Manspeak, Volume 11: Responsibility

People tend to accept that there is a difference between what is normal in the movies and what is normal in reality, and for the most part we know not to confuse the two. In the world of Hollywood, a 39 year-old playboy bachelor who is “too free-spirited” to get married simply lives for himself in his classic arcade-filled apartment. And he is cool. He is Owen Wilson. Adam Sandler. Vince Vaughn. But in reality, this guy is not cool at all. He’s a guy who needs to grow up.

Because here in reality, we equate responsibility with manhood.

There is of course a false, glamorized idea that a man is defined by his freedom; a lifestyle where he needs to answer to no one. In this unspoken concept the ultimate goal in a man’s life is to win the lottery and never have to change diapers.

But this man is not the kind we truly respect. Instead, we admire a man who while he is still young, gives up his freedom to be become responsible to another human being in marriage. And then of course, within the next few years he is expected to become a father. And an involved father, at that. Responsibility is what helps a man to be normal and have a purpose.

A funny and true proverb I heard a lot in college was this: “Well-behaved women rarely make history.” On the same token, men without real responsibilities are rarely respected. So much of life is showing up and participating. And in order to do that, a man must actively become involved in other people’s lives. The closer I get to age 30, the further away I am from being able to relate to what it’s like to be a child, and therefore the more aware I am that I once was an annoying kid.

I think back to all the hours my dad patiently listened to me tell him all the Ninja Turtle trivia I knew. And the way he made sure I had the coolest project in science and social studies class each time. And since he knew I didn’t like sports, he became the leader of a Cub Scouts group to inspire me to be involved in an extracurricular activity I actually enjoyed- being an adventurous boy with my friends. I couldn’t have really known it back then, but his sincere involvement in my life has everything to do with who I have become as an adult.

It’s amazing how much one man’s involvement makes or breaks his child’s life. I was blessed and still am. I still need my dad. I still learn from him.

And now I’m not all that far from being in the position he was in the early 1980’s. I will become the man looking into the googly eyes of a helpless baby, both of us completely clueless. But that’s the way God planned it. No instruction booklet on how to be a parent. Instead, it all comes down to the humility of a man who makes a conscience effort to be responsible.

“My dad’s been dead for more than 20 years. I still want him to be proud of me.” –Dave Matthews, taken from the linear notes from his solo Some Devil album

wild things 2

Manspeak Table of Contents:

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

When Someone Says, “Did You Know?” Before a Sentence, It Usually Means They are About to Spread an Urban Legend

Want to know if you’re gullible?

The next time someone starts a question with the words “did you know”, and you believe their amazing fact, and even worse, you tell somebody else this news with enthusiasm, consider yourself part of the noise. Here are a few examples: “Did you know there are alligators living in the sewers of New York City?” “Did you know that each year the average person swallows eight spiders in their sleep?” “Did you know that if you die in a dream, you die in real life?”

Unless you’ve recently watched an episode of MythBusters and you know for a fact it’s been proven to be true, it’s not true. If you don’t know positively that it’s a fact, then what you should say is, “You know, I heard…” That is completely acceptable. That encourages healthy conversation.

The temptation is there, even for the best of us. Earlier today my aunt sent me an email letting me know that one of her friends will be at the Dave Matthews concert this weekend in Nashville. In my reply I said, “Did you know that Dave Matthews is considered an African-American because he was born and grew up in South Africa? Then I had to stop myself and delete “did you know” and replace it with “I learned a few days ago that…”

Not always, but often “did you know” is a red flag that what comes after it is some random bit of knowledge that holds no truth. Test this theory out. Surely in the next few days, if not hours, you’ll hear somebody say it. Don’t call them out on it, just quietly retreat to Wikipedia so at least in your own heart, you can prove them to be an attention-grabbing “did-you-knower” without the goods.