[I feel like John Wayne]

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For a man to want and to actively seek a woman is to confess that masculinity is incomplete.                         –Carl Freedman

Maybe it will surprise you to know that my parents had a long-distance love before marrying. She was in Louisiana, and he was in Pennsylvania. Exaggerated cursive penmanship, called her doll. Twelve years her senior, and I could see why she would be attracted to such an older man. Lean and handsome with a good tan, blonde hair. Hers black and curly, unmanageable really. He never liked women who wore makeup, and I remember only a handful of occasions of my mother with lipstick or eyeliner on.

I keep returning to a photograph of him in Korea. Tight pants and gun strapped to his side. Familiar handwriting on the back: I feel like John Wayne. In the westerns, the male characters seek revenge on their enemies, they love women but aren’t blinded by that love. The story is never of the man giving up his mission, staying back to build a family with the woman he loves. The men always leave, rarely return.

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