Friday, April 10, 2009

Man's Men in the Penny Press!

The latest issue of Esquire features a six-page article on 26 skills every man should have, and I ask you: how could Stevereads be expected to ignore such a thing? Here's the list:

1. How to skin a moose (or any slaughtered game animal)
2. How to bet the horses (or any animal tortured into running around a track)
3. How to get a busy bartender's attention
4. How to give a good massage (to a woman, of course)
5. How to fell a tree
6. How to fillet a fish
7. How to buy a woman clothing (their suggestion: don't even try)
8. How to make eggs four ways (scrambled, baked, poached, and sunny side up)
9. How to Google efficiently
10. How to sew a button
11. How to console a crying woman (LOTS of wordage about handkerchiefs)
12. How to look good in a picture
13. How to calm a crying baby
14. How to curse well
15. How to parallel park (they specify 'like a man')
16. How to wire a ceiling fixture
17. How to make pancakes from scratch
18. How to stop a running toilet ("trip it"? Hee. Snort)
19. How to rock the man in the boat (hint: it's not about boating, although you can do it in a boat)
20. How to make a drink, "just for her"
21. How to carve a turkey
22. How to pick a ripe one
23. How to jump-start a car
24. How to get a table in a restaurant
25. How to kill an injured animal
26. How to shine a shoe

And there you have it, according to Esquire! Naturally, the list gave me some grave misgivings, and you can probably see why, right? There's the bigotry involved, of course: the implication couldn't be stronger that the one thing you've got to be first, in order to have ANY skills as a man, is heterosexual - if you're gay, the list implies, you really shouldn't even bother (except maybe for #7). This is annoying, certainly, and counter-factual: two of the seven most famous male TV chefs are gay ... they can probably handle # 1, 6, 8, 17, 21, 22, and 24 better than any Esquire reader; I'm pretty sure the fashion industry sports a couple of the gays - so # 7, 10, and 26 are probably co-opted; if I had to guess, I'd say more gay men than straight men can handle # 3, 4, 11, 12, 20, and 24 than straight men can; and # 19 comprises a full 75 % of any gay man's waking life (as opposed to 56 % among straight men).

But the problems with the list go deeper than this, because as bigoted as it is, it's one thing even more: stupid. Nowhere on this list is there even the faintest hint, the most distant suggestion, that a man, in order to BE a man, should be able to think. Hell, even feeling is absent (you merely have to simulate it for # 4, 11, 13, & 14). I know I should count my blessings that "How to smoke" and "How to fire a gun" weren't on the list, but still - surely an outline of manly criteria 99 % of which could be accomplished by a well-trained chimpanzee is off the mark? The country just elected a talented writer and genuine intellectual as president, and it doesn't look like Esquire even noticed: their list is situated squarely in the "from the gut" W. years, now hugely and damningly discredited.

So, without further ado, Stevereads presents an alternate list of 26 skills every person should have!

1. How to talk on a cell phone in public (hint: don't, ever, even in emergencies)
2. How to read a book (honestly, open-mindedly)
3. How to ask for directions
4. How to admit an honest mistake
5. How to embrace new things
6. How to uproot and discard old routines when they're no longer working
7. How to pay attention
8. How to CARE about things, rather than just riffing on them, douchebag-style
9. How to cultivate potted plants (NOT marijuana, dude!)
10. How to embrace a male friend (full-on clavicle-to-crotch! Bro-braces are for WIMPS)
11. How to listen to classical music
12. How to hate (virulently, with your balls, like you'll never need to take it back)
13. How to write (the REAL manly thing Hemingway did, dude)
14. How to threaten an SOB (calmly, matter-of-factly, and only once)
15. How to love (race, gender, age, species ... immaterial; completely blind)
16. How to be silly
17. How to needle and insult your friends (daily, lest they get ideas)
18. How to give a present (freely, with no thought of receipt)
19. How to give thanks for a present (verbally and audibly, not telepathically or mumbled)
20. How to board a subway car (AFTER the passengers get off, dammit)
21. How to respond when a car almost hits you (the finger, given slowly and solemnly)
22. How to respond when a car almost hits a friend of yours (kick the car. hard.)
23. How to eat meat (don't)(it had to suffer, a LOT, to become meat)
24. How to be a friend (go ask a dog)
25. How to help a friend move (the whole day, dammit - 3 hours is a gesture of contempt)
26. How to give a compliment (never hold one back, and always mean it)

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh how this made my day. Thank you.
But do you think there could be a not-too-dissimilar one for women? Or maybe that this could be the list of what *people*, living now, living in a city, ought to be able to do?

Gianni said...

Love the new list, Steve, you think Esquire's looking for new material to shove into their overly-edited pages?

brian said...

wait, is bacon not meat? or, have you stopped eating it?

steve said...

Well, I'm scarcely in a position to write a list for women, now am I, being the blinding beacon of masculinity that I am?

Kevin said...

Damn good list. Seriously.