Tag Archives: life

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. XIV

17 Jun

Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been back for years!  Let’s get to helping…

Grown Man,

I have a “man friend” whom I met in a Uni math class. We have become good friends and we occasionally go out for lunch, talk on skype, text, etc. The problem is I’m as single as could be, yet he has a girlfriend of 2 years. It is clear that their relationship is semi-dysfunctional and that they have fallen out of love. He knows I am looking for a relationship, and he even told me not too long ago that he would date me. I’m getting sick of waiting for him to break up with his girlfriend. What should I do? Should I stop talking to him altogether and walk away?

-Forever Single Young Woman

The Other Woman,

Let us first address the fact that this guy, like you, is involved with Uni.  And while I don’t want to alarm you, I will say that during my college years I dabbled in the Uni arts and it ended up leading me down some very dark paths. I still can’t see my college mascot without weeping and convulsing. In all seriousness though, what the heck is Uni? Sea Urchin (you’ll need to click here to get this joke)? University of Northern Iowa?  Maybe it’s just short for University, but that just seems redundant.  All math at your school is Uni math if that’s the case – so that doesn’t make any sense.

More to your question, however, is what to do with your “man friend” – we’ll just call him Unitard.  As I see it, one of three scenarios is playing out:

Go UNI's!!!

Go UNI Panthers!

Scenario one: He’s a good man who met you during math and realized that solving for x meant having you in his life.  Maybe he’s torn between two lovers and genuinely struggling with a difficult decision.  I hope this is the scenario, as it’s the one that’s most affirming to you and your awesomeness – TI-82 and all.  However, I said we’ve got three scenarios, so…

Scenario two: Unitard is pulling a classic, well-worn, guy-move which unfolds as follows:

1- Guy realizes a year ago that he wants to break up with his girlfriend.
2- Guy waits a year because breaking up is a giganto pain-in-the-protractor, and children like to avoid pain.
3- Guy snaps.
4- Guy becomes distant from his girlfriend.
5- Guy starts flirting with another girl because a) He’s trying to get caught and get broken up with (way easier than doing the breakup)  b) The other girl makes him feel rejuvenated, alive, passionate and all the things he’s been missing for the last year in his cruddy relationship.
6- Guy talks himself into believing that math-mistress is the right girl…while all along it had nothing to do with her and everything to do with him, what he needed, and what emotional void you – oops – she was filling.
7- Guy reconnects with, gets engaged to, and marries the original girlfriend.  Uni math is left wondering what she did wrong, why she wasn’t good enough, etcetera, etcetera.

The Other Woman, if this scenario is right (and history would tell us that it is), you’re not being wooed because you’re the greatest lady ever, but because you represent all that was lost with the 2-year girlfriend.  You’re funny, passionate, interested in him and easy (not in the gross way, but in the emotionally available way). You’re being used like methadone, and you deserve to be the singular focus of some man’s attention and affection.

So, my answer to your question is this: It’s time to exit gracefully. Maybe, like many great men, he’s just in a confusing place and his current actions don’t necessarily speak of his overall character and date-ability.  Fine.  When he breaks up with his 2-year girl, then you can resume flirting.  But for now, it’s probably best to let him sort his junk out without making you the obtuse angle of a triangle (you’ll learn that in Uni-201).

Hold on though, didn’t I say there were three scenarios?  Scroll up… I did!

Scenario Three: Uni is short for Universal Citizens of Galaxy 9, and this is all some sort of cult thing that I don’t understand. If this is the case, lace up your matching Nikes and have at it!

Thank you for your question, Other Woman…and for everyone else reading, I’ll be answering another question next Monday – ask away!

3.14159,
Grown Man

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.

Ask a Grown Man: Vol. XIII

8 Nov

Hey Grown Man,

I love the outdoors and everything about it. My idea of “a good time” involves kayaks, climbing harnesses, tents, and Wyoming.

My question is, what does this mean for my (hypothetical) lady-friend who doesn’t dig the outdoors? I can put up with cuddling on the sofa watching the Notebook, but enough’s enough.

Advice?

-Mountain Man

Mountain Man,

First, I’d like to publicly chastise you for coming up with your own nickname.  How dare you sir, how dare you indeed.  As the proprietor of this here blog, I take great joy in reading a question like yours and coming up with an oh-so-witty salutation.  For instance, I might have started this reply with, “Dearest Timothy Treadwell” or “Guy Who Secretly Loves the Notebook and is Seeking My Approval for His Nicholas Sparks Obsession.”  However, you did come up with a passable nickname, so… I forgive you.  On to more pressing matters.

At least the documentary was awesome

How is a man of the wilderness able to coexist with a woman of worldliness?  Oh no, wait, here’s a better one: How can a gentlemen of the outdoors love a woman of shopping mall stores?  I should’ve quit on the first one.  Anyhow, it’s a tough question.  Because really, there’s no silver-bullet that will somehow help you and this hypothetical woman co-exist in a perfectly balanced tent and town-house life.  The real question is: To what extent are you willing to compromise? Answering this question will go a far way in solving your initial query.

Here’s what I’m talking about.  Relationships aren’t meant to change or define, but rather to refine.  It’s a fine line but one that must be guarded at all times in order to avoid resentment from either party. While a dream scenario may be to get her to completely convert and become an REI shopping, Kavu wearing, get lost and love it type of person — she just may not be wired that way. Certainly you can understand, can’t you?  You aren’t wired to enjoy an evening of window shopping, dining at Chili’s, and cuddling at home in front of the latest Julia Roberts project, “Eat, Pray, Dying Career”.  But, even though you’re not going to redefine each other as individuals, you can still meet somewhere in the middle.  So, here are your options:

1- Compromise. If this woman is worth giving and taking a little bit for, do it.  Do your best to show her what you love about nature without overwhelming her but also suck it up a bit and learn how to give a crap about her world.  Compromise is key — for both of you!

2- Cheerlead. Sometimes, there is no middle ground and you’ve got to take a sideline, cheerleader, approach.  For instance, Mrs. Grown Man likes to run marathons. I, conversely, really like to not run marathons.  Therefore, I’ve got a job to make her feel supported without directly participating in what can only be described as 26.2 miles of insanity and torture.  So, I go to the races and clap with the rest of the wise non-marathoners and I make sure to tell her how amazing she is at least 50 times for each mile she’s run.  Mountain Man, Uptown Girl may not be able to get stoked about your world and, additionally, you may not be able to get jazzed about hers.  But, can you at least be excited and supportive of the other person. Right?

3- Be done. Everyone, you need to pay attention to the next statement: Marriage doesn’t fix anything that’s busted in dating or engagement — it only magnifies it.  Therefore, Mountain Man, if this is a big issue that no amount of compromise or cheerleading can fix, you’ve got to both ask each other if this is a relationship worth keeping.  I know this is an extreme response to a difference of interests, and I really hope you guys can find a way, but if you can’t and this is a big deal, it’ll only get bigger post-nuptials.  Sorry, bud.

So as I see it, those are your three options.  My encouragement to you would be to be bold in finding which of them works for you guys and pursue it with gusto.  Also, you really should move to Wyoming — it’s freaking beautiful out there, man.

Into the Wild,
GM

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

mean what you say.

18 Oct

I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine, his name is Tompkins (100% fake name use to protect the innocent and ensue hilarity).  Tompkins, like many of my friends mentioned in this blog (cool Randy!) has inspired this post by being a great man whom I respect a ton.  Let me tell you about Tompkins…

The great Publix Sub

With this I am well pleased.

He is a brilliant musician.  Man-oh-man, he can create music on an out-of-tune guitar whilst half-in-the-bag that, if I were given 10 years of formal training by Andrés Segovia and 6 months off to write, still puts my G-C-D progressions to shame.  In addition to being a musical phenom, he’s got a razor-sharp sense of humor, a gigantic knowledge of fishing, and the ability to make a sub that will – literally – make you cry the kind of tears usually reserved for new mothers or Butterfly Kisses.  In short, Tompkins is a great dude.

But you know what’s most impressive about Tompkins?  Well, probably the sub thing.  But you know what else is blog-inspiring about him?  The fact that he is well-known for meaning what he says.  For instance, if Tompkins says, “Yeah, I’ll be there” – he’s there.  If he knows he can’t fulfill your request, he says no.  In short, his yes is a yes and his no is a no.

A man’s ability to be able to say something and be fully trusted is paramount. And one of the ways we earn that trust is through the normal, day-to-day, interactions with people.  For instance, if a buddy calls and says, “Hey, wanna get the families together this weekend?” and you say, “Yeah, that might be nice” (knowing full well that Saturday is already booked and that you’re going to call him on Friday and give the brush off), what is that saying?  Well, it’s saying that a) you’re now, officially, an adult who does things like “get the families together” and b) your “yeah” can’t really be taken seriously.  What if, in that same situation, you replied, “You know, we’d like to (a little lie is okay), but we just can’t.”   While saying no may be initially disappointing to your house-arrested friend and unpleasant for you to express, in the long run, that no will speak louder than a retracted yes.

Grown Men, it’s not always easy to say what’s true.  In fact, it’s typically easier to give someone a soft answer or, if we’re being really honest with each other, flat-out lie when you have to say something that may be perceived by them as unpleasant.  All of us, to some degree, want to avoid conflict and maximize pleasure in our own lives and the lives of those we interact with.  In the Dr. Phil arena, it’s called being a “people pleaser”.  In reality though, a great lie we tell ourselves is that we please people more if we placate them in the short-run instead of being upfront and honest.  It’s just not true.

In your life, you’re going to want people to trust you and, not for a second, hesitate when you give a response.  Because really, and here’s the secret, if you can be trusted with little things like “Yes, I’ll pick you up from the airport”, you’ll earn the respect, privilege, and honor of being believed when you say big things like “I’d like to work for you” and “I do.”

If you say yes to something — follow through.  Do what you said you’d do.  Be where you said you’d be.  And affirm that you are someone that can be counted on.  If you’ve got to say no, say it and don’t look back.  At the end of the day, a man of his word is valued more than a man of pleasantries.  No?  Yes.

Take it from the sub-machine, Tompkins…

You’re a Grown Man, mean what you say.

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