Updated: Feb 6
What kind of man are you?
That right there is the question of the day. The reason for this article. Lets just answer it already so I can stop writing about this shit and get on with my life already.
Well, then I’d have nothing to do but eat, sleep, lift weights and catch up on The Young & The Restless. But I should really be more productive than that so lets keep talking about it shall we?
What kind of man indeed. Well, I wrote about the Marlboro Man and the circuit party kid, and the father that raised me and I challenged you to write to your father, guardian, etc. There’s so many more iterations of man and reflections (dare I say shades?) of masculinity it becomes difficult, if not impossible to list them all. Nevermind why they came to be what they are.
Every time I see bad behavior in men I think of that skit from SNL in the early 90’s ‘What Animal Were You Raised By?”. Sometimes I see a guy being an asshole and I think he was raised by wolves, or if they are shady and slimy maybe they were raised by snakes, or if they are the class clown, hyenas, I don’t know but you get where I’m going with this. It’s said we are products of our upbringing and the environment in which we were raised. I think that’s partly true but not completely. I’m not saying bad people had bad parents but I am saying each generation is different. And while we take parts of our fathers (or whatever male role model was around either live or on TV) with us we also learn from what it was about them we liked and didn’t like. At least I hoped we learned. If we didn’t find differences in each generation we wouldn’t think the Baby Boomers were these highly motivated business focused generation that got shit started and found their way to the top. And that the Gen-X-ers that followed (that’s me) were these slackers that wanted so much to rebel from their baby boomer parents if only they could manage to get off the couch and do it. Gen Y: what did they do? Yeah, exactly. And the millennials….oh how we hate the millennials.
Wait, why though?
I mean let’s face it, anyone who’s not a millennial does a hard eye roll even when they hear the word!
You know you do.
Actually, one of my best friends is a millennial. He is a successful circuit DJ that got his start during a very rough spot in his life. He had just ended a major relationship, moved home with his mom, had to make a new circle of friends in a town where he didn’t know anyone.
Josh knew one thing, he had a passion for music. He had done some DJ gigs, smaller stuff, and produced a few of his own tracks which were amazing, and he just wanted to do what he loved with his life. So he did. He created his music, put it out there on SoundCloud and used social media to gain interest. He had a college degree to help create his visual image, the millennial sense of social media and how to work it and most importantly, he had the talent to back it up. I’m not just saying that because I’m biased, and I clearly am, but I sensed something inside him and with his music that just told me to sit back and watch this kid rise. And he did!
With the pride I have for my own two sons I tear up when I think of the success he’s had and the things he had to go through in life, his male role models were…not perfect, but not everyone’s is. Was his worse than mine? Yours? I’ll say yes because I know the details but I’ll refrain from sharing them. What I will say is this. This kid is an incredible man.
To look at him you see a handsome young man, solid muscle, hairy chest, authoritative voice when he talks about his craft or is defending his people. If he only rode a horse he’d give the Marlboro Man a run for his money.
But Josh is more than that. He is one of the most kind-hearted individuals I know. Sensitive, caring, loving, giving, kind and he’s not afraid to show any of that. We text daily and there’s an ‘I love you’ in there somewhere always. He knows who he is and he knows where he wants to go. What makes Josh a prime example for this issue is that to me he defines masculinity to a large degree, despite the ‘Hey gurl, heyyy!’ you hear from him when he’s out with his friends.
But he’s not the only millennial I know. My other good friend Brian shares almost the same traits as well. This young guy from Southeast, MA decided to quit his dead-end job, leave his family and forge his own path in life, on his terms. And he did just that. Today after a few short years he’s a licensed massage therapist working at a major casino. He’s married to an incredible girl and they just bought their first home. When I first met him I thought ‘pretty boy’, smooth, tattoos, waxed brows. But he had the look for the competitive bodybuilding/fitness arena. He gave up competing in bodybuilding shows for arm-wrestling and is happy, actually happy with his life. That’s a gift. A gift you give yourself by being true to yourself and following your own path. I don’t know much about Brian’s father so I can’t speak to where he got his zest for life and the courage to dare and live it.
And finally, there is Ladd. Born in London and an performer by trade, he came to America to pursue a career on Broadway, and film. He’s called a triple- threat because of his abilities in singing, dancing and acting, and his natural talent in front of the camera is unmistakable. As is his penchant for writing as he is currently developing his own series. His creative talent continues to amaze me. I know enough about his Dad to know just how lucky Ladd was and just why he turned out to be as fine a man as he is. Physically, Ladd is a bit shorter than I, with the lean muscular build of a gymnast and is naturally hairy, One day years ago Ladd said something that baffled me but really hit home. He told me how surprised he was at Americans. When I asked him what he meant he said he just couldn’t understand why more of us didn’t follow our dreams and go after our passion.
I had to stop and think about that for a good long while, and still couldn’t answer it.
If you look at the three of them side by side, you may see Josh as the most masculine (just based on your looks, honey, stop laughing). But you haven’t seen Brian with his waxed brows take down a pro arm-wrestler with 40lbs on him, Or the stern look and tone Ladd has when the bank is asking for something they really don’t need or when he’s mad at me for something (typically well deserved). While Ladd, Brian and Josh all have different body types one thing is similar. They stand tall, and with confidence. They know who they are. Their values are the same. Find your passion, work hard, keep going. They are all kind, courteous, good-hearted and giving with a keen sense of self. You know how they feel because they are man enough to not be stifled by society’s ancient etiquettes. I can’t say that about a lot of my own peers. While I sit here typing this I realize what I’m doing is fulfilling my own passion for sharing and hopefully giving insight and perspective to all generations, but I don’t know anyone in my age group who I can say actually does what they love and is happy with it.
And that is just sad.
Does that make me less of a man? Less masculine than any of them? Or anyone else?
No, but ponder this:
What we used to think of masculinity in our fathers’ and their fathers’ ages was strong, confident, powerful, authoritative, non-emotional, un-involved unless you were doing manly things. Someone who took care of ‘stuff’ like mowing the lawn and shoveling snow, fixing the roof of the garage or changing doorknobs. They were stern with the children and a force to be reckoned with. Typically intimidating (Webster has a pic of my dad as its definition) and always the defender of the house and his family. I’m not saying they were not caring and didn’t have values, but there was, lets face it, a coldness about that. Or a stand-offishness. And while they appeared to be secure in who they were, you could never be sure because they hid everything behind that veil of masculine coldness. Other than opening a fine bottle of Scotch did they ever discuss their pure joy at seeing their friends succeed or with there kids’ accomplishments?
Alec, Josh and Brian share the best parts of the men that made our forefathers. Strong, confident, defenders of their space and family (chosen or true). But the difference is you know they are secure in themselves because they exude that, and they are not filtering themselves behind the mask of the mid-century modern masculine facade.
I’m not saying millennials are redefining masculinity…
But aren’t they?
The ones I know certainly do.
Oh two more things…
God bless the mom’s of these gents for helping raise such fine young men.
And on the topic of moms, Josh’s mom makes THE BEST home made hot fudge and she just gave me some for Christmas. I don’t have ice cream so I’m eating it out of the jar.
Totes masc. right?