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the size of your truck doesn’t matter.

18 Aug

So I was on a couple date the other night when the other fella at the table (we’ll call him Manute) declared, “Well, I’ve got some ideas for the Grown Man.”  The table snickered and then was exceedingly impressed when he produced a 3×5 card with neatly written, bullet pointed, ideas.  Clearly, this man meant business.

RIP ManuteOne of his ideas was something like, “Grown Men must have trucks. I love my truck, and when I see a guy in a little Honda, I laugh.”  At this point in the conversation, I slipped away into my own thoughts and began writing this post.  Because trucks, and cars in general, are something that men go ape-crap about.  Really, I don’t need to elaborate on this point, do I?  Guys love automobiles, it’s as American as TMZ and Double Downs.  But why? Why the obsession?

Manute had a solid point.  Trucks are awesome.  I’ve had a truck, someday I’d like another one.  There’s something about knowing that you can do basically anything in a good truck that makes them so appealing.  While most men drive the same six mile stretch everyday with their suitcase in the passenger seat and absolutely no adventure worthy of such a grand vehicle, just knowing that, if the need arose, you could haul two palates of sod or could quickly enlist a stranger to drive while you stand in the bed of the truck and shot at bad guys! Trucks rule.

But Gentlemen, we’ve turned the love of our vehicles up to 11 and need to dial it down a notch.  Being cool in a truck isn’t about having the truck, it’s about confidence.  My friend Manute doesn’t really laugh at poor Honda Civic drivers when he sees them – he’s too good of a man.  And, in fairness to him, he was sitting next to his girlfriend of 10 months and across the table from the two of us who basically knew him through the girlfriend.  The freaking guy had a lot of charming to do.

However, plenty of guys do see their vehicle as some badge of superiority in the caste system of masculinity. These are the same guys that put stickers on the back that read “It’s a Jeep thing, you wouldn’t understand” or display a picture of Calvin pissing on [insert rival truck company’s logo].  These guys are, wait for it…wait for it….NOW!  Compensating. They’re saying, “Don’t see me, see the truck.”  To these men I say, nothing on this planet will make you look cooler and stand out above the other men like a solid sense of self and a truck load of humility.  What’s important is that you like the truck.  It’s not about being held in higher regard than others, it’s about being your own Grown Man.  Confidence, confidence, confidence – it’s really the game changer.

Allow me to end with a story:  When I was 15, my grandfather gave me his car as he was upgrading to a standard issue, old dude Saturn.  For six months before I got my license, I went outside every day and cleaned the car, put a new and ridiculously loud stereo in the car, and generally just played with my new toy.  I loved that car and felt like the coolest guy that ever lived.  On the day that I turned 16 and finally got to drive it, I went everywhere!  My mom would mention two rooms away that we were running low on eggs… “No problem mom, I’ll be right back!” My brother would need to go to t-ball practice… “Oh geez mom and dad, you’ve had a hard day, let me take him!”  For real, I was the MAN in that car.

That car was* a 1.0 L, 3 cylinder, Geo Metro.  Not familiar with the Metro?  It’s a lawnmower with four doors that I literally had to fall into because I’m so tall.  And, even though that was one of the smallest, crappiest cars ever made, it was absolutely the coolest vehicle I’ll ever own – even when I finally get the 1957 Chevrolet 5100 (or one of the thousand other amazing trucks I drool over).  The man makes the Geo, not the other way around.

You’re a Grown Man, the size of your truck doesn’t matter.

*I totaled that car 13 days after I got my license.  16-year-olds shouldn’t be allowed to drive.

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say her name first.

17 Aug

Today’s post contains one of those ideas that, I freely admit, is born out of my own curmudgeonly mind.  Unlike many of the entries on You’re A Grown Man,  this idea is not a part of some lost art of manliness that I’m trying to resurrect, it’s something brand new for us to implement.   So, if you’ll allow me, here is my contribution to the greater good.

When a man is introducing his significant other to someone, he typically says something like, “This is my wife, Michelle”.  Then, we all smile, shake hands, and move on.  Not me though, I begin to boil.  Deep in my stomach, I get a retching sensation akin to the flu or every meal I’ve ever had at Applebee’s.  I just want to scream, “Hey, she’s more important than her title!”  But alas, a Grown Man doesn’t lose his composure, rather, he writes an anonymous blog.

Grown Men, when you are introducing your companion, you must lead off with her name.  Then, once you’ve established who she is, you may then add her relationship to you: my wife, my girlfriend, my mom, my life coach, my court appointed liaison.  No matter how awkward it may sound at first to drop the traditional rhythm of title/name, I assure you that your trend setting politeness will more than compensate.

Grown Man, first of all – Applebee’s rules, how dare you!  Also, why would I do this?  It feels a little emasculating.

First of all, that place gave me food poisoning two times from two different locations.  I’m just sayin’.   Secondly, there’s nothing emasculating about being respectful and putting others ahead of yourself.  The reason I want us to lead off with the name is not because I think we’re weak and should no longer be proud of our companions.  It’s because we’re strong enough to say, I value that person as an individual more than I value their contribution to my life.

Believe me, there’s nothing that makes me more proud than someone meeting Grown Woman, my wife, and being super impressed with her (which they always are).  But the fact is, before Grown Woman said “I do” to Grown Man, she was still a freaking accomplished, funny, independent person.  At no point did her misguided and foolish betrothal to me trump that, it just added.  Therefore, she’s her before she’s a part of us.

One more thing, this rule goes for introducing anyone you’re with. While it’s particularly jarring to me in the context of a relationship, it’s really a rule across the board.  Everyone deserves this level of respect.

Well, I think that’s it for today.  Usually these posts are twice as long and filled with lists and scores of obscure references that make me feel superior.  However, I’ve said what I need to say and am going to exit gracefully.

Happy Monday, gentlemen.  Go get em…

quit your job with class.

13 Aug

I rarely, if ever, weigh in on current events. And though I read news like it’s my job, the reason it doesn’t show up on You’re A Grown Man is because it rarely has any connection with the timeless art of mature masculinity.  Recently though, the story of Steven Slater has become big news and is in the process carving a new niche of acceptable behavior for men.  Gentlemen, we can’t let this happen.  Something must be done.

In case you’re not familiar with Mr. Slater’s story, here’s a recap of what we know – not what’s being reported and refuted, what we actually know:  He worked as a flight attendant for JetBlue.  Something (a bag falling, someone was rude, we don’t really know everything) got him mad. Then, he said some angry words on the PA, stole a few beers, and deployed/slid down the emergency exit slide.  He was later arrested for criminal mischief and reckless endangerment.  Now, the country is freaking out over him and going so far as to call him a “working class hero”.  This is insane, not to mention disrespectful to John Lennon.

Guys, at no point did Steven Slater do anything right.  From the moment he allowed his anger to win and then broke the law in some movie-like exit, he was shirking his responsibilities and taking the easy road, or slide, as the case may be.  The way a man leaves a job is not by losing his shiz and storming off as that’s what children do.  And when children have temper tantrums, we correct them – not praise them.  We quit with dignity, we quit without burning bridges, and we quit like Grown Men.

Here’s how you should quit your job:

1- Wrap your head around the fact that you’re quitting. Really, it’s okay to quit a job.  I’m not going to get into all the factors of how multiple jobs will look on your resume, as this is a different conversation for every man.  But what we must know is that very few of us go to work for “the company” and retire with a gold watch after 50 years.  There may be times in your life where leaving Company A for Company B is beneficial.  Or better yet, leaving Company A for Company Self-Employed!  In any event, you’re not disappointing your lineage by strategically quitting a job.  Sometimes, you’ve got to move on.

2- Set a meeting. When it’s time, you’ve got to do it as soon as possible.  Very few realizations will turn your stomach like knowing that you’re about to jump ship (airplane).  When you’ve given yourself the mental green light to be done, be done.

3- Thank your superior and get the hell outta there. There’s nothing else you need to do in this meeting other than say “Mr. Spacely, I have made a decision to leave my position here at Spacely Space Sprockets. I’ve enjoyed this opportunity and it’s been a pleasure working with you.”  Then, shut up.  Now, your job is just to reply – you don’t need to say anything else.  If she asks when you’re quitting, you reply with “I am more than willing to work hard for as long as you need to find a suitable replacement.  I leave it up to you.”  If he asks why you’re quitting, do not take this opportunity to begin trashing every co-worker, business practice, and poorly stocked break room snack bar.  You’re quitting and now no longer have any reason to change the business.  What you need to do is say something about moving in a different direction with your career and then, you guessed it, shut up and get the hell outta there.

4- Make eye contact and shake hands. This is just what men do.  And, in the midst of quitting, you need to be especially respectful, poised, and confident.  Leaving your bosses office with him or her respecting you (even though they may be displeased with you) is one of the hallmarks of a Grown Man.

Grown Men, it’s important that you quit your job with class.  At no point in the story of Steven Slater cracking did he do any of he aforementioned steps and, therefore, is not worthy of our adoration in this arena.  Listen, I know times are hard and many of you are reading this blog while in the midst of searching for a job.  And really, I feel for you – these aren’t fun days.  But gentlemen, at the end of the day, a “working class hero” is someone who keeps his composure, doesn’t steal from the company (the beer, remember?), and quits with forethought and class.

Steven Slater, I hope you’re reading.

practice proper grammar.

11 Aug

I’ve come to a fork in the road with writing You’re A Grown Man and I’m not entirely sure what direction to go.  You see, I get a lot of crap, criticism, and helpful advice from people who say my grammar is “sorta off”.  And you know what? They’re right.  In fact, and I don’t want you to miss the irony, I just spelled grammar, “grammer”, before spell check got me.  Truthfully, it’s incredibly frustrating.

So the decision before me is this: Do I continue to write Grown Man or do I simply fess up to the fact that I’m not a professional writer and leave my witty observations of modern masculinity for phone calls with my brother and trying to make my friends laugh?  Really, I’m not sure yet.  But what I do know is that this struggle is a teachable moment and one that all of us can learn from.  Let us now summon the spirit of Tony Robbins and allow the healing to begin…

You’re a Grown Man, proper grammar is important.

Oh yes, we love just writing in a train of thought, don’t we?  “Hay mom, just wanted too let you know that you’re cookies were sooooo good, all my frat brothers loved them.  Your now there favorite mom!” Do you see what happened there? A kind letter to your mom makes you come off as terribly inept even though you’re saying something wonderful, albeit monstrously lame, but still wonderful.

Source: LIFE Magazine

Grammar (and its BFF, spelling) is essentially the visual expression of who we are.  More than watches, suits, eye-contact or anything else, our written word communicates with great accuracy and efficiency the kind of men we are (or appear to be).  When we use the wrong to, too, and two, people assume that we’re a)not paying attention to detail and being lazy, b)not educated enough to know the difference, or c) both a and b.  All it takes is a sentence in an email, using the wrong you’re/your/Eeyore, to drop the perception of your intelligence down a notch.  This, Grown Men, is why it’s important to mind your p’s and q’s – because you want what you’re writing to speak louder than how you’re writing it.

But Grown Man, I really suck at this stuff!  What should I do?  Also, I hate your blog and hope you stop writing it!

First of all, no you don’t.  Second of all, here are some ways I’ve found helpful in improving grammar:

-Study: In my own writing, I’ve found that my common mistakes often come from some sort of mental block that I need to work on overcoming.  It’s not that I don’t know that there’s a difference between the theirs/yours/and too’s of this world, it’s that I just can’t seem to utilize them properly.  The best comparison I can draw is to (nailed it!) someone who’s bad at directions.  It’s really not their fault that ye ole’ brain doesn’t own North, South, East, and West like it should. Grammar, for many of us, is the same way.  However, those of us who aren’t default editors need to make a life long study of the rules that so vex us.

There are a number of resources that you can study.  One of my favorites is a tiny book called “The Elements of Style” – it’s really helpful.  Another good resource is called the Internet, be careful though – there’s weird stuff on that thing.

-Read: There’s no better way to see how the language is supposed to be crafted than by playing apprentice to the teachers.  Reading books will subconsciously teach you and consciously entertain you.   Plus, you should be reading books anyhow.

-Ask for help: Many people who’ve emailed me have typically tried to soften the “you’re stupid” blow with something like, “…but don’t worry about it, when you get a book deal they’ll give you an editor.”  And, while it’s insane that a book would be written when, clearly, everyone can just get my content for free on this blog, it’s equally nuts to me that I would wait until then to get good help.  Being teachable is important and, in the end, will make you a better person.  I’ve got my trusted team of advisers, you should get yours.

-Check your work: Then, check it again.  There’s no excuse for laziness.

That’s it for today, Grown Men.  If you promise to try, I’ll promise to try.  Together, we can collectively look a little less dumb, well, at least less dumb in the written word arena.  And now, let me leave you with a quote from an actual email I received…

It is my belief that every Grown Man should have an almost perfect command of their first language (I say almost perfect because there is always a small margin of creative licence with language and I am not one to begrudge a man a clever or particularly poignant remark even if it does break with traditional grammar). If failing this, however, they should at least know the difference between “too” and “to” and “you’re” and “your” etc – common little mistakes that a Grown Man (who should certainly count himself a ‘cut above the rest’) should never be making.

Ouch – but true.

wear a watch.

10 Aug

That’s it, I’m throwing in the towel…I literally can’t take this anymore.  For the last week, I’ve been writing about feelings, weddings, love, relational dynamics, et cetera, et cetera – and I’m going crazy.  I’m a sensitive man, but if I spend one more moment trying to wrap my head around the etiquette and emotions of a wedding, I’m going to cry (irony?).  So today, we’re gonna rock this post like it’s March of 2010 and I’m going to get hella-specific about one issue.

You’re a Grown Man, wear a watch.

But Grown Man, I have a phone that gives me the time!  And it’s not just any phone, it’s a freakin’ jail broken iPhone 4 – sucka!

Here’s why you shouldn’t be using your phone as your primary time keeper.  It’s just not polite, when sitting with a person, to slyly pull out your brick-of-an-iDroidBerry, push a button, and check the time.  Everything about that transaction screams of you not giving a crap about the conversation.  And though that may be true, is not the way a man presents himself.  For real though, I trust that you’re only checking the time, it just appears as though you’re glancing at the recent Words with Friends updates.  Oh my god, I can’t believe the word PacManFever was accepted!

Alright, so hopefully you get the point that your phone isn’t your watch.  But why should Grown Men wear watches at all?  There are a few reasons:

-Grown Men are punctual. There will be a full post about this later in the week, so I’m not going to go into it.  For now I will just leave you with this little adage: Early is on time, on time is late. That just happened.

-Watches project confidence. A watch has a very subconscious effect on the people who see it.  There’s something about the small accent that tells people you value punctuality and fashion.  Conversely, seeing a man without a watch doesn’t scream of immaturity, but it doesn’t help your cause.  Without a watch, you get closer to confidence-neutral, which won’t bode well with potential lady-friends, colleagues, or other Grown Men.

-They look cool. The “Don Draper” factor can’t be ignored. And, as there are very few acceptable pieces of jewelry that a man can wear (cuff links, cool tie clip, wedding ring, glasses, that’s it), a watch is a small exclamation point on a well dressed fella.  While I’ll leave it up to you to determine what’s classy and what’s not, I strongly suggest, nay, demand that you pick a watch that’s timeless (snicker) and appropriate.  Bright yellow bands and Mickey Mouse are out.  Here’s a rule: Picture your watch on Clint Eastwood.  If if looks cool on him, it’s a winner.

And that, my good men, is the end of the post!  No feelings, no love, just good old fashion advice and judgment.  That felt good.

Grown Men, synchronize Swatches!

be a good best man (part 2).

3 Aug

Never, in the long and storied four month life of this blog, has a topic been more requested.  You all have clearly been scarred by some truly terrible toasts, and for that I am sorry.  Someday, when inspiration strikes, I’ll do a full post on toast etiquette.  For now though, I will address best men who, in a typical wedding, will be called upon to raise a glass.  Let the healing begin:

1- Be funny, but not too funny. Let’s cut to the chase. You’re talking about this man in front of his freaking grandparents, you can’t bring up stuff that’s going to humiliate him!  It’s okay to be funny and even do one, uno, singular roast-type joke that won’t cross the line (“My first memory of James was changing his diapers – when I was his babysitter!” [crowd snickers - you’re done])  But then, you’ve got to quell your desire to be publicly funny and realize that: a)you’re probably not funny, b)you’re coming dangerously close to really making a fool out of you and the groom, and c)this isn’t your big break at making it as a stand-up comic.  Save it for the Apollo, my good man.

2- Be warm and willing to show emotion. The main goal of your toast is to salute the bride and groom and lend your voice to the chorus of people who are affirming the newlyweds.  Therefore, you need to get beyond humorous anecdotes and actually say what you like about the groom, his new wife, and their relationship. If you feel like you’re about to cry, pull out your handkerchief and keep going.  There’s nothing emasculating about loving your friend and expressing that emotion.

3- Keep track of time. One of the great traps that we fall into as men is thinking that if some is good, more must be better.  And while this theory works like a charm with Cuban sandwiches and college football – it’s the death of a good toast.  Here’s what you need to do, think about your toast ahead of time and stick to the game plan.  Even if it’s going really well, don’t change direction or freestyle! Make like Seinfeld and get out while you’re on top.  If you don’t, it’s going to be a disaster and people will get bored (like everything Seinfeld’s done since SeinfeldThe Marriage Ref?!).  I’m going to just go ahead and say it right now – you’ve got two minutes, tops.

4- Don’t toast drunk. I’m not going to write a long exposition on this one other than to say that it’s never in your best interest to be sloppy drunk.  Being inebriated basically kills your ability to act like a Grown Man and generally leads you way too close to the not-respectable line.  Additionally, you being drunk and trying to give a good (meaning actually good, not train wreck good) is literally impossible.  Hear me say this: 100% of the time you will make the people that witness your Dudley Moore-esque toast extremely uncomfortable.  Have some respect for the groom and just say no.

and finally…

5- Don’t forget to actually toast. The job of the toast is to literally encourage people to raise their glasses as a sign of respect.  And, while I know it may seem silly for me to bring up this point, I’ve seen countless well-meaning men simply end the speech with a quick “thank you” and then walk away.  Forget something?  Yep, the part where you toast.  All you have to do is say something simple like “To David and Donna!” and raise your glass.  It’s that simple – if you remember.

Gentlemen, I know public speaking is one of the scariest things you can possibly do.  But believe me, if you try to follow these five rules, you’ll be fine. Good luck, and cheers!


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