Not so horrible confessions about being a regular guy.
I recently read a humorous (I think) piece about how much space men take up on the subway. The gist was that we sprawl like sleeping toddlers, our legs stretched and spread because we are the privileged elite and to hell with everybody else. Or something like that. I’ll be honest, I tuned out pretty quickly because I began obsessing on a single thought: But I try to be small in public.
It’s true: When I’m in public I try to be small and invisible. My commitment to staying out of the way is partially driven by my batshit craziness, a combination of OCD and social anxiety that occasionally renders public spaces hell on earth, but even without my broken brain I’d do my best to stay out of your way. That’s just common courtesy.
Both the story and its resulting online conversation left me wondering how many other stereotypes about men people assume are true of me when they see me in that scary place called “outside.” The following are some truths about me that I think are in violation of the cliche of the man card:
I think you’re better than me. This is my default setting when encountering people, regardless of where. You’re more talented, more compassionate, stronger, funnier, etc. unless you demonstrate otherwise. Perhaps I have an inferiority complex, I don’t know, but I prefer to think that I assume the best in others rather than the worst of myself.
I have nothing against romantic comedies. Where did this notion come from that I’m supposed to like noisy movies with no plot and lots of guns? Actually, I have nothing against those, either. I like good movies and I dislike bad movies, the genre is irrelevant. Give me a good story performed well by talented actors and I’m happy.
I think you’re smart and talented and I respect you greatly, but I still want to get naked and weird with you. These two things are not mutually exclusive in my mind. Why should they be? Smart and talented are attractive qualities, and attractive qualities are a turn on. I’ve never understood why men can’t be down with the sisterhood yet still hot for the sisters.
I don’t feel entitled. There’s nothing about owning a penis that leaves me feeling entitled to do anything. There are things I feel entitled to as a human being, sure, but nothing specific to my masculinity.
I rarely scratch my balls. They just aren’t itchy. If they were so itchy that compulsive scratching was warranted, I’d seek medical attention.
I like porn. I do, and that has nothing to do with you. I don’t like it because it objectifies or demeans, or because I don’t think you’re attractive. There’s no pathology here, no substitute for something. In the privacy of my home and in compliance with all applicable laws and the express written consent of Major League Baseball I enjoy watching people do the thing that I enjoy doing. I make no excuses and beg no forgiveness.
I don’t care about sports. Well, I sort of do but not in any meaningful way. I own no team jerseys, belong to no fantasy leagues, and don’t refer to any sports teams as “we,” as in “I think we’re going all the way this year.” Professional sports to me are pretty much like the weather, just another topic for small talk with strangers.
I don’t have a man cave. I have a library, though, and it’s stuffed full of books ranging from Chaucer to Mad magazine compilations. Most of my books are literary fiction or art, but not exclusively so. There’s a table in there, too, and a comfortable chair. Full disclosure: The Mad collections see more action than the Chaucer.
Farts embarrass me.
Some of the above might be true of other men, too, I don’t know. It’s not like we have secret meetings where we wear fezzes and smoke pipes and set the man agenda, although that would be awesome. I think I’d go for a monocle, too.
Regardless, that’s the truth about me. Please keep it in mind the next time you’re on the subway and you see a six-footer wedging himself into a corner to make room for others, and you probably ought to knock before you open my door. Thanks.
photo courtesy of the author