Tag Archives: leisure

be quiet.

30 Jan

One of the phrases that drives me bananas during the course of day-to-day conversationis…  Well, actually I have to set it up properly to have the full effect.  Here’s the setup:

Manager:  Sales are down – way down.  Skippy, we’ve got to come up with some exciting new marketing strategy.  How about hiring a homeless guy to hold a sign? It’ll be perfect!

You (Skippy): Great idea, Mr. Manager.  I’ll head down to the shelter.

Manager: Hazaa!  [HERE COMES THE PHRASE I HATE] So like I said, we’ll hire a homeless guy to hold the sign. It’ll be perfect!

You (Skippy): Right, that’s what we just… anyhow, great.

Here’s the issue gentlemen: you talk too much.  It’s clear when guys use phrases like, “So like I said…” to not only say something, but also introduce the fact that they’re going to say it again.  Unnecessary.  Any man worth his weight in bow-ties needs to have the confidence to know that when they speak, they’re heard.  And they need to have the courage to know that if they don’t have anything to say, the world won’t stop, and they’ll still be significant.  Speaking more doesn’t equate to being more – it equates to lack of temperance.

Be quiet. Here’s why:

1- It gives you time to listen.  The coolest men ever are the ones that lean back, make eye contact, and listen to what you’re saying.  They don’t do that thing where they kind of pre-breathe/start a word as a verbal cue, indicating that it’s time for them to talk.  They just listen, and they communicate your value to you by not stepping over what you’re saying.  Additionally, they are smarter because they up the ratio of importing information to exporting yada yada yada.

2- You’ll have a voice when you do speak. As a man, when you say something, you want to be heard.  It makes you feel valued, and that, in turn, helps out with ye olde pride.  When you talk all the time, people tend to average out the time they listen to you and catch every ninth monologue. You don’t want this.  You want it all to count.  Be disciplined.

3- It’s cool.  Don Draper, Clint Eastwood, 007.

So like I said, be quiet.  I promise you, it’ll work out in your favor.

You’re a Grown Man, be quiet.

quit going to semi-strip clubs.

8 Oct

I’m disgusted that I have to write this article. For real, I can’t believe that seemingly regular guys who aren’t ridiculous enough to go to strip clubs (it’s never okay) have no problem frequenting semi-strip clubs.

Um, Grown Man, semi-strip clubs?  You made that up didn’t you?  I mean, c’mon.

Oh heck yeah I made it up, and you know why?  Because restaurants, bars, car washes, and anywhere else where employees are almost naked and survive on your tips for their perceived – again, perceived – flirting are employing the same business model as a strip club.  Let me say that again more simply: If a woman is almost naked in your vicinity, you’re no longer interested in chicken wings.

Grown Man, tell me you’re not talking about [no lawsuits for me] — I love that place!  Straight up, bro, for real, it’s just you and me now — I go for the food.

No, you don’t! And here’s how I know you don’t go for the food.  Men are visual creatures.  The entry point to our hearts, minds, sexuality, and yes, stomachs, is our eyes.  When we’re little guys, everyone thinks we have ADD (which in some cases may be true.)  But the reason all little fellas are ADD-ish is because they’ve yet to reign in their eyes. So everything they see, every new picture on a TV and every shiny object that flashes in the distance, is some new bit of stimulus for their brains to process.  When we’re big kids, we know how to control and maintain some level of attention, but we still see everything: every painted-on pair of orange shorts, every flirty look, and every giggle that is designed to raise the tip to 25%. By design, every second of your semi-strip club experience should engage your eyes, then your brain, and then your wallet.

If you think you go to these places for the food, you’re lying to yourself.  Because the truth is, if an almost naked woman served you a steaming plate of elephant crap, your eyes would change that plate into a Martha Stewart display of chocolate chip cookies made with Jesus magic and unicorn hair. Maybe the food is good – maybe it’s not. Either way, unless you’re a eunuch, you have no way of discerning that.

But we haven’t really hit the main point yet, have we?  Because up until this time, it’s all been about the establishment and how it’s designed to fool you, which I hope you believe.  But at the end of the day, part of the price we pay for living in a wonderfully free society is that even a sleazy business can exist if it’s able to.

The real issue here is that it’s denigrating. To women? Yes, but that’s common knowledge and über obvious. So who else might it belittle, disparage, and generally just cheapen? You, Grown Man, you.

Oh god, you’re about to go deep, aren’t you?  I’ve read enough of these to know that you like to round third with some Montel Williams action.

Gentlemen, you’ve been designed well.  Your propensity for seeing a woman and recognizing that she’s lovely is part of who you are and shouldn’t be viewed as a bad thing.  When you’re single, you should harness that part of you just enough to notice that there’s something worth summoning up the courage, putting on your big-boy pants, and asking her out on a date. When you’re in a relationship, use your eyes to grow closer, to be more committed, and to appreciate her, and only her.  You’re not ADD, you’re hard wired to be a visual animal.  Honestly, it’s a good thing.

What’s not a good thing is that your eyes (and all they lead to) are being fooled by semi-strip clubs.  Because you, me, all of us, are just dumb enough to think that maybe, just maybe, the giggle was real, the flirting was genuine, and that she’s super stoked about bringing you – wow, YOU – extra blue cheese.  Guess what, she’s not – no more than you care about the spreadsheet you created 2 days ago at work. She’s not remembering the dude who was super nice 2 hours ago. She’s working, and you’re doing a disservice to yourself by thinking otherwise.

In closing, let me say this: good chicken wings are a staple of any man’s diet.  If you’re mourning the loss of your favorite place because I’ve guilted you into submission, here’s what you need to do: find a local, Italian owned, pizza place that sells wings.  I can assure you, wings from a Mario Brother will put Hoo[no lawsuit]rs to shame.

You’re a Grown Man, quit going to semi-strip clubs.

slow down.

7 Oct

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  Nice to see you again.

I just got back from Greece and I must say that:

-Greek food is of the gods and should be mandatory consumption for all planet Earth.

-Sailing in the Aegean Sea makes even the doughiest and landlocked Grown Men (I might be talking about me) feel like a trident-wielding Poseidon.


self-portrait

-Exploring new places is good for the soul unless you get lost — in which case, Greece doesn’t participate in the popular “street sign” method of navigation. You end up walking forever to get to a place that was one block from where you started.

-Greek people are tremendous.  Well, not the one Greek guy who wouldn’t let us take a picture of him grilling an entire freaking octopus, but everyone but that dude is awesome.

-There’s nothing better than an uninterrupted week with Mrs. Grown Man (my wife).

Anyhow, it’s good to be back in the intensely jet lagged saddle and getting the opportunity to share with you something else that stood out to me whilst gallivanting around Greece — we move really freaking fast in America.

I first noticed my own Gonzales-ness when we sat down for our first Grecian meal.  In Greece, the waiter wanders over at some point, asks if you’d like water, disappears for a bit, comes back with the water, leaves again, asks if you have menu questions, leaves, takes an appetizer order, leaves, brings bread, asks if you’ve decided, leaves… you get it, it’s slow.  And this phenomenon doesn’t just occur at fancy restaurants where they’re trying to separate tourists from Euros, this is the norm.  They just take at least an hour to eat meals, even during the work day.

The second time I noticed that Americans move too fast, or was rather told quite bluntly that we’re on cultural caffeine, was by a local man named Simon who struck up a conversation with me.  By the way, Greek men actually talk to each other and converse quite freely with strangers.  Anyhow, Simon and I were doing the typical vacation chit-chat where I tell him where we’ve been so far and he asks me questions about American life (“No, most of us only know English — and poorly at that.”  “Yes, we have to pay taxes.”  “No, we don’t generally live close to our families.” “Yes, many people work 7 days a week in New York City.”)  Anyhow, he shared with me that his son had recently visited America and was shocked by the pace of our people.  To quote Simon (he’s speaking wonderful English by the way): “My son says you work all the time, talk on the phone all the time, and are always go go go.”  To Simon I replied (in average English), “Yep, that’s us.”

Grown Men, the Greeks have given the world a lot of great advancements over the years — philosophy, art, architecture, and the crossbow. Now they’ve given us, by way of Simon and yours truly, some important advice — we’ve got to slow down. 

Get ready for an old guy statement, here we go… everything we do nowadays is fast.  We multitask, we “grab a quick bite,” we value working 10+ hours at a breakneck pace, and we generally find every possible way to speed up our world.  I know you’re busy, aren’t you?  Yet don’t you feel like the more gadgets you acquire to save time and the more activities you squeeze into the iCal white spaces, the less actual time you have and the less you get done?  In the words of Kenan Thompson, “What’s up with that!?”  Here’s what’s up: going faster and doing more has diminishing returns on living a life of quality and purpose.

So what do we do? First, we acknowledge the fact that we do live in a fast freaking culture and, though two-hour siestas and evening strolls on the cliffs of Santorini would be ideal, we just don’t live in a society that always allows it.  Second, because we acknowledge that there are demands on our time that are extreme, we must force margins into our life.  Finally, we must guard those margins with all our might.

For example, let’s go back to the Greek (and I’m guessing rest of the world) tradition of taking longer meals: Every time MGM and I were served food, we would take a bite, make those weird mmmmm-ing noises, drink a spot of wine, and intentionally put down our forks.  By habit and culture, we were going to plow through the meal and easily move on to the next activity.  But, because we were doing everything we could to savor the time (and the tzatziki), we made ourselves put just the smallest margin of time around the simple, everyday activity of eating.  What if you started to do the same?  What if power lunches were replaced with just regular old lunches?  What if the morning cup of coffee wasn’t spent in front of CNN, with a newspaper, with the laptop, but rather on the back porch just injecting 20 minutes of silence into the day?  What if those small margins of time were placed strategically throughout every day?  What if I stopped asking questions?

A few weeks ago, I sold my iPhone and got a free, boring one.  Today, I sat with old and new friends for a one hour relaxing lunch.  Tomorrow, I’m going to put away the laptop, go out in the refreshing fall air, and start building a picnic table.  My encouragement to you is to do whatever needs to be done to slow down, create some pockets of free time, and enjoy life.  At the end of the day, it’s not what you’ve done or how much you’ve made, it’s how well you invested in the lives of others and used the time you’ve been given.

You’re a Grown Man, slow down.

mind your social networking.

16 Sep

I’ve desperately wanted to tell every Grown Man (or their lady-friends that are the ones actually reading this site) to quit Facebook, Twitter, and all social networking.  Oh, how I’ve wanted to write lines like, “Seriously, why are you looking at pictures of your 6th grade lab partner’s honeymoon!?  Who cares? Go outside!” and, “Looking to cheat? Accept that friend request.”  Oh lord, I turn grizzled and cantankerous when it comes to social media.

Old school networking

However, this Grown Man isn’t a hypocrite. And, not only do I use the e-world to shamelessly promote this here blog and interact with “you people,” but I’m starting to come around to the fact that Facebook (and to a lesser degree, every other social networking option) isn’t just a fad — but a way of life.  I’m realizing that Facebook is not just about being stalked by old high school friends that you’d rather avoid, but one portal by which to produce and consume all business, entertainment, and socialization.  It is, in a sense, the new Silk Road, the new telegraph, the new email, and the Brave New World (or 1984?).

So, how should Grown Men responsibly harness the power of social networking while still remaining respectable and timeless?

1- Just say no. One of the main issues I have with all e-socialization is the wide swath of people that now have access to you and your life.  I’m not all freaked out about Internet security and “the man in the black helicopter” stealing “your secrets.”  I’m more concerned with the fact that you, me, and everyone in the world shouldn’t have access to you, me, and everyone in the world.  Here’s why:  As humans, we have a limited capacity for human connections.  Some theories suggest that we can’t really know more than 100 people well and, after that, our lives get filled with needless information and insincere friendships.

Bro.  For real, listen to me Bro.  I’VE GOT 4,380 freakin’ friends.  And, I’ve poked all of them.

Yuck, gross, c’mon! In truth, you only really know about 20 of them and the rest of them are simply pawns in your quest to feel popular without really knowing anyone.   What I’m proposing is that when you get a friend request, you ask yourself the following question:  Do I care to be in community with this person, or do I just want to be voyeuristic? If it’s option one, go for it!  If it’s option two, realize that nothing productive, respectful, or polite comes from simply looking in on someone’s life without participating in it.  If you don’t care for him or her, just say no to the friend request.

2- Just say no, again. Following the same logic as #1, I’d avoid doing a mass invite of people.  Be particular about who you enter into this community with. You wouldn’t walk into a football stadium and give everyone your email address, personal photo album, and diary would you?  Grown Men practice decorum and keep some mystery about them.

3- Be accountable. My biggest problem with social networking is that it makes wrecking a good relationship, even a marriage, easier than ever.  Here’s what happens:  You and your significant other are going through a rough patch (which will happen).  You’re feeling hurt, she’s feeling lonely, neither of you are particularly excited about the other person.  Now, she’s gone to bed and you check your email only to find that “[High School girlfriend who you lost contact with and remember as being one of the only people who understood me] has requested to be your friend.”  Well now, doesn’t that feel nice? She says, “Hi,” you say, “It’s been a long time,” she says, “Too long,” you say, “We should remedy that.”

Do you see what happened?  Your relational problems have lowered your defences and MyTwitFace (thank you, Conan) has provided a perfect opportunity to feel the attention and attraction you’re longing for. My friend, you are about to turn a rough spot in your committed relationship into and dark season with a person who, guess what!, is also not perfect and certainly flawed.

What I’m suggesting – no, begging – is that you give someone you trust your username and password.  The reason is simple, we don’t do dumb stuff in front of other people as easily as we do it in secrecy.  Which, parenthetically, is why being in a physical community where people can ask how you’re doing is a much better option for networking than interweb socialization.  But, I’m not grumpy old guy, so I’m not going to say that.  Anyhow, knowing that someone you trust is able to see your interactions will guard you from doing dumb stuff and allow you to enjoy your social networks in a responsible way.

You’re a Grown Man, mind your social networking.

Wow.  This was not a funny post, was it?  Well, I suppose it’s not always yucks and giggles on the road to Grown Manhood. But, because I fancy myself the jester of internet masculinity, I can’t end on such a Doug Downer note. To remedy that, I’ll leave you with this super special 4th rule:

4- Plant a garden. If you think playing Farmville is in any way an acceptable option for living your life as a Grown Man, you need to Apple-Q that junk right now and go outside.  For real, Grown Men should have dirty hands at the end of the day — not fake cows getting loose.  Your great-grandfather is rolling over in his grave.

listen to music.

15 Sep

On my way to work, I usually listen to news on the radio.  It’s a quick way for me to get the basics of the world on my 15 minute commute. Remember, Grown Men know the news.  However, my news station of choice has been raking me over the coals of guilt and shame this week during their twice a year pledge drive (though I’m starting to suspect it’s MUCH more often than that).  Some well meaning woman whom I’m totally sure is wearing a dog-hair cardigan and sensible khakis is softly berating me with statements like, “We provide quality news and entertainment to you year round – all we’re asking is for you to provide for us once a year. Is that too much to ask?”  Oh geez, I get it, I get it, I’ll give you my 20 bucks — just bring back your soothing and gentle presentation of the economic meltdown and multiple wars!

So, I’ve done what any good NPR listener would do this time of year and plugged in the iPod.  And yesterday, I found myself doing something very un-Morning Edition.  Instead of quietly driving, considering, and reflecting — I sang.  Oh heck yeah, I sang!  It was ugly and comical to those who caught a glimpse of me in the rear-view mirror but man, it felt great.  And the reason it felt great was because music is important and something that Grown Men tend to enjoy less and less of as they become older and more “mature.”

The truth is, music is primal.  We know this by looking at babies.  For example, take your average little fella who’s just learning how to stand.  I guarantee you that a majority of the time, when you turn on Single Ladies or some other classic but terrible dance song, that chap is going to start bouncing.  Then, if the song is particularly, wonderfully, bad (Telephone by Lady Gaga), he’s going to start smiling, clapping, and having a heck of a time.  Does he know the complexities of the lyrics (“Just a second, it’s my favorite song they gonna play. And I cannot text you with a drink in my hand, eh?”)?  No, he has no idea what’s being said.  Does he enjoy the bold vocal arrangements and unique instrumentation found in modern… whatever. No.  All he knows is that this noise makes him feel good and he’s gotta dance his Pampers off.

Grown Men, you’ve got to put down the talk radio and listen to music more often.  Because music, even crappy music that you’re embarrassed to tell people you like (Madonna: The  Immaculate Collection) is one of the great forms of enjoyment we get in this life.  And, in our adult lives, we need as many outlets for pure, non goal oriented, relatively pointless happiness that we can find. The problem is, we get old (or at least, we think we get old) and those purely enjoyable activities get replaced with kinda fun, but sorta purposeful, but “it’s not that bad”, but “a little boring” acts — like email and catching up on the Tivo. 

Listening to music is one of the disciplines of our lives that must be practiced to keep us grounded, creative, peaceful, and well-rounded men.   Taking five minutes to lean back in a comfortable chair with The Beatles is probably more helpful than one more email, one more episode of Entourage, or another call returned.  Even if it’s a crappy artist that only you like (Creed), the fact that you enjoy it and can create space to partake in it is critical for your overall balance.

You’re a Grown Man, listen to music.

One more thing, please don’t assail me in the comments because I listen to NPR. Their political agenda is unimportant to me and they don’t yell, which is key at 8am.

have a hobby.

30 Aug

I brew beer.  Why do I brew beer?  Well, I’m not 100% sure.  Because really, if I stop and work the math (which I hate doing) it doesn’t add up.  You see, the raw ingredients for a batch of beer cost around $40 for two cases (48 bottles).  Now that’s some cheap and tasty beer!  However, here’s what ends up happening:  I walk into my local beer supply store and glaze over.  I begin to realize how screwed I’ve been in the past by not having a $30 device for aiding in the partial mash process — oh the humanity!  Then, I get a feeling that some of the fermentation problems and pronounced notes of hops I had on the last batch were probably due to not cooling the wort (pre-beer mixture) quickly enough — “Yeah, I should probably pick up some supplies for a chiller.” No big deal, just another $50.  You see what’s happening, don’t you?  I’m getting ready to brew my next batch of Cristal.  But man o’ man, do I love brewing beer!  And at the end of the day, the value of sitting in the garage with my friends for three hours and drinking good beer while we create mediocre beer can’t be underestimated.  Grown Men, you need to find a hobby.  Let’s talk it out…

Here’s our working definition of a hobby: A hobby is a way to spend time doing something you enjoy that does not necessarily provide any monetary income and has little discernible, tangible benefit (other than happiness) to you or those around you.  Basically, a hobby IS fun and ISN’T work.  A hobby DOES occupy your brain and DOESN’T stress you out.  A hobby is, in it’s purest form, old school, little kid, OshKosh B’gosh, playing.

Basset hound

Image via Wikipedia

I suppose it started when we were little guys, spending a copious amount of time in the back yard just goofing around with the wagon or constructing a ramp for the Hot Wheels to jump Beau the Basset Hound (actual event).  By the way, what happened to Hot Wheels?  They used to be small versions of regular cars.  Now, they’re all futuristic and messed up.  I want a Hot Wheel of an ‘84 Ford F150.  I’m just sayin’.

Back to the point: gentlemen, you need to have playtime. It’s ingrained in your masculinity and can’t be denied.  There is a part of our psyche that, even in a fulfilling relationship and wonderful job, just longs to mess around, goof off, kill time, build something, wreck something, tinker, or be creative.  All of us need that one thing – we’ll call it a hobby – that gives us a measure of margin in our life where we’re not connected so intensely to the adult world and the expectations thereof. Wow, that was heavy.

Here’s a final thought about having a hobby.  I’ve clearly been avoiding naming actual hobbies because there are about one zillion options for how to have big boy play time.  I brew beer. In the past, I’ve done wood block carving, biking (that lasted for about 5 minutes), blogging, and a ton of other random things.

Grown Man, don’t you blog now?  I mean, wait, I’m reading the blog.  So yes, you do blog.

Good point, Mr. Observant.  Here’s what’s important to remember, I started blogging as a way to make my friends laugh.  Now, I’m on more of a mission with this site and must do adult things like pace myself, maintain boundaries, and sometimes even not write in order to enjoy writing again.  In short, this blog has crossed out of the hobby realm and into the something I like to do a lot realm (sorta like a job).  It’s a fine but distinct line.  When you find a hobby, make sure you know when it’s a pure hobby and when it’s a mini-job.  Because a mini-job is great, but the little boy in you still needs some mindless Hot Wheel time.

You’re a Grown Man, have a hobby.

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