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?

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You Know You Are A Contrary Introvert When . . .

Eggs, bacon, tea, and satire make you happy.

How do I know this?  Because my wife told me: “I was feeling grumpy, but then you fed me eggs and bacon, and I read Florence King.  I feel better now”.

Need I say more?

Antisocial Media

by the Untamed Shrew and Rampage Productions

I’ve stopped “friending” people on Facebook.  In my mind, anyway.  Instead, whenever I receive such a request, I still answer in the affirmative, but my subconscious replaces the word “friend.”  Thus, instead of seeing, “So-and-so wants to be your friend on Facebook,” I read, “So-and-so wants you to tolerate his or her bull!@#$ on Facebook.”

Picard reacts to Data’s most recent Farmville request.

It’s a modest delusion thus far.  Don’t worry – once it gets to, “So-and-so wants to provide you with his or her address and personal information so you can drive to his or her home and administer a savage beating,” I’ll seek some sort of help.  I’ll have to – it’s hard to move a body by yourself.

Perhaps it can be attributed to my introversion, but many of the social aspects of social media baffle me.  Baffle, in this case, is a polite way of saying “steadily erode my already dubious sanity and send me ever closer to a tri-state murderous rampage.”  Thus, in the spirit of promoting the common good, and preventing an unseemly economic stimulus to local funeral homes, I’ve prepared a list of some of the more grievous social networking offenses.  (And a flowchart, but we’ll get to that in a bit.)  If you are actively engaged in any of them, I would advise you to stop.  Or else.

1. McDonald’s Monarchy

Setting aside the fact that no one wants to know how often you really visit Taco Bell, save as a general guideline for when to avoid visiting without a gas mask, why would anyone want to be the “mayor” of Seven Eleven, McDonald’s, or any other convenience store/fast food chain?  What are the responsibilities of said mayorship?  Since one is not obligated to undergo the standard democratic election process, is it appropriate to assume the perks of totalitarian regime apply?  Can you levy taxes?  Does the job come with a standing army?  Should someone else be decreed mayor via Foursquare, or the lady distributing swords down by the lake, can we expect a peaceful hand-off of power or a series of bloody coups?  If so, my money is on whoever has the sword.  Related to that, and just so we’re all on the same page, that…is…ketchup on my burger, right?  I never knew it could splatter like that.

Foursquare and strange ladies lying in ponds distributing swords are no basis for a system of government.

2. Family Planning

It’s eight in the morning on Saturday.  You have a cup of coffee and nothing better to do, and so you settle in, fire up the ol’ laptop, and log onto your social network of choice.  Sifting through the usual drivel, you take a sip of coffee and come across a contact who posted, “As of ten minutes ago, hubby and I are tryin’ for another baby ; – ).”  It’s early, and so the statement doesn’t quite register.  You take another sip of coffee, a bigger one than before since it’s cooler now, and lean back in your chair just as the first jolt of caffeine reaches your noodle. Next thing you know, you’ve sprayed coffee all over your screen, dumped more on your lap, and are rooting through the cleaning closet in a frantic quest for bleach to snort – bleach or anything that might possibly burn the memory of the words from your mind.

3. Menu Manics

Food is good.  We get it.  So please stop making reports to the general populace regarding your gastronomical exploits.  Your former classmates, who barely cared about you to begin with, really do not care if you made a meatloaf or an unidentifiable Midwestern hotdish from scratch.  There is good reason for this.  Anyone can make a meatloaf or an unidentifiable Midwestern hot dish from scratch.  Watch: Cut up some “stuff.”  Put the “stuff” in something that won’t catch fire.  Add cream of mushroom soup.  Bake at 350 degrees for thirty minutes or until some combination of a blow to the head, a vile smell, and the desperate pleas of your family persuade you to order a pizza instead.  See?  There is no need to broadcast your culinary shame to the rest of the world.  And no, while we’re on the subject, don’t tweet that you’re ordering a pizza once you get that far.  Two wrongs, plus the abomination masquerading as a hotdish, do not make a right – they make a strong case for intervention by the CDC.

Originally invented by 3M as an industrial adhesive.

4. Broadcast of the Banal

It ceases being a “news feed” when the news being fed is comprised of such steaming nuggets of wisdom as the following: “It’s raining!” “Doin’ laundry – first up…socks n’ undies!!”  “Cleaning the bathroom – haven’t scrubbed the toilet in months!!!  LOL!!!”  “This ice cream is, like, totally COLD!!!!”  “The sun rose in the EAST this morning!!!!!”  “My cat is so smart!!!!!!”  For the numerically challenged, there is, of course, a directly proportionate relationship between the level of mundanity and the number of exclamation points used to punctuate the statement.  It’s as if the latter could somehow be used to compensate for the former.  However, in fairness, perhaps some of these posts are justified.  Those who provide weather reports may be aspiring meteorologists honing their skills.  Those who report their cleaning habits may be trying to reassure their dwindling pool of friends of their hygiene.  Everyone else, however, is engaged in the technological equivalent of screaming into the unending, lonely, black void of existence.  A veteran of a few existential crises myself, I have no problem with this.  Provided it’s done quietly.  And away from a keyboard.

5. Apocalypse (Fifteen Minutes from) Now

Repost this if…fill in the blank: you like puppies; you hate centipedes; you think the next President of the United States should replace Air Force One and his motorcade with a Pegasus and a unicorn respectively.  …Alright, I could get behind that last one.  But for all the rest – no, I don’t think so.  Yes, I understand that if I do not copy and paste your poorly punctuated statement, a statement that might have been penned by a drunken, three fingered monkey with a busted typewriter, I will somehow be standing in solidarity with kitten-eating terrorists the world over.  But you know what, the kittens are gonna have to fend for themselves today because…well…I have a job.  And a life.  And a modicum of self-respect.

The bottom line, though we’ve admittedly been speaking of points far below it, is just because the medium is available doesn’t mean that you should use it.  Now, I promised a flowchart.  Never let it be said I fail to deliver.  To that end, should anyone still feel the need to tweet or update their status with some dubious bit of content after reading this piece, please do us all the minimal kindness of performing the following pre-post logic check.  Compliance is voluntary, provided I’m not on your friends list.  In the event I am, it is imperative for your continued health and well-being.