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As I start this column, various things pop up in my head here and there. Terms like “effeminate” and “shrinkage,” along with questions like “Why are you writing this?” and “Can 23 year olds still get bullied?” Well I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath, scared to rock the boat and make a mess—but not today, no! Because if I want to regurgitate Katy Perry lyrics from memory, I will, and if I want to come out and say that as a mid-20s heterosexual male it’s be tough being manly 24/7, then you better believe I will, girlfriend.
I think some, not all, but some women take man’s manliness for granted. Every preferential trait that is held dear in a man you adore, from chivalry, to rationality, to, hell, even boners on command, those can all succumb to the forces that be at some point. What if I don’t feel like selflessly offering up my coat because my body retains heat poorly, and/or because I think you should’ve listened when I told you five times to bring a sweater in case the game goes late? And what if I do know that one forgotten birthday probably does not mean my dad doesn’t love me, but it’s just that every once in a while a slew of irrational Freudian thoughts get the best of me? And, last but not least, no, I don’t have whiskey dick, nor am I gay (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Instead, perhaps I am having trouble facilitating an erection simply because I’m actually not drunk enough to get past your shitty personality, or to ignore the likelihood of morning regret?
But it’s not only executing the positive traits that sometimes make being manly tough, it’s also subduing the “unmanly” ones we all lie about having at least once in awhile that’s making continually upholding our stereotype about as difficult as keeping up with this sentence, despite it’s grammatical perfection. Let me Van Gogh ahead and paint you a picture of what I mean: I watch football, and by popular consensus this is fundamental to the male population. Yet the other day while surrounded by a group of my peers, my hometown football team lost and I came dangerously close to crying. So, logically, I muttered something along the lines of “again with these fucking contacts,” under my breath and beelined towards bathroom to “fix my Acuvues.” I then peed with the door open, just for good measure.
It’s tough being manly. Assuming I’m asking a chick, do you enjoy French films? Lucky you for being able to answer that question, because I can’t. Just like I can’t tell you that I thought Amélie was actually kind of a bomb-ass movie, or like how I can’t tell you that I thought the score was incredibly moving or how I found the story beautiful. When I put forth the effort I’ll keep up the image perfectly fine, like at funerals for example. I’ve never so much as shed a tear at one. (The trick is to just keep thinking about the will, works like charm.) But that’s concentrated focus we’re talking. A select time in which to hide emotion. Snap back to everyday life, and it’s as easy as an expressive emoji inserted into a text conversation and BOOM! You’re a sweetheart with a soft side. God forbid you let up your emotionally cold shields once or twice more, perhaps with a big ole red heart emoji or a “Night!” text paired with a half-assed kiss blowing emoji, and BOOM BOOM! Welcome to the friend zone, Nancy-boy.
In this day and age, normality reigns supreme; whether we’re talking the expected conduct of adult men, or clichéd introductory phrases like the one used here. And returning to the initial idea of what alludes to manly behavior, this expected standard isn’t restricted to the suppression of emasculating emotions. Men need to exhibit manliness, and I, like other young men my age, am still testing the cold, foreign waters of postgrad life and the accepted social norms that come with it. If it were up to me, I’d jump right back into that hot tub of drunken irresponsibility we had as undergrads. Instead, I’m adjusting to the fact that I have to be everywhere on time, open accounts that have 3-letter acronyms, and turn down shots every Friday night. Then wake up early Saturday to make sure bills are paid, the lawn is cut, Bed Bath and Beyond is perused and cholesterol prescriptions picked up.
I had a hard enough time waking up to walk a girl to the door. Now I risk pushing my hypertension into the next stage if I sleep in. Great. So please, have a little respect for the heartless affect, the stable emotions and the brave face when killing a spider.
Because deep down, a lot of us are actually just huge pussies.