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The December Men

They waken from their tryptophan slumber, their reckless football dreams, the raking of old leaves and face themselves alone in the mirror, whiskers their only company. They are too alone and must now try to fix this. Below their weary watchfulness, the mounted defenses, the gates and fences, something lives and each must get his heart touched before the end of the year, else he shall perish. What else could explain the frantic cattle drive of men lowing their courtship songs, steam rising from their backs as they move through the dating sites, clicking, swiping, emailing, coffee-dating? It isn’t the office party, or the family dinner table, or the malls and churches and theaters and Messiahs and Nutcrackers. It isn’t the bow-wrapped present or the midnight kiss that comes fluttering down like sequins. It’s that his heart needs to be touched and he must beat his way upon the shore of intimacy to find one chance and throw himself at it. They are out there at sea, feeding upon squid and kelp when this happens. They know it only as the angle of sunlight that pierces the surface, the magnet pull that reaches within while the whiskers reach out. That’s when he puts the shaver down and takes up a new rolodex. That’s when the latchkey releases and the December Men wander the plains. Hopeful snorts, they paw the land. The sky is full of birds and they want to fly. Some do—the crazy, lucky ones—but most take only a long thirst-quenching draught before returning to their pens—these December Men—who never know a January.

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