Hermann Hates #9
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Thu, 18 Jul 96 16:52:16 -0700
Subject: Hermann Hates #9
HERMANN HATES Manly Men
--a pumped column--
Copyright 1996 by Andrew Hermann
Ever have one of those days when it's you versus the world? I'm coming off
of one of those days. But I'm not going to tell you about it. I'm not quite
ready to relive the trauma. Instead, I'm going to talk about one of my
favorite topics. I'm going to talk about manly men.
Let me hasten to note that I am not, nor have never aspired to be, a manly
man. I don't enjoy truck and tractor pulls. I don't do chest-butts. If you
can't get the lid off the spaghetti sauce, I can't help you.
Nevertheless, manly men fascinate me. They're like the big, abusive,
sociopathic older brother I never had as a child. Every so often I just want
to take one of them aside for a little filial tete-a-tete: "Come on, man,
you don't really LIKE going to strip joints, right? You just play along so
the other guys won't think you're pussy."
Of course, such a conversation would probably end with me on the receiving
end of a noogie, a wedgie, and some brotherly mindfuck comment like, "You
know, I only fucked Dawna Wilson 'cuz I knew you liked her. Huh-huh." So
maybe it's just as well I've never attempted to cross that line.
You see, manly men don't do things like have tete-a-tetes. Which may be
what's so appealing to me--and, I suspect, to many of us--about the whole
manly man lifestyle. It seems so much simpler to bond over a good game of
poker or a few tequila shots, instead of revealing one's innermost thoughts
and feelings in heartfelt, meaningful conversation. Actually, I guess I have
seen manly men having heartfelt, meaningful conversations, but only after the
tequila shots. And then the conversation usually goes something like this:
"Ahh luh yew, yew bashter." "Fahck yew, yew fahckn fffaggoh. If yew wern
my besh fren, ah'd kick yer fahckn ash."
But's let's face it--if I were living the manly man lifestyle, would I be
writing this column? And if you were living manly man lifestyle, would you
be reading it? I think not. You'd be out somewhere picking a fight with
some pussy who spends all his time in front of a computer. And unless you
are yourself a manly man, chances are you hate manly men. Because from the
outside looking in, they're a pretty creepy, disgusting bunch.
Take my co-worker, whom I'll call Butch. At first shine, Butch is pretty
easy to get along with. You might ever go so far as to call him a nice guy.
But I wouldn't call him that to his face. He much prefers being a badass.
He swears at every available opportunity. He drives a pickup. He dips
(manly men need no explanation of this term, but for the rest of you, let's
just say that it comes in what looks like a shoe polish can, goes into the
user's mouth, and then is gradually spit back out into an empty Coke can).
He is, in short, a reasonably well-bred manly man--the kind who wears deck
shoes instead of work boots--but a manly man nevertheless.
Butch does things on an almost daily basis that make me wonder if manly men
aren't descended from an entirely different gene pool, that maybe someone
oughtta do a little more research just to make absolutely sure that
Neanderthal Man really did go extinct.
Recently we were moving some office equipment and Butch dropped a steel
filing cabinet--full--on his foot. It left a gash that looked kind of like
the last major eruption of Mount Kiluhea.
"You want some kind of bandage for that?" I asked.
"No, that's okay," Butch replied, spurting blood all over the company files.
Just the other day we were discussing fund-raising for our company, a small
start-up desperately in need of dough. Butch's take on the marketing
strategy was this: "We have to get the investors wet."
"You mean we have to douse water on them?" I asked.
Butch's entire world, I'm quickly discovering, revolves around two things:
sex and violence. It's a cliche but it's eerily true. Butch seeks out sex
and violence in every possible facet of his life, and clearly relishes every
encounter with them, however oblique. He bears a sprained ankle and the
Jennifer Aniston "Rolling Stone" cover with equal pride. When he runs out of
things to tell us about his sex life, which happens fairly often, he pries
into ours. About the woman I'm currently seeing: "Is she hot?" About the
receptionist at the company down the hall: "She wants you, man." About the
party my colleague had last week: "Were there a lot of chicks there?"
What I hate most about manly men is that they give all of us guys a bad name.
There's an underlying assumption in most American media and entertainment
that ALL guys are manly men, that none of us would ever be sober or change
our sheets or turn down an opportunity for sex without social propriety and
the strong, guiding hand of Woman to reign us in.
It's like in that movie "Beautiful Girls," which everyone seemed to love but
which made me feel like I'd just taken a bath in used cooking oil. The
filmmakers clearly intended for us to find the guys in this movie lovable,
but as far as I could tell they were all sleazebags. Timothy Hutton's
fiancee is coming to visit tomorrow, so what does he do? He gets shitfaced
and puts the moves on Uma Thurman. Matt Dillon's affair with his high school
sweetheart is making his girlfriend bulemic, but hey, he can't help it--the
high school sweetheart's a scheming, manipulative bitch with the best tits
outside of a Japanese comic book--he's powerless, man. Michael Rappoport
keeps dumping his girlfriend and then asking her to marry him, so when she
keeps saying no, what does he do? He wallpapers his bedroom with
supermodels. Amidst its sickening, sentimentalized parade of Manly Man
behavior, the movie's most genuinely touching element winds up being a
pedophilic romance between Tim Hutton and Natalie Portman. You walk out of
the theatre thinking, "Wow, it was really sweet that he didn't try to bang
Manly man behavior in its real-life form is rarely this funny or sentimental.
It's usually more like the one crowning incident of my Me vs. The World day.
I was walking up Boylston Street in Boston's Back Bay with some friends,
when a couple of guys dressed like waiters barged through our midst.
"Excuse me!" exclaimed the first, a blond beanpole who had that ridiculous
posture developed by skinny people who try to fool you into thinking they're
built, where they stand and walk with their arms away from their sides and
their shoulder slightly hunched, as if they're too pumped to reach into their
pockets without effort.
"What he really means to say," said the second, who was a little more built
than his friend but stood perhaps five-foot-two in his dress shoes, "is get
the fuck out of our way."
At this point I made the first mistake one can make with obnoxious, wound-up,
slightly drunk Manly Men, which is to acknowledge their presence. "Thank you
very much," I said.
The little pumped guy hung back, walking alongside me. "You're not from
around here, are you?"
"What? Am I not rude enough?"
"My name's Bill," said the little pumped guy, extending his hand.
"Bill, I'd say it was a pleasure to meet you, but I'd be lying."
"Well," said Bill, "either you're gonna shake my hand or we're gonna have to
Bear in mind that what Bill was now threatening to come to blows over was an
incident that had started with me and my two friends somehow, apparently,
getting in his way on a sidewalk that is about thirty feet wide. Given this
information, I opted to shake Bill's hand. Playing along with a Manly Man's
little intimidation trip is generally wiser than fighting over his inability
to say, "Excuse me."
Of course, for a moment there--just a moment--I almost told Bill to go fuck
himself. And I walked away from the whole incident with my blood singing.
Some deep part of myself--that Neanderthal streak--had really wanted to get
into a big, messy brouhaha with Bill and his pencil-neck friend.
So maybe the media's right about us guys. Maybe there is a little Manly Man
in all of us.
I just hope we all have the good sense to keep him inside where he can't hurt
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© 1996 Peter Langston