Just when I was getting over the onslaught of online clickbait and the AARP’s advice on how to be a hunka hunka burnin’ geezer, now I’ve gotten a blast of wonderful free advice on the meaning of male. Trust those faithful guardians of truth at the New York Times to come out with 27 Ways to Be a Modern Man.
This actually looks like a half-serious article, at least for a certain subset of Times readers and the men who are trying to get into their pants. I don’t have the space or the fortitude to analyze all 27 of these commandments, so let’s just break down a few. Starting with # 1:
“When the modern man buys shoes for his spouse, he doesn’t have to ask her sister for the size. And he knows which brands run big or small.” Red flag. What modern, postmodern, premodern or prehistoric man with a brain bigger than a cashew nut would even DREAM of buying shoes for a spouse?
This isn’t sexism. This isn’t stereotyping. This is just a fact. I asked my own spouse if she’d like me to shop for shoes for her. She replied, “Only if the next thing you shop for is a divorce.”
“The modern man buys only regular colas, like Coke or Dr Pepper. If you walk into his house looking for a Mountain Dew, he’ll show you the door.” Who says a Dew is any less “regular” than a Pepper? That regrettable but real anti-Southern streak at the Times strikes again. Why, down here in Georgia where we’re jest rednecks, rednecks, who don’t know our ass from a hole in the ground, we’uns don’t drink nothin’ but Dew! Guess that’s why we ain’t got no teeth! Which is good ‘cuz we ain’t got no indoor plumbin’ neither!
“The modern man uses the proper names for things. For example, he’ll say “helicopter,” not “chopper” like some gauche simpleton.” So in a situation that even the most modern of men is likely to face sometimes, where the F-word is called for, his response would be, “Fornicate you”?
“The modern man makes sure the dishes on the rack have dried completely before putting them away.” Fair enough, but does MM also wash the dishes or still leave that to MW, who probably also cooked the food the dishes were used for?
“The modern man has thought seriously about buying a shoehorn.” Has he also thought about spending his money on shoes that fit?
“The modern man still ambles half-naked down his driveway each morning to scoop up a crisp newspaper.” O-kay. He’s not only a potential (if accidental) flasher, but he still clings to old ways for no apparent reason. Very modern, that!
Parts of this manifesto do have merit, including “The modern man won’t blow 10 minutes of his life looking for the best parking spot. He finds a reasonable one and puts his car between the lines.” And definitely “The modern man buys fresh flowers more to surprise his wife than to say he is sorry.” That’s the truth, boys: flowers never hurt a relationship and you don’t need a reason to be nice.
You also don’t need to believe everything you read in that “crisp newspaper.” So for all of our sakes, please ignore #2: “The modern man never lets other people know when his confidence has sunk. He acts as if everything is going swimmingly until it is.” Sounds like a modern man at Lehman Brothers in 2008, or on the bridge of the Titanic.