Okay. Here it is. The Author’s Preface and Chapter One are below. Tomorrow’s post will be Chapter Two, but then you gotta buy it. Enjoy! (Click on the image to go to Amazon. Or here.)
Looking back, I am certain that in his last months with us Simon Pastor was aware that his journey’s end was nearing. Those of us closest to him have since discussed the sadness his eyes betrayed no matter how large his smile during those last few months. And I, especially, feel a heavy burden because he once told me that when I tell his story (“and tell it you must!” he’d implore) that I need to get it right, that I need to share everything. In honor, then, of Simon Pastor’s wishes I have chosen to write this book. His will granted me access to everything of his, including his laptop and phone. I have, of course, taken dramatic license with some parts of his story, but when you read a text exchange or email exchange, know that it is verbatim, typos and all.
Men get stuck. Simon Pastor was no different. Like every man he reached a turning point which defined all actions thereafter. Unlike some men, however, Simon fell prey to this moment. It overwhelmed him. It consumed him. And eventually it killed him.
Trauma is usually found within these turning points. I say trauma to emphasize the sheer shock of the event and its aftermath. Combat is the trigger for some, the senseless unexpected death of a loved one for others. For Simon, the event was his divorce.
When men are confronted by these moments, they respond in one of two ways. Either they grow or they get stuck. And I don’t mean to imply that men have an equal chance of responding in either of the two ways, not at all. Most men get stuck. Most are not equipped with the skills and tools necessary to deal with the trauma. Poor Simon wasn’t.
“Simon, here, is a virgin,” said Brian. “He’s holding out for his one true love.”
Simon was, in fact, a virgin. But this did not make him any different from the rest of the eighteen year old college freshmen in the dorm room. The dorm room’s dominant feature was the two twin beds lofted into the air by homemade wooden stands, which made the shape of an L in the corner. The room’s current tenants each hung bed sheets from the ceiling in order to conceal any co-ed sports that may or may not occur on the beds. This was standard practice among the dorm’s residents. The beds being in the air also created more space for the young men to come together for intimate conversations. In the case of Brian’s room, this room, a love seat was under one of the beds. Two more 1950s style wooden desk chairs and one crummy bean bag chair completed the room’s seating arrangement.
“You laugh,” Simon replied, “but I actually did sign a ‘True Love Waits’ card once. With others, I walked it up to the front of the church during a special service and everything. A public vow between God and I. You ever made a commitment to anything higher than yourself before? Any of you?”
It’s what we loved about Simon. He was honest to a fault and all heart.
“That depends on your definition of high, Simon,” Chris offered to a general laughter among the guys.
Rolling his eyes and shaking his head, Simon took a breath.
“Is it on my back? My forehead?” he asked, pretending to wipe off a mark. “Why is it everywhere I go this is the most frequently discussed thing? No, I haven’t had sex. Yes, I’d like to save myself for marriage. And yes, I’m proud of this and could not care less who knows. But I do hope that we can someday talk about something, anything, else,” he lamented. “How about Josh? He was so drunk he pissed on his own computer the other night. Isn’t that interesting?”
General merriment accompanied Josh’s inadequate rebuttal.
For Simon, college was infinitely better than high school in every way save this one. In high school, while every boy talked about having sex, only a select few had actually gained carnal knowledge. In college, however, Simon soon found himself in the minority. And given the general lack of responsibilities that come with attending American universities, everyone soon knew.
He once shared with me, though, that almost to a man, when in a one-on-one conversation, the guys would admit that they respected him for his decision. I knew I did. It was not difficult to see why. Simon believed in principles. He believed in virtue. And that is rare.
Buy it today. Chapter Two tomorrow.