Are You Man Enough?
Date: Wed, 27 Apr 94 12:53:07 PDT
Subject: Are You Man Enough?
Forwarded-by: bostic@vangogh.CS.Berkeley.EDU (Keith Bostic)
Forwarded-by: Adam Glass <email@example.com>
Are You Man Enough?
by Denis Leary
Here's a cold hard fact that you must now chew and swallow:
if you are reading this, you are not macho. Period. Case closed. Real
men do not read anything other than GUNS AND AMMO, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED,
or SHAVED BEAVER.
Do not mention FIRE IN THE BELLY. Do not clutch your copy of
IRON JOHN. Sit your soft little ass down and listen up. Understanding
macho means that you don't possess it. I have proven myself to be the
pussy that I am by writing this piece. (I'm wearing a powder blue
cotton print shirt and peach panties as I type.) Ernest Hemingway, you
say? Wrong. Ernest lived a very macho life and wrote some very macho
stories. But Ernest threw it all away by blowing his head off with a
shotgun. Very unmacho. Real men do not commit suicide. Real men know
just how much life sucks. Real men grit their teeth and take it bill
after bill, war after war, tumor after tumor. You don't greet Death,
you punch him in the throat repeatedly as he drags you away. I think
John Wayne said it best when he said, "Fuck Death and the lung cancer
he rode in on."
Macho is a very slippery thing. You don't read about it, you
don't write about it, you don't even know the correct spelling of the
word. In a vain attempt to keep some semblance of masculinity, I didn't
research the roots of the word while writing this article, but I can
only assume that "macho" comes from "machismo," which sounds a hell of
a lot like machine. Being macho implies a tough, hard, blocklike
approach full of pistons and rods and axles and other big steel-type
It's hard to live by the old macho code these days. They've
chipped away at it over the years, slowly but surely. Drinking has
been reduced to a few beers or a couple of whiskeys, if that. Otherwise,
your AA friends begin to stare across the table with that "I personally
think you have a problem and that all alcohol should be banned so that
I won't feel the urge to drink myself into a naked stupor but I'm not
gonna say anything" look on their faces. No mess, no mauling, no
mistress, no mas.
From time to time, people try to use macho as an image builder.
Bush tries to make himself seem like a card-carrying Mace Club member.
He's not. The last macho pres. we had was FDR. FDR-a man stricken by
polio, stuck in a wheelchair, fighting the Nazis all the while smoking
3 & 1/2 packs a day. "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!"
Yeah, and staircases, of course. And soccer and dancing.
I think the death of macho is easily located on a very recent
map. Sometime in the late '70s-right around the time the Village People
released "Macho Man" and Barry Manilow sang "Copacabana" and Robby
Benson was mewling his way into the hearts of teenage ultra-virgins,
men made a serious mistake. We started TALKING to each other. We
stopped punching each other and began discussing why we wanted to punch
each other. I'll bet my right nut that if I had done some research, I
would have found a dramatic decline in facial cuts and brain contusions
starting in 1977. Now we're supposed to be sensitive. We are supposed
to share our feelings and cry at funerals and care about our hair.
We're, in short, supposed to be women. Hello, my name is Shirley.
Touch me in the morning.
I believe in equal rights. I believe that women should get equal
pay for equal jobs. I believe women should have control of their bodies
and be in positions of power. I believe we should have the same size
shoulder pads in our suits. But I also believe that men should be men
and women should be, well, women. Women should be soft and smart and
mysterious. And men should have their own tools. I pine for the sheer
stupidity of the old macho days, when men would brandish hammers and
build huge, bulky cars that sucked up gas and tore open the ozone layer
and crushed small animals beneath totally useless but totally cool-looking
tail fins. When men were apes with good shoes and a dental plan. John
Wayne, John Huston, Bill Holden, Bob Mitchum, Clark Gable, Babe Ruth,
Lee Marvin, Sam Peckinpah. Men who drank and fought and puked and ate
raw meat right off the bone and drank some more and fought some more
and puked again and kept on drinking. Men who died of massive heart
attacks or sudden brain seizures or who just plain fucking blew up.
Men who had cancer six or seven times. Men made out of leather.
My dad was one of these men. My dad once cut off his thumb with
a power saw, duct-taped it back on, and drove himself to the hospital
smoking a Camel un-filtered on the way. My dad's theory was simple: no
pain-no fucking pain. My dad smoked 5 packs a day, worked 3 jobs 7 days
a week, ate beef for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One night in 1985,
he ate a big steak dinner with a side order of bacon and extra steak
fries. He ordered some coffee, sat back, lit up a cigarette, and
I don't wanna hear about Arnold Schwarzenegger. Even Arnold
caved in. In Terminator 2, he was all of a sudden Mr. Caring Guy,
protecting the kid and hoping the earth wouldn't end. Bullshit. There
was even a sequence at the end of the movie where a huge truck full of
flammable liquid tears down a highway for about 3 minutes and then
doesn't blow up. A sign of the times if ever there was one. Every real
man knows the 1 golden rule of macho movie making: if you see a truck
on screen, blow it up. In Thelma & Louise, the women saw a truck. What
did they do? Susan Sarandon pulled out her gun and blew the truck way
the fuck up. Another sign of the times. Arnold's tromping around
praying for the earth to save itself and Ms. Davis and Ms. Sarandon are
drinking and shooting and screwing their way all over the macho west.
Citizen Kane? A masterpiece. But every real man knows it would have
been better if a huge Mack truck with the word ROSEBUD emblazoned on
the trailer drove through the front gate of the mansion and then
Another movie matter I'd like to get off my girly little chest:
asses. Part of this new male code has men baring their butts on screen
the way women used to do. Mel Gibson, Kevin Costner, Michael Douglas,
and of course, Arnold. Hey if I wanted to see Kevin Costner's ass, I
would've married him. You never saw Bob Mitchum's ass. I am in a macho
movie called GUNMEN, and I can guarantee you that you never see my ass
on any screen but if you do, it will not be shaved. It will be hairy
and hoary and very, very white.
Our macho movie idols have changed forever. No wonder they end
up baring it all. Listen to the names -- Mel, Kevin, Michael, Arnold.
In the old days movie stars had real names: John, Bill, Duke, Buck,
Chuck, Rip. Kevin sounds like your skinny Irish cousin with the big
Coke bottle glasses and a heat rash; Mel, the guy in charge of aisle
five at Woolworth's. ("Excuse me Mel, where are the light bulbs?")
It's getting very bad, boys. We don't blow up trucks anymore.
Hell, we don't even drive trucks anymore. We drive simple little
Japanese cars with air bags. In the old days we used to rip out the
seat belts and fly through the windshield ready for action. "Thrown
from the car." Remember that phrase in accident reports? Always the
sign of a very machodriver.
We seem a little more sorry, a little more plump, a lot more
ladylike around the edges. If you really want to reclaim your macho
self, if you really want to be a macho, macho man, stop reading this
If you are still reading, you probably need a little more help.
Forget Robert Bly or "FIRE IN YOUR PROSTATE." Don't go on a Male-Bonding
Self-Discovery Weekend, which is just another term for Circle Jerk as
far as I'm concerned. Here, instead, is a guide:
BALLS, A.K.A. COJONES: You should have several. Preferably brass
or steel. Extra large.
CRYING: Never. Ever. Over anything. Not death in the family,
not a bullet in the chest. You may tear up ever so slightly in one eye
only when watching a favorite sports legend retire. You may tear up in
both eyes only when kicked, accidentally or on purpose, in the COJONES.
KISSING: see "SPORTS"
HUGGING: see "SPORTS"
SPORTS: Once all men within reach are dressed in a team uniform,
it is perfectly acceptable to kiss and hug and grab each other's ass.
This is probably because all men are latent homosexuals and prefer male
company to female company. But if some guy points out this fact to you,
punch him directly in the throat. (Optional retorts: "Prefer this!"
or "Fuck You!" or " Shut the fuck up!"
HEALTH: Never go to the hospital or visit a doctor. If you have
a stroke, keep drinking and act like you prefer to use only one side of
your body. If you cut off a limb while using a power tool -- so what?
That's why there's duct tape and staple guns. If someone tries to drive
you to the hospital after a heart attack or maiming, punch him in the
throat. (Optional retorts: "Drive This!" or "Fuck you!" or "Shut the
DIET: Meat, cigarettes, meat, booze, meat, and coffee. In case
of aneurysm or alcohol-induced coma, see "HEALTH."
FIGHTING: At all times, over anything. Never hit a woman. Or
a child. Or a bus. Never hit a priest until he takes off his collar.
(If it's the pope, wait until he removes the large hat.) Clergy will
often provoke a punch in the throat with their "violence doesn't prove
anything" pontifications. (Optional retorts: "Prove this!" or "Fuck
you Father!" or "Shut the fuck up, Padre!")
DRINKING: No falling down. No puking -- unless to empty the
stomach in order to continue drinking. No slurring of words. Tell a
few war stories: "See that scar? I was in 'Nam and I ate a grenade
and it blew up in my colon." If your aim is off due to alcohol, it's
acceptable to punch someone in the head or solar plexus.
SEX: You're probably too drunk or just plain stupid to have
sex but pretend you get a lot, i.e. "You should've seen me last night,
blah, blah, blah, blah."
Absorb this info and you should be on your way. If you have
any further questions, call 1-800-COJONES. Remember: We're men. Big,
boxy, sweaty, ignorant men. We have penises. Well, we used to have
penises. Either way, I think Billy Martin, the late Yankees manager,
said it best when he said, "Hey, I can drive."
© 1994 Peter Langston