Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Real Man

A Real Man

                It appears America is suffering from a deficit of adult development for males. Maybe I’m wrong and just an old codger, but on several of my outings a hipster/metro-sexual/generation x dude has shown up who didn’t have a clue to some basic things that men of older generations know. I blame the parents who gave these overgrown children open checks to play video games constantly. There’s no shortage of blanket asses who can rule a joystick, but ask them to light a grill and they have to search it on YouTube.

Again, I may be out of touch, but I can’t begin to count all the times I’ve heard women complain about their boyfriends who are total screw-ups, yet their one redeeming quality is expertise in superhero movies. Ladies, Valentine’s Day is coming. If you’re about to get steady with a male unit, or you already got a Neanderthal attached to you, put them to my test otherwise you’ll be babysitting.

                Now, before you think I’m going to get all Indiana Jones/boy scout on you, which is kind of the right idea only a little too gung ho (in fact, I quit scouts because we never did anything outdoors) these are real issues that will crop up in a guy’s life, so he might as well man up for them. If he wasn’t taught by his guardians, he can learn from hairy old gorillas like me.

                Speaking of scouts, start a fire by rubbing sticks together? I’ve never seen anyone actually do it, so that’s unrealistic and like I said, too gung ho, but it does segue into the first requirement.

Build a fire using the basics: kindling, leaves/paper, wood and a match. At a party I went to, the soft cardigan-wearing host threw an armful of pine chunks into a pit, splashed butane all over it, and lit it, thinking that it would ignite into a roaring, toasty burn. To his embarrassment, his flash in the pan petered out, of course. A fire feeds on three inputs: heat, fuel, and oxygen. Our boy host didn’t see to the heat element. I hope he doesn’t struggle the same way in the bedroom! Incidentally, a lighter rather than a match is fine. It’s the chemistry that’s important for a man to understand. Oh the romantic double entendres! And back to the grill, if he’s got at least the caveman thing down of growing a fire correctly, other worlds will open up to him like lighting propane. It’s a snap.

Change a flat. You will blow a tire at some time. It’s more certain than death and taxes. It’s so guaranteed that the tools to swap it out come standard in vehicles. Not knowing how to fix a flat is like not knowing how to sharpen a pencil. The only challenge is the grit needed to twist the lug wrench… which is why it falls into guy territory most of the time. However, plenty of ladies have this skill. Yes, believe it or not, I’ve fixed flats for two oblivious dudes! Disgraceful.

Swim. For crying out loud, this planet is mostly water. To the scouts thing again, swimming is one of their badges. My son went with his pack to a pool to earn his merit, yet most of the kids couldn’t (or wouldn’t) go in the deep end. They got their badges anyway. Scary. Ladies, if you got a landlubber on your hands, no matter what his age, he can skip down to the rec center and learn floatation. There’s no shame in learning. If he refuses, go to the beach and frolic the surf in front of him with some other studs. No, just kidding. Actually, just go ahead and send him home where his mommy will kiss it and make it all better.

Tie a tie and polish shoes. These are listed together because the guy might have the neck apparel knotted correctly, but is wearing a pair of trashed shoes! Why even put on a tie then? Even old shoes can clean up nicely, so if the male doesn’t at least give these two eye-catchers attention, can you imagine what a spoiled slob he is at home? Of course kiddo needs to learn to tie a tie because—we hope—he’ll grow up and interview for a job or become an entrepreneur.

He works. It may not be the best job. Maybe he bitches about it, but a man earns his keep if he’s able-bodied. If he thinks his skills are above the job, he works anyway while taking action to get a fitting occupation. Remember Eddie, the brother-in-law from the Vacation movies? What a catch!
He pays his damn bills. This may sound like a no-brainer, but it's critical because of honor—something our society is losing. You borrow money, you pay the creditors back on time. If a goof-off has late fees all over his accounts, he’s just going to drag you into misery.

         Those are the non-negotiable expectations. I fought an impulse to list: start a lawn mower, bait a hook, read a tape measure, whittle, and some other testosterone treats, but in fairness, I felt I should stay on theme. How come there was no mention of drinking beer, tools, hunting, hot rods, boxing; all of which I and other males enjoy? Because they have nothing to do with actual manhood. You see…my father defined being a man better than anyone I’ve ever heard. At a formative age of 14, I thought masculinity was having muscles, babes, martial arts training, robust chest hair, a big ding-a-ling, you know…all that macho crap. But Dad corrected that a man simply takes responsibility for himself and his loved ones.

That makes sense doesn’t it? If you can’t swim, your dumbass can drown. Not very responsible. You need a job. It’s a good idea to be able to provide warmth for yourself and family. That car, which will pop a radial, is important for livelihood and Mr. Grown-Up can be prepared for it. Responsibility. These are the bare-bone, minimal requirements.

Lest one think I may be a chauvinist, if I had a daughter, I’d teach her these things, too—more importantly, to demand them of any suitors.

Don’t get me wrong. To each his own. Bro, It’s your business if you wear those God-awful scarves as a fashion statement, and beanies in blazing hot weather. Go ahead and stretch your ear lobes in gauges all the way down to your ass where they dangle like snot in the wind. I don’t care. Hell, I like Star Wars, belching, scantily covered women, tattoos, motorcycles, on and on. Let’s be clear, though. Those are luxuries, not measurements.

Sadly, America has raised full-grown males, handy with their joy sticks, clad in their muscle bound avatars, blowing virtual stuff up, but they missed the train out of adolescence through these delusions. It's also why texting and driving rules out junior from being a man...because it's irresponsible.


Sisters of the Quill said...

I loved this post! I think the things you may have missed are the new rules of the playground that take away risks emotional (don't play dodge ball) or physical (teeter totters may totter you right off) And the emphasis on self esteem - particularly unearned self esteem... why is an entire team given participation trophies rather than the winning team get the winning trophies... oh and don't get me started on the expectations for all the little boys to sit good and quiet in a classroom... it's hard enough for girls to do that but BOYS (in general) are genetically constructed differently. Give a boy a stick and he'll make a gun out of it (natural hunters who get sent to the principal's office). I'm SO TIRED OF THE P.C. EXPECTATIONS THAT A BOY MUST BE LIKE A GIRL!!!!! There are natural variations, of course, but on the whole we are stifling poor little boys! And, in some cases, making them like little robots who are great at the bang em up computer games (for lack of truer forms of bang em up) and bad at leaving home and taking care of business like adults. Karen Lin

Chiseled in Rock said...

Thanks, Karen! Because I felt like I was ranting, I didn't broach some of those and the issue with 'toughness' -- that kicking somebody's ass is the opposite of being a man, even though I believe in self defense and the fitness with martial arts.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Really? There are young men who can't change a tire? We learned how to do that in the old days in Driver's Ed class, but maybe schools don't do that anymore.