Young Man, Old Man, Soup Spoon

Act Two

The waitress cleared away the empty soup bowls and sloshed out two refills of coffee. "Looks like you two have been going at it again," she observed. She was accustomed to the two men at her table. They were regulars who always sat in her area because she always kept their coffee hot and never made them feel uncomfortable about staying. "What's the subject today?"

   "We're still talking about sex," said the young man. He was surprised at his own abruptness. The waitress raised her eyebrows and moved on to the next table.

   "No, not sex. Sexuality," corrected the old man. "The difference is the whole point of this conversation. One is what you do; the other is who you are."

   "Can you clarify that?"

   "Sure. Sex is something you have once in a while. Sexuality is something you have all the time — and something this generation is rapidly losing touch with."

   "You've got to be kidding! My generation is obsessed with sex."

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   "But not with sexuality," the old man countered. "Your generation is full of sex beings but not sexual beings."

   "Just what do you mean by 'sexual being'?" asked the young man. "Am I one?"

   "I should hope so! Look. In the beginning God created man in His image. 'Male and female created he them.' Right?"

   "Right."

   "A sexual being is a man seeking to realize his maleness or a woman seeking to realize her femaleness," the old man continued. "Your generation has gotten so nervous about this that you can't even discuss it without cries of inequality or sexism. I'm not talking about roles. I'm talking about intrinsic differences, the kind you can see in the mirror."

   He burned his lip on a quick sip of coffee and jerked the cup away, spilling some onto his lap. "She doesn't even give it a chance to get drinkable, does she?"

   "No, not today," the young man smiled. "Not with this subject!"

   "The differences in the mirror are merely the obvious ones," the old man went on, wiping off his pants with a napkin. "God didn't make man male and female just for sex. He has woven maleness deep into our characters, our personalities, our emotions, just as He has woven femaleness deep into hers." The old man pointed at the waitress whisking by with a full pot of coffee. She returned the gesture with a wink.

   The old man leaned into the table, and the edge of his tie slipped neatly into the coffee-filled saucer. He meant to whisper, but because his hearing was impaired it came out much too loudly for the young man's comfort. "There's a lot more to being a man than having a set of functioning privates!"

   The young man smiled sheepishly at the alarmed diners in the booth next to them. "Army . . . army," he said, nodding nervously in their direction. "He's talking about privates in the army."

   "Look at me." The old man leaned back but the young man was looking around the room, searching for anyone else who might have heard. "I'm old. I'm sagging everywhere. And now I see I have coffee to go with the soup on my tie. But I am no less a man than I was fifty years ago. For that matter, I am no less a man than you.

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   "Let me ask you a question," the old man continued. "After God created everything, including man as male and female, what did He say about it?"

   "Uh . . . He said . . . it was good," responded the young man, his eyes still scanning.

   "Well . . . is it? As a young single Christian man, is it good? Are you glad about your sexuality? Are you proud to be a man?"

   When the young man didn't answer directly, his companion went on. "Let me guess; you want to say yes, but you're so frustrated about sex that you honestly can't. At this point you feel like your sexuality is more of a curse than a blessing. You're expending more energy fighting it than you are using it."

   "Well . . . yes. I suppose you're right," the young man admitted. The old man had his full attention now.

   "If God said it was good, then it's up to you to find out what's good about it! He's given you a wonderful gift in your sexuality. You need to take that energy and use it to serve and care for people rather than to fight it off.

   "Thank God that you're a man. Begin to find out all that it means to be a man. And your relationships with women — probe them . . . pursue them. Not physically. That's too easy. But question women. Learn from them. Find out all you can about what it means to be a woman.

   "Take it as a word of advice," the old man added. "I think a Christian woman would be thrilled at the prospect of getting to know a Christian man who understood his maleness. I bet most of the Christian men they associate with are either eunuchs or sex fiends acting hypocritically in light of their professed beliefs."

   "You're asking me to do something that's very difficult," the young man said.

   "I'm asking you to look at yourself in the mirror and not to forget what you have seen as you walk away."

   "More coffee, gentlemen?" She was back again.

   "No thanks."

   "I've been thinking about the difference, and I think I have the answer," she said, resting her coffeepot on the table and adding up their bill.

   "Oh, what's that?" the old man asked.

   "Sexuality is the fact that I'm a woman and you are men,"

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she said, leaning into the table. "Sex is what we do with it." She slapped the bill on the table and walked away.

   "You know she's not completely right," the old man said later as they were walking down the street.

   "Oh, really? Sounded pretty good to me," his young friend returned.

   "She gave the impression that sex was the only thing you do with your sexuality," the old man observed. "Actually, it's only one of many things. Your job is to find the others."

Chapter 11  ||  Table of Contents