Thursday, January 21, 2010

Where have all the 'manly' men gone?

Question: What is more sad and pathetic than the sight of an able bodied average American guy standing next to his car on the side of the road with a flat tire, cell phone to his ear calling AAA to come rescue him?
The answer: nothing.
What happened to us formerly red blooded, All-American guys over the last few decades? Have we guys all become helpless weenies? A nation chock full of what Arnold Schwartzenegger would call 'girly men?' Maybe so. I drew this cartoon above a few years ago after reading an article from Popular Mechanics, whose editors compiled a list of the basic skills that they deemed every American guy should possess, and it appears below. Read it and weep: 1. Patch a radiator hose 2. Protect your computer 3. Rescue a boater who has capsized 4. Frame a wall 5. Retouch digital photos 6. Back up a trailer 7. Build a campfire 8. Fix a dead outlet 9. Navigate with a map and compass 10. Use a torque wrench 11. Sharpen a knife 12. Perform CPR 13. Fillet a fish 14. Maneuver a car out of a skid 15. Get a car unstuck 16. Back up data 17. Paint a room 18. Mix concrete 19. Clean a bolt-action rifle 20. Change oil and filter 21. Hook up an HDTV 22. Bleed brakes 23. Paddle a canoe 24. Fix a bike flat 25. Install a wireless router system When I read this list, I agreed that most of these are all skills that fathers used to teach their sons in days gone by, and I scored a perfect 100%. But I am an old guy, with perhaps tired old notions of self reliance, determination and a willingness to get your hands dirty from time to time. In that bygone era, dads used to take their 10-year old boys out in the back yard and show them how to build a tree house. That right of passage taught young boys many skills to include using hand tools, planning, organization, safety and pride in workmanship. Sadly, those days are gone thanks to several factors such as advances in technology, and the slow and steady urbanization of the country. Most folks don't have backyards with substantial trees able to support any kind of tree house anymore unless they are out in the country. And even if they do, they have busy body home owners associations keeping their eyes peeled for these unsightly tree houses, those images of Americana now lost to our modern sensibilities. Rather than make excuses for why guys are turning into helpless losers, I suggest that this trend need not continue. Take a long, hard look at this list, guys. If there are a few things here that you don't have a clue as to how to proceed, man up. Find out how, and go do it. If you can't start a campfire, then you have no business calling yourself a guy anymore. Just turn in your man card, and we will scratch you off of the man list, and don't bother coming to the man meetings anymore. And one final thing: change your name to Shirley. Or Pam.

56 comments:

Spinsterpov said...

I actually scored pretty well on that one. But I was raised by an engineer with no sons. Fixing a flat tire, jump starting the car and checking the oil comprised my first driving lesson. My father believed, and I agree, that if you don't know how to do those three things then you have no business getting behind the wheel of a car.

TKZ said...

I can actually do the majority of those things and I'm a lady, but I'm also the self-reliant kind, so I like knowing how to do things. I would alter their list a little, though, to include basic cooking skills, setting up a tent, etc. I'm appalled to see how few men have the simplest survival skills, but at least they have Bear Grills to teach them how to survive in case they ever get dropped by helicopter into the amazon.

Christopher said...

Fredd,
I agree with the premise of your post except for one item on the list:

Retouch digital photos?

If a man knows how to do this, great. But if not, it certainly makes him no less of a man.

Besides, this activity/skill is hardly beneficial to a mans family, himself or the photo for that matter.

Fredd said...

Spinster: yes, that is true. I had that stuff down before I had my license, especially the jump starting thing. My older friends always had beaters with bad batteries, or bad starters, or bad starter relays, or....

Fredd said...

TKZ: completely agree - if a guy can't cook some basics, to include breakfast, gotta turn in that card, buddy.

And none of that 'pop tart' stuff, I'm talking hashbrowns, bacon, sausage, eggs to order (must know over easy, over medium, and scrambled at least not to mention basic omlette skills).

Fredd said...

Christopher: normally I could swear both of us ideologues have the same brain, as we see the world with a nearly identical view (except for that unsettling Robocop thing, but I digress...).

Although this is not the list I would have compiled, I would think that basic computer skills are one of the components of manliness, and that re-touching digital photos is so brainless, I gotta think that if a guy is clueless enough that he can't go into photo editor, click on the image, and look at the enhancement tools of the program and click a few and see how they turn out, then I would be suggesting he take some man classes.

Then again, John McCain can't do e-mail, and for a short guy, he's a manly man in my opinion. Not much of a conservative, but a manly man nonetheless. There's always exceptions.

Christopher said...

On the subject of McCain doing e-mail, he does have a staff (tax supported) for those bothersome chores.

But maybe from the injuries he recieved at the hands of the Vietkong while in captivity may have something to do with it as well?

Fredd said...

C: yup the Vietkong (or as he calls them, the 'gooks')certainly did a number on McCain, and broke his arms to the point where he can't bend them normally. To sit at a keyboard really requires at least a 90 degree range of mobility, and I don't think he has that.

Yes, we need to issue a pass to McCain on this list item.

But not to his 'Gang of 14' shennanigans. Or his stand on immigration. Or his willingness to not only step across the aisle, but to use those outreached Dem hands over there as his own personal mosh pit.

I could go on, but I won't.

Brownie said...

My husband can do anything on that list - except the computer stuff and I do that.

He can fix the car, fix the house, weld, wire, plumb.

He will teach our son the same.

But then hubby is 54.

Velcro said...

I scored pretty well too, and basically what I see boils down to self-sufficiency and responsibility. Now there are some concepts.

Fredd said...

Brownie:

My point exactly, men of my generation (I am 54 also) all learned this stuff either on the job or out of necessity, quite a bit from our fathers, but none of this stuff takes a brain surgeon, rocket scientist or Rhodes scholar to just jump in and figure it out. It also helps being a home owner, but none of the stuff on that list is all that hard. Kids nowadays are clueless. A shame.

Fredd said...

Velcro: 'self sufficiency and responsibility.' Exactly right. Perhaps a great deal of the problem with our not-too-handy younger generation can be laid at the feet of our generation: we handed them everything, and expected nothing from then in return, since we wanted them to have it better than we had it.

When I was 16 (in 1971), what I wanted was a 1971 Dodge Dart Swinger, with cool mags and that peppy 340 V8 engine, that's what I wanted. My dad didn't even look up from his paper when asked him if he could help me get one of those. Eventually what I got was a 1964 Ford Falcon station wagon, that smoked like crazy.

OK, so no cool car, and I didn't exactly have the bucks to take this smoky thing to the repair shop, I had to figure it out myself, and I did: it was a transmission fluid cooling line that was dripping on the exhaust manifold. A hose clamp fixed this. Any idiot could have done this, and it was my first official repair on anything other than a bicycle. And I knew how to patch a flat bicycle tire since probably 9 years old.

Today's kids don't seem to know how to pour piss out of a boot, even with instructions on the heel (this last gem from an army buddy from Port Arthur,TX, he has a million of 'em).

The_Kid said...

Pretty good list. I think you have to add fixing just about any bicycle problem.

I'd like to add a couple to the list for both Men and Women.
-Driving Skills.
-Critical Thought.

Fredd said...

Kid: bicycles are about as simple as things get, and if you can't figure out a bike problem, you're hopeless.

Driving and critical thought? Neither are a given to either male or female populations, and I would offer the election of Obama as to the lack of the latter.

Amusing Bunni said...

I'm the girliest girl around, at least ascetically, and I can do at least half of those things!

You drew that cartoon, Fredd? You have skills, man.
Don't ask bawny frank what that tool is for, you might not like the answer...ha ha.

The_Kid said...

Fredd, Actually I meant fix a bike when you're 7 yrs old. Sorry for the omission.

(As far as driving, I only included men so the women wouldn't get mad at me..)

Otherwise, concede :)

Silverfiddle said...

Great post Fredd! My daddy and my Grandpas taught me all that stuff, and I try to pass it on to the kids.

Reminds me of that commercial, "Don't be that guy."

I thought of this just the other day when I took my daughter out to practice driving for the first time, since she just turned 15.

When I was her age, I had been driving tractors, trucks, motorcycles and can't remember what else for over 5 years...

Joe said...

When I was younger I used to pick cars up and throw them across the street just to loosen the lug nuts.

Twelve heart attacks and five heart stents later, I don't throw cars any more.

I can do the computer stuff and I can guide someone who wants to work on their car or bicycle.

Does that get me out of the weenie category?

Please?

RightKlik said...

Time for me to get busy!

Dan said...

I have to show off my attempt at art work.

Anyway, I can see that you are not in tune with the on set of the "metro-sexual". Here is a list that qualifies one for this:

1. Is able to bilk his mom for meals all the way to forty.

2. Is able to hold the same girlfriend through 17 different jobs.

3. His glory days were when he held the highest score in Donkey Kong.

4. He can change a tire, but has never owned a car that a flat tire didn't total.

Dan said...

Oh, and forgot to say, great cartoon. Do you hold in talent in that area?

Fredd said...

Bunni: after reading your comment, I went back and counted the number of things on that list that any able bodied American, male or female, should be able to do: 12 of them, or about half. I won't go into which ones I think are uni-sex, because that itself would start some squabbles.

The Knowledge Czar suggested that basic cooking skills should be on that list somewhere and I think she's right.

Cartoon skills: yes, on my old blog, political cartoons were my schtick, and I will post some new stuff from time to time. As you are well aware, this blogging stuff sucks the time if you really put your mind to it. Adding a cartoon here and there can really bog you down. Accordingly, I will just stick to my curmudgeonly ways, and simply gripe about liberals for now rather than drawing them. If I do, I usually limit my drawing to whatever I can do in 30 minutes. More detail than that is just a waste.

If you are interested, my three oldest posts on this site have cartoons, perhaps not my best, but you can get a feel as to my style.

Fredd said...

Silverfiddle: keep the faith, buddy, pass on those skills, and for sure 'don't be that guy.'

I do not recall seeing that ad, I will Google that title, see what comes up.

If you add driving a tractor to that list, I have done that, too: but just barely - two or three months ago I fixed one of my daughter's friend's father's old 1941 Farmall B tractor, and drove it around a bit, first time in my life on a tractor.

Fredd said...

Joe: now that those heart attacks and stents have slowed you down some, if you can at least pick up the front of the car so someone else can change the oil, you can keep your man card.

...but you gotta sit at the far back of the room at the next man meeting, and we won't change the secret handshake on you.

Fredd said...

Oh, man, Right Klik: say it ain't so!

Fredd said...

Dan:

Hilarious list on those metro-sexual skills. Sounds like a great upcoming post for you. Or I may steal the idea if you slack on getting it done, perhaps with a few more of those skills:

5. Able to build steps and frame exterior door to their over-the-garage bonus room at parent's house (which they don't pay rent on).

6. Still able to negotiate a raise in allowance from dad at age 42.

7. Able to convince said girl friend kept over those 17 prior job changes that their newest gig is a double agent for the CIA (real job is pizza delivery guy).

Nice cartoon, Dan. Now there's some skills at work here. Nice use of depth, lots of detail, great use of proportion, and of course a pertinent caption on the placard for the blind guy. I always had trouble coming up with those pithy captions, and at times held caption contests, which other bloggers really had some zingers. I may do that again, who knows.

If you wanted to check out some of my old stuff from a few years ago, just go to the three oldest posts on this site, like I mentioned to Bunni above.

Amusing Bunni said...

Fredd, don't I know the blogging and commenting, esp. takes up time, but it's so much fun, and keeps me out of the stores ;-)

I read over at Kids' that you were looking for an alternative name for the assholes, and I invented one, quite by accident! This is what I commented..."Fredd, how about vile, feral diseased rat infested pond scum? That's kind of long, I know so have the acronym, VF DRIPS....sounds like a veneral disease, go figure...ha ha."
The acronym just made itself after I added up the lst letters of the words...I feel I have accomplished my duty of the day ;-)

I'll go look at your cartoons now. Happy Weekend, AB

Dan said...

I think yours is better. You have got the whole face thing down. I have some ideas if you would like to consider drawing them.

By the way, feel free to use those in a post if you like. I especially like the one about negotiating an allowance raise. Very funny.

Mark said...

LOL, that's pretty funny, Fredd. There are some things on the list I never did, but I won't say I can't do them. I believe if I had to do them, I could...oh, except for framing a wall. I've tried to do carpentry work many times. Once I had a job building cabinets, and I was fired, not because I couldn't build them, although I admit I wasn't very good at that, but because I was too slow.

My father, who was a very good handyman sort, didn't teach me much He believed if you wanted something done right, do it yourself.

I remember very clearly, when I was a kid, when my father was working on something like fixing the washing machine or something, my mother would tell me, "Go help your Dad." And I would go to him and say something like, Mom wants me to help you"

He'd say, "You wanna help? Stay out of the way!"

Consequently, there are some things on the list I don't know how to do, but I am quite sure I could do them if I tried. One thing I am good at is never giving up.

Mark said...

Oh Fredd, about original artwork...Here\'s a sample of mine, along with some pithy commentary.

Fredd said...

Mark: framing a wall, piece o' cake. Lay out the top and bottom plates (2x4s), lay the studs (also 2x4's) perpendicular to the top and bottom plates, spaced 16" on center apart. Nail 'em. Raise the frame into place. Nail it again.

Yeah, there's a bit more to it than that, but not much.

You can now check the box next to this item on the list. I authorize you to do so.

Fredd said...

Mark: I left a comment on the April 9th 2009 posting of yours with your neat and simple drawing of KSM. I like that style, much like mine.

Fuzzy Slippers said...

Wow! You can do all that? Will you marry me?

Seriously, though, I know what you mean here, and it's really sad that men today can't do so much as hang a picture without making it an all day project. Ugh. (then again, I can't complain too loudly about this, as I can't sew, hate to clean, and have a limited number of dishes that I can cook well.)

the malcontent said...

I'm not Helpless, just give me a telephone and I can get almost anything done.

Fredd said...

Fuzzy:

Yup, all of those things and more. And the marrying thing, my wife might put the kaibash on that. I'll ask her, though (or maybe not).

Who doesn't hate to clean? I imagine if I compiled a list of the 25 skills American WOMEN should have, I would never hear the end of the grief; I'd be tarred and feathered. Most guys are tougher, and can freely admit it when they are weenies at certain things. Suggest a woman should know how to do something that she doesn't, God help you.

;-)

Fredd said...

Mal: exactly like the guy calling Triple A, I am inclined to do so myself from time to time with certain more unpleasant stuff.

It doesn't mean that I can't do it if I had a mind to, however. See the difference?

Probably not.

Joe said...

Thanks, Fredd. I was beginning to question my manhood. The back of the room will do just fine. I never could learn that handshake.

Pasadena Closet Conservative said...

I used to be able to change a tire in 2 minutes flat. Due to better technology I suppose, I haven't had a flat in years.

I'll have to find some nails to run over just for the fun of it and give myself a time test.

Fredd said...

Pasadena:

My kinda guy. Two minutes. Now THAT'S skill.

Silverfiddle said...

Fredd: It is a testament to American ingenuity and manufacturing that those old Farmalls are still going...

Old Retired Petty Officer said...

And I worked with guys similar to the cartoon at two aircraft plants in Wichita 1998-2009.
There are some of the more high tech items on the list I cannot do. I am 55 and using a computer and blogging and such are relatively new to me.

Fredd said...

Petty:

You'd be surprised how easy some of the 'hi tech' tasks are: plug in the power, follow the prompts on the computer, done.

Aircraft assembly: there are clueless doofuses putting together our airplanes? That can't be good...

Mark said...

Petty, Which plants did you work at in Wichita? I lived in Wichita most of my life. My father worked and retired at Boeing, and my brother still does. I worked at Beech aircraft a couple of years.

Susannah said...

I did okay here, too! about 2/3 of the list I could check off (& my husband can do that + the rest)!

Like Spinsterpov, my Dad is an engineer, but I have 2 older brothers, so I guess I didn't get exactly the coverage of tasks that she did... ;)

Cool list - thought provoking!

Fredd said...

See, Susannah! Even WOMEN score better on that list than most young men these days.

I tell you, girly men everywhere you look.

Sad.

TKZ said...

Stupid metrosexual movement. LOL

sig94 said...

I'm 60 and I can still do them all. I had almost every job in the book while getting through college. I've been a cook, laborer, truck driver, construction worker, bartender, waiter... Have one CPR save (construction worker collapsed)and owned a few small businesses (remodeling and computer forensics) on the side as well. Just incorporated again a few months ago.

Kids I see today don't know their ass from a hole in the ground and don't want to get their pretty little hands dirty.

Fredd said...

Sig94: yeah, these kids today; if I wind up in the old folks home, and I need a light bulb changed, I just better get used to the dark.

Old Retired Petty Officer said...

Soft drink bottler, aircraft handler, aircraft mechanic, car mechanic, rail ballast car mechanic, ballast train operator, airplane assembler,convenience store clerk, cop, jailer, construction laborer, quality inspector, instructor.
I hunt, fish and on occasion load my own ammunition, can put a really good edge on a knife.
I can make my own wine and beer without the trendy "kits"
Currently an airplane mechanic at Edwards AFB.
Oh yeah, I survived cancer, left kidney.

Old Retired Petty Officer said...

Almost forgot. Married to Sharon for almost 27 years. Dad to four. Granddad to eight.

Old Retired Petty Officer said...

Bombardier Learjet in Bldg 1-45/40 final assembly and Hawker Beechcraft Plant Four, out Greenwich Road on the King Air line. Laid off from both. The last was Feb of 08 at Hawker. Laid off. Now a civil servant at Edwards. F-16 Crew Chief.

Fredd said...

Chief: looks like you are a fairly handy guy to have around in a pinch.

Most of us ex-military guys know that a petty officer is just the navy's term for a non-commissioned officer, rank E-5 and above. As an old retired one, you were likely E-8 or E-9 and through those years, you are well aware that most if not all branches of the military assume their men can score reasonably well on this list.

scott said...

From the bottom to the top, I have even rebuilt my grandmother's one room schoolhouse as well as many log cabins and the sawmill to cut replacement parts. An eight-sided barn framed without even a cut nail being used;just pins; was a challenge. Lay out a foundation within 1/2 in. on square and that is a start. However, I would add that I believe a real man should be able to change a diaper, and lead his children through this insane world with care and enjoyment, comfort, and patience while directing their path. sometimes behind them, sometimes out front, and side by side at the end. Caring for the elderly is a major concern that many neglect as well. When it comes down to it (all you feminists out there--you didn't read this) a man should nurture.

Fredd said...

Scott:

If a man has never changed a diaper, what good is he? If anything, we need more fathers involved in teaching their kids the important stuff of life (like a lot of the stuff on this list).

And aside from fatherly nurturing, several comments in this thread have agreed with me: if you can't cook anything that is not microwavable, hand in your man card. And pouring milk on a bowl of Captain Crunch doesn't count....

davek92 said...

Hey! You left out "engage liberals at 200 yards over open sites".....

Fredd said...

Hey, Dave92: sorry, I am not an open sight guy anymore since my days as an expert marksman in the army (who wasn't?).

Gotta have a scope. That way, I can just wing them without hitting any vital organs.