Friday, March 16, 2007

Real Men Don't Write Blogs

It's not easy being a man these days.

As women progress toward assuming their rightful place as equals, society's messages about manhood get more confusing. Gentlemen are now expected to do things our fathers would have thought absurd, like pick up dog poop with a plastic bag (which forces you to make That Not-So-Manly Face).

As a service to humanity, I have spent several minutes studying the problem. Cultural indicators about manhood revolve around three key principles (boys, write these down):

1. Own a truck.

2. Develop an unhealthy interest in sports teams comprised of people you have never met.

3. Deal with household spiders (humanely, of course)

The media, which are always right, tell us that as soon as we Own a Truck, we become muscle-bound and hard-working. So I desperately want one, even though my driveway is too small to plow and the largest thing I ever have to haul around is my 75-pound collection of finger puppets fashioned from foam packaging peanuts.

Trucks guzzle gas. As for safety rankings, I might as well run the highway in a giant hamster ball. But I've watched so much TV that my brain automatically associates trucks, especially Fords and Chevies, with the cherished Man quality of toughness, even though my personal experience tells me the average domestic truck is about as rugged as a plate of lasagna.

I'm doing much better in the area of sports, because it's not quite as expensive. In fact, for I've once again joined a fantasy baseball league.

I realize following professional sports at all is bad enough. It's basically soap opera drama with enough strategy thrown in to help men feel like they're being analytical and smart in addition to getting worked up over stuff like rivalries.

But at least people don't form make-believe social groups using the characters in General Hospital.

For those who don't know, fantasy baseball involves “drafting” real major-league players. Then you go around saying things like, “David Ortiz is my first baseman,” or “I own Curt Schilling.” I used to wonder if players like Ortiz felt really small, being owned by so many different people. But “Big Papi” probably has his own fantasy team, considering how manly he is.

Anyway, once I have a team, I spend the season keeping track of each player’s real-life statistics. I make roster moves depending on how I expect certain players to perform at certain times (“Pedro Martinez will probably feel comfortable pitching in Seattle this week, since he looks like some of his ancestors were salmon”).

I take great care to make sure that my team does not contain any New York Yankees.

At the end of the year, the team with the best overall statistics wins. Victory brings the satisfaction of realizing you wasted several hundred hours of analytical energy that could have been used figuring out how to become wealthy in the stock market.

Or figuring out how to get that spider out of the house without harming its self-esteem.

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