and More (another excellent Catholic husband and father) came and showed me his cell phone: “@aquinasnmore Say hi to my wife @melaniebett for me. #cnmc”

    Y’all might have seen it in the Twitter stream. Dom couldn’t leave the computer and I didn’t have a smart phone; but he found a way to say hi anyway.

    Let’s hear it for all the strong Catholic men who serve without any expectation of recognition!

  3. Maria, thank you so much for this wonderful piece. There is so much more for me to say but this is all I can write at the moment. Thank you.

    1. Amen!

      And please apologize to Bob for my “command” moment. It tends to surface in a crisis — too many years in a high school setting 🙂

  4. María, this is one of the most beutiful things you have written –that I’ve read, of course. I can just picture Jeff handing you the phone… always so serious, but always funny. How, oh, how I would LOVE to meet y’all guys.

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