As suspected, I caught a lot of grief from my blog of yore about men being intrinsically soulless until acted upon by a female force (my First Law of ThermoSexualDynamics), although these days most of my detractors come via personal message on Facebook. Let me apologize in advance for not always taking the mantle thrown at me via FB; I loathe Facebook’s email interface, and besides, why does everything have to take place on goddamn Facebook, anyway?
I’ve been asked to either say something specific or say nothing at all about the nature of “manhood”, and since it’s not in my DNA to “say nothing at all”, I’ll go ahead and try to make bullet points (option-8 on your keyboard!) I’ll make the same disclaimers as always – I cannot say that I am the master of any of the following three codicils.
In my estimation, you cannot truly be a worthy man until…
• you learn self-germinated restraint. By this I mean boundaries that you give yourself based on your intrinsic character – not because you’ve got your mother, your girlfriend, your wife, the cops, the government, or some external force lording consequences over you.
Here’s the thing about guys that pretty much nobody realizes: if you give them an inch, they will take the whole inch, and then look at you like a confused dog when you’re upset they went ahead and took that inch. Men are water; they seek their own level, they spread out their limbs until they meet some buttressing force that gives them something to lean on.
Most men look at “chances not taken” as bizarrely wasteful and unnatural, which is commendable in business and the arts, but not kosher if you’re a sexting Congressman. Stopping yourself from doing something you KNOW you’ll get away with is one of the most difficult actions a male can muster. George Mallory may have climbed Everest because it was there, but that’s no excuse for fucking the babysitter.
• you realize you aren’t going to live forever. I’ve fiddled this tune before – and credit 9/11 for giving me the perspective to start a family – but all men need to have that dire, existential crisis of their own mortality where they see their own death as not only possible, but probable. They must come to terms with it, and this means NOT staving it off by hooking up with a 21-year-old and going on an ecstasy bender.
They must accept a certain healthy, benign nihilism and get back to enjoying the amazing life they were building when they were so rudely interrupted by the loss of their ego.
• you have completely sowed your oats. This goes for both genders. If there’s anything I have seen as a constant truism in life it is this: if you do not sow your wild oats at some point, they will eventually sow you. The takeaway from Dr. Richard Lucas’ PSYC 28 class at Carolina – perhaps one of the top 5 classes ever offered since 1793 – was “be crazy now so you’re not crazy later.”
People who marry early, people who bloom late, people who never had that crazy five years of dating, the travel, the job-hopping, the wanton lust of fucking for fuck’s sake… the seed of regret blooms until it is a lump in the throat too big to ignore. If you are a guy or a girl who never had at least a few years to howl at the moon, you are a guy or a girl who is probably going to leave your marriage.
Okay, so you are intrinsically well-adjusted and never needed any of that. You never needed to see the world, you’ve always had a healthy sense of your own limitations, and you’ve always done right for doing right’s sake. I applaud you, sir. This bucket of broad-brush generalizations is obviously for someone else.