Wednesday, February 27, 2013

What happened to all the 'manly' men?

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.

(re posted from a few years ago due to popular demand)


Anonymous said...


"change your name to Shirley" about NANCY, like the Dad in Everybody Loves Raymond always suggests when his sons are less than manly? :-)

that's quite a list.

Putting them all aside...I'd add that MANLY MEN stand up for themselves and their woman and don't let their kids sass them back and command respect in their home and workplace and put their country first and ...

etc !!
and fix brakes, I guess!?

Fredd said...


Yes, the late great Peter Boyle played an excellent dad (Frank Barone) to Ray Romano's dithering portrayal of a sportswriter goof in 'Everybody Loves Raymond', and had done all of this stuff on this list that is now all but forgotten by the average weenie man these days.

Brad Garrett (Robert Barone), Franks' other weenie (yet huge) son was also guilty on more than one occasion of being a 'Nancy' when it came to getting manly things done.

I probably will lend them a feeble excuse: this show was set in New York, and accordingly, not much camping, bolt action rifle cleaning and canoe paddling transpired.

On second thought, no excuses. Figure this stuff out, guys. Or it's Nancy from now on.

Kid said...

26. Entertain a lady.

Fredd, Yes, I see some of these things falling off the list, especially in the category of cars like bleeding brakes. You should see the pile of spaghetti called brake lines when I lift the hood of my new Toyota Tundra truck. Nada.

Fredd said...


Yes, the list is dated but the point still stands.

Unrelated note: I myself own a 2008 Toyota Tundra, and there is almost nothing I am qualified to service on this vehicle: and I know my way around a car or two.

Joe said...

8. Fix a dead outlet

That is one I will not do, even though I know how.

I have an inordinate fear of raw electricity.

I once built a pair of light trees,each with six lights, 2 red, 2 green and 2 blue. They were controlled by a set of rheostats that would allow each light to be turned on, dimmed and/or brightened singularly or en mass. It was a masterpiece.

When I finished I left the room and let my buddy plug it in and test it, because I wasn't about to.

You can call me Shirley, as long as you follow it with, "you jest."

Fredd said...

Joe, you're good. Even though you don't WANT to do something on this list, it's enough that you KNOW HOW to do it. You could talk someone through this task, right?

Accordingly, you get to keep your man card and attend the man meetings. The next man meeting you don't want to miss: we are changing the secret handshake and everyone is bringing a dish to pass. Please bring a three bean salad.

Kid said...

Fredd, Yep, Mine will never see one of my wrenches or screwdrivers. I'm not even changing the oil. I put a K&N air filter in and will clean that when necessary. And top off fluids. Period.

Fredd said...


I don't even do that much. My Toyota dealership does all of that.

I change the battery and wipers, add wiper fluid, that's it.