Manspeak, Volume 13: Composure

I am part of the old school that sees giving Ritalin or any other kind of prescription drug to a boy to cause him to “settle down” is an act that goes against nature. Throughout his youth, the instructions a boy hears the most involve the phrases “pay attention”, “behave yourself”, “calm down”, and “act your age”. And I wasn’t even one of those wild, rambunctious kids that annoyed the teacher because I distracted others yet still managed to get my work done.

Men are doers. Therefore, boys are very active and easily find trouble.

When it came to getting into trouble in school, the reason girls would get into trouble seemed to always be for the same reason: talking. But for boys, it could be for just about anything. Making a mess. Breaking things. Being rude. And physically hurting others.

By the time Junior High came around, most boys began to outgrow their immaturity and the main trouble they found themselves in became losing their temper and getting in fights. I remember in 8th grade one of our breaks was taken away because of how many fights kept occurring in the halls and around the lockers. Though I was never in any of those fights, I was always happy to be a spectator.

My favorite fight happened one Tuesday morning in the boy’s bathroom my 8th grade year. About 20 of us had heard there was going to be a fight after 2nd period so we all showed up in that cold, crowded arena. There was barely breathing room for those of us there to watch, and barely moving room for the two 14-year old boys who volunteered to entertain us. The chanting began: “Fight! Fight! Fight!” The look of nervousness was obvious on both of their faces as the closest audience members began shoving them into each other.

It became clear to me that this was a well-marketed, yet uninspired fight. Then the two would-be fighters started talking:

“What are we fighting about?”
“I don’t know. Somebody said you were talking about my mama.”
“No, I didn’t. Wasn’t me.”
(Awkward pause.)
“Well I’m leaving.”
(He leaves the bathroom.)

As we began filing out of there, obviously disappointed, one smart Alec breaks the silence: “Anybody else got anything to fight about?” He shrugged like a cheesy car salesman watching a potential buyer walk away from the lot.

If only men could easily compose themselves like those two boys did, and unlike the rest of us there hoping to see them lose their composure.

Instead, we can easily become angry. Or hurtful. Or embarrass ourselves by saying something stupid like “When’s the baby due?” to a woman who had her baby three months ago.

And if not, if we can actually pay attention, behave ourselves, calm down, and act our age, we can easily end up becoming passive-aggressive. Because we know we are supposed to act civilized, being taught that expressing our frustrations is a bad thing, but yet we are still hard-wired to act and react the opposite.

Should we be tame? Should we be adventurous? Should we be passive-aggressive? Most of us deep down are going through some kind of identity crisis. Understandably.

“Society tells us we’re civilized, but the truth is we are animals. Sometimes we just have to let it out.”  -Sydney Fife from I Love You, Man

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:




Manspeak Table of Contents

Volume 0: Introduction
Volume 1: Humor
Volume 2: Heroism
Volume 3: Filtration
Volume 4: Stance
Volume 5: Movement
Volume 6: Law
Volume 7: Bromance
Volume 8: Relaxation
Volume 9: Appearance
Volume 10: Exploration
Volume 11: Responsibility
Volume 12: Transparency
Volume 13: Composure

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