man license

I can do it

I think there should be minimum requirements to being a man. Don’t worry; men are a rather small minded-bunch so the requirements wouldn’t be stringent. But there should be bare minimums. And if you can’t meet the minimum requirements, you’ll be asked to move to Canada or Los Angeles.

The case for bare minimums was recently made when I saw an early-thirties male-like person at Home Depot who asked the woman at the paint counter. “How do you open a can of paint?” You are thirty years of age, and you’ve never opened a can of paint? What the fuck is wrong with you? Ability to open a can is a minimum requirement to belong to the man club; it’s like breathing.

I’m not saying you have to be Davey Crockett manly and able to box a compass and skin raccoons … or work a slide rule and adjust an oscilloscope. That kind of crap is for the higher apes. I just think you should be able to identify the working end of a screwdriver is all.

Another thing, pick your own shit up. I saw a perfectly functional guy at a hardware store ask a woman employee to lift a large, heavy box off a bottom shelf and put it in his cart for him. This is not what a man would do. A man’s massive ego alone should require him to get that box off the bottom shelf himself. Simply to show off how goddamned manly he is if nothing else … that dude was an utter waste of a meat. I’m not saying that the woman couldn’t do it–she obviously did, and without complaint … it’s just that lazy slob should have bent his fat ass over and picked it up himself; that isn’t too much to ask.

A guy should own a drill and know the difference between a wood bit and a metal bit. You should be able to cut a board in a straight line with a hand saw. You should know which saw to use to cut the board depending on the direction. Rip or crosscut, figger it out.

A guy should be able to take apart a sink drain, maybe not put it back together correctly, but at least take it apart.

And a man should open doors for women, or another man for that matter. It’s not sexist, it’s just polite (and yes, I’ve had women hold the door for me as well, and I’ve appreciated it).

A guy should be able to change a tire, jump a car and put a new battery in … you don’t have to be a Porsche mechanic to do that. Most men aren’t destined to be Norm Abrams of This Old House, but if you can’t replace a door hinge are you really necessary? If your abilities begin and end with getting in and out of the car and reading e-mail on your cell phone, you are taking up valuable space that could be filled by an actual man.

I’m not sure where this trend of dudes not being able to fix anything started but possibly it began with the advent of absolutely harmless, no possibility of having fun, rubber encased playground equipment. Playground equipment used to be fun, exciting and a tad dangerous. My school yard had swinging gates which made you feel that death was lurking close by if you got them going fast enough. We would bring oil cans from home in order to make them go faster. We had a merry-go-round which the teachers would regularly yell at us to “slow that damn thing down.” Yes, a kid ever now and again would fly off the thing, but that’s the way natural selection works. Weak hands need to be culled from the gene pool; otherwise, pickle jars would never be opened.

We didn’t have play dates or play stations; our dad’s would give us used, broken lawn mower engines to play with. My dad would bring one home and say, “If you can fix this, you can build a mini bike.” Mini bikes, also dangerous, were the pinnacle of awesome. So out of 10 engines or so, we would eventually get one running and a mini bike or go-kart would begin to emerge from bits of metal tubing, plywood scraps, sprockets and scavenged wheels. My brother built a go-kart that almost killed half the neighborhoods kids when it took off on its own one day. Jumping curbs, crisscrossing lawns, plowing through rose beds … it was quite a sight. But how else does one learn not to keep the throttle lever fully engaged when starting the engine?

A kid back then could take apart his bicycle and put it back together. Now a fully grown man needs his own personal bicycle mechanic to keep his $3,000.00 titanium-enhanced, ultra-lite, composite-framed bicycle road worthy.

In junior high, and we had recess, which was where the idea for Lord of the Flies came from. We had Phys. Ed where you learned that dodge ball was the greatest form of payback in the world. And we had wood shop, metal shop and electronics, where you learned how to use a milling machine or a table saw without cutting a finger off. We had a foundry in metal shop where we poured molten aluminum. Our teachers rarely supervised us; they retreated to the teachers’ lounge to smoke Pall Malls and to discuss which child would be attending which penitentiary.

As a culture, we used to fix things … remember TV repair shops? Remember shoe repair and typewriter repair shops? No one fixes anything anymore.

Men don’t have a lot going for them: they aren’t good-looking, they smell bad, and they lose their hair.
Women don’t marry us because we’re charming and adorable; they marry us cuz they could use the labor.
Low-skilled, manual labor is needed to kill the spider, move the couch and open the pickle jar. We fill that void, but we also have the ability to fix simple things; don’t take that away from us.

Take this simple test:
Has your wife ever bitched at you for sharpening a chain saw on the dining room table?
Do you carry a pen knife, a Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman in your pocket?
Can you change a washer? Do you know what a washer is?
Have you ever cut a salami on your band saw cuz you’re too lazy to open your pocket knife?
Do you buy extra rolls of duct tape; just to be sure you have enough?
Have you ever cussed out Westinghouse for designing unfixable washing machines?
Have you ever bragged for a week about installing a ceiling fan?
Is there a church key on your key chain?
And most importantly, can you open a fucking can of paint … ?

If you answered “no” to more than two of these, you got some work to do to before you get your Man License.

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Trevor Stone Irvin

Trevor Stone Irvin

Illustrator and Designer living in the Candler Park area...At one time I worked at the Atlanta Constitution and then for CNN at the all seemed too much like real work so I went freelance...which my father defined as "being unemployed for a real long time".