To Be a Man

This morning I had a really interesting conversation. Most of it centered around a good friend venting about relationship issues, but then I starting to think about how most of the problems centered around not having the notion of what it means to be a man. Then things got a lot more complicated in my head. What does it really mean to be a man… it could mean so many different things to so many different people.

My definition is pretty straight forward. A man is a provider and protector. His word is bond and he does not engage in childish behavior. A man has his priorities in check and plans ahead. A man has an open mind, but also clearly defined set of morals and values his integrity as well as that of those around him.

One of the situations that seems to be the most confused by people is that to feel like a man, testosterone has to be involved. Out-drinking someone, punching the lights out of someone, having a bigger car, being the ladies man are all things that simple minded people see as a mark of a real man. That is not to say that a real man cannot be or do any number of those things, but he is not defined by them or need to have them reaffirmed to solidify his manhood.

Nobody is perfect though, and we all make mistakes when it comes to wanting to feel macho by answering to nobody and just getting crazy. I know when I go to Michigan and hang out with some of my friends out there debauchery and childish behavior ensues. However, I don’t need to get drunk every single week and be out all night to feel like I am a real man.

So my question is pretty simple, and it goes out to both sexes. What is your definition of a real man if you are a woman. And dudes, what things make you feel like a real man? Do you need some kind of reaffirmation? Do you need a man-cave?

Crazy Old People

There is a new radio commercial for a hot sauce where the tag-line goes “I put that sh!t on everything.”* I have been known to drop an f-bomb here and there and I am not offended by the language; but where have we really gone to in a society where the voice-over is clearly done by an elderly woman?

Betty White is hilarious, I laughed very hard when I saw her superbowl commercial. I know that Viagra brought has made it possible for many people to regain their stamina and I am sure that more and more people are having sex in their later year. I think that is awesome but I don’t want to think about it. So when recently I could not get away from the story of Betty White and William Shatner getting it on. It was one of those mental pictures I could not block, I was a little nauseated (mostly because of William).

I really don’t get when we turned the corner from the elderly being revered to them being the new thing to laugh about.

I am all for older people living their lives the way they want to, but a bleeped commercial on the radio is to me just a little too much. I am sure there are plenty of old ladies with a dirty mouths out there(Yes, I know I left that one wide open), but this is on a radio show when I am sure a lot of parents are driving their kids to work.

I recently had a discussion with someone about swearing. They believed that grown people should not be protected from it or any other type of offensive language. I completely disagree and think that if I have a group of friends over to my house, I am in my total right to ask them to not speak a certain way. Sure, when I watch TV or a movie, a little swearing does not bother me and I don’t think it should be a law, but just a matter of good manners to not use any kind of offensive language in public. There are plenty of ways to express yourself in conversation without the use of words that might be offensive.

I don’t agree with complete sanitation or “think about the kids” mentality, I can chose to not listen to a radio station or show that advertises something that I don’t find funny. I remember I used to listen to Mancow back in the day and the moment he started making of Michael J Fox for having Parkinsons I stop finding him entertaining and found him offensive. Same with d-bag Chelsey Handler. As a society we can all make choices as to what we let in and what we don’t. But isn’t respecting our elders an important thing for America anymore? Is this where we are going as a society; where we need to constantly find the next thing to make fun of?

* I am purposely not giving them any more advertisement by mentioning them or linking to them.

The New Tribe

I was talking to XO not too long ago, I admire the dude tons because when most of his generation is soiling their panties about the current demographic changes in America, he embraces them. Our conversations are all over the place but we started to talk about community. It gave me a couple of ideas for topics to discuss and here is one of them.

I have been lucky enough to be a part of various online communities. The blogsphere, ChicagolandSportbikes, Lanparty groups both in Chicago and Michigan, and ultimately our WoW Guild. From each one of them I have made lasting friendships and countless life experiences. Not only do I have relationships that blossomed online, they also translated to very solid real life ones. Then I started to think about other places where I had made friends and was floored when I realized that I don’t talk to anyone from any of the churches I have been a member in the past, I also don’t have any people that I talk to from highschool here in the US (alas that was only two years jumping from bilingual classes to honor classes). The outlier is probably the people I meet at work (and mostly because you spend so much time at work during your life) and those compose the first half of my closest friends. In the end most of the people in my social circles I have started relationships with online. From my wife, to half of my closest best friends, they were all relationships that in one way or another started online and became real life.

My wife and Daniel I met when I first started blogging are are probably my two longest relationships that started online. I eventually met them both personally and in a couple of weeks we are going to once again spend some time together. Interestingly enough, Bea and her best online friend are going to meet for the first time face to face that week. I know Bab’s husband a little better than I know her, but it will be awesome to make those relationships solid.

We are constantly thought by the media to be affraid of our neighbors. I am lucky that I know most of my neighbors now, but living in condos makes that a little easier to do. I have lived plently of places where I don’t know many of my neighbors. I know what car they drive, if the have a riding lawn mower or not, but about them probably zero. When you meet people online, specially because of a shared interest you get to know them in a much deeper level than you even do with the people that you go to church with. Sure you both are supposed to believe the same thing, but in reality do you really form a community with the people that have your “belief” system?

Part of it is that Catholics here in the U.S. are very, get to church and get out without much mingling. Even when you stay there for the special events, most of the communication is small talk. But I have also been part of many Christian churches with a deeper sense of community and lots of hanging out. What happens there is that when you move, or decided that rapture is just not something for you to have in the forefront of your mind, the friendships are instantly gone. There is a lot of exclusion in those communities. So the old sense of religion building communities is being eroded because in a large way most religions are preaching separatism instead of unity and tolerance.

Moving back to Chicago has been an amazing experience. Living in the far north side is very cool, tons of stuff to do plus downtown is not too far away. Most of my friends are all the say in the far west suburbs or even south heading towards Joliet. Hanging out is more for the weekends than just a quick lunch or a beer after work (which was pretty easy to set up back in KC.) I do however stay connected with my friends online or over the phone, and relationships seem to be a lot more meaningful that way. Online communities are forming new tribes and that to me is pretty amazing.

You start with a shared common interest and end up really getting to know people. I love this phenomenon. Most people that have met me IRL can tell you that I can probably make a friend anywhere, but knowing that a lot more people can use the internet as an intrument to connect makes me happy. People that might not have the human interaction because they are shy, or have an impediment can connect using the internet and form strong communities where geography is not an obstacle anymore.

The conversation with XO only created many, many, many more questions in my head…

So what about you? Have you started a relationship online first yet? Is the internet helping you keep in touch and reconnect? Are online relationships just a meaningful for you than the real life ones?

Where did the nice people go?

Going shopping is one of those things that I dread more than cleaning the bathroom or even cleaning the cat box. I think the older I get, the less tolerant of rude people I become. Grocery shopping is one of those things that could be an enjoyable experience if I could get in and out without having to interact with other people. Now that we are back in Chicago I am even considering going back to peapod, which was an actual great experience when I used it in the past. You get home and your groceries are waiting for you.

This last trip to the grocery store was one that made me lose the hope in humanity.

I come in prepared when I grocery shop, either with a list to check off, or a short mental one that gets done quickly. Depending on if it is a familiar store or not, I have a route I take most of the time. I know where everything is for the most part and try to be efficient and hopefully not in a hurry.

The first creature that I encounter that just gets on my nerves is the person at the deli counter that does not seem to have ever seen a cheese selection. I am all for browsing the sales and the new in stock deli meat goodness, but don’t take a number until you are ready. I am hoping that if I keep on bumping into the same deli guy at our grocery store he can start cutting what I need before I even have a chance to ask.

This week I had to deal with two self important rush grocery shoppers. The kind that want to run you out of the isle just bump on you next to on the next one. God forbid that you are going to be selecting an item in the same area they are because they will even go as far as ask you to move out of the way. I actually had to step away from the tortillas because this lady was frantically looking for a special cheddar flavored ones looter style.

The kicker this week was a motorized Grandma. I almost said something out loud to her but I though about how I should respect my elders.

The lines were pretty busy and they only had 2 actually human operated ones. The self checkout ones are really not conducive to the amount of stuff I was getting. The lines were going into the isles and instead of blocking the way for other people I got in line and left a gap for people to move through if they were still shopping. This lady on her motorized cart just pushes her way through the line next to me and proceeds to get in front of me. I am clearly waiting in line. I would have had no problem letting her go first, I often do with people that have less items than me and a handicapped Grandma for sure would get my go ahead. However she just barged in, made no eye contact.

I respect the elderly, I respect the wisdom, I even have reverence for their knowledge and how some of them are from an ear where manners mattered… but what is wrong with some of people now, just because a lot of people don’t have manners it does not mean you should lose them too Grandma!

Hard On

Even though some of my female readers would probably dissagree, I think males deal with hormones just as much as you do and not just during “that” time of the month. We are constantly charged with heavy doses of testosterone which makes us be prone to animalistic instincts like getting excited by the violence in the UFC or admire boobage wherever it presents itself.

Males spend most of their teenager years trying to learn how to handle erections. Its probably one of the toughest parts of going through puberty to have to deal with erections that we cannot either control nor take care of. This lead to one of the more weird instances of impromptu “sexual education” in my young life.

We were in Spanish class and the teacher was going on about his lecture. We were a particularly misbehaved group that was not only mean to each other, but also to the teachers. We got in our share of trouble and a lof of highschool was about who could do more mischief at one time or another. As the teacher continued with his lesson which sadly I cannot remember, one of my classmates yelled “Gonzalo (the teacher)” has a hardon.

Laughter ensued and even though all of us could relate since it was an all male school, the teacher was really disturbed by the acussation. His face changed and now that I remember the incident as an adult I can imagine how mortified he was. Back then I did not know the difference between a “shower” and a “grower.” Gonzalo got visually more upset and redder as the seconds continue to pass. Then he repeated the accusation trying to probably look for a reaction from the culprit but we had our “no snittching” rule in place for quite some time by then.

Then he went on a long tirade about how the penis multipies in size during an erection and seemed even close to just losing it during it. He looked so upset that we stopped laughin altogether and just listened about how if he had a hardon we would have “really” noticed it. He eventually cooled off and continued the lecture but it was an intersting reaction by an adult losing its cool over an obvious erroneous claim of “hard on.”

As adults we learn how to control erections and don’t walk around with a full flag pole salute unless we are about to perform; but during those teenage gears where if the wind hits just the right way we sported one it was a lot harder (lol pun) to conceal. Heavy books seemed to always be a good cover, but it was rather embarrasing when it was not Gonzalo that got called out for a “chubby” (not sure why but that word when referring to an erection still makes me giggle) but one of us. I certainly would not want to deal with aunt “flo” coming to visit every month, but uncontrolled erections were no fun to deal when during those years.

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