PEELING BRO ONIONS (and The Shallot)

In the beginning of the year that just closed, a particular group of friends has stepped up, surrounded me, loved on me and accepted me in both the most subtle ways and in a relentless full on assault. As much as they are a part of my life, I am a part of theirs and though that still feels strange to me sometimes, it does feel right.

God is completely funny in the way He both leads me to and lets people happen to me. If you’d told me, even sixteen months ago that the majority of my peer group would actually be several years younger than me, I would have laughed…quite heartily. If you had told me, at that same time that many of my “peeps” would be men, I’d have told you that you were crazy. Plumb loco and oh so wrong.

In 2009, God gave me a garden to tend and He started it with onions, Bro Onions, as I like to call them. They are my little brothers and they each teach me something different both about men in general and about myself.

The first to be named an Onion was the Transparent Onion. This one, in fact, is the youngest one of the bunch, yet he often spouts the wisdom of a sage and prophet. He taught me one important phrase I will never forget, “I’m just gonna give love a chance!” He did, and he’s marrying a beautifully God-crafted woman in June.

The Transparent Onion got his moniker the night he was telling me all about his philosophy on giving love a chance and the object of his affection. He looked at me at one point in exasperation and said, “You don’t understand! I’m an onion! I have layers!”

“Oh, but I see right through your layers,” I remember telling him. “You are a transparent onion,” and bless him, that stuck on him like the smell of onions on your hands after you chop one up with tears running down your cheeks.

The Transparent Onion has shown me the value of giving love a chance, and the reward of risking great heartbreak. He jumped off the cliff of love and he hasn’t landed yet.

Then I named the Opaque Onion. Oh yes, this one is layered more than the Transparent Onion and his layers are by far more difficult to see through, but one of his secrets is out – he’s good at pretty much everything he does. Though he says, “I haven’t done that since the third grade,” he can bowl/pitch/throw/bat/sing/make music and toss a mean Frisbee, and is one of the most naturally graceful and agile people I’ve ever met.

The Opaque Onion keeps things so close to the vest that he appears to be an ocean of calm when the insides of him are in a blender. He doesn’t think I see that though, and I’ll let him think I don’t. Still, he truly has been an ocean of calm to me, especially when I am wound up and ready to spin out of control. All I have to do is look into those eyes that are the color of the peace that God gives and I am calm. In November, the Opaque Onion moved to Austin to pursue a dream and he has inspired me to pursue dreams of my own.

I miss his face.

The Green Onion is so named because he will never grow up, and I do not mean that in the derogatory way. This man is not a child, but he likes to laugh and have fun enjoy himself and if he ever stops doing that, I will revoke his Bro Onion membership.

I had known the Green Onion for maybe a week or two when he came to my birthday party last year. All of my small group had been invited and he had just joined. He hardly knew me, but he wanted to make friends, so he came. One of the things I admire about him is that he puts himself out there win or lose. He has a big heart and a lot of wisdom when it really counts that I value more than he knows. I can ask him anything and believe me, he will tell me, point blank, no filter.

He makes me laugh so hard sometimes my stomach hurts. He makes me laugh through my tears, even when I want to punch him and tell him to just let me cry. He’ll let me cry, but he won’t let me wallow there. He knows things about me I don’t want him to know because he reads people well. This bothers me to perturbation, because being known means being vulnerable. I fight this even though I know it’s a battle I can’t win with this one. Resistance is futile, but I’m going down swinging. This seems to amuse him.

The Green Onion’s favorite activity as it pertains to me is button pushing. He enjoys pushing and pushing (and pushing, and pushing) my buttons, and he can handle the consequences. He always calls or texts at the right time (but I never tell him that), and while he may believe his timing is off, it isn’t in everything.

Green is the color of balance, change, and growth. This Onion has perfected the art of living the same balanced and off-balanced space and in turn, he keeps me both balanced and off-balance. He pushes me to change and grow by bringing me to the point of exasperation and speechlessness. Then I have to sit down and figure out how I got to that point (good or bad) and it’s usually during that reflection I really see myself. He can get me to do things most people give up trying to get me to do because he makes me forget (temporarily) that I’m 40 and uncoordinated or unprepared or scared or naïve, and that even if I think some of life has passed me by, it’s never too late to reach back and make time my biotch.

The fourth Onion, the Sweet Onion, is marrying one of my close friends in July. He is the Sweet one because he is one of the gentlest people I’ve ever met. He waited a long time for the right woman to come along, proving that prayer and patience is a more difficult route sometimes, but the rewards are worth the wait.

The Sweet Onion is a student of God’s word and is never at a loss for His words when I need them. He always points me back to God, getting me to gaze upward again when the sky seems to be falling. He is a cheerleader and a good friend.

His favorite activities include loving my friend Hallie, and I’m pretty sure this isn’t as important, but he enjoys pushing my buttons (I blame the Green Onion for showing him this) and pitting me against the Green Onion to see more button pushing and me fighting back with no filter.

Some time after the Bro Onions had been established, then came The Shallot. The Shallot is married with one of the cutest, most easy-going babies and the world’s most patient, understanding wife. I’ve seen some of The Shallot’s craziness in action and Mrs. Shallot rolls her eyes and moves the baby out of the way and lets life unfold…at a safe distance. I pay attention to what she does more than she thinks.

The Shallot is the Green Onion ten years down the road. They complete each other. They have a specific Man Call (if I call it the mating call again, they will kill me) and they share the same brain, mercifully spending Saturdays together watching football so the brain can rest in one spot. The Shallot is teaching the Green Onion many valuable skills in the Mitchen (Man Kitchen/grill), as well as gardening/lawn maintenance. He has even managed to teach the Green Onion enough to trust him as a babysitter.

I spent Christmas Day with The Shallot and his family, which means more to me than I can put into words. I know if I ever needed something and didn’t tell him and he found out about it, he’d be very upset with me. That’s actually a comfort.

So I have four Bro Onions and one Shallot. Like I said, God is completely funny in the way He both leads me to and lets people happen to me. To think that at this time last year, that I only knew one of them blows my mind. There are other men that God is using to teach me as well, but these men are the primaries right now.

I need to remember to keep my mind and heart open so I can learn. I am grateful for God with skin on, even if it’s onion (or shallot) skin.

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