Sunday, March 21, 2010


There is something about men I don’t get. The posturing, the clenching of muscles, the grim stares, the heightening by slightly lifting their heels from the floor . . . all in attempt to best their opponent. And their opponent can be anyone at any time, they are that eager for a battle. This is more common in younger men, but I’ve seen it as well in older guys who should know better.

My antipathy likely stems from my underweight youth. I was skinny and passive when I was younger, and only got in one real fight. Which I lost by unanimous decision (mostly because I didn’t realize it was going to be a real fight until it was over; by then it was too late). I didn’t participate in contact sports, and I didn’t drag my testosterone to bars when I reached drinking age.

Whether it is true manliness or not, I have been left out of the bravado loop. All snickering aside (and seriously, stop snickering), using a Star Wars metaphor I am more Luke Skywalker than Han Solo. More Wimpy than Popeye, more Jim Rockford than Thomas Magnum, more Sonny than Cher. [Insert your own funny comparison here.]

The other day I sat in my car doing very unmanly things. I was sipping a white chocolate mocha from Starbucks with whipped cream (likely one of their least macho offerings) and attempting to gift wrap a just-purchased birthday present for my young niece. I was in full-estrogen mode, having remembered to bring the gift wrap, the transparent tape, AND the scissors. If not for the beard I might have been mistaken for a woman.

As I sat contemplating my gentleness I heard loud voices coming from nearby, and looked up to see a couple of males going at it. They might have been itching for a fight, if they weren’t working so hard at avoiding any real contact. Typical guy posturing. Like a couple of roosters scratching in the dirt.

The little guy (well, he looked little because he was sitting in a small car and was generally looking up at his fellow combatant) was defending his driving skills. The other guy, a swarthy and stockier dude, stood near the front corner of his large pickup truck. The kind of truck that says, “A real man drives me!”

If trucks could talk.

The trailer behind the truck was stacked with a variety of yard care equipment. The trailer said, “A real gardener drives me!”

Mr. Truck was yelling about the other guy cutting him off, apparently as they had been driving around the parking lot. He accused, and the accused denied doing anything wrong. In fact, he turned the argument on its head and complained about the large truck with the trailer taking up too much space.

Eventually the ultimate swear word was tossed around, alternately as verb or adjective, its use increasing as the sentences got shorter and less erudite. Mr. Car never made a move to exit his vehicle, choosing instead to flail around his arms and swear some more. Mr. Truck made one brief feint toward Mr. Car but never truly stepped out of the shadow of his truck. It seemed like they both wanted to fight, but were holding themselves back.

Then I realized: it’s Thursday, about eleven o’clock in the morning. They are both probably heading for whatever counts as work for them, plus the light of day is shining brightly on their idiotic behavior and they are likely stone cold sober (though possibly, like me, highly caffeinated). As typical male brawlers, they were itching for a fight, this just wasn’t the right time.

If the same altercation happened in a different parking lot, say at a bar, about thirty-six hours later, say late Friday night, no doubt fisticuffs would have flown. They would have been surrounded by their respective friends and beaten each other senseless, or at least until the authorities showed up. Then they would have smiled through their swollen eyes and bloody lips, their friends lauding them for a fight well fought, and no matter how badly one of them lost he would think he won.

Because they are stupid. Brawling hooligans who mistake machismo for confidence. The kind of guy I am glad I did not grow up to be.

One more white chocolate mocha to go, please.

1 comment:

  1. Coffee. Black. No frills. Anything else and you're paying for foam.