A huddle of men
The TALE: Tehachapi Art, Literature and Entertainment
August 15, 2020
A huddle is when a group of people gather closely to share important updates and information. A team of marketing reps may huddle at the beginning of their day to get everyone on the same page before creating a project for a client. Teams huddle before and during football and basketball games to plan their next moves on the field or court. In my last book review I highlighted how women circled together in support of each other to share ideas and feelings.
Men gather to play sports or watch the games together, at bars and pubs, or in their homes in front of big screen TVs. But do they open up and share with one another while yelling for their teams to win? When approaching this review, I wanted to do the same for men as I did for women last time. But is it the same? Men and women are different, have different emotional needs and have also been groomed by social norms. Given the freedom, maybe men would circle too. And women huddle. I think it is a given, whether acceptable or not, that both men and women need the support of each other daily.
In 1624 a sermon by John Donne contained the words, "No man is an island, entire of itself. Each is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main...Each man's death diminishes me, for I am involved in mankind. Therefore, send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee." In other words, we are in this life, sinking or swimming together.
I wanted to find some grand new novel to review about how men gather and share, but I never quite found the writing I was looking for. I am not sure if I just missed it, or if there is a gap in recent writings about men and their friendships and feelings. Fortunately, I do have some wonderful old favorites worthy to be explored again and again.
Ron and Harry (Potter) became fast and sure friends when starting their years at Hogwarts. They wove their way through teenage angst, sports and girls. Though they had some rocky moments from time to time, no matter the conflicts, they were always there for each other when it really mattered, especially when confronting "He Who Must Not Be Named." They cemented a lifelong friendship before they were 15.
Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer lived some wild and dangerous adventures together. There were women in their lives to deal with like Aunt Polly and her rules; teachers with more rules and demands and all the mothers in the town who tried to tame them. And of course, there was Becky. The best times for these boys were when they were running free. These times gave openings to share inner secrets and dreams.
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson sat sipping and philosophizing when not engaged in some mysterious puzzle. One man being a genius and the other more practical, made a good team. But I think my all time favorite duos started with two Hobbit friends, two more Hobbit friends, a ranger, an elf, a dwarf, an heir and a wizard. This unlikely male group unified to protect Frodo on way to his destination. Can you imagine their conversation around the evening fires? Or in a pub or on the road and on the run? All of these men came from different settings and beginnings, but they ended up bonding and protecting each other during this adventure of a lifetime.
Does this happen with guys today? Bonding? Sharing and supporting? I think so, especially in times of conflict, trial and danger, as no man is an island unto himself. It is during dangerous times when the breath comes fast and the heart beats wildly that we realize we need each other for survival and well being.
I look around my town and I am watching for a Frodo and Sam, a Merry and Pippin, or a ranger who is king. An elf and a dwarf who are world's apart, yet close as brothers, an heir who learns his world isn't the whole world and a wizard who sacrifices unto death, yet lives in a brighter light of understanding.
Surely this bonding is not held captive within the pages of a novel, but found in real life as well. I listen for those bells tolling, as life makes grueling demands and people strive to find their way through a world pandemic. It is actually still about rings and circles and huddles, together. A circle of life, like found in "The Lion King."
*Midge Lyn'dee is a fictional character used for the purpose of entertainment though the reviews are real and sincere.