Real Men Don’t Cry

The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive.
Albert Einstein

The words below are among the many that taught me the true power of blogging. I am revisiting them today to set the tone for posts that I intend to write. I have found this to be a useful tool for writing, this short visit to a different time and place. More on this later.

When I was younger I vowed to stop crying. I was 14 and I had decided that men were not supposed to cry. I can remember the events that led to that decision. I was one of those people who didn’t just cry, if I cried it was all encompassing and it just wracked my body.

Not every time, but enough that I felt it in every part of my body. I think that the final moment came as a result of my cousin’s funeral. Typically Jewish funerals have a closed casket, but this one didn’t. I remember seeing my cousin’s body and watching her son cry, he is seven years older than I am and I always looked up to him.

The moment just hit me hard, it rocked my world and I had trouble staying composed. I wasn’t scared, just sad, so sad for my cousin and sad for myself. As my grandfather drove me back to the house for shiva I was crying. He didn’t condemn me or make me feel badly, he tried to make me feel better. But it was enough that he was not crying.

I didn’t understand that his lack of tears was not indicative of a lack of emotion/feeling not to mention that he may have cried, I don’t know. But that day I determined that I was through with tears. And for 21 years I have stayed fairly true to that promise.

I was an idiot.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that I crippled part of myself and stunted my ability to mourn the loss of things and people. I am not an emotional cripple or mental midget, so I didn’t prevent myself from feeling, all I did was make the process of grieving more difficult.

In the last 21 years there have been a few moments where I shed some tears, but there were not many and it happened when I was completely caught in the moment. As soon as I realized that I was crying they began to stop, I learned how to stop myself far too well.

So now I have been consciously working on reversing this, giving myself permission to cry. I don’t want to keep stuffing it back into the cage. I have been known to carry a deep and abiding sadness with me and I think that the lack of tears is part of the reason why.

Some of the women of my past were aware of this and tried to convince me to cry on their shoulders, to let it out. It is not that simple, if it was I could do it on my own. I suspect that some of them were offended that I did not. They took the lack of tears as a lack of trust and I suppose to some extent it was.

But the walls that I built and the towers that maintained their vigil over my mind were not going to be defeated that easily.

I am confident that this is going to change. I think that one of the benefits of maturity and fatherhood is that I see the ability to cry as a sign of strength and not weakness. It still scares me, I haven’t sobbed as an adult, but the day is coming.

Educating a Crazy Broad

As an airplane is about to crash, a female passenger jumps up frantically and announces, “If I’m going to die, I want to die feeling like a woman.”
She removes all her clothing and asks, “Is there someone on this plane who is man enough to make me feel like a woman?”
A man stands up, removes his shirt and says, “Here, iron this!”.

And so begins the much awaited response to the silly and ridiculous iVillage article called Translating Man-Speak: What He Is Really Trying to Tell You. The article is an excerpt from a book by Lisa Sussman called  Over 100 Things Women Should Know about Men.

I suppose that if you accept the premise that you get what you pay for then you’ll understand that a book that sells for less than a buck isn’t worth much. If you take the article seriously and believe that it is an accurate representation of men then you are probably wondering why I am writing this because we don’t have a clue as to what we think or feel about anything. Really, just look at this:

The awful truth is, most men have no idea how they feel at any given time. Studies show that men use language to establish difference, separateness and independence (exactly the opposite of women, who talk to connect). So demanding that he talk to you is guaranteed to make him squirm and start rambling about whether new Cheerios really are improved.

Call me uptight, anal or curious but I wonder what studies she is referring to. Probably the one from the Gay Fouker institute that found that 37% of chimpanzees prefer Dole bananas to Chiquita. Or perhaps it is the one that shows that if you own more than 17 pairs of shoes you are a self indulgent, gold digging narcissist with illusions of grandeur.

That is not really nice of me to say. Really it is mean spirited, unkind and degrading. Or maybe not. Sussman offers the following strong advice to her fellow members of the finer sex.

How to talk to a man so he understands you:

Men can only take directions one at a time. So, if you want him to go into the kitchen and get you a cup of tea, make it a two-part request (this also applies to when you are in bed with him).

That’s brilliant. Comments like that help to promote fine responses from men about the best ways to keep women from talking and why women should have flat heads. Oops, I really shouldn’t offer tongue in cheek remarks unless I specify whose tongue and what cheek it should be planted upon.

I am vaguely curious to find out whether Sussman intended for this piece to be taken seriously. That would be a smart move and demonstrative of someone who once worked as a journalist. But what fun would that be? It is much easier to rely upon stereotypes and cliches. Better to take the path of least resistance and offer a poorly constructed essay that lacks substance, or maybe not.

Maybe the smarter course of action is to point out that men communicate quite effectively. Maybe the better path is to point out that not asking loaded questions isn’t indicative of stupidity. Maybe it is worth pointing out that no one wants to feel like they are on trial or that they have to walk on eggshells. Don’t ask questions about whether a certain item of clothing makes you look fat unless you are willing to hear the answer.

Don’t ask us if we think another girl is pretty unless you are willing to hear what we really think. Say what you mean and mean what you say. You might be surprised to find that we do that with far greater frequency than we are given credit for. AND we do it with far greater frequency than women do, again, if we go by crass gender stereotypes.

You don’t appreciate being referred to as the ball and chain or battle axe any more than we appreciate being portrayed as silly buffoons.

The Male Brain Versus The Female Brain

The tweet above is from early Monday morning. It is in response to one of the most misguided, foolish and dumb articles I have ever read. A piece that supposedly was written by a woman to help other women understand men. I suppose that if you like living in a world based upon cliches and stereotypes that it is the kind of piece that makes sense.

If you like reading/watching stories/movies that portray men as cloddish buffoons than it would be a good read.

Anyhoo, my response to iVillage led to an offer to write a response. I expect that I am going to take them up on it. At the moment I am mulling over what sort of response I wish to write. I’ll keep you posted on the particulars of when and where it is posted. In the interim here is a video I posted last year.

The Male Brain Versus The Female Brain

Idea #237 for Wooing a Woman

This is part of an ongoing series in which I train men how to woo women. For the prior installment please click here.

Women love men who can dance and sing. When you find a woman that you wish to woo it is always good to gather some friends and dress up as The Village People. I have had great success dressing up in leather and singing Macho Man to the women of my world. You ought to try it too.

Idea #265 for Wooing a Woman

This is idea #265 for wooing a woman and like all ideas here personally tested and proven to be effective.

Unfortunately this edition of wooing a woman does not come with video, but perhaps one day it will. Here is the concept:

You head down to the office of your lucky lady and serenade her with Kenny Rogers songs, while dressed like Kenny Rogers. If you really want to have fun grab some of the guys from this site and use them as your backup singers.