Manhood is a slippery idea. It seems to rest most comfortably in the chests of simple, brutish men. Men with biceps. Men that unbutton their shirts that one extra button. I have long since desired to be a simple man, but the mere act of self-analysis which revealed my desire forever casts me as one of the unfortunates, the sensitive & complex, a “smart guy,” carrying in greater measure than my love of sports a desire for new words, puns, and pithy sayings. It’s not that I look down on a well-formed deltoid, it’s just that it’s much easier for me to wield a limerick than a barbell. When M tells James Bond that he’s to exercise his judgement “dispassionately,” I make a mental note to use the word in the next day’s conversation.
An undying love for Jane Austen kicks off a cavalcade of grimace-inducing characteristics, coming one after the other in a cockeyed little parade, while the tubas oompa-oompa everything merrily along. Let’s start with the Austen problem.
The grimaces-induced don’t come from the fellas, mind you - most of them have no idea who she is, assuming that I am referring to a girl I’d French-kissed at summer camp or felt up in a car that summer I got my license.1 No, the grimaces come from the ladies, some of whom find it unfathomable that a guy that prefers the vagina to the penis would also find it pleasurable to spend an afternoon at the Dashwood’s or at Rosings Park with Lady Catherine de Bourgh.2
But don’t despair, my good readers. I’m prepared for any assaults on my manhood. If confronted by a fellow male, I intend to deliver this blazing retort:
“I’m not affronted by repressed, bosomy women in dresses that make the Wonderbra seem like a minimizer. Are you?”
Now, let’s break this down. There are five (5) major masculine errors in that statement, any one of which puts you at the dork end of the phys. ed. spectrum, and right into the “Hey, can I borrow your notes for the test?” spotlight.
- “Affronted” - This word is not used by anyone that isn’t female or a member of British Parliament.
- “Bosomy” - Most fellows don’t even know what this means, thinking it has to do with someone’s grandmother, or Abraham.
- Saying the word “dresses” - This simply isn’t done. It hints that you have a respect for fashion. Hetero-poison. Also fouls: “skirts,” “halter top,” “spaghetti strap,” “pumps,” “empire waist,” and “slip.”
- “Wonderbra” - Talking about breasts is both acceptable and encouraged while in the company of men. Discussing particular brands of lingerie is second only to actually having a period.
- “Minimizer” - Most men can’t possibly begin to grasp why something so pointless would even exist in the first place. This is in the same category as breast reduction surgery or harvesting one’s eggs.
My problem is that I love language, something that rarely pops up on someone’s “About Me” section on their sports blog. The boys at Sportscenter know how to turn a witty phrase, sure, but a writer can’t discuss the sharp, biting smell of a fresh Sharpie by using words like “bam,” “boo-yow,” and “back-back-back.” It would simply take too long.
I temper my lack of hairy man-ness with a carefully chosen and well-constructed assemblage of man-centric activities that I actually enjoy, things like scuba diving, paintball, and running. However, anyone with half a brain and a closer look will no doubt see that my copy of The Secret Life of Bees and the ease with which I can quote Ouiser Boudreaux from Steel Magnolias puts a questionable spin on the masculine purity of my Appalachian State University license tag.
What can I say, I’m unpredictable.
- Neither of which has ever occurred in my life [↩]
- There is a standing bet between myself and my friend Sheri that, on the event that I lose, I must create and affix an “I Love Jane Austen” sticker to my bumper for a period of one year, no questions asked. [↩]