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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Bite Me

Much like the Harry Potter franchise can be blamed for the swell of literature extorting the glory of teenage wizardry, the Twilight franchise is the reason a trip to my local bookseller involves copious amounts of lusty vampire jacket art.  Apparently, at least in the literary world, being dead is the new being alive.  Furthermore, in addition to being surprisingly sexy, it pays far better than one might think.  But while I will admit to having a working knowledge of the rules of Quidditch, I haven’t been able to bring myself to drink the collective Kool-Aid that is the present vampiric infatuation.  As you might imagine, there are reasons for this.

Am I the only one who doesn’t find this attractive at all?

First among equals is that, for whatever reason, the prospect of fantasizing about human lampreys hell bent on sucking my life force and, in the process of doing so, passing on some sort of blood borne pathogen that afflicts me with a similar inclination does not excite me as much as it does the average teenage girl.  Go figure.  My guess is that similar sentiments are possessed, even if not always expressed, by every other male on the planet with occasional cause to leave their parents’ basement.

Of course, this admission opens me up to a charge of preemptive damnation in regards to the Twilight series – particularly when I add to the fire that I’ve neither read, nor have plans to read, the books in question.  However, I do have what I feel is a fairly solid counter argument for that.  Enter my wife, editor and English literature major, who subjected herself to the series for reasons I will never fully understand.  Needless to say, the most convincing book review I have ever heard in my life came in the form of three sentences, uttered by the spouse in question, moments before sleep overtook her.  They were as follows:

“I’m finally enjoying Twilight.”

Pause.

“It’s only grown interesting in the last fifty pages or so.”

Pause.

“And that’s only because someone is trying to eat the protagonist.”

GET IN MY BELLY!

Were one to condense the above into some sort of numeric score, I’m not quite sure where it would fall.  But either way, if the only incentive to read the book comes from the possibility of the protagonist’s untimely demise, I’ll stick to Greek tragedies and Russian lit.

Of course, I hardly needed a reason not to read the series when my mind had been made up about it for some time.  Call me a hopeless romantic, but I hold somewhat conservative views when it comes to vampires – specifically, that their activities should be limited to instilling fear, biting necks, and having stakes rammed through their hearts when they’ve done too much of the first two.  Based on the book jacket and various previews for the movie, I have concluded that Twilight contains precious little of the aforementioned.  So unless someone is going to reassure me that Wesley Snipes does indeed show up and enact utter pandemonium, I’m going to politely decline any variation of the experience.

He wears trench coats in summer, sunglasses inside, and fights with a katana. How can this movie not be awesome?

While I’m bemoaning the lack of a certain Mr. Snipes (something I never thought I’d do…particularly after Blade 3), allow me to indulge a last petty gripe in regards to the Twilight setting – high school?  Really?  Admittedly, the presence of the undead could have only improved my own educational experience, but let us pause for a moment to inquire what the undead are doing in a high school setting at all.  Is a GED insufficient for a career in professional neck gnawing?  Did Congress pass the No Child of the Night Left Behind Act before their most recent recess?  In short, if I had every reason to believe I was going to live for an eternity, a high school education would not make the list of things to do before I…don’t die.  Eating the football team might, but perhaps my priorities are a little askew.

On the topic of askew priorities, the mass murder of the football team wouldn’t put me too far afield of the female protagonist of Twilight who concludes, after the eternity of a one-week high school courtship, that her vampiric co-protagonist is the one whom she is destined to be with forever.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, because lest we forget…high school matters…to someone…somewhere…maybe.  Furthermore, important life decisions are made there everyday – mostly to the effect of whether the chemical in question can be safely smoked or not, but I suppose that is beside the point.

So…this is technically necrophilia, isn’t it?

One can only hope that the present vampire obsession is already in its twilight, pun premeditated.  Of course, this means something else will take its place, and at present, my guess is that something involves zombies.  I’m cautiously optimistic that it is impossible to draw a sexy zombie, which means it might not be safe to walk the fantasy section of Barnes & Noble in the near future without running the risk of blindness.  Of course, I’m probably wrong, and I should probably be writing a book involving a sexy zombie rather than ruminating on whether it would be popular.

So on that note, I’m off to work on The Love Zombie.  Watch for it this fall.

Time could never rot her heart…