Manhood: After 35 Years I’ve Arrived

If the reflections in windows, mirrors and elevator doors are right, then I look good. Not boyishly handsome but real grizzled man good. It’s about time, for years I suffered the baby face look, I shaved once a month with a one-bladed razor, and it was enough. Now I shave once every two weeks and can grow sideburns, a soul patch and a goatee, and while none of it connects I’ve graduated to a 5 bladed razor that vibrates. Look, I know manhood isn’t qualified by the number of blades in my razor. But, further exploration of my masculine proclivities should serve to convince you of my rightful place in the ranks of men.

Sports Games – I Watch Them

I’m living life to the fullest, immersing myself in all able-bodied man stuff —I drink flights of craft beer, skeet shoot, bushcraft and never miss an opportunity for sports viewing of any kind. I get so giddy following a big weekend of athletics, it interrupts my sleep. I lay staring at the ceiling playing out the morning chat with the fellas at work.

I can see us huddled around the water cooler, comparing fantasy points accrued, analyzing player trades and lamenting the losing bets we placed on “insider” tips —it will be a good laugh indeed. I’m starting to care. No longer is it so and so who plays for the red or blue guys. I know the player’s names, I care about them and the well-being our club.

Looking The Part

I need to get a new pair of boots. I need them to pair with dark denim, but also give off an edgy I work the land vibe while still being appropriate for business casual. Right now it’s a toss-up between a pair of Clarks or some real blue collar shit-kickers — steel toes. That’s not my name for them —I heard one of the bikers in the bar call them that. I frequent the place for lunch between sales calls —they have a great chicken club special. My Prius is a bit out of place in the parking lot, but the regulars have been accepting. If it’s a good year I’m thinking about buying a hog, Bruiser has already given me some recommendations. He says a Harley 883 Superlow might be a good fit for me, it’s popular with women but still a great bike for beginners. I’m going to consider it —after checking with my wife of course. We have so much in common —I may not have worked on a chain gang, sold arms from the trunk of a Buick, or killed a man, but I know how to work a room, sell the crap out of technology, and murder product demos, all day every day. 

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OK to come clean, I don’t know a guy named Bruiser and no bikers are in my squad. I also don’t hang around the airport in any bars. I figured you would like me better if I was edgier, less bland. I’m still thinking about getting the shit-kickers, as they’ll go better with the bike and I think the guys at the office are going to love them —they’ll probably even be jealous. I can understand if you want to stop reading, but I wish you wouldn’t. You’re going to fall in love with the new manly me so, push on.

Muscles & Other Things  

Did I neglect to mention my muscles are getting stronger? Well, they are, especially my forearms. Each passing year they swell with strength like Pop-Eye on a spinach bender. It’s significant because strong forearms form the foundation of old man strength. These sinewy cuff busters are the reason the sixty-year-old farmer pulls the overturned tractor from the ditch, why dads can open any pickle jar, and why men break into spontaneous arm wrestling matches —pinning another man’s arm to the table tells who has more testosterone. They’re also groped by old ladies —churches, Wal-Marts, and retirement homes, all places where geriatrics swoon to pat the pythons.

Other things I can do as a grown man —fold a pocket knife on the front of my jeans without slicing a finger, light a Zippo from my hip, drive a manual transmission, back down the driveway without crashing into the house, and sharpen and wield an ax. There aren’t many tasks more manly than working with an ax and when the ax is flying my mind wanders to a time long past.

I fantasize I am a frontier settler splitting wood logs into quartered pieces —fuel that will curb the chilly winter breeze that seeps through the walls of my cabin. My eight children gather ‘round the fireplace warming themselves while my wife stirs a delicious stew in a large cauldron overhanging the fire. It’s a rabbit stew —meat provided by yours truly, spoils from my early morning hunt. They depend on me and my trusty ax for food and warmth. The thought reminds me that I need to buy more flannel, it makes the beard look fuller.

Is This A Crisis?

Is this a mid-life crisis or a coming of age? I don’t know, but the fact I have taken to fancying over the counter after shaves is cause for concern. I exchange the subtle citrus scents of Issy Miyake and Nautica for the musky, wood-scented bouquets of Aqua Velva, Old Spice, Brut, and my new favorite Stetson.

My wife can’t resist Stetson, at least this is what I tell myself as I splash a palm full of the powerful balm onto my face. I’ve noticed when applying this zesty salve that my wife evacuates the room, it’s to control the burning passion. I’ll try to corner her when she’s not multitasking ironing with watching This Is Us –between commercial breaks —the kids just went down after all.

I admire my recent haircut in the mirror, the dull burn of the aftershave diminishes. I feel confident, I can take on whatever the world throws at me. I’m a handsome thirty-five-year-old man who looks and feels like he’s twenty-eight. Time continues to peel back the layers of youthful innocence and at the core is a brawny, steely, stew eating, flannel or waxed-cotton wearing, gun toting, Make America Great Again man. Your welcome.



Also published on Medium.

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