I don’t own a truck. I don’t use aftershave. I don’t wear cowboy hats or swing an axe. You will never find me on a paper towel wrapper. Oh also, I don’t use old spice body wash. By all accounts of the advertising world, I am not a man.
The New York Times recently published an article revealing what they thought the Modern Man was. To me, this is nothing more than a truck ad telling the uninformed what and how they should feel. I was glad to see Mike Rowe take a stab at the list and try to pin point what a “Mans Man” was. Unfortunately, there are those of us who don’t feel (or want to feel) like either of the examples. We are the Awkward Fathers, the men who don’t fit into any category, not even the one we give ourselves. With no disrespect, this is my response to The New York Times, and to Mike Rowe.
New York Times: When the modern man buys shoes for his spouse, he doesn’t have to ask her sister for the size. And he knows which brands run big or small.
Mike Rowe: A Man’s Man would not buy shoes for his spouse, or be familiar with the vagaries of various female footwear brands. He might offer to pay for them, and he would definitely compliment her choice. And if he knows the size of her feet, it’s only because he rubs them from time to time.
Awkward Father: The Awkward Father would coral the children and say things like “I’m sure they’ll look fine” while his lover picked out whatever she wanted, likely at the outlet store.
NYT: The modern man never lets other people know when his confidence has sunk. He acts as if everything is going swimmingly until it is.
MR: A Man’s Man feels no shame in admitting uncertainty, because he knows that doing so will make him more certain. He’s transparent about his flaws and shortcomings, and makes no attempt to be more secure or knowledgable or competent than he actually is.
AF: The Awkward Father’s confidence is always in fluctuation, every single interaction pushes and pulls it one way or another.
NYT: The modern man is considerate. At the movie theater, he won’t munch down a mouthful of popcorn during a quiet moment. He waits for some ruckus.
MR: A Man’s Man is also considerate. But he would never consciously time his chewing to coincide with the noisy parts of the film. He does not walk on eggshells.
AF: The Awkward Father makes many noises and distractions, often without realizing it. We are considerate, but sometimes lack the understanding of “quiet”.
NYT: The modern man doesn’t cut the fatty or charred bits off his fillet. Every bite of steak is a privilege, and it all goes down the hatch.
MR: A Man’s Man will clean his plate, assuming of course he’s the one who put the food on it. But he feels no obligation to suck the marrow out of a bone, or eat the bruise on the banana, or consume the cob as well as the corn. He does not equate his manliness with a willingness consume food that’s been poorly prepared.
AF: The Awkward Father does not eat steak, mainly because he cannot afford it. And if he does eat it, he passes out afterwards because steak is a heavy meat and takes lots of time to digest. Also, he finishes the a meal that was prepared for him, even when its less than perfect. If it were dirt, it would still be better than anything he could prepare.
NYT: The modern man won’t blow 10 minutes of his life looking for the best parking spot. He finds a reasonable one and puts his car between the lines.
MR: A Man’s Man knows it’s wiser to park closer to the exit than the entrance.
AF: The Awkward Father finds a spot that he can best get everybody out of the car.
NYT: Before the modern man heads off to bed, he makes sure his spouse’s phone and his kids’ electronic devices are charging for the night.
MR: A Man’s Man knows that self-reliance is born of experience. He encourages his kids to look after their own stuff, and suffer the consequences when they do not. The wife is another matter.
AF: The Awkward Father never remembers to plug in his own devices, therefore he doesn’t expect anybody else to remember either. There are lots of dead electronics in his house.
NYT: The modern man buys only regular colas, like Coke or Dr Pepper. If you walk into his house looking for a Mountain Dew, he’ll show you the door.
MR: A Man’s Man doesn’t drink children’s beverages. He drinks tap water, wine, coffee, beer, whiskey, or iced tea. He does however, keep soda pop on hand, on the off chance a modern man stops by.
AF: The Awkward Father drinks coffee. His life sometimes revolves around when he gets his next cup of the hot, delicious, loving liquid.
NYT: The modern man uses the proper names for things. For example, he’ll say “helicopter,” not “chopper” like some gauche simpleton.
MR: A Man’s Man is less worried about using the right word, and more concerned with being understood. But under no circumstance, does he “dumb down” the language.
AF: The Awkward Father is used to talking with small children. While he makes the best effort to regard nouns properly, you can’t blame him for occasional referring to his shower time as: “bubble time”.
NYT: Having a daughter makes the modern man more of a complete person. He learns new stuff every day.
MR: A Man’s Man is already a complete person. His identity does not depend upon sons, daughters, spouses, friends, or pets. He is not a loner, and he cherishes the relationships he has. But he knows that his “completion” is nothing but a reflection of knowing who he is.
AF: I agree with Mr. Rowe on this one. Also, if a daughter is not acquired, The Awkward Father does not dwell on what he thinks he’s missing out on, moreover, he enjoys every single second and more with the children he’s had, a good awkward father never feels obligated to like or love his children.
NYT: The modern man makes sure the dishes on the rack have dried completely before putting them away.
MR: A Man’s Man will always volunteer to wash the dishes. He may or may not put them away, but regardless, he understands the phenomenon of evaporation, and doesn’t concern himself with a codified system for drying.
AF: Dishes get cleaned and put away whenever there’s time, just like laundry. And just like laundry, often these are tasks that have waited till absolute necessity.
NYT: The modern man has never “pinned” a tweet, and he never will.
MR: A Man’s Man does not know what that even means. But he rarely says “never.”
AF: The Awkward Father pins lots of stuff, and then often forgets about the pin. He doesn’t care what other people think, unless its the people giving him awesome decorating advice for him to pin.
NYT: The modern man checks the status of his Irish Spring bar before jumping in for a wash. Too small, it gets swapped out.
MR: A Man’s Man uses Lava Soap. He uses it until it’s the size of a dime.
AF: Bar soap is fucking disgusting.
NYT: The modern man listens to Wu-Tang at least once a week.
MR: A Man’s Man watches reruns of Kung-Fu.
AF: The Awkward Father listens to and watches whatever the hell he wants. No judgment against any or all genres.
NYT: The modern man still jots down his grocery list on a piece of scratch paper. The market is no place for his face to be buried in the phone.
MR: A Man’s Man does not make lists. He knows what he likes, what he needs, and what he wants. If he has to write it down, he understands it was not worth having in the first place.
AF: The Awkward Father write his grocery list and then forgets it on the counter top. He tries his best to remember everything but this method only means he goes to the grocery store 2-3 times a week.
NYT: The modern man has hardwood flooring. His children can detect his mood from the stamp of his Kenneth Cole oxfords.
MR: A Man’s Man is not committed to any particular type of flooring. He doesn’t attempt to communicate with his children through his footsteps, and he doesn’t own oxfords, unless they’re steel-toed.
AF: The Awkward Father has the floor that came with his house/apt/condo/flat. He knows his children are way more receptive than the modern man gives them credit for and he’s never heard of Kenneth Cole oxfords but they sound pricey so…
NYT: The modern man lies on the side of the bed closer to the door. If an intruder gets in, he will try to fight him off, so that his wife has a chance to get away.
MR: A Man’s Man knows that a struggle closest to the door will effectively block the exit through which his wife might flee. So he secures the house in a way that keeps intruders out, and sleeps wherever he wants.
AF: The Awkward Father passes out on the couch, too exhausted to move. He knows any intruder would enter, see the mess and leave not wanting any part of that craziness
NYT: The modern man has a melon baller. How else would the cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew he serves be so uniformly shaped?
MR: The Man’s Man, if he serves fruit at all, prepares wedges, squares, and rectangles. He accomplishes this with a knife.
AF: Kids choke on anything the size of their windpipe, The Awkward Father forgoes cutting and instead throws everything into the blender. Smoothies are delicious.
NYT: The modern man has thought seriously about buying a shoehorn.
MR: A Man’s Man doesn’t think “seriously” about any purchase under $5.
AF: What’s that old phrase? “A fool and his money are soon parted”
NYT: The modern man buys fresh flowers more to surprise his wife than to say he is sorry.
MR: A Man’s Man picks wildflowers on the side of the road, wraps them with a bootlace, and presents them with an original, hand-written poem.
AF: The Awkward Father presents his wife with a clean house, a bottle of Tequila and the children already in bed. You want to surprise your wife, do anything that shows you love her.
NYT: On occasion, the modern man is the “little spoon.” Some nights, when he is feeling down or vulnerable, he needs an emotional and physical shield.
MR: A Man’s Man will do whatever’s necessary to please his bedmate – not himself. But he roundly rejects all metaphors, especially those that involve utensils.
AF: The Awkward Father’s bed is full of children, pets and toys. Any way he can touch his wife through that beautiful mess is perfect for him.
NYT: The modern man doesn’t scold his daughter when she sneezes while eating an apple doughnut, even if the pieces fly everywhere.
MR: A Man’s Man would laugh and then say “Bless you,” or “gesundheit.” Then, he’d make sure she wipes her nose and cleans up the crumbs.
AF: The Awkward Father would laugh, choke on his donut making her laugh, and then they would share another donut together. Later The Awkward Father would eat the discarded donut pieces as he cleaned them up.
NYT: The modern man still ambles half-naked down his driveway each morning to scoop up a crisp newspaper.
MR: A Man’s Man does not amble. Moreover, he would have aleady impressed upon the paper boy the importance of getting the morning paper all the way up on the porch. Where it belongs.
AF: The Awkward Father half listens to NPR. He would never talk to the paper boy half naked becuase people get arrested for that shit.
NYT: The modern man has all of Michael Mann’s films on Blu-ray (or whatever the highest quality thing is at the time.)
MR: A Man’s Man doesn’t own films – he rents them. He also values effectiveness over efficiency, and knows that the “latest technology” will be obsolete in a few months. For this reason, he makes no attempt to own the newest of anything.
AF: Own? Rent? Clearly these other two don’t know what High Def Streaming is.
NYT: The modern man doesn’t get hung up on his phone’s battery percentage. If it needs to run flat, so be it.
MR: A Man’s Man prefers his gas tank full, his weapon loaded, his pantry stocked, and his checkbook balanced. He also likes his phone sufficiently charged, and takes the necessary steps to accomplish that.
AF: The Awkward Father agrees with Mr. Rowe, although he knows this preference is just a pipe dream.
NYT: The modern man has no use for a gun. He doesn’t own one, and he never will.
MR: A Man’s Man owns at least one firearm. He knows how to use it, clean it, and store it properly. He understands it’s importance, and sees it for what it is – a tool that can protect him and his family.
AF: The Awkward Father knows how to respect a tool that can kill. He knows the ins and outs of the tool as well as the statistics and most likely events. He researches the tool like he would anything, and in the end he alone makes the decision to own it. The awkward father protects his family with his mind first, and a weapon second.
NYT: The modern man cries. He cries often.
MR: A Man’s Man cries if he feels like crying. But he rarely feels like it.
AF: The Awkward Father cries in his car when life becomes too much to bear.
NYT: People aren’t sure if the modern man is a good dancer or not. That is, until the D.J. plays his jam and he goes out there and puts on a clinic
MR: People know without question a Man’s Man does not dance. But they also know if called upon, he’ll give it his best shot…
AF: The Awkward Father dances when he feels the beat drop, even if he has no rythym. He doesn’t care, he’s got children to embarrass.