Tag Archives: 90’s

Ask a Grown Man: Vol. XV

24 Jun

Grown Man,

From one grown man to another, can we agree that today’s 20-somethings are ridiculous?  I mean really…hipster, everyone gets a trophy, entitled kids?  C’mon Grown Man, help them out!

Gratefully,
Doug
Seattle, WA

Doug E. Fresh,

I’d like to begin answering your question by focusing on two completely unrelated points:

First point…Seattle is the greatest city ever.  I’ve spent some time there and must implore – nay – beg you to send me a doughnut from Mighty O’s and an espresso from Vivace.  I don’t know how you’ll get either of those to me fresh and warm, but that’s not my problem. ASAP, Doug, A-S-A-P!  My address is:

Grown Man
A House I Built
‘merica,
67650

Second point…Doug, did you realize that the original Space Jam website is still up and active?! This has nothing to do with you or anything you’ve asked, but I needed to tell the world so I randomly threw it into this post. Anyhow, you and the tens of other people reading need to go to this website and remember how amazingingly 8-bit the mid-90s were.

Now that we’ve got all that rigmarole out of the way, let’s finally get to your question. By way of review…

I’m Doug! I hate kids! I’m old and curmudgeonly!
-Doug

Douglas, three years ago, you and I would have been on the same page.  When this blog started, I was on a personal quest to transform every man into some idealized version of masculinity.  I railed against v-necks, skinny jeans, not carrying cash, and basically every fad/fashion that wasn’t timeless.  And while this was, arguably, the greatest, wittiest writing ever done by anyone in the history of the world – I don’t think I was right.

GROWM MAN! Are you saying you were WRONG!?  I thought part of being in an ivory tower was never having to admit you’re wrong!?

I know, and I’m sorry to disappoint you.  But I’ve observed something over the past few years that’s refined my thinking.  [Cue soft, reflective violin music]

The kid I worked with who inspired most of the early posts did something impressive – he grew up.  And as he grew up, some things became more Grown Man-ish. Things like: #13 – Ask a Girl Out (he did, and he married her), #44 – Be a Friend to Your Heartbroken Comrades (at his wedding, all his groomsmen cried and talked about what a loyal friend he is) and #74 – Slow Down (he’s present, he listens, and he has margin in his life).

Conversely, some things haven’t changed at all: #36 – Know the 7 T-Shirt Rules (he wears a shirt or tank-top to every event – and it’s awful),  #61 – Wear a Watch (he checks his iPhone – a lot), which ties in with #67 – Quit Screwing Around on Your Phone (he’ll literally play Candy Crush during a funeral if given the opportunity).

Mustache, check. Fixed gear, check.
Job, not so much.

Here’s the kicker though, the importance of  the things he doesn’t do is pale in comparison to the  value of the things he does do. What compels me to make fun of him in front of his friends and family is the fact that he’s wearing an American Flag tank top.  But what defines him is his character, friendship, and ability to love his wife and community well.  At the end of the day, being a Grown Man isn’t about what you wear, it’s about the trust that people have in you – and I trust this man, tank top and all.

Which, my dear Doug, brings me back to your question.  Yes, I think hipsters are ridiculous, what with their ironic glasses, vinyl copies of Bon Iver, and $200 vintage Chambray shirts.  However, when I was their age I was deep into my Dave Matthews phase, wearing Chaco sandals, and refusing to buy a suit because “Dave doesn’t wear a suit and he wrote #41 – whatever, DAD!”  And guess what? Some mid-30s-anonymous-blogger-guy was probably looking at me saying “grow up” – and he was probably right.  Every incarnation of youth is silly, Doug. Beatle-maniacs, hippies, gen X-ers, hipsters – all of them.  But what we can do is differentiate between what is an adolescent phase and what is real, rooted, and lasting – like a solid handshake, making eye contact, and meaning what you say.

However…we really have to force these kids to stop getting sleeve tattoos.  That junk’s going to haunt them someday.

Until next Monday, ask away.  Thanks for the question, Doug!

Ask a Grown Man: Vol. XII

25 Oct

I’ve got a TON of questions in ye ole’ Ask A Grown Man queue. So, we’re going to spend a couple of days answering them, changing lives, and kickin’ it Dear Abby style.  Let’s get to work….

Grown Man,

I am recently divorced.  It’s been ten years since I’ve even thought about dating, and I believe the world has changed quite a bit.  What do I do to get myself into the current dating scene?  A related question, what are your thoughts on e-dating sites?

Thank you for your time,
Michael

My Good Man,

Sorry about your divorce.  While you may be happy it ended, nobody ever goes into a marriage expecting it to fail.  I hope this season of your life hasn’t been too rough.  But, judging by your email, I’m guessing you might be emerging from those woods and ready to dip a toe back in the ever-so-treacherous dating waters — well done.  Allow me to shed some light on your questions.

First, a lot and nothing has changed in ten years. For example, in 2000 everybody was paying attention to hanging chads in hella-crazy Florida while at the same time – get ready for it –  women enjoyed being with a man who was polite.  Here’s another one: In 2000, every Gen Y-er was bemoaning the end of Boy Meets World (and Topanga) – also, eye contact and genuine interest in a woman’s life was getting guys second dates.

So 1998You see what I’m saying?  Basically, Michael, being a good man is always en vogue and ten years changes nothing except current events and fashion (no more paisley ties – ever).  However, and more to your questions, where do you meet Michael-worthy women?

Well, people say you should stay away from bars.  But, what I really think they mean is that you should stay away from places that you, on a normal day, would never go to.  For instance,  if you’re 45, don’t go to the bar that the super-trendy college kids frequent.  While it may seem like a good idea to be flirting with freshmen, it’s not the relationship you’re looking for.

In reality, you should be hanging out in places with people like you.  You should find the local Michael-like establishment(s) and set up camp.  Also, you might need to be creative and create hobbies or situations in your life that foster this kind of community.  Not a church-goer?  Maybe it’s time.  Are you a half-way decent baseball player?  Time to sign up for your local softball league. The bottom line is this: find a community, be bold in asking quality women out, pick yourself up when it doesn’t work, and be patient.  Then, like the shampoo bottles say, “Wash, rinse, repeat.”  Keep at it.

Or, there’s option b) on-line dating.  Here are my two cents on online dating.  Five years ago, it was a little odd and something that good, normal, non-super strange folks should have avoided.  However, the fact that on-line dating has become so popular has helped in shifting the balance from 10% Normal/90% Creep-a-zoid to 80% Normal/20% oogie. This change has caused me to rethink the validity of this option and give it my official, “I Don’t Know Man, If You Really Have To” seal of approval. There’s nothing better than meeting a nice lady organically. However, I realize we live in different and increasingly isolated times, and it gets progressively harder as you get further away from your 20’s to go au naturel. So if you must Michael, you’ve got my semi-support.

heHarmony,
GM

Ask a Grown Man: Vol. X

24 Aug

Oh man, we’re gonna get deeeeeep today.  Dr. Frasier Crane will now take your calls…

 

Hi GM,
So, should Grown Men look for a mother for their children or the romantic “love-of-my-life-butterflies-in-the-stomach-the-one” woman?

-Kris Arruda

 

Kris,
I’m not going to lie. I cringed when reading your question for the first time.  There was something in me that just wanted to get a posse of women, come to what I’m quite sure must be your bachelor pad, and scream…

“KRIS, THEY’RE THE SAME PERSON!”

 

But then I realized that a) it wouldn’t be cool for me to be hanging out with a posse of women, b) I think you live in Brazil which is really quite a commitment for just yelling five words, and c) you’ve brought up an interesting point that bears discussing.

Let’s talk about the “love-of-my-life-butterflies-in-the-stomach-the-one” woman.  Because what we miss is what those butterflies are and what they aren’t.  They are, typically, lust and attraction, you know — the mojo.  And, because we’re essentially big dumb animals, it’s okay and normal to feel attraction to another person.  Butterflies are a good feeling and are designed, as a single man, to cue us in to women who we may be compatible with and therefore further the species via procreation.  However, the “butterflies in the stomach” feeling has less to do with long-term monogamy and more to do with a sense of compatibility which, don’t get me wrong, is extremely important — but is not the whole story.

Because what butterflies aren’t are indicators that we’ve found “the one.”  This is our brain tricking itself into thinking that attraction+physical contact=good relationship.  Our brain, however, is not always connected to the heart and needs to realize that initial attraction is common throughout animals, but emotional attraction is unique to only our species.  You may hear that other animals have the same level to connect, but believe me, dolphins don’t write love songs.  Wow, profound.

Mother or butterflies?So Kris, my good man, here’s what I want you to know.  The “mother of your children” (i.e. your wife and life-long parter) should be a woman who gives you those butterflies, who you totally go nuts over and can’t stop dreaming about, who you make mix tapes for, who you write poems for that will one day embarrass you and be locked in a box, and who your brain is screaming at you to procreate with because she’s giving you that wonderful, indescribable, mojo.  However, and this is a big however, there may be times in even the best relationships where you don’t feel the initial crazy lust/attraction/animal instinct feelings.  That doesn’t mean she’s not crazy-attractive, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you’ve traded romantic love for a less exciting version of it.  It means you’ve got work to do.

Sometimes, you’re going to have to wake up and say to yourself, “Today, I’m going to be a better husband.”  Sometimes, you’ve got to realize that it’s been way too long since you dated your wife.  Sometimes, you’ve got to charge the paddles and shock the heart into beating again.  Believe me, putting work into the marriage will insure that you never have to choose between “butterflies” (lust and attraction) and wife (love) — you get both.

Kris, I’m sure you wanted a funnier answer, but I’ve got a solemn duty to reinvent masculinity.  I hope you understand.  Good luck finding “her.”  Trust me, it’s well worth it.

“Butterfly kisses…”,
GM

After dating someone who turned out to be Less Than A Grown Man for 5 years (and yes, shame on me for not realizing it sooner), I’m now stumped as to how to approach the dating scene. Where-oh-where can I find nice Grown Men in their 30s and 40s? Suggestions, please! Or, better yet, personal referrals… 🙂

 

-Anonymous

 

Single sister,

First, I’ve got to correct you on something.  There’s no “shame” in dating the wrong guy for a while.  Maybe you learned something, maybe you didn’t?  Either way, you didn’t get married and you realized, at some point, that he was less than fantastic.  You did a good thing by getting out, even if it took a while.  And in fairness to you, guys can be pretty cunning — I’m working on fixing that.

Second, I have no idea how to approach the dating scene other than to say that any scene that is designed for dating is likely going to be a disaster.  My advice: find a place that has a bunch of people your age and dive in.  Maybe a sports league, a church, or a 21 Jump Street fan club?  I think I’m giving you bad advice now.  Anyhow, just don’t go to bars or shady online sites.  Guys who go there are more like the 5-year-disaster type and not like the future Mr. Fantastic.

Finally, I don’t have any personal referrals.  But fellas, if you’re reading this and feel you might be a good candidate, please email…

HelpAnonymousFindAGreat30or40yearOldGrownManWhoIsNotCrazy
AndWillLoveHerLikeSheDeservesToBeLoved@youareagrownman.com

Mr. Right,
GM

That’s all for today, gentlemen.  Until next week, keep asking those great questions.

Ask a Grown Man: Vol. VIII

5 Aug

Let’s do this…

Hey Grown Man,I went through a phase during my early–mid/late twenties (not my bi-curious phase. get your head out of the gutter grown man) where if I knew I was going to disappoint a person/friend/girlfriend with bad news (not bad news like my grandmother has diabetes, but bad news like I won’t be able to join you on Friday night at bar X, or, I won’t be able to join you in August to go to Europe) I just wouldn’t pick up the phone and call…or answer their phone calls to me. When I quit my job at Circuit City my freshman year in college, I’m ashamed to say I just stopped showing up.

As a “growing man” I’ve learned that upfront, honest communication works really well. “Grown Men” make an effort to communicate, they take initiative to communicate first, they communicate clearly and succinctly…and they do this especially when the news is bad. I’ve found that I respect this in people when I see it in my business or in my personal life.

I don’t know if you’ve already discussed this topic but I’d like to hear your thoughts Grown Man.

Forthcomingly yours,
Jacob

Jacob,

What a fantastic question.  Really, the question was not only very well put, but also answered in a way that leaves me with little to say other than, you’re totally right.  However, because I’ve got a blog to write, I’m obligated to say you’re totally right in several hundred words with a few obscure pop-culture references and a barn-load of sarcasm and judgment.  Here I go…

Being a man means different things to different people.  Yet, with many male ideologies floating around, there are some nonnegotiables that all Grown Men should heed.  Here are a few of them:

-Start and end a conversation with a hand shake and eye-contact
-Be kind to people
-Always try to better yourself
-Quit wearing sweatpants

Grown Men, Jacob has added a tremendous one to the list that must be addressed – don’t shirk on communication.  In our lives, we all have difficult, unpleasant, or at least mildly uncomfortable conversations that confront us.  Even the most zen of men are going to find themselves with that familiar feeling of knowing that before them lies a choice: avoid and ignore or face it head on.

Grown Men face it head on.  We do this because ignoring a situation leaves others hurt, leaves questions unanswered, and puts you in a position of not being respected.  We do this “Not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard”. And when we have the hard conversations, we’re looked at as men that, right or wrong, can be trusted to do what is necessary.

One more thing: What is “it” that we have to face?  Well, look no further than Jacob’s question for that answer.  It is anything from simply disappointing a friend (“Sorry, I can’t go to lunch, I’m really portly and just started Fatkins.”) to quitting a job (I can’t blame you Jacob, Circuit City sucked).  These kinds of decisions require of you to step up and do precisely what you don’t want to do: “make an effort to communicate, take initiative to communicate first, and communicate clearly and succinctly.”  Well put, “Growing Man” (snicker).

Team Jacob, thank you for presenting a great question and answer.  We all need to be reminded of this every now and again.

Team Edward?,
GM

Grown Man,

Is there anything my boyfriend (emphasis on boy) can do to make up for ruining my birthday?

Sincerely,
Hurt Birthday Girl

Hurt Birthday Girl’s Almost Ex-boyfriend,

Sir, you’ve really screwed up this time.  And, while I’m sure you’ve messed up before (remember Tijuana?), “ruining a birthday” is literally, almost, unforgivable.  I don’t know what you did to ruin it, but it was bad enough that your almost ex-girlfriend emailed some dude’s blog, anonymously, and called you a “boy” – BURNED!

But, I believe that you’ve got it in you to redeem yourself.  Why do I think this?  Because she obviously thinks there’s something you can do to make up for it, or she wouldn’t have written me.  So, I’m going to help you out.

What you’ve got to do is find the inverse of whatever you did to “ruin” the birthday and do it, a lot.  For example, let’s say you gave her a Weight Loss Yoga DVD for her birthday.  Well,  the inverse of Weight Loss Yoga DVD is making her an awesome dinner every night for two months and spending that dinner telling her how freaking beautiful you think she is.  Do you see what I’m saying?  Let me try again.   Let’s say you decided that a great night for her would be watching you build your model trains and get super pissed because the “damn drawbridge won’t go up with the new servo!”  Oh boy, good one – nerd.  The inverse of this is probably getting an outdoor hobby and letting her go to find a dude that’s not so, well, like you.

In any event, you need to work very hard, every day, and with great forethought to find the appropriate inverse and make this right.  Hurt Birthday Girl is, I’m sure, a forgiving and kind woman who may eventually come around.  But fella, you’ve got to get to work.  Good luck, we’re rooting for you.

16 candles,
GM

get your facial hair under control.

28 Jun

I’ve gotten more emails about this topic than anything else.  And guess what, most of them are from women!  I wonder if that means anything?  Huh.  Maybe our lady-friends are trying to tell us something? Oh no, it must be a coincidence.  Anyhow, here’s a typical email I receive:

“Dearest Grown Man,  I imagine that you’re smooth like Barry, and your voice has bass, you’ve got a body like Arnold with a Denzel face. Anyhow, my boyfriend has this terribly scraggly beard, can you tell him he has to shave it?

Shoop,
Pepa”

Gentlemen, your follicles are becoming your foe.  The woman in your life are telling you so, Don Draper’s telling you so, and now – I’m telling you so.  Facial hair is not a means of self-expression, it’s one of the few options your body gives you to subtly manipulate an otherwise lackluster appearance.  It’s time to learn the rules:

1- You must give your face daily attention.  Many of the men I know go a week, or tragically a month, between giving their face any mind.  They seem to think it’s subtly growing out and nobody notices.  Let me assure you, we notice.  The reason you don’t see it is the same reason you don’t notice that the trash is full, the dog hasn’t been fed in two days, and the children appear to not be wearing pants as you’re driving to the store.  You, my good men, have a one track mind.  On a typical day, you have a very narrow focus:  get up, coffee, work, soccer practice, food, History Channel, sleep.  What I’m telling you is that somewhere between “get up” and “coffee”, you need to check a mirror and manicure your mug.

2- Mind your fads.  Back in the day, when Magnum was chillin’ with Zeus and Apollo, mustaches were awesome.  I’m not going to mock the mustache as, at a point in our history (key word: history), it was acceptable to get married, interview, and live life with a caterpillar on your upper lip.  However, times have changed, and you need to progress.  While I can’t begin to name all the fads in mens facial hair, I will say that a few of recently deceased are:  goatees, soul patches, and fat-guy-neck-beards.

3- Febru-hairy, no-shave-Novermber, etc. are not going to get you a job or lady-friend.  Now listen, I’m not going to get intense on this point and say you can never do it.  I’ve got some really respectable friends who take to growing a handlebar mustache once a year or stop shaving for a period of time to get a laugh.  Believe me, I get it.  However, these are periods of time – not the default.  By default, your facial hair needs to be tidy and unnoticeable.

4-  If you’re dating/married, ask her opinion – her honest opinion.  If she says something like, “Oh, I guess, um, yeah, I like your beard the way it is. It’s really cool how you can tuck it into your belt when we go on roller coasters.  I’d just love to see what it might look like if it was just at your chest though.  I mean, you could still tuck it into your ZZ Top t-shirt when we go to Six Flags.”   I’ve said this before, but when you decide to pair-up with someone, you’re representing them.  You don’t have to lose your individuality, but you do need to find a balance.

5-  Really, the only facial hair options are a full, well trimmed, beard – or nothing.  At the end of the day, everything else is just a look that’s really not helping your cause.  Just suck it up already and do what you know you need to do.

Hair today, gone tomorrow.

quit fumbling over introductions.

24 May

Let’s assume for a moment that you have interactions with humans other than your mom, your one friend who has a jet ski, and Taco Bell Brenda. If you are a moderately functioning member of the Earth, you’ve likely been the middleman between person A (we’ll call him Sam) and person B (we’ll call her Diane). Usually, this is how you roll:

1- You are talking to Sam
2- Diane walks up
3- You continue talking to Sam, giving Diane a quick bro-nod.
4- Diane makes awkward eye-contact with Sam, has the should I stay or should I go moment, and continues to stand there waiting for you to do the deed.
5- Your conversation with Sam about a “sweet Hogwarts Lego set” wraps up and you, finally, turn and say, “Oh, what’s up Diane” – Sam now stands awkwardly while Diane agrees that TRON should be remade – asap.

Okay, really men, you’ve got to get the whole introducing people to each other thing down. Like many other subtle points of etiquette, it will go a long way in helping others take you seriously, not to mention that those in your orbit will feel valued – which is good if you want to procreate.

Here are some pointers:

-Take a moment and give a brief intro of each person. Make sure you include a little how you know that person sentence and, at least, give the first name. For example: “Oh hey, Zack, this is Kelly. Zack and I are both in the Bowling With Mom league I was telling you about, Kelly got me into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – I’m really glad you guys are finally meeting.”

-Be honest about forgetting names because it’s more important for you to look dumb than for them to feel uncomfortable. I would suggest self-deprecating humor here: “Oh man, I suck, I wasn’t paying attention when you told me your name 25 times. I have end-stage A.D.D., they’re calling in Hospice for me…etc., etc.”

-If you’re introducing your lady-friend (assuming you could ever get one), say her name before her title. For example, “Dude with a jet ski, this is Gretchen, my wife.” Now, I know this isn’t a common practice, but think about it, is it more important that they know she’s your wife or her own, unique person? You better be saying the latter.

-Practice makes perfect. Spend some time introducing your Teddy Ruxpin to your Pound Puppy, you’ll get good at it.

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