Manning up


I recently saw the documentary Harvard Beats Yale, 29-29. As I sat in the dark theater watching aging white men dissect, play-by-play, a 40-year-old Ivy League football game, I laughed and cried and wondered how the hell it was happening that this movie about something that I couldn’t care less about was sucking me in and propelling me to the edge of my seat. Afterwards, I realized it was because the movie is about what it means to be a man, or rather what it means to be a boy on the cusp of manhood. My first words out of the theater to my companion were, “Oh, I love men!”

Since then, I’ve been thinking a bit about manliness. My thinking led a (male) friend to recommend to me The Art of Manliness, a blog that, according to itself, was started when the writers became frustrated with the messages being pushed by mainstream men’s magazines (Sex! Abs! Pecs!) and saw that a more “wholesome” brand of manliness needed an outlet. The resulting blog at times makes you tilt your head and wonder, “Is this joke?” (e.g. The post “6 Lessons in Manliness from James Bond” includes the truism “How one starts the race isn’t nearly as important as how one finishes,” and makes me wonder why this applies to men specifically and not to all people in general) and at times say, “That is funny. And also true.” (e.g. In the post, “Six Holiday Style Tips for Men,” it is highly recommended that all men “Learn to overlap cotton and wool clothing appropriately.”)

It’s nothing too deep. It’s no arty documentary. But there are gems here that, if I ever have a son, I am going to scrawl on Post-Its and use as wallpaper for his room. He’ll thank me for it later.