on sweethearts

so i am the first to admit that i don’t know much about drake. i know he’s canadian; that his real name is aubrey; that he was in the degrassi that happened after i grew out of that age group; that he sings/raps hooks in a couple of songs i like; and he appears to be the internet’s favorite poster boy for “wussiness,” what bomani jones calls “simping,” or other synonyms for weak-willed pushover. and he did come off a bit awkward the other night when praising rihanna to the rafters in that VMA speech. he took the same tone of voice a gawky preteen might have. it was the award-show equivalent of do you love me? do you want to be my friend? check yes or no.

yeah, that’s right: i just made a direct connection between george strait and drake. IDC - if the overly earnest shoe fits, wear it.

but i came to a different conclusion than like 99.99999999% of people expressing an opinion on the topic: i thought it was incredibly sweet and thoughtful, if not outright charming. like, to me, drake’s speech is the reason the word “sweetheart” was invented. being that overwhelmed with happiness, pride, and love for your partner? daww. my heart.

there have been a spate of thinkpieces on the topic of proposals or declarations of love from men to women. drake and rihanna, the chinese diver, the never-ending argument against proposals at ball parks. and look, if you’re not the type of person who likes attention, i get it. if someone who claims to love you enough to marry you doesn’t get that you don’t want to have everyone in the world looking at you, that’s beyond not cool.

but maybe — just maybe, hear me out — there are people in the world who like that stuff, and imposing your opinion on them isn’t a good idea.

i’ve never been one to date around. i have had four exclusive long-term monogamous relationships between age 15 and now. and one thing that all four of those men had in common was that they were/are uncommonly kind human beings. this includes my ex-husband, btw. i appreciate and have fond memories of three things in particular about my first marriage: he made killer sandwiches, the likes of which i haven’t found since; he was always willing to sing harmony on road trips; and he is a remarkably sweet person, even after the whole getting-divorced thing. both of my other ex-boyfriends are the same. i am proud of the fact that i am facebook friends with every ex i have ever had.

and of course, there’s the man, my dearly beloved partner in crime. he is wired to be kind and supportive. he is an expert at small, subtle gestures that are the most thoughtful and wonderful things. he spent a week and a half quietly hunting for these salsa verde tostitos we got in south texas down near the border that might be the greatest snack foods ever invented. they showed up at the house the other day, just because he thought they’d make me happy. i mean. just melt me into a little grateful puddle, why don’t you.

and this is why i have so much trouble understanding why everyone picks on drake, and all these other guys who do publicly nice things for the women in their lives. there’s still a difference between A NICE GUY, that toxic idea that women’s attention can be bought with performative GOOD TASKS, and a person who cares. the former is terrible. the latter? indispensable.

i can’t fathom being romantically involved with a partner who isn’t kind. not just someone who picks up tabs and hold doors; someone who is devoted to keeping you emotionally safe. someone who genuinely likes you and loves you, who celebrates you and values you, who is your biggest fan and who gives you the gentlest but firmest nudges towards what you need to do to be your best self.

in an age that elevates cruelty above all else, kindness is vital. i’d take a tim kaine over a mike pence 100 times out of 100, and in pertinent part because tim kaine is a kind man. he’s a sweetheart, just like drake’s goofy little speech. and in this year of our discontent? give me a sweetheart any day.

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