Esquire Magazine has an article about the 75 things a man should know
, and I think it's mostly bullshit, but it got me thinking about what I think being a "Man" is all about. I tease my kids that being an adult means paying taxes, but it's a question that deserves sincere consideration. Below is the "What it means to be a man, according to Stucco" list, revision 1.0.
1. Know how to have a discussion or even a debate without interrupting or raised voices. Those people you see on cable news shows are children having tantrums.
2. Know when to keep quiet. Sometimes merely being present is the best thing.
3. Give the benefit of the doubt wherever possible. "Trust but verify" is bullshit. Fear, uncertainty, and doubt leverage weakness, and never have improved anything.
4. Wonder deeply. Whatever the subject, pay attention to the reasons and causes that led to the things you wonder about.
5. Find a way to become interested in history. Ancient Egyptian/Roman/Greek, native American, Colonial, the middle ages, the age of enlightenment, any of the various Civil Wars, ANY history. Find an area in which you can become engaged and become familiar enough to teach.
6. Express affection genuinely without embarrassment. What is more pathetic than a man that won't say "I love you" on the phone in the presence of others? Embracing love doesn't make you gay or less manly.
7. Be able to speak in front of crowds. You need not be comfortable, but you need to be able.
8. Know your tastes in music, art, and humor, and be able to take criticism about them. Remember, your tastes are yours and need not please others. Unless you like John Tesh.
9. As much as possible, don't define yourself by your heritage, race, or other attributes you cannot change. This is a tall order if you are commonly discriminated against due to these, but if you let these define you, others are effectively defining you.
10. Have a connection to an animal/pet. There are valuable lessons you will need in life that relate to coping with loss, and if you're lucky, you'll deal with the death of a pet before the death of a person.
11. Be able to speak and eat with manners and refinement when required. Nothing identifies a man-child like obvious grammatical errors or bad table manners. Late into happy hour, who cares? On your wedding day, however...
12. Ladies first. Always. Even if you don't like them. Ladies first through a door, to sit down, to reach orgasm.
13. Make decisions that factor in consequences. Sometimes you SHOULD tilt at windmills (and if you don't know the origin of that phrase, you should read more). Just because a fight isn't "winnable", doesn't mean it's not worth fighting.
14. Know the difference between respect and manners. Respect is earned, whereas manners are a gift.
15. "I told you so" is for children.
16. The Victorian Era is over, thankfully. Be boisterous and animated, but only in positive spirits (special exemption for Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, B.B. King, etc.)
17. Stick up for people- particularly family and friends unless and until you know for a fact that the criticism or pressure is warranted.
18. A peculiarity of men is our nature to playfully insult or rip on one another. This can on occasion go too far. If you witness this excess, call it out. If you commit the excess, have the backbone to apologize and make things right. If you are the victim, see below.
19. Accidents will happen, people can be thoughtless, and if someone apologizes to you with sincerity, accept it. Someone who sincerely apologizes already feels regret, and your holding it against them doesn't help anyone. This is among the hardest things to do in life.
20. Have children intentionally. Invest your time in them. You are equal parts sculptor and spectator. Enjoy both roles.
21. Limit complaints, but ask for help when you need it. People generally like to do favors (within reason), and avoid being someone who keeps score over favors.
22. Yes, smoking IS cool looking. Don't do it anyway. The look is not worth the myriad downsides.
23. Be true to your word on all fronts. Once upon a time agreements were settled over a handshake. Conduct yourself as though that were still true.
24. Give deference wherever possible to the elderly, and listen to them. Older folks are like anyone- they might be a treasure or an asshole. You'll never know unless you listen to them.
25. Accept responsibility for yourself- both positive and negative. Things will be your fault sometimes. Face the music.
26. Never, NEVER stop learning about things. Television doesn't qualify as learning- even the Discovery Channel. Go to a library- talk to people.
27. Don't be wasteful of things except time. If you have something in abundance, share it.
28. Don't ever use physical advantages to get your way, sexually or otherwise. Save your physical advantages for competitive pursuits or self defense.
29. Take care of your mind, body, and soul. You have to live with all of them.
30. Be worldly. Even if you don't have the means to travel, pay attention to other cultures and nations.
What I deliberately left out:
1. Changing a tire / Working on a car. Bullshit. Cars are a filthy luxury of the first world, and should be replaced with cool things like bullet trains and stuff.
2. Anything sports related. Nope. Sorry- this is one of the ways in which males are kept as children intellectually and emotionally. I'm not saying that knowing who won the 3rd game of the '63 World Series makes you immature- I'm saying that it DOESN'T make you a man. Look at all the professional athletes. Could you find a bigger group of spoiled children?
3. Fashion / Presentation. While I have no doubt that the ladies prefer a man that can clean up nicely, it's also not important. When you are gone, it won't be your wardrobe that is missed by your family and friends (possible exemptions for Elvis, Elton John, and Liberace).
4. Fighting. It can be necessary, but it's not something that makes you a man. Most of the time, a man can and should avoid it.
RELATED: Being passive-aggressive
5. Financial- In this country especially, we are not taught enough about finances and economics, and in this sense, we are babes in the woods. It took a hell of a long time for me to learn how incredibly ignorant I had been, and this wasn't by accident. I omit this rule not because I think it has no value, but because I think it is largely a cultural matter, and would not want to have my message be interpreted as saying that a man needs wealth.
So, what'd I miss?
Labels: Manifest man