Pedestal Man

Pedestal man, in truth, was always a part of my life, the popular
boy in school, the quarterback, the nice male friend who always
seemed to be dating someone prettier, smarter, happier, an older
male role model, but not in a creepy, father-figure kind of way,

not even always a man; pedestal man, sometimes, was the painfully
heterosexual best friend, the one, the popular girl who decided
I was pretty cool to hang out with, a senior who let a lowly freshman
join lunch group, a guy with a lead role in a musical who let me

hold unchoreographed hands during a closing number; pedestal
man was the sexy, young veteran in my creative writing class,
that guy at the gym whose sweat never smelled horrible to me,
the teller at my local branch, smile genuine, who did not mind
me taking all his time one afternoon, the lawyer I consulted with
on a hot, desert, summer day, my same age but more heavily

educated, even more unattainable; pedestal man, was the rockstar,

the actor, the dream–no, that is it–the dream was the pedestal
man, the man I could always look at, say, “I’d like to find a guy
like him, someday;” most often, I did not bother to mention my

appreciation; most often, I kept that shit to myself; pedestal man
I dreamt of in improbably broken sleep cycles, my lover and
my rock on the astral plane, my Superman; the beautiful thing
about unrequited love is poetry and love songs written at three
in the morning on a Casio to the chagrin of dorm-mates; the beautiful

thing about loving a pedestal man is knowing anyone else I met
could never be as perfect; it was easier to ignore anyone who
did not measure up; it was easier to let go of all the broken glass
mosaic stepping stone men and hope it all led me to his heart;

pedestal man took impossibly infinite forms, even though, always,
he was the obsession, the focus, the goal–I got lonely, on occasion,
waiting for him to figure me out; I drifted into the arms of another

him or her, always hoping my pedestal man would turn up in their
eyes, but he never did; then, one day, I met Mr. Right; I put him

on a pedestal; I dusted off his flaws and polished over his indiscretions;
I married him and had children under the umbrella of our shared

American dream; pedestal man he became, or became him, until
the bottom dropped out of my hot air balloon and I crashed into
hard, packed earth without a parachute–reality hurts that badly,
but the bones I broke could not be set with plaster and paraffin;

I woke up; I realized he had never really embodied my pedestal
man who was still out there, somewhere; my eyes and my heart

latched on to the next Blockbuster, but pedestal man was, as
always, ten steps ahead of my crazy, had multiple pots on the
back burner, or kept me out on a limb, had other plans that night
and was sorry he had to cancel, or changed his mind at the last
minute and hugged me goodbye, conserving energy for the drive

home, was never attainable in any form he took; for pedestal
man, sometimes, oftentimes, I was not even on radar, and I had
absolutely no right to want to hate him for it when Aphrodite in
sensible shoes was perfect, or that cute pastry chef returned flirtatious

winks; he is still on that pedestal–man embodying perfection–
but he does not exist anymore; he is still everyone he always was
and no one I will ever have, is not the Gorilla Glue to my shattered
hopes and dreams, is not the suture to my burst open heart, is
a man, a human, every human, has flaws and indiscretions, skeletons
in his closet dressed in their Sunday best, can be a total, complete,

awful, jerk when the need arises–and that is okay; pedestal man
does not have to love me, does not have to acknowledge me;
someday, I will love again, but I will love in truth instead of having

true love–true love, that was the pedestal man, the archetype
I held tightly to, the blanket to my Linus; I wanted what ten thousand
bards and ten thousand poets insisted was just around the corner;
I did not want to argue over Lima versus butter beans, did not
want to sing that toe-may-toe toe-mah-toe showtune, did not
want to admit I had burnt the spaghetti, did not want to hang

the toilet paper wrong or hate the way he snored; I created pedestal
man and wrapped him like a shawl about the shoulders of every
kind word and soft face; I created him so I could always have
perfect, true love, not have to feel the pain of my reality, but I

knew better; pedestal man, I want to thank for knocking off of

that pedestal for me my notion of him, thank for being so excruciatingly
human, thank for making me realize that not even Paul’s letters
were the whole truth; the beauty of love is that it is ugly; it is messy;
it is raw; only God can love unconditionally, purely, perfectly,
magically the way love is described to the Corinthians–we can
never measure up to that; the point was that we try. I do still love

my imaginary pedestal man; I always will; I love her too, and that
guy over there; I love that hairy-legged wanderer over there picking
flowers, and that frat boy over there playing frisbee with his dog;
I love everyone, forgive everyone for not being perfect, for not

remaining up there on that pedestal, man situated perfectly for
me to falsely idolize; instead I thank him for reminding me that
true love is in the aether ethos, not psychic chemistry of terra firma;

someday, maybe, he will come to me, not on a pedestal, man
instead formed in the body of a perfectly imperfect fellow human
trying desperately like me to be the best version possible until
death do we part this earthly coil.

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