Back in the 90’s I was in a Men’s Group for six years (yes we did drumming, mostly Samba). It was good, I loved those guys. All of us were looking for something we had missed somewhere along the line of growing up. I don’t know if I found it. I probably did, since I have stopped looking for whatever it was that I was missing.
Anyway I seem to have graduated into a world where the chauvinist landscape is mostly dominated by those of the female persuasion. Men sharing their feelings has been a hot topic most of my adult life. The thing is, men have always shared their feelings. You’d know that if you talk guy speak.
The classic conundrum as a guy is that here you are in a relationship with somebody who shares their feelings constantly, at high pitch, to everybody around them. And they want you to do the same. And when you do, they’re the “wrong” feelings. So you shut down, or you learn to fake it, or something.
And if you’re lucky you can find a place with other guys that understand what your feelings are, sometimes without you even having to say anything. Or at least most guys did, or some guys used to do, or a few guys still do, or maybe on the dark of the men, outside away from prying eyes we still do, if it won’t get us in too much trouble.
But I digress: Too often the “modern man” is more like this guy. Men without chests. Why do they always seem to find a spot in The New York Times? My first reaction was why was this gay guy telling me how to be a heteronormative cisgendered man? Then I realized that this is what passes for an alpha male in some parts of the world.
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.
Why are you buying shoes for your wife? Do you have a foot fetish, or do you have a hard time letting your wife go out on her own? Apparently you know more about your wife’s shoes than I do about my own.
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.
You may not want the world to know when you’re down and out, but you are in a world of hurt if you don’t have a couple guy friends to talk it out with. And no, your wife doesn’t count. Neither does your therapist.
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.
Dude, why is a grown man worrying about eating popcorn at a movie? Yes I buy popcorn. Yes I eat it. But if it isn’t gone by the time the opening credits roll I give it to my son to finish. If your life is filled with worries like, am I offending people with my noisy eating, either learn to eat with your mouth shut, or stop eating popcorn. Life is too short to worry about popcorn.
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.
If you are eating a steak, why are you worried about how someone else is enjoying theirs. If they want to cut off the fat and gristle, does it make yours taste any worse? A gentleman1 generally doesn’t notice what other people are doing with their food, unless it lands on his lap or the floor. And probably not even then unless he’s on cleanup duty.
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.
A man generally knows what he wants, and is willing to put a little effort into getting it. He also doesn’t make a big deal about not getting it. The writer is starting to sound like the guy who keyed my twenty year old land yacht because I dared park next to his new SUV.
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.
My wife has an Apple iPhone. I’m not sure how to spell it, forget about plugging it in. I have a manly phone based on a manly operating system, Unix. I am vaguely aware that my kids have devices that need charging, but no idea which ones still work and where their chargers are. My version of teaching them responsibility is to let them worry about it.
I found out shortly before he died, that my friend Frank, as a kid, paid the rent for his parent’s basement apartment by shoveling coal for the entire building. It took me that long to find out about it because he didn’t think it was a big deal. When I was a kid I liked going to Sears because I might be able to play Pong on their one demo machine in the entie store. Apparently Modern Men™ make sure their kid’s toys don’t run out of juice by plugging them in at night. I see trend here, wait a moment while I figure out the slope.
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 man doesn’t worry about what other men drink, unless they’re in danger of getting sloppy drunk, or drinking a single malt whisky, and a nice dry oak aged wine, or something equally exquisite. If your idea of acceptable stops at Mountain Dew (well actually mine stops at Mountain Dew, but I won’t notice if yours doesn’t), then you’ll have a hard time surviving outside of Manhattan, San Francisco2, or Beverly Hills.
8. The modern man uses the proper names for things. For example, he’ll say “helicopter,” not “chopper” like some gauche simpleton.
If I want to say hell, I’ll say hell. And if I want to say chopper, I’ll say chopper. And it won’t be because I’m too gauche to say helicopter, or veg-o-matic, or something else.
9. Having a daughter makes the modern man more of a complete person. He learns new stuff every day.
If you think you can only learn things from daughters, you are a sad little man. And I bet you have a shirt in your closet that says “This is what a feminist looks like.” And I also bet your wife bought it for your birthday.
10. The modern man makes sure the dishes on the rack have dried completely before putting them away.
Are you trying to impress me with how equally you share the household chores? My wife puts dishes away wet. I don’t. And she does most of the dishes. I don’t notice the water marks on the glasses that aren’t there. If I noticed, which I don’t, because life is too short.
11. The modern man has never “pinned” a tweet, and he never will.
I’ve heard of a tweet, what is pinning, and why are you worrying about it? And if some people like it, why are you trying to take it away? Has this come up in therapy? I suggest you walk away from the mouse and spend a day in the woods.
12. The modern man checks the status of his Irish Spring bar before jumping in for a wash. Too small, it gets swapped out.
Bah. If I need anything more than using some of the extra shampoo as a body wash, I go straight for the Fels Naptha soap like my Grandma used on my dear old mom. Sure it stings a little, but that’s how you know it’s working.
13. The modern man listens to Wu-Tang at least once a week.
Something is seriously lacking if Wu Tang Clan is what you think of as adult music.
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.
You take a grocery list shopping? And you don’t lose it so you can buy what you want instead? Really?
15. The modern man has hardwood flooring. His children can detect his mood from the stamp of his Kenneth Cole oxfords.
Now we’re getting to the real stuff. The modern man used to speak with a British accent, now he has wooden floors. I bet he also goes to parties and complains about inequality.
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.
And I bet he doesn’t do it with a weapon either because, well we’re obviously going for moral victories with this list, so why stop now.
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?
I had to look it up to find out it actually isn’t what it sounds like. They actually make a thing for those things that mysteriously show up at work every other Friday morning. Who knew? Sometimes I actually eat a few if I make it out of my office before lunch. They’re not bad. I recommend them melon baller thingies.
18. The modern man has thought seriously about buying a shoehorn.
Why are you thinking about shoehorns? If you want one, buy it. If you can’t afford it, stop thinking about it. If you don’t have one, put your dress shoes on properly so you don’t break the heels. It isn’t that hard.
19. The modern man buys fresh flowers more to surprise his wife than to say he is sorry.
I totally agree with this advice. Your marriage will work much better for it. Unfortunately I managed it for only the first few years. Now I’m lucky to hit Safeway on the way home from work on the Friday before Mother’s day.
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.
I was married twenty years before I figured out what people meant by spooning. I had just been doing it without knowing that there was this whole etiquette/propriety thing going on. You might try that some time.
21. The modern man doesn’t scold his daughter when she sneezes while eating an apple doughnut, even if the pieces fly everywhere.
No, he hands her a broom. You seem to worry a lot about things that don’t bother most people. And do son’s exist in your world view?
22. The modern man still ambles half-naked down his driveway each morning to scoop up a crisp newspaper.
The second thing I agree with. Though I do try to make sure the neighbors aren’t out yet.
23. The modern man has all of Michael Mann’s films on Blu-ray (or whatever the highest quality thing is at the time).
Heat was good. Hancock was worth ten bucks. I watched Miami Vice on T.V. Except for Heat there are better directors and better movies. If your idea of being a man is based on what you watch . . .
24. The modern man doesn’t get hung up on his phone’s battery percentage. If it needs to run flat, so be it.
Who are these men that you hang out with that worry about their phones’ batteries?
25. The modern man has no use for a gun. He doesn’t own one, and he never will.
What happened to number 16. What, you plan on leaving your wife a widow? Or are you working out with a boxing trainer or at a dojo every week? I didn’t think so.
26. The modern man cries. He cries often.
I thought there was a problem with number two showing up on this list. I think it was wise of the author to separate the two as much as possible.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind crying. I don’t even mind crying in front of men. I even got verklempt the other day at work. But the Modern Man™ seems to make a fetish of it. Especially when it get’s him laid.
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.
I’m a terrible dancer. When I was dating my wife I loved to go dancing, even if I did it badly. Now I work late and have different hobbies on the weekend. If you’re good at it, great, more power to you.
I hope my point isn’t lost in the sarcasm. Being a man is not about personal taste in music, movies, drinks, or electronics. Half the time the writer seems to be making a try at manliness, but in such a half hearted, whiney fashion that it loses any appeal. Plus he can’t finish the article without reversing himself on his best points.
Manliness is, amongst other things, about work and sacrifice, truth and honor, love and obligation. Most of all it is about largeness of heart. Somehow we have convinced men to stop acquiring manliness, without realizing the consequence is they’re remaining boys.
And boys trying to make up rules for how to be men doesn’t help.
PS. If you want to see a real man, you could do a lot worse than this guy.