“Modern Man” vs. “Real Man”

“We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise.  We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.  We castrate and bid the gelding be fruitful.”
– C.S. Lewis

About a year or so ago, the New York Times published an article online which attempted to define the “Modern Man”.

I thought it interesting, if only as a commentary on how our definition of manliness has changed over the last couple of generations.  I thought I’d give a response to each of their twenty-seven points… counterpoints which contrast the difference between the “Modern Man” and what I consider to be real manliness:

  1. When the modern man buys shoes for his spouse, he doesn’t have to ask her sister for the size. And he knows which brands run big or small.
    A real man understands that his wife loves buying shoes and it’s the process of selecting them which brings her joy more than it is the actual purchasing of them.  He also understands that his wife knows far more about this sort of thing than he ever will, so while he will occasionally make a gift of a pair of shoes he thinks she’ll really like, he makes sure to get a gift receipt.
  2. The modern man never lets other people know when his confidence has sunk. He acts as if everything is going swimmingly until it is.
    A real man knows his faith is shaken in times like this and he has at least one person in whom he will confide, and the most important is his wife.  He understands, if only instinctively, that if she believes in him he can face almost anything.  He will avoid confiding in her if he thinks it will protect her, and he’ll probably be wrong.
  3. The modern man is considerate. At the movie theater, he won’t munch down a mouthful of popcorn during a quiet moment. He waits for some ruckus.
    A real man has at least some manners, so he doesn’t eat so loudly that it matters.
  4. The modern man doesn’t cut the fatty or charred bits off his fillet. Every bite of steak is a privilege, and it all goes down the hatch.
    A real man knows how to trim and cook a steak.  If at a restaurant, he’ll send it back if it’s not done properly because if he’s going to spend that much money on a meal, it should be prepared correctly.  He also knows which cut of meat is which … so he knows a filet doesn’t have fatty bits.
  5. The modern man won’t blow 10 minutes of his life looking for the best parking spot. He finds a reasonable one and puts his car between the lines.
    Real men agree – however, they’ll drop their wife off at the door if it’s raining or cold.
  6. Before the modern man heads off to bed, he makes sure his spouse’s phone and his kids’ electronic devices are charging for the night.
    A real man will do this for his wife if she forgets because he loves her and likes to pamper her.  He will not, however, do this for his kids as he wants to teach them responsibility.  He will also expect them to always have their phones charged when they’re not at home so they can be reached at his and his wife’s convenience and so they can reach their parents when necessary.
  7. The modern man buys only regular colas, like Coke or Dr Pepper. If you walk into his house looking for a Mountain Dew, he’ll show you the door.
    A real man tries to be an accommodating host when he can and doesn’t really judge you by what you drink – as long as you don’t do something stupid like mix 18 year old single-malt Scotch Whisky with Coke.
  8. The modern man uses the proper names for things. For example, he’ll say “helicopter,” not “chopper” like some gauche simpleton.
    A real man isn’t pretentious.
  9. Having a daughter makes the modern man more of a complete person. He learns new stuff every day.
    Real men know this to be true – and know this is true for sons, as well.
  10. The modern man makes sure the dishes on the rack have dried completely before putting them away.
    A real man is not defined by such trivialities.
  11. The modern man has never “pinned” a tweet, and he never will.
    A real man, if he uses Twitter, uses it in whatever manner he wishes.
  12. The modern man checks the status of his Irish Spring bar before jumping in for a wash. Too small, it gets swapped out.
    A real man doesn’t waste anything, if he can help it.
  13. The modern man listens to Wu-Tang at least once a week.
    A real man may not even know who or what a Wu-Tang is.
  14. The modern man still jots down his grocery list on a piece of scratch paper. The market is no place for his face to be buried in the phone.
    A real man gets the job done and uses whatever tool is best for it.
  15. The modern man has hardwood flooring. His children can detect his mood from the stamp of his Kenneth Cole oxfords.
    A real man doesn’t stomp around like a child and doesn’t gratuitously throw in a brand name when describing his clothing – see 8.
  16. The modern man lies on the side of the bed closer to the door. If an intruder gets in, he will try to fight him off, so that his wife has a chance to get away.
    A real man also does this and for the same reason.  He will visit upon the intruder an overwhelming degree of violence which will ensure any threat is eliminated, sacrificing himself in the process if necessary.
  17. Does the modern man have a melon baller? What do you think? How else would the cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew he serves be so uniformly shaped?
    See 14.  Although, of all the types of kitchen gadgets and tools which exist, one wonders why a modern man would be defined by something so silly as a “melon baller”.
  18. The modern man has thought seriously about buying a shoehorn.
    A real man may very well own a shoehorn, but never thought seriously about it.
  19. The modern man buys fresh flowers more to surprise his wife than to say he is sorry.
    A real man does this and whatever else he can think of to delight his wife.
  20. On occasion, the modern man is the little spoon. Some nights, when he is feeling down or vulnerable, he needs an emotional and physical shield.
    Good God, I don’t even know what to say about this.
  21. The modern man doesn’t scold his daughter when she sneezes while eating an apple doughnut, even if the pieces fly everywhere.
    One would think this would go without saying.
  22. The modern man still ambles half-naked down his driveway each morning to scoop up a crisp newspaper.
    A real man may still receive a newspaper as most real men each adhere to and respect various traditions as they see fit.  However, they don’t go out half-naked.
  23. The modern man has all of Michael Mann’s films on Blu-ray (or whatever the highest quality thing is at the time).
    A real man isn’t defined by his movie collection, although his character is revealed by his library.
  24. The modern man doesn’t get hung up on his phone’s battery percentage. If it needs to run flat, so be it.
    A real man ensures he is reachable by those who are important and depend on him, and he never wants his wife to worry.
  25. The modern man has no use for a gun. He doesn’t own one, and he never will.
    A real man understands the role firearms have played in our history and is not afraid of them.  While a real man may not own a gun, he respects the rights of those who do.  While owning a gun does not make one a real man, most real men own guns – see 14 and 16.
  26. The modern man cries. He cries often.
    A real man understands there is no shame in crying, but does not cry over the trivial.  He is strong enough to not be emotionally overwhelmed by adversity, but tries to be wise enough to know when his limits are being reached.  See 2.
  27. People aren’t sure if the modern man is a good dancer or not. That is, until the D.J. plays his jam and he goes out there and puts on a clinic.
    A real man pursues his passions and seeks excellence – whether it’s dancing or anything else.

Obviously, their list and my responses are entirely subjective.  I do wonder, however, where masculinity is headed.  It seems that our focus has shifted from the substantial to the superficial; we’re more concerned about the appearance than about what lies beneath.

It seems having a big beard is more important than having strength of character.

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This Just In: Trump Said Something Which is True About Some Women! Women Everywhere Offended!

“<Song lyrics too explicit and vulgar to be posted here.>”
– Nicki Minaj

I get it. What Trump said was sexist.

But, Mrs. Clinton, he wasn’t talking about sexual assault… he was talking about getting laid by groupies.  If you want to talk about sexual assault, go to your husband’s bedroom and have that conversation.  Just make sure you knock first.

The funny part is that what Trump said was true. Whether you’re a pro athlete, musician, actor, politician, etc., there are women who care about nothing else and are willing to let you do anything in the world to them.  You know… they start acting like how a lot of men act around women all the time.

I’m sorry, but do you expect any celebrity to respect a woman who will sleep with them on the spot?  Do you expect anybody to respect any person who would do that?

Also, before women get too upset about not being respected, they need to understand they’re building a culture in which they don’t even respect themselves. You can talk all you want about how men objectify women, and I’d probably agree with at least some of it. But, women are far worse about it than men are.

Yeah, yeah… I know… movies targeted at men have boobies in them.  Magazines targeted at men have boobies in them.  Toothpaste targeted at men would sell a lot better if it where somehow connected to boobies.

And, yes.. porn.  Got it.

But, here’s the thing… all of that stuff is targeted at men.  None of it is telling women how to act.  That stuff is telling men how to act and it’s poisonous, dangerous and is corroding the hearts and minds of men.

But, you can’t look to men as the scapegoat for how women are treated.  The people telling women how they should be treated are women.

The top female musical artists are Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Miley Cirus and others who sing, dress and act like whores.  These are the examples who communicate what acceptable behavior is to our young women and, more importantly, establish an expectation of how a relationship with a man should work.

For example, who could forget that timeless Beyonce classic “Parition” which talks about respectfully loving a woman:

“Now my mascara running, red lipstick smudged/ Yeah, he’s so horny he wants to f—/ He popped all my buttons and he ripped my blouse/ He Monica Lewinsky-ed all on my gown/ Oh Daddy, Daddy, he didn’t bring the towel/ Oh baby, baby, we better slow it down”

Of course, Beyonce should have said, “He Bill Clinton’ed”.  And in this case, I guess she’s the Monica Lewinsky.  But, hey.. it’s art, right?

Women complain about unreasonable standards to which they are held regarding their bodies, their looks ,etc.  Well, the magazines women buy most are magazines that tell them they should be a size 2, wear $700 skirts and which deify the very women no self-respecting woman should ever want to be.  Who publishes these magazines?  Women.

These same magazines tell women to be more sexually aggressive and more promiscuous.  Ladies, I have a secret for you:  Most men LOVE women who are sexually aggressive and promiscuous.

And by “love”, I mean “love to have sex with”.

But, they absolutely do not respect these women.  In fact, these women are just throwaways.

Listen:  MEN DO NOT RESPECT SEXUALLY PROMISCUOUS WOMEN.  Men just like to screw them.  But, they will never, ever respect them.

The highest selling book series bought by women was written by a woman:  The Grey Series, in which the heroine is basically just a container for Mr. Grey’s DNA.  I guess Trump’s comment would have perfectly acceptable had it been said by this guy.

I’m not excusing anything Trump said, because it’s not about that.  It’s about knowing you can’t have it both ways. If you want to be respected, then demand respect from everyone – don’t give a free pass to other women who are actively trying to bring you down to their level.

Ladies, if you’re going to start getting pissed off because you’re not being respected, then stop buying those records, magazines and books.  Stop allowing your character and integrity to be eroded by women who have no character or integrity.  THEN, you can worry about how someone said something that offended you.

Because, honestly… if you buy into the rest of that crap, then was Trump that far off the mark?

The Secret to Losing Weight

“I recently had my annual physical examination, which I get once every seven years, and when the nurse weighed me, I was shocked to discover how much stronger the Earth’s gravitational pull has become since 1990.” – Dave Barry

Apparently, if I don’t lose weight, I’ll die.

I had been having headaches for a while.  Some of them got pretty bad, and I’d have to lie down in the dark.  My wife, of course, kept “nagging” me to go and see my doctor about it.  (I use the term “nagging” to describe the three times in a six month period when she said, “You know, it might not be a bad idea to ask Matthew about it.”  Matthew is my doctor.  He let me start calling him Matthew to get me to stop calling him Dr. Assclown.)

The headaches got worse and worse.  It wasn’t uncommon to see me walking around squinting with one eye while the other eye was closed because of the pain.  The last really bad one was so bad, I couldn’t really function and lying down didn’t help at all – in fact, it wouldn’t let me sleep.  This is when my wife finally put her cute little foot down and demanded we go to the ER right then and there.

This was on a Tuesday night around 9:00PM.

If you ever decide to have a medical emergency, I highly recommend doing it on a Tuesday night around 9:00PM.

We get to an Urgent Care center near our house and find a doctor, a nurse, a tech and a receptionist… and nobody else at all in the building except for us.

Apparently, these people were bored, because we sat down to fill out the paperwork and had only just started when the nurse took the clipboard from me and gave it to the receptionist, hustled us into an exam room, had an IV in me and the doctor was standing there asking me about my headaches.  I’m not making this up.  The receptionist actually had to come into the room and ask us questions to finish filling out the forms for us.

As it turns out, blood pressure is actually a thing.

From what I’m told, my blood pressure should be at or under 120/80.  Mine was 170/110 and apparently was the source of my headaches.  They administered some IV meds and the headache almost immediately went away.

I followed up with Matthew about two weeks ago and asked the following question:

“Matthew, I have done tons of research on this stuff.  If you read 10 different books on weight loss, you’ll have 10 different opinions as to how to lose weight, and each opinion is backed up with scientific reports and medical opinions that corroborate the author’s opinion.  You’ve got guys who wrote books about why you should eat low fat whose books now tell you to eat high fat.  Guys whose books said to eat every two hours whose books now say to fast 18 hours each day.  Low fat?  High fat?  Low carb?  No carb?  Shakes?  Bars?  Who do I believe?”

Here’s what he said:

“If you want to lose weight, you have to do two things:  Eat less and exercise.  As far as what you should eat, cut out carbs.  For now, you’ll need to eliminate them almost completely.  As far as exercise, you need to exercise 30-45 minutes per day, five days per week.  If you want to lose weight, you have to do both things.”

So, a few days later, I started walking… about 30-45 minutes per day and am on track to average 5-6 days per week.  About four or five days ago, I eliminated almost all carbs from my diet.  I’ve started to lose weight and I’m feeling pretty good.

Who knew that eating less and exercising would work?

I should write a book.

 

Thinking of My Dad on Father’s Day

“A father has to be a provider, a teacher, a role model, but most importantly, a distant authority figure who can never be pleased. Otherwise, how will children ever understand the concept of God?” – Stephen Colbert

A few days ago was the 13th anniversary of my father’s death.  I’ve mentioned him before here and I’ve spoken of him as a hard man, and he was.

Today is Father’s Day, and I find myself wondering what he would think of me today.

I’ve owned my own business for 17 years now, and I think he would like that and be proud of me for it.  On the other hand, I never followed in his footsteps and pursued his business when he was alive and I didn’t pick it up and run with it after he died.  That, I’m sure, would be a big disappointment for him.

That’s how it was with him then, and that’s how it is now:  I never quite know where I stand.

Does the pride outweigh the disappointment?

 

I’ve always lived with the feeling it didn’t.

Unity and Diversity – Two Sides of the Same Myth (Part Two)

“World unity is the wish of the hopeful, the goal of the idealist and the dream of the romantic. Yet it is folly to the realist and a lie to the innocent.”
– Don Williams, Jr.

 

Last week, I wrote about how when we push for diversity, we end up erasing it.  I believe a similar thing occurs when we speak of unity.  Even as we talk about our desire for unity, we divide ourselves.

Historically, just about every nation has experienced racial and cultural divides.  Often, these have turned into bloody affairs with injustices and atrocities committed by those in power on both sides.

In the United States today, we claim that we want racial unity, however the evidence shows otherwise.  Are you a Mexican-American?  An African-American?  Italian-American?  Irish-American?

If different ethnic groups wanted unity, then they wouldn’t label themselves by their race or nationality.  In doing so, they automatically segregate themselves from the rest of society, creating an “us” versus “them” mentality.

We see this in religion as well.  As a church we want unity… kind of.  One of my all-time favorite jokes was told by the comedian Emo Philips:

“Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump.   I said, “Don’t do it!”

He said, “Nobody loves me.”

I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”

He said, “Yes.”

I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?”

He said, “A Christian.”

I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?”

He said, “Protestant.”

I said, “Me, too! What franchise?”

He said, “Baptist.”

I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?”

He said, “Northern Baptist.”

I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”

He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.”

I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?”

He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” I said, “Me, too!”

I said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?”

He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.”

I said, “Die, heretic!”  And I pushed him over.”

I believe the problem comes from our inability to define who we are as individuals.  We are desperate to find some meaningful way by which we can be identified.  Somehow, we have to matter because in our hearts, we need to matter.  So, we pick something about ourselves, and cling to it for dear life.

We then surround ourselves with people who identify themselves as we do, thereby validating our choice in selecting what it is that makes us important.  If we lose that one thing – our religion, our nationality, our skin color… our favorite team, for that matter – we lose our identity, and with it, our value.

It’s seems that we want unity, but only within our own separate little groups.

Unity and Diversity – Two Sides of the Same Myth (Part One)

“I could be wrong, but I believe Diversity is an old, old wooden ship that was used during the Civil War era.”
– Ron Burgundy

 

As I write this, the nation is embroiled in a heated battle over who gets to use which restroom. Even our president has weighed in on this all-important issue, threatening to deny funds to our schools if they don’t allow boys to use the girl’s locker room.

(Where was this policy when I was in high school?  I mean, I wasn’t even sure girls were actually ever naked, but I was very, very interested in finding out.)

Of course, the whole thing is absurd.

It has, however, initiated a train of thought which has led me to conclude that unity and diversity, or at least our desire for them, are myths.  Not that this is a conscious thing.  To the contrary, I think people sincerely believe they want unity.  I think people sincerely want to embrace diversity.  However, I don’t think we truly want want either.

A case in point is our current media-induced frenzy about gender self-identification.  The idea here is that we should value diversity by allowing individuals to determine for themselves what gender they are at any given time.  If we force a gender assignment, we are not valuing diversity.

The problem is that it’s not enough for us to recognize or respect the right of someone else to self-identify.  If that were the case, then the push would be for unisex bathrooms.  Instead, we are told we must each sacrifice our own gender identity in the process.  In effect, we are being forced to eliminate gender as an identification.

There can no longer be male or female… rather we are aggressively forced into the foggy world of gender neutrality.

We see this in areas of sexuality, as well.  It is not enough to say, “Men have the right to marry men and women have the right to marry women.”  If that were the case, I think it would be less of an issue.  Instead, you must celebrate the marriage and you must participate in the process, regardless of your own beliefs, if called upon to do so.

When it comes to sexuality, there can only be agreement.  Anything else is unacceptable.

We’re not just stamping out dissenting opinion or beliefs; we’re also eliminating the virtues that come along with achievement.

Kids who naturally excel at athletics are pulled down to the level of the least talented through the virtue of “participation” awards.

Those who have worked hard to get through high school, some of whom have had to overcome learning disabilities in the process, receive the same diploma as the apathetic kid who was passed along from grade to grade in the interest of preserving self-esteem.

In other areas, diversity is celebrated, but only for some.  People are allowed to be proud of their race, unless they’re white.  Religion is to be tolerated and have its flaws forgiven, unless we’re talking about Christianity.

As a society, we’ve been talking about diversity for decades.  There are all kinds of inspirational posters out there that pair inspirational quotes about diversity with pictures of butterflies.  We communicate this image of naturally diverse colors standing out in beauty.

Unfortunately, the image of our reality is that of  a giant blob that reaches out with tentacles to snare the individual and pull him down into the colorless muck below.

Dad Score: 10/10 – Part Three

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.  But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much he had learned in 7 years.”
– Mark Twain

After two weeks of background info, I finally get to share this story about my dad… one time for sure when he achieved the perfect Dad Score of 10/10.

As I said before, life in the Corps is pretty hard and life in the Aggie Band is harder still.  Back then, a large number of fish would wash out.  I don’t recall exactly what the attrition rates were, but I want to say Corps-wide, it was about 35-40%.  I know in prior years it was as high as 60% and I’ve heard rumors of years when it was more.  When I was there, my outfit had one of the highest retention rates in the Corps, but one of the other three outfits in the Band started with 36 fish and ended with 14 – a 61% attrition rate.

Most fish reach a breaking point where they make the fateful Call Home.  During the Call Home, they tell their parents how hard it is… how it’s not what they expected… how this isn’t what college is supposed to be like… how high school band was fun, but this is just torture… how mean and cruel the upperclassmen are, especially the sophomores.

I’m not ashamed to say I made the Call Home.

It was probably two or three weeks in.  My dad answered the phone.  I asked to speak to my mom.  He must have known what was up because he said, “Why don’t you talk to me first.”

I wasn’t sure how it would go, but I talked to him.  Once I started talking, I started crying, which surprised me… I didn’t realize how broken down I had become.

I told him how much I hated my life, how hard the Aggie Band was and how we had to do so much more stuff than the rest of the Corps and how our upperclassmen made us do things the CT fish didn’t have to do.  (Members of the Corps are affectionately known as CTs.)  I complained about not getting enough to eat and not ever getting enough sleep.  I complained about tons of other things.  I told him I wanted to quit.

Given his passion for A&M, I expected to hear something that started with “No son of mine…” and continued with a mandate of staying in the Corps and the Band.

He simply said, “Well, son. That’s your decision. I can’t make it for you.”

I was stunned.  I think I was looking for permission to quit or, at the very least, being berated into not quitting.  I wasn’t prepared for his simple response.

I asked him what I should do.

He said, “I can’t tell you that. Only you can decide.”

Then, he said, “I can tell you this, though: If you quit, you will spend the rest of your life knowing you couldn’t do this. You will end up quitting other, more important, things later on. If you somehow make it through this, you will know that you can overcome anything because nothing will feel as hard as this does right now. This decision is going to define who you are for the rest of your life.”

I think this might have been my dad’s finest moment as a father.  I can’t think of anything he could have said or done differently which would have been even slightly better.

To top it all off, he was right.