I have a Big Daddy.
This is an important opening statement not for the guffaw of other things ‘Big Daddy’ can entail,
As a little girl I never gave this much thought. Whatever situation you are born into is simply normal to you. One of my elementary school teachers once commented on this to me. I was in Grade Five.
"I wouldn't want to meet your Dad in a dark alley," she said to me, smiling, after Dad had been in to talk to my class about Football.
I was confused. Why, I asked, my ten year old brain attempting to connect the pieces why my kind, lovely, middle-aged teacher wouldn't want to say hello to my Dad on a dark night.
"Why, because your father can take care of himself," she replies smiling. "He is big, full of muscle and strong."
I went home and stood in my parents bedroom that afternoon, looking at their wedding photo. My Dad, wearing a jacket size 56 Tall, his broad shoulders almost double the size of my tiny toothpick of a mother. I decided Mrs. M was right, I had a big, strong, scary Daddy. This thought made me smile. Ha, Ha! Forget that my fathers feats of strength included double, triple, quadruple plates on the bench press, or lifting up myself and my siblings all in one fell swoop. Big Daddy. Strong Daddy. I was happy to have a Big Strong Dad. Hooray for me.
Later through Psychology 101, Family Studies and my own research I became to understand that women are attracted to men that remind them, in some capacity, of their fathers. The theories behind this are plentiful: provider, comforter, support listed among the reason women fall for certain kinds of men. Having a particular attraction to big, tall athletes, I came to understand that for me, Big + Tall + Athletic = Holly Likes. Call it a reminder of my big, scary muscle-bound father, protector, provider, hero.
During my tenure at University of Alberta, the Physical Education girls had a venture that furthered my "thing" with Big + Tall + Athletic men. Our faculty women would borrow, swipe, steal their big boyfriends clothes and wear them around proudly. Borrow his Hockey hoodie, emblazoned with U of A Golden Bears? Sweet. Get his big U of A XL green sweat pants? Baller. Show up to the gym in an oversized Tee with some athletic ownership on it gave you the street credibility in PE equivalent to an Oscar in the film world. I AM DATING AN ATHLETIC DUDE, the code said, without saying anything at all. Smugly you would sit in the PE lounge, rocking out said look, other girls enviously eyeing you up as you remembered coyly how last night you mentioned before the movie you were cold. Viola, a hoodie appeared to be held in your possession, to be worn, washed as many times as you liked until _________ asked for it back, because the team would be going on a road trip and he would be needing it.
Many years later upon a particularly perilous break up, I was "coping" with this by writing long discourses in my journal. In the days, weeks and months following this mans absence from my life I made a list. It was entitled, "Things I Want in Boyfriend/ Husband." The opening bullet point statement was "Tall, Athletic". I went on to write many other bullet points, most of them not as shallow as my opening bullet point. I had neglected to mention also 'BIG', as for me big was simply implied in this statement. I thought of my friend Amanda (5'11) who used to always tell me, Holly, no girl wants to spend her life as Big Spoon. It's just not cool.
Props to Mop and of course I agreed whole-heartedly. Big Spoon = Not Cool.
Years after that list was composed I fell in love with a Professional Triathlete. He DID happen to make the bullets on the list, only when compared months after our relationship turned 'serious'. I borrowed a few tee-shirts here and there, and a jacket once or twice. His large shoulders made for several sizeable pieces of athletic clothing I did sport on a few occasions, proudly showing off (like I had many years earlier) that I had borrowed the gear of my athletic dude.
What I didn't count on though, or specify exactly, was that my boyfriend's athleticism didn't exactly match up to the triple plate squatting Dad. Put the man on a bicycle and let him blow your mind, but the bulk I had come to as associate with "athletic" doesn't apply in Triathlon. At all. Building pounds of muscle would be counter-intiutive to running a 10km in 31:00 minutes, after railing yourself for a previous 41.5km in the water and on the road. Beat yourself against a wall for around two hours, in attempt to win out against all the other slim, lean, super fit and fast guys who are amped up to do the same isn't a cause for one rep max weight training.
Post cycle workout one night a few weeks back on a -35C night I suggested to Jon a hot tub, and he frowned at me because he didn't have anything to wear into the tub at Talisman Centre. I said to him, half jokingly, that he could maybe wear a pair of my board shorts. He agreed, seriously. I brought to him a pair of black and pink polka dotted girl board shorts, Women's size 9. So imagine my surprise when I walk out on the pool deck to see my smiling boyfriend, wearing my board shorts. I exhaled. This role reversal wasn't exactly what I had expected. Are they small on you? I asked, my voice full of hope and possibility. Nope, he said, pulling on the drawstring cord. They are just right.
Last night, as we were driving downtown he realized he didn't have any clothing to wear to cycle workout that night. I sat for a few moments in my head, weighing the options of lending him cycle clothing. Be a helping girlfriend? Swallow my pride and admit my 6'3 Pro Triathlete Boyfriend can wear my clothing? Try not to take it as a slight to me, athletic and fit in my own right?
You could borrow my stuff, I mumbled, half hoping it would be much too small and not fit him. Perfect, he grins and I pull put of my rubbermaid full of cycle gear a pair of bib shorts (Mens, they fit me perfectly) and a matching jersey. I came up the stairs later that evening to Cycle training, finding him, grinning, wearing his blue matching outfit. My blue matching outfit. I quickly got busy fixing my busted wheel, trying to ignore the adorable blue outfit I have worn dozens of times being rocked out by my boyfriend, smiling, completely oblivious to my soliloquy forming as to the transformation from Big+ Tall + Athletic to Tall + Athletic.
We walked out of cycling that night, into the cold darkness, hauling our bikes. As we got into the car I could see his big green hoodie hanging up over his head. Are you OK? He would ask me later over quinoa. I could only smile. Deep in thought, rolling through the events of the day, past week, past month.
I assured him I was fine and he went back to cleaning his plate and I went forward in my head, delighting in my Tall + Athletic man. I let myself change my mind about the Big part, smiled back at him and sat with this. It feels good to change my mind and forget about the Big. Tall + Athletic = Damn Good, even if he can wear my clothes.