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Man up! What does it Take to be a Man Today?

What I want to talk about today is inspired by – actually it was a joke. For Christmas, my wife gave me what I call a bathroom book. This one is entitled Man Up, 367 Classic Skills for the Modern Guy, by Paulo Donald. It’s funny because, two things reach out and grab me about the cover of this book. One is it’s for the modern guy. Well, I’m not a guy, I’m a man. Now and then I will refer to myself as a guy, but this is the printed word. It should say 367 Classic Skills for the Modern Man. In just a second I’ll cover that. But, I’m looking here. A couple of things the author talks about are how to throw a punch, how to quit your job, and how to hold a baby. 

I didn’t realize that was a manly skill. I mean, sure I’ve done it. I’ve got a son. Next is how to make the first move, how to run a marathon, how to keep a poker face and how to cook the perfect steak, how to get a tattoo, and how to buy a used car, all very important skills for the manly man. For those of you who know much about me, you know, that I’m really a fan of Renaissance festivals. I didn’t start off that way. in the eighties I had a friend of mine. He and his wife would go religiously to TRF Texas Renaissance festival. The one that’s over near Houston. There’s another one now. It’s newer. It’s been around for, I don’t know, five or six years, maybe seven.

I don’t remember when it started, but anyway, that’s Sherwood Forest Faire. It’s over near Paige. It’s about, an hour outside of Austin on highway 290, like you’re heading east. The reason I mentioned that is in the eighties, when this friend of mine invited me, I told him, “I’m not gonna do that. It’s a bunch of weirdos going out there and dressing up and talking like they’re from medieval England. I’m not going to do that. So it’s funny because I guess it was 2008. And in fact, I know it was 2008 was the first year that I went. I went to TRF – and I showed up there because I was dating a girl, she says, “Hey, I’ve got a friend who’s going too, we should go.” I didn’t want to go but I did under protest.

So went there and we camped. I walked in, and I’m going to say this:  by the end of that day, she and I had purchased a thousand dollars worth of garb. It’s not costume by the way, it is garb. I just fell in love with it. These are great people. This is so much fun. And if you haven’t done it, you should do it. I would tell you this: you should camp. If you don’t camp when you go to these Renaissance festivals, you’re missing 80% of what going to a Ren faire is actually about. You should definitely do it. Scarby – Scarborough Faire up near Dallas. They don’t camp and that’s a big reason I don’t go. We rennies refer to those who don’t camp and just come in for the day as tourists.

Believe me, I completely nerded out on this thing. I belong to a clan and I dress up. You wouldn’t believe the garb I have. And, of course we camp and everything else. I describe it to some people what is it about Ren Faire?  Well, essentially for me, I’m camping out with extended family and we barbecue and drink beer together and we throw on strange outfits and go in and drink beer inside together. It’s a lot of fun. It really is. I would also encourage anybody that if they want to go to Burning, Man, I’ve been 3 times. I always hear people say, that’s on my bucket list. Well, you should go. It is, it’s an experience and it’s, not as depraved as everybody says.

I’ve explained it this way, what you find at Burning Man, you could find in any major city in the United States. If you look for it, you’re going to find it. Things are a little more open, but they call it an experiment in society, and an experiment in community. There is no money except for buying ice and water, that kind of thing. But there, it’s all gifting. It’s mainly gifting, but sometimes it’s barter. But anyway, it’s interesting, but that’s not the reason I mentioned that. The reason I mentioned Renaissance festival – I was talking about this Man Up book. When I went, I’d done – as I mentioned in a previous episode on the film business – I always play either the heavy or a cop.

As a result, I’ve kind of garnered the reputation of being a man’s man. He’s a tough guy, he’s done this, he’s done that. And as you know, I cowboyed professionally on a ranch. I’ve ridden some rough stock. I’ve done a little of that. I was in the military – field artillery. I went through basic training and all that kind of stuff, went through a couple of NCO academies and schools. So I kind of developed that reputation. 

A friend of mine who I befriended when I was at Faire said jokingly, “I’d like to be as manly as you are.”  I said, well, it’s going to be tough to do because I’m the mayor of full-grown F ing Manville and blah, blah, blah.

Anyway, that stuck and pretty soon it was all over the place. I used to hear it, even from some of the women that went to Faire, “Hey, Craig, what’s going on? Welcome to full-grown F ing Manville, dude. It was humorous. But because of that, every now and then I’ll get a little shot taken at me, like my wife giving me this book Man Up, although I remember there’ve been a couple of times when I might not have done something that I should have done, and she’ll say, “Well, you know, you need to man up and get this thing done.”  And I know what she means by that. I will not make any joke about that because in our household, we have blue jobs and we have pink jobs and those blue jobs are expected to be done.

As I mentioned before, my wife is a successful woman. She is upwardly mobile. She is well-educated, and she comes from culture and class. She embraces the independence and the emancipation, the ideology of successful independent women. As I said before, she was doing just fine when she met me. She did not need me to help her in life. She’s got this covered, but, another thing she embraces is the traditional values. I open doors for her when we enter or leave a building. I open the car door or my truck door when she’s getting in. When we order, she orders first. I defer to her to certain things that should be deferred. I’m just saying that we have blue jobs and we have pink jobs and that expectation is something I am proud and pleased to provide. I manage those areas of responsibility.

I think the role of a man hasn’t changed, but I think it’s been misinterpreted to a certain extent. The reason I object to the word Guy: when I go to restaurants now, and I know you’ve all seen it, anytime I go to a restaurant and a waiter or waitress will come over, they go, “Hey, so how are you guys doing?  Have you guys decided on what you want? Have you guys done this or that? Okay, long hair, boobs – that’s a woman. That is not a guy! 

I know it’s shorthand, and I know those of you in the service industry – I’m one of you, it’s whole lot easier to say, “Hey, how are you guys doing.”

But it’s also very trite. And I think it’s an unnecessary shortcut. The English language is being watered down and diluted to where there’s not a whole lot of ceremony or art to it. Back when I went to school, one of the classes I took in English was called Language Arts. It was just an English class. And you know, some of the words that we use now, and I’m going to complain just a little bit: the flurry of likes that I hear whenever I’m around young people. A lot of older people too, is like, like, like, like, like I’m like, I’m like, I’m like, and you know, I get it. It’s a marker. It’s shorthand. It is unobtrusive. You know, you know, I was like racing this and that. And another one is “literally” – Look it up!

I heard somebody say, “That product literally flew off the shelves, it was so popular.” In my mind, I’m seeing stuff growing wings and flying away. Somebody said, “Oh man, you should’ve seen it. I was literally scared to death.” It’s better than that figurative fright that we can all get. You know, you don’t want that. 

Literally is not an exclamatory word. Literally has to do with, if I’m saying that I am literally in deep crap, it means that it’s smelly and I’m up to my neck in it, and a shower won’t cure it. I literally figured it out. You don’t need to say literally. We can al be secure that you mean that you actually figured something out. That’s one of the things. 

Finally there is the word amazing. She is amazing. Well, amazing is, is not a verb. It’s an adjective. You can have an amazing mathematical skill, an amazing eye for color and amazing this amazing that.

I have belabored that enough. Let’s get back to this guy thing. A guy is shortcut is shortcut for courtesy. And I would much rather if somebody came to my table and said, “How are you doing? How are the two of you doing? Ma’am, sir, welcome to our restaurant. I realize it takes more work. And when you’re doing this for a living, you have to do it a lot, but you know, I’m a good tipper and yeah, I’m kind of set in my ways. As I get older, it gets worse, but it just bugs me. The guy thing is, I think, emblematic of where society is going. I’m gonna tell you a quick story about this. When my son was in his early twenties, and he’s not much beyond that now, this was probably 2008, 2009, something like that.

It might’ve been later, but anyway, he and his roommate at that time, and I, went out. We went to this place in San Antonio to have a couple drinks. They served food and everything else, but this place was packed. Apparently, it’s kind of a happy hour after work hangout. The vast majority of the patrons in there were mid twenties, early thirties. My son, the roommate, and I walked up to the bar. We had just walked into the place and ordered drinks. I looked over at this table. There were six stunningly, beautiful women sitting there. They were mid twenties.

They are obviously checking out my son and his roommate. I’m, I’m a man of the eighties. I see definite interest here. So I got my drink and I nudge my son. I said, “Hey, see this table over here with these pretty girls? And he says he does. I said, man, they’re really checking you out. You should go talk to them. He looks at me seriously and he says, no, Dad, and he gives me this knowing look like I’m old fashioned and I don’t know anything. He finally says, That’s way too confrontational. We don’t do that. That’s not something that is acceptable. 
Is that right?  Wow. So being that I am who I am, I said, excuse me, one second. I’ll be right back. 
So I took my drink and walked over to the table and these girls were looking at me like, what the heck is this old guy doing

I grabbed a chair and I said, you mind if I sit with y’all for a second? I have to have a chat with you. They looked at me and they kind of laughed. Okay. So I sat down and I said, you know, I just have to tell you that I was at the bar there with my son and his roommate, and I noticed that y’all were checking them out. I told my son, I said, Hey, man, you should go over there and talk to these girls because I think there’s some interest there. I could see that some of them had already started building that wall that all girls create as a part of their filtering mechanism. Yeah. Whatever old man. I continued. I said, but you know he told me something interesting and I just wanted to run this by you. he said that it isn’t done. he said it is too confrontational. It’s too, I don’t know, it’s too abrupt. What do you think about that?

I got some hems and haws so I said, Let me ask you a more direct question. If you were to describe the modern American male of your generation –  your age – in one word, what would it be? There were six women sitting there, and as one they said, he’s a pussy. I chuckled a little bit. The one sitting next to me, I think she was kind of the ringleader. I think she was the alpha. She goes, well, I gotta tell you that the last full-grown men in our world is going away with your generation and, you know, they’re all married off and they are all getting older. 

She continued: “We’re not looking for that man in particular, but men nowadays don’t have that manliness anymore. 

It’s funny going back to what I remember of the eighties and wearing a pink Hawaiian shirts, right. If y’all ever seen the Miami Vice episodes, pleated slacks, loafers with no socks, we all carried Combs in our back pocket and worried about our hair. I don’t know how manly that was. I think we grew out of it and grew into something else. it would be easy to critisize the Manliness of the men of my generation, for sure. But anyway, I told her, I’m really surprised to hear that. And, anyway, so it was funny cause she asked me, are you married?

I said, “I am married. Thank you for making my day.” 

I tell you this story to tell you something else, and that’s something else is this, that there is still a need and a call for manly men. And by manly men, I’ll define that here in a second, as I see it. But the reason I say there’s a need for manly men is because I think that there is a movement, and it’s a propaganda movement, to water down the males, to where, anything that might make them a man would be labeled as bad, or a chauvinist, or misogynist, or whatever you want to put in there. As I mentioned, in my relationship, I’m with an emancipated woman, but she expects certain things from me.

The fact is, I think that it is a sign of respect that she does. Some people have asked me, why do you think that they’re not really trying to branch out and meet their male potential? If you want to call it that, I don’t want to get silly on this, but let me just say this. There was a, a friend of mine that sent me the link to a website. Iwish I could remember the name of it. But this website presented a theory and I want to share that theory with you. I’m going to present it this way, because I’ve asked many women this question. I’ve, presented to them this theory, this word problem. I’m just going to present it to you as I presented to them. 

When a man is successful with women, he is considered a stud, but when a woman is successful with men or prolific with men, she’s considered a slut, excuse the French.

They looked at me while I read it, and would give me a number of answers and I would usually interrupt and say this, “Okay, I’m going to give you the reason why, and when I’m finished giving that reason why, you’re not only going to agree with me that it’s normal and natural, but you’re also going to agree with me that it should be that way without any exception.” 
Every woman says no way. There’s no way that I’m ever going to agree to something like that. And there’s no way I’m ever going to say that. 

Let me tell you what it is. As men, we are equipped at birth with what’s referred to, as an Approach Mechanism, women are equipped with a Filtering Mechanism. These two components are what determine the success or the lack of success in women and men meeting the right woman or man and mating for life.

This is how it works. The man is geared naturally and instinctively to approach a woman. He will approach numerous women, because that’s what he does. He will start with one and she’ll reject him, then go to another. A man who has a healthy Approach Mechanism will meet many women and he will appeal to many women. So when he’s that way, especially amongst the guys, you hear them say, “Oh yeah, well, you know, Craig, he’s a stud man. The women just flock to him.” That’s not the case by the way – just using an example. Now, on the other hand, a woman has a Filtering Mechanism.

What that means is whenever a man approaches using his Approach Mechanism, her Filtering Mechanism eliminates either unsuitable or undesirable males. This is not the guy. He doesn’t do it for me. I wish he’d move on. Part of that Filtering Mechanism is demonstrated this way: Hey, how you doing baby, you want to dance?  No, I don’t. And by the way, do they sell men’s clothes where you bought those shoes?  This component tests the confidence of the man. So if a woman has a lot of male partners, or is prolific with males, she’s considered to have a faulty Filtering Mechanism. So a man who is good at meeting women, he has a healthy Approach Mechanism. If he’s not good at meeting women, he has a faulty Approach Mechanism.

A woman with few male experiences is said to have a healthy Filtering Mechanism. Someone who is known as somebody who pretty much will sleep with anyone, that’s considered a faulty Filtering Mechanism. So, and it’s not just men that think of women that way. Women don’t find it attractive if one of their friends has a faulty Filtering Mechanism. It’s up to you to judge for yourself, whether you buy into it or not. But I’m just saying that that’s what it is. 

The point of this is this, according to this website, the number one most attractive feature that a man can exhibit to a woman is confidence. That confidence will overrule looks, build, economic station. The reason I say that is because the filtering mechanism is geared to rate the confidence in a man.

So according to this website, you just have to act confident, and this is the way you do it. If you’re not a confident man then you need to learn these things to say, and you say it in a certain way, in a certain order, and a woman will fall victim to your new tricks, and your tools, and your wiles. I know it’s offensive, but there are a bunch of guys out there that are trying this thing out.I don’t buy into it, but apparently it works. I don’t know. I never tried it, but, I thought that the Filtering Approach Mechanism, theory was pretty fascinating. But the reason I’m talking about Manliness is because it was the book that was given to me.

My wife was making a joke about it, but I think that a part of being a Renaissance man, if you want to say that, is that you’re in possession of a lot of these manly traits, if you want to call it that. It’s such a stupid euphemism, but let’s call it that. I guess the number one ma  nly trait that you have to have is to be confident, but how do you achieve that as a man? How do we achieve that confidence? I wasn’t who I am today when I was younger. I feel like I’m confident in who I am. And a part of my confidence is I do know my weaknesses. I know. I can already hear all my buddies saying, oh yeah, we could list them – and they’re listing them now.

In my family, I always catch hell. They rib, me and they mess with me, and joke with me, and go after me on everything. And I love them for it. They do it because, number one, I’m an easy target. Secondly, they do it because they know I can handle it. And it’s their way of showing their regard, their fondness for me. And that’s why I’m saying my buddies, they are the same way. They’re all saying: Yeah. Whatever, man, you know, we’re going to see you later and we’re going to talk to you about this. 
you generate confidence How do you, how do you develop that How do you acquire confidence Whatever the word is. I think it’s through, I think it’s through bravely making mistakes. I think it’s through, no matter what the odds, what the odds are against you just try it.

But, how do generate confidence?

If you’re on top of that 50 foot tree on Hinman Island. You jump off of it because you just do it. Look, if somebody else can do it, I can do it. In my life, anything that I’ve ever wanted to do, I just did it. I started cowboying professionally because, well, I grew up in San Angelo and all over the world for that matter. 

It’s what I wanted to do. And I went to work for a ranch in outside of new Braunfels, We ran cattle and I was responsible for either eight or nine horses, I forget. And my job was to ride them every day. A couple were only rough broke. I broke one yfrom just almost a Bronco to where it was a decent saddle horse. I roped cattle. But anyway, I just decided to do it. And I was a cowboy professional for about two years and I got pretty comfortable in the saddle. A lot of it was a lot of hard work, but it’s one of those things you did. I decided to do it and I did it, same thing with the acting business.

I joined the military. I didn’t have much choice. I came home from school one day and, sitting there at the dinner table were two sergeants in military garb. My dad said, Hey, guess what?  We’re gonna want to help you out here. You’re going to have fun. And not long after that, I joined the Texas Army National Guard in a field artillery unit. Soon I was in basic training and AIT. So, you know, that was thrust upon me. I don’t want to go through basic training again, but I wouldn’t trade for it. It was hard, but it was a character builder. That experience – you want to talk about testing your nerve. But anything that I ever wanted to do, I just went out and did it.

I think the key is with experience comes confidence. When you find out how weak you can be and what prevents you from doing certain things, well it’s funny that those things no longer prevent you from doing it,  because you recognize it. And you recognize it in most cases as something you manufacture. You created it to stop yourself from doing things. By no means have I mastered or conquered those, they’re still there. When I go to the gym, I’m still looking for reasons not to go. I’m still looking for reasons not to spend forty-five minutes doing this. I had many reasons for not going to work when I was driving nails for a living, and I could come up with all kinds of reasons, not to go out and work in the heat and the cold, but you just do it.

I think that’s the epitome of it. Hey, I’m almost out of time, but I do want to say this last thing about this subject. If you try too hard to be manly, you’re going to appear and you are going to be insecure. It’s something that comes with time. It’s something that you acquire with, I think, three key components. The first one is integrity. I think the second one is, being principled, and there are principles you stand behind. I was in the music business, and I was an actor for a while. I’ve been to all the parties and I’ve been commode hugging drunk. I know what that’s like. That is not principled. Principles are those core values that you buy into. They not only run your life, but those things that are inviolate, nobody can change that.

My dad said one time – and you’ve heard it before. “You better believe in something or you’ll fall for anything.”  And you know, of course he equated it to going in the military as well. If you are ever captured and placed in a prisoner of war camp, if you don’t know what you believe, then they could convince you of something, blah, blah, blah. 

As a kid, it was convoluted. But it’s valid. The principles – that’s a key part of it. The final thing is this: Treat women and men the way you want to be treated. When you’re talking to a woman, and believe me you young guys, I was there. I love women. I do. And it’s not wholly a sexual thing. I love women because they’re so different from me. I love women because they, they think differently. look different of course, but they process differently. They communicate differently. And I love to get inside their heads and hear what’s going on. I like to know it because it is so foreign to the way I operate and what I think and say in my interior monologue. I don’t know what’s going on in their minds. So when they tell me these things, the reason that I have so many female friends is because I actually listen to them. Keep your eyes above the neck line for a little while and just listen to what they have to say. I’ve got a friend of mine and she says, you know what I like about you, Craig, is whenever you’re talking to a woman, you always make her feel special. You always make her feel like you really care.

You’re really listening. It’s because I am. It’s because I do. We’re all in this thing together. There’s no point in making any more enemies than you’re going to make, just being you. The biggest major built in objection about me is me, and if I can get past that, and, and I can get to know somebody, I’m going to have a friend for life. 

So I hope I’ve not bored you too much, but that’s my insight on it. And please come back another time. We’ll talk to you later.

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