Finally, a movie has come out for men, or at least, something that men admire and appreciate. There’s been a steady stream of (excuse the term) ‘chick-flicks’ over the past few years that leave guys like me wanting. Some of them are bearable and one or two of them have actually been quite good. But if it wasn’t for my wife I wouldn’t bother.
So when the movie on the Spitfire was released from the UK a few weeks back I knew I had to find a way to see it. My wife was scheduled for an overnight surgery this past week (nothing too major, just a fix-up on a bike injury a few months back) which meant I had a free night. And what better way to spend it than invite my future son-in-law to go and see it.
It was about a 25-minute drive to the cinema. Now some might consider this a great opportunity for me to talk to Shea about his soon-to-be role as a husband or how the wedding plans are going or perhaps draw out some detail on how he intends to provide for my daughter.
But we didn’t talk about that. Instead, we discovered to our surprise, that we had a common interest in World War II aircraft and in particular, the Spitfire. Well, that lit up the conversation real fast. All the way there we talked about the Spitfire engine, the Spitfire design and what the Spitfire had over its German counterparts. On the way home, we talked about the Spitfire’s remarkable speed, some Spitfire design faults and the Spitfire pilots. And in between, we watched 100 minutes of pure Spitfire flying bliss, with the roar of the v-12 Rolls-Royce Merlin engine reverberating around the theatre walls. I was definitely in my happy place (and so I think, was Shea). When we got back to my home we said our goodbyes, and both agreed that it was indeed, one excellent night out.
You say, “That’s just nuts. Women would never do that.” No, they wouldn’t. And that’s the difference between men and women. Men, when they are simply enjoying time together, don’t tend to talk about other men or women and their relationships or things of that matter. And they don’t tend to talk about ten different things, as women often do. They are happy to talk about two or three things – or preferably one thing that really interests them both.
Like the Spitfire. Now that’s really interesting.
This is the stuff that builds good male comradeship and companionship. Shea and I will talk about personal things and marriage plans and duties of the husband and all that stuff. When we need to. We’ll do it properly and we’ll do it well. But it won’t take two hours. It more likely might be ten minutes. As our friendship grows and the comradeship deepens we might spend longer.
My male colleague in pastoral ministry is Sean. We meet every Wednesday for mentoring and support. Much of our talk IS about people and relationships and the difficulties in some of those relationships. That’s because we have to. It’s part of our job. But when we’re off duty we are more likely to talk about our favourite preachers and theologians or what we’ve been reading lately. While we drive we like to laugh about bad drivers on the road and Sean tells me about some of his interesting episodes he experienced as a Cop.
That’s what male companions do. They talk about things that interest them and things that make them laugh. It’s a way of de-stressing. And I believe every man needs that.
C.S. Lewis said this regarding companionship:
“Friendship arises out of mere companionship when two or more of the companions discover that they have in common some insight or interest or even taste which the others do not share and which, till that moment, each believed to be his own unique treasure (or burden). The typical expression of opening friendship would be something like, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.”
So, find another guy who shares a similar interest with you – preferably something you don’t share with everyone and go spend some time together. It’s good for your mental, emotional and in many cases, spiritual health. Aside from that, you’ll find it immensely refreshing. It’s the way God has wired you.
I recommend the Spitfire movie as a good place to start. But that’s just me.
Afterthought: World War II planes have been an obsession for me since childhood. I spent hours pouring over books and magazines, learning about their design and fighting capabilities. There was something about the Spitfire that captured my imagination (as it did countless thousands of others, as the film reveals). Its speed, its power and its elegance – there was really no match for it. I often wished I was born a few decades earlier so that I could have been one of those young pilots who would take it into the skies. The reality was many of those young pilots were shot down and killed on their first few sorties. Some of them never even got close enough to see an enemy plane, let alone shoot it. It was a dangerous game.
Now I fight a war of a different sort – a battle over the souls of men and women. The enemy is far worse than Adolf Hitler and its weapons are far deadlier than an enemy fighter plane. There isn’t a whole lot of glory in this fight and nor is there a home crowd to cheer you on. But the future rewards are far greater, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, or even for that matter – a seat in a Spitfire plane.