I’m not a tough guy. Ask anyone who knows me. I’ve never been in a fight, I’ve never rebuilt an engine, never seduced a woman (unless you count slowly wearing down the same girl over 19 years as a seduction)…I don’t even have one of those cheesy barb wire tattoos. And yet I still can’t shake the Hemingway notion of what a man is. You know the classic archetype I’m thinking of: A man knows how to throw a punch, drinks too much, speaks plainly, kills things in the woods, takes his shirt off in social situations, hates himself a little bit…
It’s a completely archaic notion of manhood that I don’t resemble at all, except for the drinking and self hatred. But I recently received my first “Dad Knife,” a very manly piece of steel that all self-respecting dads have to carry. Certainly, you remember the little knife that your dad kept in his pocket to do everything from filet a fish to open a Christmas package. My dad was always wielding his blade, even if it wasn’t appropriate. You could ask him to help with your math homework, and somehow, the knife would end up on the table, open and gleaming. Now, I have my own phallic weapon to show off, and I couldn’t be more excited.
I’m sure men of previous generations would label me a “dandy” because I like to do things like read books and cook food (that I didn’t kill myself). I have more than one pair of shoes and I use the internet more for recipes than porn. Sad, I know. But having my first dad knife has reinvigorated my admiration for traditionally manly things like lifting heavy objects and whistling at women I don’t know. So far, the knife has been sitting in my pocket, completely idle, but any day now, my son will come to me with a stick he’s found in the yard and I’ll whittle it into a spear for him. Or a bunny.
So that’s my plan for 2012–whittle many spears. I’m going to try to be more manly. I’m not entirely sure what that means, but I’m hoping it’ll translate into me getting to shoot more guns and have more sex. It probably won’t. If I’m lucky, it’ll mean I try to teach my kids how to play poker (or at least War) and eat less vegetables. I’m cool with that.
If you’re curious about what exactly a man looks like (get your mind out of the gutter, pervs), check out The Good Men Project, which is a collective of sorts concerned with the notion of manhood, manliness, dads, dudes…all things penis.