Manliness as an institution can be a sensitive subject these days. The old school model doesn’t fly so much now that society has come to embrace ideas like social equality and not lifting weights at work. You know as well as I that manliness isn’t about belittling others or how long a mustache you can grow.
Many of the things that define what we think of as “manly” are still quite socially acceptable and great fun — and you shouldn’t need a reason to get familiar with them. To start enjoying my own membership to the church of manliness, here are five activities I’ve taken the time to learn more about recently.
1. Tasting Fine
I’ve been slowly tasting different bourbons or scotches by grabbing a bottle when I can to add to the home bar, or sipping on something exclusive when I’m out. Currently, high-rye bourbon has my fancy — to quote some of Youtube’s finest: “The only right way to drink whiskey is the whiskey you like, the way you like it.”
Removed of the pretense, there is so much to experience in the world of whiskey that no one will ever get bored. Try a dram if you enjoy taking the edge off on a Friday evening.
2. Working on Cars
Pop the hood on your late-model automobile, and you’ll reveal a black box. New cars are so high-tech, it can make them difficult to work on without specialized tools and a degree in computer science, but it can be done.
The trick for me was to pick up an older project car for some simpler wrenching. For a modest price, I was able to take my old beater Datsun 260Z to the local autocross, where it promptly broke again. It was rinse-and-repeat for a while, but now the car runs well, and I’ve also learned a lot and connected with a huge community of car enthusiasts. Now, I look forward to the great fun every third Sunday at the track.
3. Betting on Sports
Don’t take this as a green light to develop a habit, but if you enjoy sports and know the lay of the land, you could be sitting on a lu\rative hobby. An important 2018 court decision has made the practice legal, and you can find a casino or bar to place your bets at in most states. I’m a huge hockey fan, but I never really took the time to figure out how betting on the games works, and was always embarrassed about not knowing what something like “take the home team minus the points” meant. I’m glad I did my research. While I was bummed when my Blackhawks gave a sub-par performance, I won a few big bets on the Golden Knights last year, especially since they were such big underdogs.
My dad was a sailor, or at least he raced sailboats for some time. On the right day, sailing can be the most peaceful thing in the world, but beneath that pleasant experience, there is a real challenge to be had in learning how to trim sails, navigate and even win races. This is another sport where there is a friendly, welcoming community eager to embrace new members. It’s becoming a dying art, but it’s never too late to learn!
5. Tying a Tie
I’m not talking about the half-assed messy looking knot that got you by in college. I’m talking about how to correctly tie a tie. I had a big interview coming up, and a mentor of mine agreed to show me how to tie a full Windsor knot. Yes, it was slightly difficult to learn, but it looks a whole lot better than what I had previously been able to throw together. When I finished practicing, I felt a lot more manly. I’m not sure whether I’m going to dive into learning a bow tie yet, but it does seem like it’d be a dapper choice for the right occasion.
What manly things have you compelled yourself to learn? Maybe you want to know how to make your own compost or repair that plumbing leak without help. Maybe you’ve set up a workshop where you can rip your own lumber for that latest project and make some sweet picture frames in your spare time. The list, as they say, goes on. Let us know what you’re working on in the comments.