The Stand-Up Guy

His name is Daemon (Scott) Fairless, and he recently married Lyana, a beautiful and brilliant gynaecologist (as Scott says: “It’s nice to have a shared interest”).

Scott was the first boy I ever loved, though I never told him that. Being the first boy I dated, it was complicated and unclear at the time.

We met while he was working as bartender at Oliver’s on Carleton University’s campus. He was 6’2″ and quite possibly in the most prime shape of his life, with green eyes and sandy brown hair. He made me laugh to the point of peeing myself, was a reader and a boxer and so proved the most beautiful combination for me.

We were both children then and I loved him the only way a 22 year old Maha knew how: Stupidly and confusedly. We argued about religion – he was then an atheist, though now believes in God – and poetry.

He read to me, we had dinner with his step-mum and father who called me “gregarious”, he read to me some more, he had dinner with my mother who called him “handsome” (he is, to this day, the only man whose met mama), we argued more, he read to me some more, we had dinner with his mother and he attempted to play his mum’s boyfriend’s guitar only to find a condom wrapper inside of the guitar throwing us into a hysterical frenzy of laughter.

He cooked, we read, I cooked, we argued even more, his love of Johnny Cash rivaled my love of Madonna, we made fun of each other, we were confused by one another and absolutely enamoured, we danced to really bad and fast pop music, we watched ER, he wrote his number on a piece of paper I kept for years. He was beautiful and brilliant to me and he introduced me to Vietnamese rolls for which I am eternally grateful.

Essentially, it was exactly what two 22 year olds look like in a relationship.

Among the memories I hold of Scott, there are these two following particularly vivid spots in time: First, Cathy and Dino had come to meet me at Oliver’s for a drink and to meet Scott, who was working that evening. I was walking past him when he pulled me over and whispered “you are so beautiful” to which I couldn’t respond because I didn’t know how.

I was 22 years old and I’d never heard it from anyone but my mother because, essentially, I am a muppet. (In fact. Up until that point there had only been one other boy who’d ever referenced my looks, and that was George Logaras of Brookfield High School in Ottawa nearly 7 years earlier: He’d called me ‘ugly’ and ‘fat’ (I was a size 12), and referenced my ‘four eyes’ (glasses, yes) and my unibrow WHICH I HAVE NEVER IN MY LIFE HAD! I have never plucked between my eyebrows. The unibrow misobservation dumbfounds me to this day. He was a real dream boat, that one, aged 18 to my 15.)

Second, he was the first boy to hold my hand and when he did, he was making eye contact and I very seriously almost projectile vomited, because that’s what muppets do.

Right. So, anyway, 22 year old Scott was also a self-absorbed idiot who didn’t know how to communicate with my 22 year old self, loved Walt Whitman (snoooooooze), made fun of me for believing in angels, spent way too much time reading and believing Nietzsche (and then making me read Walt Whitman and Nietzsche), writing poetry and sulking in the way only a 22 year old boy can sulk. The world revolved around Scott, and if it didn’t, he forced his mind to perform acrobatics so that the world became about him. In hindsight, he was a 22 year old puppet to my muppet, and I loved him for it.

Needless to say, 22 year old Scott and I ended and then he started dating a woman much too soon after me. His actions didn’t set off a nuclear bomb because he neither deceived nor misled nor betrayed me; but his actions were indeed idiotic, hurtful and mean.

(Note that their relationship started by him cooking her dinner. When he told me about their date (we were trying to be friends) I told him I was no longer interested in being his friend and that it was too soon and too hurtful. I hung up, went into my closet to find a lantern which he’d gifted me and then promptly propelled it down the garbage chute with enough force to knock down the entire building. ‘Fuck your stupid lamp,’ I thought. Because I am a super dumb and volatile muppet.

For approximately two months after he and I stopped speaking, I used to imagine taking a bat to his legs and burning her flute.

Six years ago, I received an email from Scott after he “Googled and found [me]”. He contacted me to apologize for all of his shit behaviour years back, as he should have. It wasn’t something I had waited around for, as 22 year old Maha wasn’t the same as 27 year old Maha nor was she the same as 33 year old Maha who is currently thinking that speaking about herself in the 3rd person is really strange and so Maha will stop.

I accepted because his apology was honest and clear and true, appreciating the fact that it had played on his mind for five years (look: if a boy becomes a man at 27, then that’s pretty damn impressive).

Since then, we’ve remained in contact at a relatively good level – though it’s not regular contact, it is worthy contact when it happens (quality here, in fact).

For the women who live here, I wish to share something with you, sent to me by Scott about men nearly a month and a half back. My mind was experiencing a logjam, and he forced me through it. (There is something to be said for those who knew our hearts intimately, no matter that with Scott it was 11 years ago. As with very very few others, he will always have an edge.)

Take the following with you and keep it somewhere safe so that you may access it when you need it (this is something I’ve always believed and expressed without hesitation, but it’s nice to have it confirmed and backed by a man):

“Fact is, guys suck most of the time. I don’t mean to sound flippant but it’s true. They are hard to trust. Their dicks are serious liabilities. It’s that simple. Even the guys who don’t want pussy want pussy. They’ll go to great lengths to rationalize their actions but it really is that simple. The only guy you can kind of trust is a guy who is honest about that. I really think you can’t ever fully trust what a guy says. At least until he’s got one hell of a proven track record.

Also, guys tend to be kind of autistic and so they don’t really understand how their actions affect others, at least not in the same way women do. (Again, I’m not being flippant. There’s a male-autism-lack of empathy thing that’s pretty well studied).

In my mind, there’s a divide: males who know this is true of themselves can be called men. Males who aren’t yet aware of this are called boys, regardless of age. A gentleman takes care not to harm others whether by taking precautions not to act on his biological imperative or not lying to himself or others about his inability to keep it in check.”

Pretty brilliant.

Love that he’s willing to step beyond the Male Code of Keeping Their Shit Secret and stand next to a girl who was once in his life to clarify a few points.

Love that it comes from the same man who “once made [his wife] lunch and included a can of beer so that when she opened it in front of her colleagues, they’d think she was an alcoholic.”

Love that it proves that even at 22, I knew how to pick a good man…even if it took him six years to become that man.

Every girl should have one (and Scott is mine): The Stand-Up Guy to whom The Girls and you throw back as you discuss the men in your lives.

Really. I love it.