Tag Archives: recreation

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

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.

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.

break up with class.

1 Sep

If you’ve been reading You’re A Grown Man for any length of time, you know that I often write on the complexities of relationships.  I’ve written on being bold enough to ask a girl out, and on my own tragic (but apparently amusing to you heartless people) experience of being dumped.  However, it occurred to me recently that I’ve never addressed an important issue that all Grown Men should be prepared for — how to end a relationship properly.  We’ve gotta get this one right, guys.

Austrian melodic death metal band Perishing Ma...

Image via Wikipedia

For this post, I’m going to skip answering the question: should you break up with her?  The reason for this is because there are simply too many scenarios to adequately say yes or no without a trillion “what-if’s.”  Everyone has got reasons for the relationship ending — some of them valid, some of them ridiculous.  In the end, it’s really your call, and I’m not going to be the one to stop you from tossing aside the best woman you’ll ever meet just because she’s not super stoked about touring the country with your death-metal band. Where I will start, however, is under the assumption that you know you’re done and trying to figure out how to properly end it.  Let’s do this bullet point style…

-Rip the Band-Aid off: When you get that feeling in the pit of your stomach and you know, I mean really — you know it’s going to end — you’ve got to muster up every ounce of courage you have and not let the relationship go one moment longer than it needs to.  The reason is simple — she deserves it.  The day you started dating, oh that fateful day, you entered a non-verbal but very binding contract to be straight-up, brutally, honest with each other.

Grown Man, I didn’t do anything of the sort!  Straight-up, brutally, honest?  You’re a girl, aren’t you – I mean, c’mon.

Yes, you did enter a contract.  It’s called dating, and it’s what’s expected of you. You may not have realized it, but I can guarantee you that she did.  I’m not talking about love, marriage or anything else. I’m simply saying that honesty in every relationship is a non-negotiable. Having said that, the moment you’re done with the relationship but haven’t yet informed her, you’re breaking the contract.  And before the comments start flowing, yes, she owes you the same courtesy.

-Face it: I know you want to phone-in the break up, don’t you?  Isn’t it so much easier to just pick up the phone, not have to make eye-contact, and do the deed?  Even if the conversation lasts four hours, at least you can get your Farmville on while she’s asking you questions like, “Sooooo, [sniffle] when you said for[sniffle]ever, what did that mean?”  Ouch.

The truth is, phone, text, email, carrier pigeon, or any other non face-to-face option for breaking up is wholly unacceptable.  You owe it to her to be a man and have the difficult conversation in person.  Not only does it scream of class, but it’s respectful and polite.  I don’t have a fantastic justification for the “why” of this point, but I know she’s worth, at least, you putting yourself through the discomfort of taking on the chin and facing it.

-Get in and get out: You must absolutely end the relationship in an efficient manor.  As a rule, you get one hour of break up time per year of dating.  And yes, I am saying that a 6 month relationship should be ended in 30 minutes.  Why?  Not because it’s easy for you.  In fact, I wish you had to go through some multi-level purgatory for breaking that girl’s heart.  This rule exists to keep you all from going to the fight-zone and saying things that you’ll both regret.  When we (we=animals) get hurt, we fight.  When we fight, we hurt more — it’s a bad cycle.

When you’re ending the relationship, give her concrete reasons that aren’t hurtful about why you’re ending it, don’t attack her character, and when it’s appropriate, get the heck outta there.  She’s going to be upset (or maybe she’ll be grateful!) and you’re both going to be hurt.  It’s important that you realize that going through that hurt together is a disaster waiting to happen.

-Follow the rules: When you’re out of the relationship, you’re out of it.  Don’t text that night saying crap like, “I miss you” or “Farmville rules!” It’s only going to lead her on and make you look like you’re waffling.  Just like you’re done dating her, she needs to be allowed the space to be done dating you.  I’m not kidding on this one. If you guys say, “We’re not going to talk for a month,” stick to it.  If you don’t, you’re just extending the discomfort and breaking the rules.

Gentlemen, it’s okay to break up with someone.  In fact, it’s likely the most respectful thing you can do in the long run for a woman who you realize won’t be your wife.  However, you’ve got to approach breaking up like (I hope) you approach everything else: with mutual respect and humility.

You’re a Grown Man, break up with class.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them. I might just answer them on this weeks Ask a Grown Man, Vol: XI!

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.

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.

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