Ready, Willing, and Unable

Misanthropy is a wonderful thing.  When you stop caring about others, and by extension what they think about you, your morning routine steadily slims down to nothing.  I used to shave my face.  Now, I have a beard.  I used to comb my hair.  Now, I buzz it short.  I persist in bathing, but only because it dissuades the chiggers from taking up residence in the aforementioned facial mass. I am completely unable to fasten a necktie, and contrary to what I have been routinely told, this has yet to have any substantial negative impact on my life’s trajectory.  Then again, I majored in English, a field where the code of professional dress oscillates back and forth between this:

beat poet with beret

And this:

mcdonald's employee

(The moment of oscillation generally occurs upon realizing the beret isn’t edible.)

Be that as it may, all of the above I offer not to prove that I am lazy and/or unpleasant, which I undoubtedly am.  Rather, it is my feeble attempt to solicit pity on behalf of the individual who, in a staggering underestimation of my incompetence, invited me to stand up in his wedding – conditional on my willingness to wear a bowtie.

Or, as turned out to be the case, conditional on my ability to wear a bowtie.  Now, my neck is not abnormal in any way, shape, or form – it is soft, supple, and fits comfortably into the palms of most serial killers.  On its annual performance review, it receives generally high marks and consistently exceeds expectations in terms of keeping my head aloft.  My hands, however…  I swear to god, I do not know what is wrong with that department.  To date, they’ve proven to be useful for exactly two things – opening beer and inputting the thirty lives code for Contra.

the code

So when it came time to turn this:

untied bowtie

Into this:

bowtie tied

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when I ended up with something closer to this:

The Mummy

So, it was time for plan B – swearing and alcohol.  Neither fundamentally altered the state of the bowtie, but I felt a lot !@#$in’ better.

Plan C then – YouTube.

The first video I encountered was titled, and I quote, “If you watch only one video on how to tie a bowtie, watch this one,” which I foolishly selected.  In truth, I wanted to watch zero videos on how to tie a bowtie but was propelled onward by some perverse combination of obligation and inebriation.  Suffice it to say, the video did not take because, at the three-minute mark, they had not made it around to even starting to tie the bowtie, and I had lost interest.

Lost interest, in this context, is code for “passed out.”

When I came to, wiped the drool off my keyboard, and remembered what the hell this mass of paisley was half-assedly wrapped around my neck, I realized it was time to get serious.  So, returning to YouTube, I pulled this bad boy up and resolved to watch it.

However, I quickly determined that ten solid minutes of video instruction from a gentleman with an English accent was above my pay grade, which, as we established earlier in this piece, is approximately minimum wage.  Two minutes in, and it rapidly became apparent I might die of old age before we concoct some form of knot, let alone anything that resembled a properly fastened tie.  That and I was bothered because the entirety of the video appeared to be of his neck.  After a couple minutes, one starts to wonder whether you are watching his Adam’s apple or if his Adam’s apple is watching you.  That and Rule 34 of the internet dictates neck fetishism is a thing, and somewhere there are websites featuring content we won’t speculate about linking back to this video.  Returning to the point, the only thing the video managed to prove was that this old guy who pointed a camera at his neck could tie a bowtie, whereas I – still – could not.

This pretty much takes us to plan D – text groom until he marvels at what a loser he asked to stand up in his wedding and delivers the bowtie pre-tied.

It wasn’t exactly a glorious victory for misanthropy.  Then again, they seldom are.

Being a Man

“Have you wondered about what it means to be free in the face of your responsibilities as a man?  Have you chafed under the assumption that men are supposed to know everything?  Have you felt the pressures of meeting the expectations of females in your world?”  If so, the seventies called.  They want their hair back.

(Anyone else think he looks like he's giving her a great deal on a low mileage sedan?

Anyone else think he looks like he’s giving her a great deal on a low mileage sedan?

I am led to believe that the man of dubious grooming is one J. Kilgore.  Who, you might ask, is J. Kilgore?  Damned if I know, I reply, but I found two of his books on a table of free stuff.  The opening quote is from the back cover of Being a Man in a Woman’s World.

I’m waiting for the For Dummies version…or is that an oxymoron?

I’m waiting for the For Dummies version…or is that an oxymoron?

Given that I loathe most organized sports, am ambivalent towards automobiles, rely on my wife to kill spiders, and (most importantly) majored in English, it can be safely assumed that I need all the help “Being a Man” that I can get.

So do you even have go to the barber, or is that hair injection molded?

So do you even have go to the barber, or is that hair injection molded?

And, let me reiterate, the book was free.  I feel this is important to note.  That done, and so long as Kilgore’s tent revival hair isn’t contagious, I’m willing to give this a go.

Employing my usual “open the book at random and take things wildly out of context” strategy, I immediately turned to page twenty-seven where six bolded words asked, “What Kind of Man Are You?”  Intrigued, and a little intimidated, I read on: “If you find yourself uneasy, shy, and reserved, probably you will develop a ‘cowboy’ stance in life.  You may engage in heroic feats and enjoy your ‘silent strength.’  However, your loneliness in relationships will remain.  Very often your ‘bashfulness’ can be a manipulative way of getting attention from women.  You may have mastered, knowingly or unwittingly, the art of using your silent strength to turn on the admiration of women.  The maternal juices of many women flow strongly towards the shy and introverted man.”

Ignoring the obvious problems with that paragraph – namely, everything – I find Mr. Kilgore leaves me with one particularly burning question.  Specifically, what the hell is a “cowboy stance”?  I imagine it involves my feet extending out beyond my shoulders and my right hand hovering over my shooting iron, either because I’m getting ready to draw on Black Bart or because I’m saddle sore and in dire need of Preparation H.  As for the rest of it, I’m not certain I can recall the last time I’ve managed to manipulate someone with the raw power of my timidity – though I suppose it is possible that I simply didn’t understand the power of my silent strength at the time.  Ladies, let me take this opportunity to apologize…provided you promise not to hit me.  On a similar note, and from my fetal position here on the floor, I hope you won’t take offense when I ask that you kindly keep your maternal juices to yourself.  They don’t sound particularly hygienic, and this is my last clean shirt.

Did the Jedi Council break into focus groups or what?

Did the Jedi Council break into focus groups or what?

Not ten pages after the brilliant expose on what sort of man I am – i.e., highly defective – I encountered another bold subheading entitled “True Maturity.”  Since I’ve spent the last ten minutes, in adolescent fashion, questioning Kilgore’s gel/hair ratio, I figured the least I could do was give him an opportunity to give me a literary kick in the teeth.  Thus, I resumed reading.  “The greatest gift an adult woman has given to me as an adult man is the rediscovery of my ‘inner child.’ My wife is the ‘eternal child’ – ever fascinated with little accomplishments and always thrilled by the smallest of gifts.”  Uh…huh.  I’m not entirely certain what would happen were I to write the two previous sentences in regards to my own wife and publish them.  At the very least, I suspect it would preclude any need on my part to write a sequel.  Unless, of course, I didn’t object to it being published posthumously.

invisible kitteh

Deciding I shall always lack “True Maturity,” I continue leafing forward.  From page thirty-five, I make it to page thirty-one where I am presented with what promises to be the greatest chapter ever written.  Describing it with mere words will not suffice, as no one would ever believe me.  A picture must be employed.

BOY ARE THEY...oh…sorry, dear.

BOY ARE THEY…oh…sorry, dear.

I…I don’t even know where to begin.  Fate, working through J. Kilgore and his hair, has conspired to provide me with the ultimate comedic set-up.  But now that it’s here, I don’t know where to go with it.  Opportunity, far from merely knocking, has barged in, drunk all the wine, and passed out on my sofa, but the only thing I can think to do is wait for it to sober up and leave.

Enough.  Forty-one pages in is where we shall end our voyage of self-discovery.  This is purely for my own protection.  I’m starting to get this strange urge to watch NASCAR while crushing beer cans on my forehead.  If I don’t go read some Jane Austen stat, I’m going to end up in Lambeau Field when it’s forty below wearing nothing but green and yellow paint and a giant piece of Styrofoam cheese on my head.  In short, I’m not sure I’m ready to “Be A Man.”

Is...that the Fonz?

Is…that the Fonz?

Mega T-Rex. Mega Awesome.

Due to my age and a lack of visible scarring, I probably can’t play the “When I was a kid, the only toys we had were sticks, and we only got those if we could outrun the neighbor’s pet timber wolf” card. Not convincingly, anyway. There’s also the matter of photographic evidence regarding my aspirations of being a ninja turtle from age six to…oh…sixteen.

Adolescence was not kind to me.

Regardless, in reflecting on the artifacts of my childhood, it has come to my attention that I measured awesomeness in points of articulation. I.e., it was, as the great prophet Joe Biden once said, a “big !@#$in’ deal” if my action figures could bend their arms at the elbows. Tack on functioning knees and, well, perhaps dubbing myself a god among men would be a little extreme, but it would have certainly made me a prince among fourth graders. Much of my collection did not boast so many functional joints and, in many cases, possessed a range of motion akin to Mr. Bean.

Living proof knees are a biological nicety.

Living proof knees are a biological nicety.

Still, such usually satisfied me. On a scale of 1 to “awesome,” I felt I was coming in at “pretty darn good.” Or at least I thought I had been until age, experience, and Amazon.com caused me to reevaluate my childhood.

Jurassic Park meets G.I. Joe meets my doodles during fifth grade math class.

Jurassic Park meets G.I. Joe meets my doodles during fifth grade math class.

I’d like to request a moment of silence while all of us with a Y chromosome just sort of take in the awesome.

Thank you.

Now, even with the benefit of thirty years and an English degree from an accredited institution, I find myself struggling for adequate verbiage on the subject of Mega T-Rex. I do know that, were we to construct a time machine, hurl ourselves into the quantum, avoid fathering our own mother, and present the above construct to my four- to eight-year-old self, he (or me) would likely find his neural pathways inadequate to the wonder and spontaneously combust. My mother would not approve or, at the very least, would probably request that if one was going to subject her son to self-immolation it be done outside or, at the very least, not on the carpet.

What I’m getting at is I’d probably think it was pretty dang cool…or rad…or whatever term was being slung around to mean “neat” in the late eighties.

This is a real 80s band.  This actually happened.  Aliens will excavate pictures of them and think we all actually dressed like this.

This is a real 80s band. This actually happened. Aliens will excavate pictures of them and think we all actually dressed like this.

I’m not sure who’s buying Mega T-Rex. No. I take that back. I know exactly who’s buying him – it would be me had I a son and not a daughter. This is not to say I’m disappointed in my offspring so much as in my salesmanship skills. I’ve been attempting to persuade my wife that Mega T-Rex is gender neutral. Her counterargument, however, is that “a dino-rider astronaut who pilots a T-Rex in some sort of futuristic gun-laden saddle pod is many things but not gender neutral.” At the risk of further undermining my own argument, the Amazon product description is not helping my cause. I quote:

“Standing over 1 foot in height, Imaginext Mega T-Rex adds a new, futuristic dimension to classic dinosaur play. This is no ordinary dinosaur toy: Mega T-Rex is equipped with robotic armor, including tech arms and a protective helmet. He even has two blasters mounted on his armor, which can fire projectiles during the heat of battle. T-Rex also comes with a miniature soldier figure who can ‘take control’ of T-Rex by sitting in his cockpit.”

Related to that, or at the very least Mega T-Rex’s tech arms, anyone else think they look like 7/16” wrenches? I’m not sure how augmenting a T-Rex with 7/16” wrenches improves its overall performance, but that’s really beside the point. What we have here is a tyrannosaurus with guns on it.

Two, please.