I’ve mentioned before that I’m not masculine in the typical ways. As obvious examples of what I mean, I don’t like cars, sports, or competition. Instead I like making things pretty, which is at war with the two masculine qualities I possess in abundance: bulk and body hair. Prettiness is not really an expectation I can have. Embarrassment, yes. A certain notoriety, yes. Prettiness though….
Here, let me explain.
More Than Mechanical Difficulties
One of the many times we delivered our lawnmower to the nearest repair center, they loaned us a mower in exchange. They even loaded it into the trunk of our car, which was very nice of them. They grunted and finagled in impressively competent ways, they stepped back to inspect their work. My trouble (apart from the contemporaneous lawn debacle) started when they asked, “Is that okay there?”
Not only did I not have an answer, I didn’t understand the question. What sort of problems were even possible? Was I supposed to be considering weight distribution in the car, damage to the mower, obscure traffic laws about wind sheer and pelicans? I had no idea. The trunk didn’t appear likely to explode, but fiery death was the only potential risk that I felt comfortable appraising.
To help build your mental image of my consternation, I should also tell you that, at the time the nice men asked me that terrible question, I was holding my infant daughter in one arm and a suspiciously purse-like diaper bag in the other. I had even made sure that she and I were wearing matching pink shirts. I couldn’t have appeared less manly without a pair of smashing pumps on my feet and curlers in my hair.
The Other Pageantry of Sports
When I was in school and lived in a dormitory, my friends and I would regularly gather to play a certain famous American football video game. We would each choose a team, then play season after season, guiding our team toward success. I tended to pursue an unconventional brand of success though.
I collected a motley band of unskilled an unappreciated players, gave them all lucrative contracts, and formed a new team called the Pink Petals. I didn’t worry about game strategy or signing famous champions, I just wanted to make my modest players happy and give them pretty uniforms. In fact I spent as much time designing their perfectly pastel pink and purple uniforms as I did figuring out what plays I should call. I lost nearly every game, but my team looked amazing while it happened.
Not surprisingly, this concerned my girlfriend at the time (who has since been promoted to wife, proving that her concerns were unwarranted). What I remember most was her objection to my combination of pastels. I tried to assure her that I was a color genius, and that she should trust me that my choices made my players look pretty. She didn’t find any part of that sentence comforting though.
I received modest vindication years later when she started dressing our daughter in precisely the same color combination I had used. Of course, she rightly pointed out that babies and grown men tend to dress differently.
Wherefore Art Thou Madonna
Just recently, during one of my few excursions without my daughter, I stopped by a local convenience store to buy a fountain soda. I must have arrived during a lull in business, because there were neither customers nor staff anywhere that I could see. As it turns out, I shouldn’t be left alone with myself in public.
I was peacefully getting soda when the convenience store radio started playing a lively Madonna song from my childhood. I resisted the associated temptations for the entire first verse, but the chorus was too catchy and enjoyable to resist. After all, I thought I was alone. (Sadly this happens all the time when I’m at home and actually alone. We’ll gloss over that for now.)
I’d like to say that dancing followed, but that would be straining the word a bit. Imagine a disoriented flamingo trying to walk across a freshly waxed floor that’s also covered in marbles. During an earthquake. While being pestered by a swarm of gnats.
That flamingo would be more graceful than I was.
Naturally, in the throes of that 80’s pop inspired seizure, I twisted around and noticed a man staring at me as though an alien had landed right behind me, begun to speak, then exploded into bouquet of turtles on sticks. All things considered, the look was fair.
After a moment he reassured me that he wouldn’t tell my wife what he had seen. I sighed and confessed that she wouldn’t be surprised by the news anyway.
Fortunately I don’t think any of these things impeach my character or actual manliness. They may not speak well of my judgment, but think about how boring my stories would be if I always had good judgment! In fact, as evidence of both manliness and questionable judgment, consider that I’m willing to share all of these stories without shame. You can admit it, this is a pretty macho post.
Certainly it has to be the most macho post you’ve read today that includes a doodle of a man in curlers, another of football players in pink, and a third that illustrates the difficulties of capturing dance with stick figures.