There’s never been a time in my life—not even when puberty kicked into high gear—that I was mistaken for the macho manifestation of all things manly.
I had an extremely narrow view of what I thought manhood meant at that age. I thought I needed to letter in all sports in high school, while my cheerleader girlfriend rooted me on. I also figured I needed to drive whatever masqueraded as a muscle car in the late-‘70s and early-‘80s.
Once high school was over, I needed to get a “man’s” job, like in a foundry or something where I worked with tools and sweated a lot.
To make a potentially long column much shorter, I never lettered in high school, I ended up driving an ’82 Chevette, and you could put all my knowledge of tools in the top junk drawer next to the flashlight and roll of duct tape.
It’s not that I wasn’t manly, I was just my own type of man.
About a week ago, a male co-worker and I (see Mike, I didn’t use your name) were discussing our writing assignments for a special section called “It’s a Guy Thing.” It features articles about how to grill meat or pick good “guy” movies—basically how we, as men, can celebrate our caveman roots.
My co-worker laughed that he could not tell any of his male friends that he actually watched the Tony Awards instead of the NBA finals. I did the guy thing and laughed at him. After all, that’s what we do.
Truth be told, if there was some mystical manly organization and they ever spied on me for a day, they would have confiscated my card years ago.
First, I can’t grow a beard.
Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of pictures of me when I was attempting the whole Grizzly Adams look. What you won’t see in the pictures is that I have one patch on the right side of my face where nothing grows. I’m talking smooth as a baby’s butt.
Second, I don’t hunt.
I don’t have a moral stand against it. I’d just rather buy my meat in the appropriate section in a supermarket, than invest my time and money into something where I might come back empty-handed.
There’s also my musical choices that are sometimes questioned.
Nobody will doubt my penchant for heavy metal and in my younger days, mosh pits. But being a fan of vocalists, my eyes got moist the first time I heard a 10-year-old Jackie Evancho sing opera on “America’s Got Talent.” My latest prized find is Dorota Osinska and her blind audition on the “The Voice of Poland.” Her singing not only brought tears to my eyes, but also the host and two of the judges—one a man older than me.
Lastly, there’s my pet. Manly wisdom might dictate I should have a big ol’ dog, but I go home at night to my cat, Capri. She was already named when I adopted her.
I’m still a man, but I have my own likes and tastes. If that means turning in my man card, come and get it. It doesn’t mean anything to me, anyway.