Recently I’ve been trying to get back in touch with my masculine side. When I’m not playing sports, it’s a more difficult task than I hoped, particularly considering how much I like reading and writing poetry, following my wife’s suggestions for the house, and analyzing my feelings. The amount of classical music I listen to probably doesn’t help either.
So after several decades of contemplating the meaning of masculinity (NPR is running a segment too) and categorizing men within that segment, I’ve concluded, in very simplified fashion, that there are three types of men. Making a little trip to Home Depot on Calle Ocho a few weeks back illuminated my view.
First, there is the type that likes to go to Home Depot. Demographically they come from all walks of life and can drive anything from a Range Rover, classic sports car to a beat up truck. They are the self-reliant types, ranging in persona from Chuck Norris to Tim Allen and Ralph Waldo Emerson. They literally get a rise out of doing building projects and troubleshooting home issues themselves. They have organized garages, usually wash their own car and have at least at one point, considering leaving their day job to do contracting of some form. Over a beer or two, they gloat over how they finished a particular home project doing most of the design and work themselves.
Then there are those who need to go to Home Depot. I’m sure they like it too, but trips to Home Depot are mandatory pit stops. Granted they like to work with their hands but more importantly they must in order to earn a living. They scour the 100 plus aisles of Home Depot much the same way English majors delight as they stroll through a bookstore. Going into the store is a lot like the Cheers Bar where everyone is on a first name basis, they navigate the aisles without hesitation and excitedly use all that technical, handyman jargon that makes a bookish dude like myself lose another few drops of testosterone. I could go on an on but you know the type. They drive trucks, usually made in the US, never lack for the right tool or fix-it yourself initiative and can pretty much charge someone like myself anything they want. Very few of this subgroup, quite numerous here in Miami, has ever gone to a shrink, eaten in a museum café or wasted their hard earned money on lets say, a golfing excursion to Scotland..
Then there’s the third group, usually consisting of sedan driving, bookish, stock trading and netflixj using yuppies. I will label this group TFOW (The fish out of water). This group goes to HD for one of two reasons, one they feel really unmanly asking another man to buy him doorknobs, ac filters or flower pots. Or they swallow their pride and simply go to Home Depot because they need the humbling, Either way, the trip to Home Depot is not exactly comfortable…
I’m a proud member of this group. At least in theory. Then when I get to the store, everything changes, Immediately I start realizing my lack of traditional masculinity. I start wondering where I went wrong, why a set of house tools looks more alien than something out of an old sci fi movie. I sweat, look around for someone or something I can relate to, wondering why I am even here in the first place. I then stop the questioning and immediately head for the light bulb section.
That’s my comfort zone. I buy plants and ac filters and other non hardware items like a case of water or laundry detergent. Ironically, it makes me feel a little more manly. But I try not to stay too long, otherwise the queasiness returns.
Besides, I have to get to the bookstore. There’s a book on gardening that I really want to buy.