WHO IS THE MAN | 06/22/04

I am petty and I know this.

The question of the day is: What does it take to be a man? This question popped into my head after a phone conversation about a certain non-man. Certainly man does not come once you reach a certain age. I can think of many examples to prove this. People like Chris, Steve, Brian were all men by age 12, I'm sure. Dutifully taking out the garbage or finishing their homework was just a simple fact of life. While the rest of us squandered our time by doing nothing, these elite few somehow learned or were born with the gift of time management. Not that time-management is the only requirement of man. Self-confidence is another factor most likely determined in the early years. Everyone to a certain extent defines him/herself by the ways other people see them. However, people with the self-confidence in order to be man-quality have the temperament to decide which things they know to be true. By this I mean they do not need the assurance of others in most areas to determine their self-worth. It's both funny and sad to witness grown men (notice no bold) so desperate for validation that they have to almost force the words they want to hear into the mouths of others. Going one step further, the people that have the need to belittle everyone else to make themselves feel better. Going one step EVEN FURTHER, the people that have the need to belittle everyone else behind their back to make themselves feel better. That doesn't make you a man, not even a man-boy, but just a regular ole sad little boy. Now God knows I definitely have fallen into that second category but as time passes I continuously get better. That said, I am fully aware that I am not a man. A man has to screw up in life. This is what separates man from man's man. All the right moves and mature decisions, when not blended with just idiotic, stupid ideas tend to (not always but tend to) breed elitism. Again, I am not saying I am a man's man or even a man because somehow I've fallen into the idiotic-stupid idea category as well as the elitist one. The point is, much like in our beloved movies, the hero is always the one that pulls through his own demons to do the right thing: save the princess, kill Dracula, fall off an iceberg and die...I digress; with idiocy comes wisdom, which is most certainly a requisite piece of being a man. A man's man, more specifically. What does not make a man is crap. A nice car, a nice apartment chock full of nice stuff, a nice wife, these things do not a man make. What does, though, is thoughtful conversation. I think back to college and remember Andy, a truly vulgar person in his own element but could adjust his personality to blend into any crowd without losing his Andyisms. What good is being a man if you can't talk to anyone? A man has to be able to be comfortable alone. In or out of a relationship, a man is able to succeed. However, a man has to be a good friend. Fortunately, to be a good friend, really all that needs to be done is listen. A friend is someone who will punch someone else after that someone else has punched you. A man knows who his friends are and his friends know that he is their friend. Finally, a man is reliable. Perhaps not in the conventional sense of keeping a balanced checkbook or keeping the oil changed in the car, but in a more expansive sense of the word. In addition to the punching, a man is someone that you can call after a number of years at 4am and say, "Man, I need some help" and he will help you. As a man-boy, I would like to become a man and it's probably safe to say that everyone does. And the beauty lies in the fact a man doesn't need to be a man at all. Regardless of gender, these traits are important and undoubtedly men are searching for wo/men too. Ultimately, the last sign of a man is kindness. Not being a man, I can bring this conversation around to the person that triggered the outpouring by saying: Have a great life living vicariously through your wife, you petty bastard. And I wouldn't have helped you anyway (because a real man knows to associate himself with other men).




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