“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”