The suitor begged, “I offer myself to you as a blank slate – as raw clay – for you to mold into whatever you need me to become. I submit and surrender completely, if only you will accept and embrace me.”
His beloved turned away. He reached for her hands. He grasped them. He clasped them and kissed them.
“What?” he asked. “What more can I give you than myself as a blank page on which to write whatever poem or sketch whatever portrait you like?”
His beloved plucked her hands from his grasp and kisses.
She told him, “It is for you to mold yourself into the thing that any other will wish to accept. It is not my wish nor my obligation to mold you into either a snake or a songbird. That is your duty. It is your obligation to yourself and to God and to mankind. And not understanding this is a fatal flaw in your character – a flaw that I cannot forge out of you. Rather, one you must form out of yourself before offering yourself to another.”
“I could become anything,” he pleaded. “I could selfishly become whatever I wish. But I renounce my own desires and offer myself to become whatever you need me to be.”
“I would need you to be a man who wishes to be the agent of his own making.”
She scoured his face for understanding, but none came from the dull visage he returned.
“For, by giving me the responsibility of your creation, it then becomes my failure when you turn out to be a snake instead of a songbird. That is a responsibility I will not accept. It is a responsibility that, in loving me, you would not wish to make mine.”
“Perhaps you are a far more selfish a creature than I imagined,” the suitor said. “For so callously discarding all that I’m offering. Perhaps you are selfish in imagining you deserve more.”
“And perhaps you are more ruthless than I imagined,” she said. “More ruthless and cunning in still trying convincing me that my rejection of you is more about my wants and desires than it is about you and what you are. Or, shall I say, even more importantly, what you are not. For, as any man should understand, what I have laid before you is the truth. And any man of self-respect would wish to accept that and act upon it to become a better man. Not reject it and attempt to ease his conscience with the guile of a snake by turning the truth into lies that he spits like venom into the eyes of the deliverer of the truth.”
“You are calling me a dishonorable man? In light of all I have offered you, which is essentially the whole of my life and existence?”
“I should think so,” his beloved said. “I should think you are a dishonorable man, regardless of how you wrap or scent your gift.”
Her suiter stood.
“I am repulsed,” he said. “And to think, I had imagined you to be a kindly woman. While here you are, calling me a scoundrel.”
“It is not only I calling you a scoundrel,” she said. “It is the truth of things that calls you a scoundrel too.”
Her suitor stormed out, disgraced.
His beloved sighed and thanked her savior for the danger she just cleared.