the slow dude movement

6/20/11

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.

puppy_bow.jpg

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.

7 thoughts on “the slow dude movement

  1. CM

    Nothing?
    Come on, guys. Get off Facebook and post here! I need some good reading to go with my oatmeal this morning.
    Anyway, happy first day of summer, everyone!

    Reply
  2. Anne

    I’m not convinced that oat-sowing is something one can do and get over, the end, ta-daa. I do agree it’s best done BEFORE the commitment phase of a relationship, though. I mean, ideally. But not always realistically, given the animal compulsions encoded in our DNA.
    Both sexes can benefit from arriving at a point in their lives when they cease believing they MUST have and experience it all. A richly lived life consists of choices, compromises, and self-control as much as it does of seizing the day (the zipless fuck, whatever). This reminds me to recommend Erica Jong’s “Fear of Flying” — it’s old and in many ways dated, but the urge to follow one’s passion and lust without immediate consequences is a topic for the ages. When I first read it, I was thrilled by Jong’s message for women.
    Ian, I think you’re tough on men. Maybe you’re tough on yourself?
    Of course, you know that among ourselves, women nod knowingly and say, “Men — they’re either babies or assholes.” Yet we come back to you guys, again and again, often for a lifetime.

    Reply
  3. wottop

    Met my future wife in college. Didn’t talk to her after graduation for about 4 years. Ran into her one day out-of-the-blue.
    Absolutely the best thing that could have happened. I base that on the way I behaved in those 4 years. They were fun, but the collateral damage was some I don’t want to dwell on.

    Reply
  4. ally

    Your blog entries on the essence of men are enlightening, but man do they ever depress the heck out of me, and convince me of life doomed to singlehood more than ever.

    Reply
  5. emma

    I often cringe when I hear husbands or recently separated men saying, “Well, she knew how much I hunted/fished/golfed (that’s what they do here in eastern NC) when we met, so she knew what she was getting into. Since she knew about it, I see no reason why I should change my activities.” My response (although sometimes unspoken depending on how well I know said man) is “Well, when I met my husband, I regularly drank myself into oblivion and ended up kissing most any guy who paid any attention to me.” At least the kissing thing stopped when I started dating my huband (about 10 years after we met). You grow up, you adapt and you create a life together that makes you both happy. And if I change things about my life and that makes my husband happy, it makes me happy. Most of the time, because my husband wants what is best for me, if something needs to change, the change usually makes either of us a better person/spouse/parent.
    He and I both learned a lot while sowing our oats. It makes us appreciate each other more. Girls are attracted to the bad boyfriends while in our formative years to help us realize how good the good ones are.

    Reply
  6. sherri

    on a different note, facebook is the path that gets us to these smaller path’s less taken so, although it’s monopoly does make it annoying, don’t be too harsh on it. well, at least not until another contender is set to take it’s place.

    Reply

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