I crack my manly knuckles and secretly enjoy the slight pain that comes from an old football injury. Broke my hand in two places when I was a very manly seventeen-year-old. Damn, even then I was an impressive man.
Not as impressive as I am now, of course. My manly chest hair is about as long as my very manly beard. It’s hard to walk around with this much testosterone. I should have a warning tattooed on my arm, right next to my current manly skull tattoo.
It’s time to get to work. I’ve got manly things to do, and this decorative pillowcase isn’t going to sew itself. The thing has been finicky; the quality of the fabric is subpar and needs a good manly pep talk.
“You are more than people say you are!” I tell the pink fabric. The fabric spouts purple fringe. That’s what I’m talking about.
Manly as sh*t.
I get to work, making sure that the switch width selector is set right. You only need to make that mistake one damn time to get it right the next time. I mess with my thread tension, give it a manly pep talk about being the Eye Of The Tiger. The pillowcase takes a while but we get there.
I take a shot of whiskey.
My daughter likes to sew, and we are working on a project together. It doesn’t matter that I knew nothing about it before, what kind of man admits defeat before even trying? A wimpy man without football injuries, that’s who.
I watched about a thousand hours of Youtube on a manly browser. Then I went to my daughter, very manly like, and said, “Hey! I want to spend time with you! Let’s do a project together!”
“Ok, Dad!” she said.
“What you want to make?”
Excellent, pillowcases made with your twelve-year-old daughter are manly as f*ck.
I’m a great manly cusser too. I swear all the time. Like when I quit my job because my family needed someone to stay home with the kids.
“Sh*t, I got this, babe,” I told my wife. “You go and make us some money, and I’ll do the damn child raising.”
Ten years past, and my cussing is so manly now that it has got its own musk. My cussing smells like Appalachian moonshine.
I can’t sew all day, I’ve got other things to do. So I blare the Rage Against The Machine and get to the cleaning. The bathroom has been getting uppity so I have to stare it down. It’s tough going for a bit, but I remember what my daddy told me when I was just a little young beard.
He said: “Son, damn, you are so manly. Go do important things and remember the people you care about.” Then he gave me a shot of milk.
I get the bathroom cleaned by reciting Vince Lombardi quotes at it. Next, I go to the grocery store to hunt. It’s a long haul, and I have to chew on some hard tack to make it through. But I got a nice lamb shank cornered near the salt blocks. Rolled by and bagged that sucker on my way out through the checkout.
A couple of the ladies asked me if I was taken. I’m not taken; I’m given. Then I blew them a kiss and they fainted.
Back at the house, I set up in the kitchen with my manly mixer. My two sons are home from school, and I’m going to teach them some manly life skills. Men need to learn to cook for themselves and be self-reliant. You can’t expect the world to just give you shortbread cookies, you gotta go out and bake them. Because that’s what men do, they find those things that are important to them and go out and get it.
We punch the dough a little bit, and then I teach my daughter how to spit. Probably should have done that some other time and not in the kitchen. But men make mistakes, and we learn from them. That’s what I tell my kids as we use the forged steel cookie cutters to makes snowman shapes in the dough.
My niece and nephew are coming for Christmas, and I want to make it special for them. So we are using a little spare time here to practice making our tarts. They’ll be great on Christmas Eve sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Tarts are so manly. I cooked a tart once and it came out of the oven ready to vote.
My five-year-old son uses the sleeves of my shirt to wipe his hands off, and I take it like a man. Because that’s what the world tells men to do. They tell you to take it like a man.
And it doesn’t stop there. The world tells you that to be a man you have to be tough and strong, that crying isn’t for you. Emotions should be wrapped up inside and by no means should you do women’s work.
The world ain’t wrong. I saw my wife give birth to all three of my kids, and I want no part of that. That amount of pain would break any of us manly men, and the best men know it.
So I leave the woman’s work to my wife. I stick to man’s work. My tarts lift dumbbells while they cook.
I flop on the couch, exhausted after a very manly day doing very manly things. I’ve got callouses on my hands from fighting. I fight all the time, as all men do.
I fight the laundry or the yard, the car mechanics and the school lunches. Sometimes I pick a fight with naps because fighting feels manly and I’m a manly man.
The kids all jump on me and pretty soon we are all just one big blob. We watch manly shows, like The Great British Bake Off. Damn, that sponge cake is manly.
And while we sit, I hug my kids in a big bear hug. A huge bear hug. A hug that is safe and warm; that lets them know how loved they are.
And then I tell them. “Boys, Girl, I love you guys. I love you like John Wayne loves his horse.” And they love me, too, and get a blanket out that we stitched up together.
This is what manly men do all day. But it’s not all they do. Some men go to a job that pays the bills. Others work in construction. Some even go to therapy to work on their issues.
Damn, heroes those guys. True men, those that know who they are, embrace it. A real man does what he needs to for his family, whatever that may be.
But other people, not manly men, write articles asking where all the “real men” are at. Then they talk for hours on what they think a man should be, what he should do. And when I see that, I wonder why their chest hair looks so cowardly? Because us real men, the meat and potatoes type of men that can appreciate a vegan meal from time to time, know that’s all a load of bullshit.
No one gets to decide what type of man I am, or what I’m capable of. The idea of manliness isn’t something that’s up for debate. I decide what is manly and what being a man means for me. I don’t need outside approval, no man does to know what he is.
And if I do that right, those lessons will be taught to my kids. Because they are the only ones that need to look at me and think My Dad is a real man. A manly man becomes whoever he needs to be to take care of himself or those around him. That’s what a real man does.
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