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Good Man

by John Meyers

 

I am not a physically imposing man. I am thin, somewhat short, and I walk like a duck. You have noted these characteristics several times over the last year, usually after you’ve had a few drinks. Sometimes when you’re really drunk you’ll imitate my walk, and then you’ll fall into my arms and insist you are with me because I’m a good man. I pay close attention to the things you say and I believe your image of a good man is much different than the good man you say I am. You love guys with beards. I’ve never gone more than three days without shaving. You love guys with strong arms. My arms are skinny and weak. You love cowboys who wear flannel shirts and drink bourbon. I don’t own a flannel shirt and bourbon upsets my stomach. You laughed at me when I told you this. We were watching Yellowstone and the cowboys were drinking a brand of bourbon called Bulleit. You talked about guys you know who drink Bulleit like water. I imagined you sitting at a bar drinking bourbon with these guys and I got angry. You couldn’t tell I was angry because I kept it inside like I always do. You also couldn’t tell that I was inspired to make some changes after watching Yellowstone with you. First, I’m going to grow a beard. I’m guessing it will take at least a month. Next, I’m going to join a gym. I’ve never been much of an exerciser, but I have to believe that with regular visits to the weight room I can change the way my arms look. Finally, I’m going to buy a few flannel shirts and a bottle of Bulleit bourbon. I’ll drink a little bourbon each night until I can swallow it without grimacing. I will do all these things and when I’m ready I will present myself to you as a new-and-improved good man. My incipient beard, my flannel shirt, and my almost-muscled arms will be difficult to ignore, as will the bottle of Bulleit I’ll be carrying.

I hope all of this will be a pleasant surprise to you. Most importantly, I hope that after noticing these changes, you will stop commenting on my physical appearance, and you will no longer laugh at me and say you didn’t mean it.

 

John Meyers’ stories have appeared most recently in Spartan, SmokeLong Quarterly, Threadcount Magazine, and The Laurel Review.  John was a 2018 Best Small Fictions nominee and can be found online at hammeredinmetal.com.

 

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It makes me sad when I hear people describe the ideal romantic partner they have never met.  It’s like they‘re shopping for a car.  Perhaps more disturbing and equally heartbreaking is watching people change their lives in order to please someone they think they love.

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