Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Chili's Manly Meme

Chili posted the answers to Tense Teacher’s girly meme on her blog recently. Then, in the interest of equality of the sexes (and because we asked) she created a meme for the men, as well. Here are my answers to the questions she posed.

1. Boxers? Briefs? Boxer briefs? Thongs? Commando?
Number 3 on the list: All the support, and none of the wedgies!

2. What’s your fussiest personal care routine?
I am not gay, but I can sometimes take longer than any guy should to figure out what the hell I’m going to wear on a given day. To be fair, some of it has to do with being colorblind and not being sure what properly matches but, more often, it comes down to how I feel. Do I really feel like I want to wear this shirt? Which jeans would feel right today? Do I feel like this faded blue ball cap or that one? Clothing is just a matter of comfort before style for me.

3. Do you have a favorite tool? Power or manual?
In the manual tools category, my Swiss Army knife wins, hands down. Among power tools, I would bestow the award to my drills (I have two, one corded, one not). They’re versatile enough to do a whole lot of the kinds of things I need a tool to do, and they’ve been around for a long time.

4. Can you change your own oil? Do you?
I can change my own oil but, because of time constraints and the cost and inconvenience of disposal, I take my car to the most dependable mechanic in the world, who charges me what it’s worth and treats the car like it’s his own (which it was, in a sense, because I bought it from him).

5. What’s the “manliest” thing you do on a regular basis?
When I’m at home, I belch and blame it on the cat. How lame is that?

6. What’s something “manly” that you never learned how to do?
I have never learned to whistle through my fingers. I’d love to learn because, although my voice carries well, whistling is way better to do at a soccer game. Can anyone show me how?

7. Do you ever cry? If so, what’s your trigger?
You know, I really don’t. I can’t remember the last time I got teary-eyed about anything. It’s not that I don’t feel emotional about things: I can remember being full of emotion over the births of my daughters, I remember feeling truly affected after finishing my 400-mile ride to Lock Haven last summer. I distinctly recall a profound sense of poignancy after watching the movie Cast Away. There are things that really touch me, just nothing that makes me actually cry.

8. Do you have a chivalrous streak? How does it manifest itself?
I very much value many of the qualities idealized by knighthood: Bravery, courtesy, honor, and gallantry toward women. I do a lot to model these in my life. I will zealously advocate for those who can’t or don’t know how to do so for themselves. I work hard to be respectful in my dealings with others, even if they are people I would rather not spend time with. I hope that most women who know me would say I am attentive to their way of being and doing (even if I must readily admit I do not understand it at times). It is important to me that I model the idea of chivalry, but I would defer to others to say whether I truly demonstrate it. I hope so.

9. Do you have a chauvinistic streak? How does it manifest itself?
No, but I can certainly pretend I do! Truly, I don’t think there is a “better” sex, but I am not ashamed of the fact that I am a man and I am proud of the things I can do that distinguish me as such. I love that I can open jars by focusing my chi and that I can fix just damn near anything with a Swiss Army knife! I can protect my family aggressively (with that same knife, if need be). I certainly don’t feel like I’m better equipped to do many things than my wife is (modern life has done a good job of leveling the playing field), but I don’t also mind saying that I like that grilling, mowing and snowblowing are my gigs. They reinforce in me those deeply rooted feelings of masculinity that make me feel like I’m special for being a guy.

There are some things that I do that may appear chauvinist, but which are truly not. For instance, whenever we travel as a family, I really like to drive. I don’t do it because it’s manly, but because it keeps me from getting carsick.

10. What’s your favorite movie?
I have more than one, but the one that comes into my brain first is Running Scared, with Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines. Comedy, drama and a whole book of good movie quotes!

11. What’s the dumbest, testosterone-inspired thing you’ve ever done?
I used to own a sign company, and Bubba and I used to go out to install signage on building exteriors using a 24’ extension ladder on top of a U-Haul moving van (to get that extra 10’ of height). We had no safety equipment, but we would still hang waaaaay out over the edge of the ladder to drill pilot holes well out of arm’s reach. We did this on a regular basis because, well, it made sense. We’re guys, after all! We could do that!

12. What quality do you think makes a good man good? Do you have that quality?
There’s not a single answer to that question. I think it depends greatly upon the context in which a man finds himself. In my world, I think the most important of the essential qualities is a sense of responsibility. A good man here should be able to see what needs to get done and take care of it. Not just the guy stuff. Anything. It has taken me a while as an adult to understand what that means, but I’m getting better at demonstrating it every day.

13. Toilet seat up or down?
I have long held the opinion that what is good for the goose is good for the gander, so to speak. If women get to leave the seat however it is when they’re done (which means men have to look), we should get to leave the seat up (which means EVERYONE has to look). Having said that, I have come to learn that, for good energy flow in the house, the seat and the lid should be down all the time, whenever the toilet is not in use. I do this pretty regularly; the women in my world do not.

14. If your wife/partner/significant other is away, do you cook for yourself or eat out of cans and boxes (or rely on local drive-throughs and delivery)?
All of the above, depending on why I’m alone. If, as was the case in grad school, I’m alone to work, I’ll focus on working and not worry about cooking. If I’m free to relax, I’ll often cook because I very much enjoy it. For me, time in the kitchen is relaxing time.

15. What societal expectation of being a man do you most resent?
I hate the fact that, as a man, I am automatically distrusted for working to have quality, supportive and nurturing relationships with (particularly female) students. Society believes that men are not capable of entering into relationships like that and, when they do so from positions of power or authority, are looked upon with derision and suspicion. Bullshit! I’m here to tell you *I* am capable, and I resent the implication that it is not appropriate to do so *for me*. People need to understand that, while I recognize there are men out there who would abuse their position (and their students), *I* am not one of them. I take the safety and emotional comfort of my students very seriously and, if they are feeling unsafe or uncomfortable around me, I will do whatever is necessary to make things better. I have a great deal to offer as a male role model to my students. They deserve to know that it is at least possible for a man to be trustworthy and upstanding in his relationships (particularly with teenage girls).

16. What’s the best part - societal-wise - about being a man?
As a man, I get to enjoy women and femininity without having to live all the complexity that is the female existence. Also, the ability to piss pretty much wherever is a real advantage. There are no lines when guys need to piss!

17. Will you stop to ask for directions?
If I need to, sure. I do a pretty good job about being prepared before I step out the door, though.

18. What’s the one thing you wish your wife/partner/significant other understood about how you think or behave?
I can do ONE thing at a time. I can think about ONE thing at a time. I can be ONE thing at a time. I have a very difficult time doing more than that and, once that one thing has begun, I need to see it through. If it makes me late or requires that things change to work around the ONE thing, I’m ok with that. Time is a consideration in the planning of what things get done in what order, but not in the actual doing part. Doing the thing and paying attention to the clock are TWO things.

19. What’s one thing about your wife/partner/significant other that you just cannot understand, no matter how hard you try?
My wife flits and floats between distractions and interests like a butterfly in a field of violets. When we travel anywhere, she has to load up the passenger seat with enough stuff to keep her entertained which, for even a short trip, can fill up the seat and spill over onto the driver’s side. At minimum, she brings books, knitting and a crossword (the last of which, at least, I can participate in). She also brings notebooks into which she writes her myriad lists of thoughts, calendar events, favorite songs, things to do for next Christmas and childrens’ costume ideas for Halloweens until they’re 14. To have that much going on at any one time just makes my head hurt.

20. What do you need to have in the shower?
Soap and/or Johnson’s Baby Shampoo, water. The rest is icing.

21. Do you burp/fart/scratch in public? Do you do anything stereotypically male?
Yes, but discreetly/Yes, but discreetly (who doesn’t?)/Not consciously. Other stereotypical male behavior, which is not observable all the time (or maybe it is, I don’t know), includes thoughts about sex every 7 seconds (the stereotypical male average). Although it’s not along the same vein, I also watch sports on television a lot.

22. How big a part does porn play in your life? Your thoughts?
Out of respect to a number of people who read this blog, I will discuss the topic of porn only generally. I think that pornography has a place in the world. I think that, properly approached, it need not be a threat to the formation and cultivation of quality adult relationships, though it often gets vilified that way. Quite to the contrary, there is some value in it in marriages, where it can go a long way toward allowing asynchronous sexual appetites to harmonize in the middle of hectic or inconvenient individual schedules (this is a common source of marital tension). If it’s used as a substitute for building those relationships, it’s destructive (but there are a great many otherwise benign things that would fit into that same category, as well). Also, and I may get crucified here, it’s a good teaching tool for learning about sexual techniques. You may not use the freaky positions you see in videos, but you’ll at least discover that more is possible than what you knew before. Sex is, after all, about exploration and discovery--both individual and mutual.

23. What scares you?
People who are cunning, but who use the skill to hurt others, frighten and unnerve me because I am not able to anticipate or understand their behavior. On a less psychological and more mundane theme, I hate being surprised by animals in the dark (stepping on roaches or spiders, seeing raccoons or cats bolting out from under the car, etc.)

24. What’s your best feature (physical or otherwise)?
Physically, Wifeness likes my shoulders, but I think for the impartial crowd, it might be my legs. As for the otherwise, I like to think I have a good way with storytelling, and that I entertain well the women in my life. I don’t know why that last thing is important to me, but it is.

25. What would you do for love?
This last one is a hard question for me to answer in the conditional. I can say that I have certainly done some strangely contradictory things in the past: I’ve given up the life of a traveler, but moved to the other side of the country; given, and refused, casual sex; shaved parts of my body, and let hair grow out; gained and lost weight; let my closest friends give me advice, and reject their opinions. Love is nothing, if not complicated!

Thanks, Chili! This was fun!


Kizz said...

OK, for #5 you really need to get a dog. I mean, eventually that cat is going to figure out what you're doing and kill you in your sleep for the embarrassment.

I want to learn #6, too.

In my life I feel like I'm the ONLY person who puts both lid and seat down. And I do it every time, no matter where I am. For me it's to keep the dog from sipping from the bowl but it's just NICER, you know? Who wants to look down in there all the time?

Re: #18 - AAAAAUUUUUUGH! Looking at the clock is not separate, it is never separate, it is like an essential bodily function!!!!!

Laurie B said...

HI Mr. Wayfarer, Welcome back, I loved your words and here's my response based on the few times we have met.

#6 Is cause for hyperventilation. Fun to try but know your limits. I usually practice this in a long slow traffic snarl, with my windows up.

#'s 8 and 9, no surprise, # 11, um, did you carry insurance?

#12, I'm a lesbian, but by this accounting, I'm a good man. I take some pride in that!

# 15, so totally honor you for this. Kids need a safe
person. You are a nurturing Papa for all of your kids.

#16, Woo hoo, don't we have something in common! I love women too but pretty much only get to pee of the deck near the hot tub, when it's not icy out there.

#24, Your heart and soul.