I wasn’t supposed to be in that girl’s shower. As the property manager, it was not my place to be in a tenant’s bathroom for any reason other than inspection or as an escort to a vendor.
Nor was it necessarily recommended to pull the fuel filter off that car, and the gas that leaked out turned the skin on my hand white, until I learned to be more efficient and careful about it after that.
And I wasn’t sure, the first time I threw a punch, but I have to admit, the results get more and more satisfying with every repetition.
Masculinity is a complicated concept, with all sorts of shortcuts and assumptions that are not necessarily relevant, important, or even a good idea. I’d made it about a quarter of a century before I needed to fix a shower, was legally an adult before I fixed anything on a car, and it was only last year that I learned to throw a proper punch.
I was still a man before each of those. Right?
But still there is the nagging sense that a man should know this stuff. So even though technically I wasn’t supposed to fix plumbing at my job as a property manager, once I’d looked over the pro’s shoulder I was eager to get in there and do it myself. And when the gas tank of my first beater car was rusted inside, I didn’t mind changing the filter monthly (while we waited for a 1969 replacement to show up in the scrap yard). And when I moved into my previous house and the roommate handed me boxing gloves, I was happy to accept.
There are a number of these “man skills” floating around, and I’ve joked about finding/starting/joining some sort of Man Skills Academy to learn more. After all, when I moved into my current apartment, and the shower demon delighted in alternating ice-water dousing with second-degree burns, I had to ask the maintenance man to come save me.
So when I got the “New Meetup Group: Man Skills 101” email, I was curious, and saw three possibilities:
- Genuinely educational.
- Just goofy fun among dudes.
- Misogynistic patriarchal chest-beating.
The group’s description reads: “Let’s face it, we modern men are spending WAY TOO MUCH time in front of our computers. You are no longer required to use your man skills because technology does everything for you. Falling out of touch with your masculinity is extremely unnatural, unhealthy and will negatively effecting (sic) all aspects of your life.
Doing man stuff awakens your inner-Viking and IT IS VERY REWARDING. Your long forgotten Caveman says “Man! This feels familiar. I should be doing more of this. I created that with my hands? Awesome!”
Sounds promising. They went on to quote Napoleon Dynamite: “Chicks like guys with skills.” A Napoleon Dynamite reference is always a good call, but what if they’re not quite tongue-in-cheek? I’ve never identified as the stereotypical frat boy, and I don’t mean to start now, though I do enjoy playing with the archetype.
-Taking off a bra with one hand.
-Building a fire
It’s been awhile since I feared the brassiere, I make a decent fire, and I tie in for rock climbing without problems, but perhaps the company of dudes would be a good way to spend an evening? Or is this a patriarchal idiot fest? The other issue being that it’s the same night as my weekly rock-climbing group, which I would be sorry to miss.
What do you think? Should I go?
And stay tuned each of the next two days, as a remarkable woman guest-blogs her opinions on the issue…and much more.