A Passable Version of Me
Ulysses and Han Solo stand side by side, shoulder to shoulder. Prince Charming, Rhett Butler, and the Duke himself are close too. On one side of the lineup Romeo lists his neck from side to side. On the other, Cyrano de Bergerac waits with much more patience, despite his inner turmoil at having to endure being put on display. Mixed in among these Western archetypes are so many other men that more closely resemble me. Some of them rock from foot to foot, nervously spellbound by the subtle transparency of the mirror in front of them. Some of them stand with shoulders firmly back, their necks straight, eyes unwavering like soldiers on Parliament Hill (Remember we saw them march that time). Some of them have kind eyes. Some of them are young. Some of them yawn and lean at times against the height chart behind us, even though it’s nearly noon. These are all the men that I could be or could have been, the better and the worse. Among them are the vast array of men that I have been for you over the years, the ones you have seen in the past when you looked at me.
This lineup is yours. You made it when we met, and you've been adding to it ever since. Please indicate your husband to us, a voice asks you. And you pick. There are so many choices. You've done this countless times and have picked many of those here at one time or another. Some, like John Wayne with his narrow eyes, powerful arms, and his code, you haven't picked at all.
This time, as usual, you don't pick me. It’s okay. The lineup wasn't fair. I'm the one who's hardest to see. I'm in shadow, barely even there. The truth is I can never be a full member of your fictional lineup. I'm real. This time, however, I approve of your choice. He steps forward, and we both take a clearer look. You’ve chosen this one before, and I like it when you do. He’s better than me in some ways – not as deep maybe, but also not as flawed. We both admire him.
And today, he’s the reason I know you love me, this passable version of me.
lives in Guelph, Ontario. He has an M.A. in English and Theatre
Studies, and his work has previously appeared at