Archive for the 'Manhood User Manual' Category

Manhood. A User’s Manual – Part IV

Aug 06 2013 Published by under Manhood User Manual

Chapter 4.  Relationships.

Note: This was originally written but not completed last fall – when you were still a good 10 months from graduation.  Things have advanced since then of course – but the song remains the same.

Immediate Family

It’s all you got.  I’ve told you over the years to look hard and close at the three of us: your sister, your mother and me.  Until you get married and have kids of your own, those are the three most important people in the world.  Period.  EVERYONE makes the mistake of treating their most important people in the world with less respect and consideration than a checkout clerk at Best Buy.  You say things to them, and in a tone of voice, that you would NEVER use with a stranger or acquaintance.  Think about the way you talk to Grace when she asks a question – just a simple one like “what are you doing”.  You sometimes snap an answer back to her in a tone that really doesn’t show any level of respect.  Now imagine speaking to your best friend’s mother that way.  Never.  You know better.  And I’m not singling you out – we ALL do it.  Try to keep it to a minimum.  Don’t beat yourself up over it – because remember what else I’ve often said:  There is nothing you could EVER do to make me stop loving you – and that goes for your mother and sister too.  Remember that when you have a family of your own – nothing.

Extended Family

You’ve been lucky to grow up fairly close to your extended family – specifically on my side.  We moved back to this area so that you could.  We believe it’s important to have that relationship – especially with your grandparents.  You’ve got a pretty good thing going with your cousins, try to keep that intact.  As you grow older you’ll drift apart some – but I have a feeling you and “JB” will be a lot like me and my “JB” – always friends that can reconnect in 20 seconds.  You’ve been upset over the past few years as we’ve drifted apart a little bit from the family.  Please don’t place blame on any of us for that.  It was inevitable as my siblings and I got older and our kids got older.  Life gets in the way.  I do hope that you and Grace can have a special relationship – one that allows your kids to grow up with their cousins as friends, the way I did, and the way the first 10-12 years of your life was.  Try to make that happen.  Please see point number 1 above.

Guy Friends

Stay the fuck out of trouble.  Choose the right path, and if necessary, drag their sorry asses along with you.  And it will probably be necessary at least 40 times.  Guy friends are a LOT different from girlfriends or from girls who are friends.  When you get older, guys pretty much want to talk about work, sports, and how big their penises are (literally and figuratively).  To be completely honest – most times it bores the fuck out of me, especially that last part.  You’ll notice at parties that a majority of the time, I’ll be found talking to a mixed group, or just to a bunch of women.  Women are more interesting, to be honest.  You do have a pretty good, small group of guy friends right now.  The four or five of you are poised to be that group of friends that are together through high school and beyond.  I hope you are.  College will be different – and will depend on whether you’re in a fraternity or not, which, personally, I find to be “lame”.  After college, you’re friends will fall into that adult man thing, eventually.  zzzzzzzzzzz.  Try to be a little more engaging than that – try to keep things interesting.  Learn from the women. Don’t worry about your penis size.

Wimmins

I have a theory that is not really very popular with your mother.  It goes like this:  No heterosexual man has any kind of relationship with any woman (heterosexual or not) that is not sexual in nature at the core.  Period.  I think Freud would be proud.  Every man looks at every women he knows (and 90% of the ones he doesn’t know) with an eye toward sex (the exception of course is relatives).  No, that does not mean that you truly have a desire to screw them.  (Yuck, in some cases) But in the subconscious, it’s there.  Guys reading this in proximity to their wives, or mothers, will deny it wholeheartedly.  But deep down they know exactly what I’m talking about.  There is always something – positive or negative – lurking.  Every straight guy has a “DoHerMeter” that either pings Yes or No within seconds of meeting.  The truth and good fortune about my theory is that it doesn’t mean shit.  Sure, it’s there, but 96% of the time (I’ve done the math) it doesn’t amount to anything and doesn’t affect (or is it effect) the relationship or friendship.  That’s probably because women are too smart to let that happen.

But let’s talk more about romantic relationships with women.  You’re going to probably have several girlfriends in your lifetime before you find the one that’s right for you, and you for her.  I worded it that way on purpose:  I didn’t say “settle down” because you should never settle, and I said “right for you and you for her” because there may be one or two that it goes one way or the other – but not both.  Please keep in mind the stupid bumper sticker saying (bumper stickers can be SO true…) “For every beautiful woman in the world, there’s a guy that’s sick of putting up with her shit”.  Don’t put up with shit.  The woman you spend the rest of your life with, and raise your family with, grow old with, and go into the business of running a household with, needs to be one that doesn’t’ give you shit – and doesn’t put up with yours either.  Boil it down to this: R E S P E C T (cue Aretha).  Keep in mind that every women is someone’s daughter*, sister, and will probably be someone’s mother and wife – possibly yours – but in the end, the best and most likely thing she can end up is your friend.  Don’t blow that.  (* speaking of her being someone’s daughter – check out her mother very closely – she’s going to turn into her.  Usually in appearance, but almost ALWAYS in personality, habits, and attitude.  It’s not a joke.)

Current Status

Right now you’re in between  high school and college – still basically high school.  You have a lot of friends – but only a handful of truly good ones.  Everyone’s different, but this is my preferred method – and I think this is probably the norm.  Have a lot of friends – people you can do stuff with -hang out with – ask minor favors of.  People you trust and people you’re friendly with.  But in the end, you want to have a core group of friends that are truly FRIENDS.  Basically, someone that would help you hide a body.

When you leave for college, it’s likely that you will all go in different directions.  When I did, I eventually lost touch with most of my high school “friends” – and then, eventually – even that inner core.  There’s one that I’ve remained truly close to all those years (for about 40 years now!) but other than that – the rest fall into the acquaintance  category.  Interestingly enough, Facebook seems to have changed that – I’ve been able to get back in touch with people from high school that I had really lost track of.  So I guess it’s probable that you might stay in touch with your high school buddies – if you decide to start using facebook more.

You are a very sensitive young man – who puts his heart out there – way out there.

Be careful, but keep doing that.

 

I’ll stop here and open it up to others to hear their thoughts…….

 

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Manhood. A Users Manual – Part III

Nov 20 2012 Published by under Manhood User Manual

Chapter 3.  Religion and Spirituality

You already know that I don’t believe in god.  Not the Catholics’ god, the Jews’ god, or any other god.  I don’t believe in souls, ghosts, heaven, hell, spirits, or anything supernatural.  I also don’t believe in Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy, The Easter Bunny – or – as a side note – that there is any such thing as leftover bacon.  All of these things – I firmly believe, to be myths.  At least to me.

You – of course – are welcome to believe whatever you wish.  Whatever that is or ends up being, please just do this one thing – regardless of what the teachings of your belief tell you to do:

Do not under any circumstance try to “convert” people to your beliefs.

The Catholics and other Christians reading this will say otherwise.  So will the Muslims.  They all believe that they are supposed to pass on the word of their god because that’s what their teachings and religious leaders tell them to do.

The truth (as I see it) is:  All religions are man made groups of people.  We are not born knowing that there is a god or a heaven.  We are born of people who convince us of these things, solely because THEY were convinced of these things by people who were previously convinced of these things.  No child, generally speaking, is really given all the options and told “hey, some people believe in this god, and others believe in these gods, and others believe in no god – what do you think is the truth?”  We’re taught to believe based COMPLETELY on the family we were born into.  It’s a bit like the way you cheer for Clemson Football.  Did you really have a choice?  If Mom and I had gone to Auburn, do you think you’d watch Clemson every chance you got?  Of course not.

To me, that’s where religious beliefs originate – and it’s not good enough.  I don’t understand, and never will, believing in something simply because my parents want me to.

So do the research.  Investigate the different beliefs out there – as well as the different organized religions.  And then trust your heart and your head.

Please keep in mind that the “church” – any church – has two goals:  To further the “word” – and to collect money so they can afford to further the word.

People who know I am atheist almost always confront that fact with questions like:

“How can you not believe in god?”

“Where do you think we came from?”

“What happens when you die?”

“I’ve never met an atheist on his deathbed!”

They truly think that my beliefs – or in their mind “lack of belief” – is ridiculous and unbelievable.  They can’t comprehend how I DON’T believe in god – and especially in their god.  What they don’t ever seem to understand is that, TO ME, their beliefs are just as ridiculous – if not more.

But I bite my tongue and I avoid the conversation.  Why?  For two reasons:

1) I don’t intend to, nor do I believe I ever could, convince them that I’m right.  I’m as firm in my belief that I am correct about this issue as they are.  So since I know they can never convince me that there is a superior being, I know that I can’t convince them that there isn’t.

2) They almost always, without fault, attempt to make me feel stupid or silly for not believing what they believe.  They don’t always do this intentionally – but their reaction is almost always that it’s ridiculous.  I try to take the high road.  I’m not so concerned with what they believe that I feel I have to belittle their beliefs.  It’s simply not worth it.

I believe that there are things we don’t know about where we came from – what happened before the “big bang”, for instance – that we never will know.  I’m perfectly ok with that.  Many people are not.  They feel they need to know all of the answers of where we came from, why we’re here, and what happens when we die.  This is kinda the curse of the human cognitive brain.

I digress.

Often.

The point of all of this is:

1) don’t ever let people tell you what you should or shouldn’t believe.  (this has to do with religion or anything else really – like don’t let someone tell you that bacon tastes bad – make up your own mind.  Except maybe punch the person that talks bad about bacon)

2) trust your brain and trust your heart – they’re both big and powerful and right.

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Manhood. A User’s Manual – Part II

Jan 02 2011 Published by under Manhood User Manual,The Kids Are Alright

Chapter 2: Driving

Well, today you turn 16.  And of course everyone is asking you when you are going to get your learner’s permit, and your license.  You’ve already driven around a couple parking lots – big stupid circles – just to get the feel for how a car works.  And you’ll need a ton more practice with that of course, but you also have to get a feel for how the whole concept of driving works – not just the mechanics, but all of it.

There are some mantras I often spurt out – and you’ve heard them – about driving:

  1. a car is a weapon, use it wisely
  2. you’re not the only one with the weapon
  3. people are stupid (this does not only apply to driving)
  4. if someone can do something so imaginatively stupid and dangerous, they will – expect them to do exactly what they should NOT do (again – not only about driving)
  5. you can call me any time, any day, regardless of the situation, and I will come get you or send someone to you.

So let’s talk about these things a bit.

Most cars weigh between 2500 lbs (like a camry or something) and 5000 lbs (a van or large SUV).  And get this:  a loaded tractor trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds (or more with a special permit).  That’s fucking heavy.  Cars and trucks are made out of metal and glass and are filled with gasoline.  Car accidents are the LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH FOR TEENAGERS IN THE UNITED STATES – killing on average 5,000 kids (aged 1 to 20) a year.

That, and the following statistics are from the Center for Disease Control:

  • Among male drivers between 15 and 20 years of age who were involved in fatal crashes in 2005, 37% were speeding at the time of the crash and 26% had been drinking.
  • The presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers. This risk increases with the number of teen passengers.
  • In 2009, about 3,000 teens in the United States aged 15–19 were killed and  more than 350,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor-vehicle crashes.

Other Stats:

There are approximately 21 million teenagers between 15 and 19 years old in the US.  So, some simple math will tell you that based on these statistics, (350k out of 21million) 1 out of every 62 kids will be sent to the hospital due to a motor vehicle accident.  You have 500 facebook friends – 8 of them are going the the emergency room – and possibly worse.

And finally:

In more than half of the fatal accidents in the US, someone was speeding.

In more than half the fatal accidents in the US, someone was under the influence.

Scared yet?  It’s a dangerous weapon and even when you THINK you have it under control – when a 2 ton piece of metal is hurling down the road at ANY speed – it only takes a split second for that control to be gone.

Keep all of this in mind every time you open the car door – as a driver or passenger.  And of course, remember:  people are stupid.

OK – enough scared with stats talk.

Some general rules to keep in mind:

1) don’t use the fucking phone.  Not to call, not to answer a call, and not to text.  Don’t check facebook while driving, don’t even READ a text while driving.  Studies have shown that a drunk driver can stop a car 10 times faster than someone who is texting.  To be honest – the best thing to do is to turn your phone off when you’re driving.  Whoever needs to get ahold of you can leave a message – and when you get where you’re going (alive) you can turn on your phone and see what they wanted.  Whatever it is that they had to say, can wait until you are parked safely.  I promise.  And yes – that means your mother and I as well.  I have access to your phone records.  If I see that you sent a text or used the phone when I know you were driving, you lose both the car and the phone for a very long time.

2) obviously, you already know – don’t drink and drive – or use drugs and drive.  One drink is too many.  Alcohol not only impairs your ability to drive and slows your reflexes, it also causes you to feel a bit invincible, and to make decisions you shouldn’t make.  Go ahead – pick up ugly girls when you’re drunk – make stupid bets you can’t win – tell all your secrets to a stranger – get naked and run down the street – but do NOT get in a car.  I promise that I will ALWAYS arrange for another way home – either me or a taxi if I’ve been drinking too – and there will be no trouble that comes from it for you or your friends.  No questions asked.  If you can prove to me that you made the one lifesaving important decision - you’re not going to get in trouble and I will go to bat fighting for your friends to their parents as well.   That of course does not mean we won’t have a discussion the next day – but you will not be in trouble.  I love you too much to even THINK about a policeman knocking on my door to say you’re in jail, in the hospital, or worse.  Make the right decision – even if you are thinking you don’t need to.

3) #1 and #2 above also apply to being a passenger.  Do NOT get in a car if YOU’VE been drinking.  Period.  Even if the person driving says “no – no – I’m fine!”.  He’s not fine.  He’s drunk.  Call me.  If they’re texting, get the phone away from them or get out of the car.  Again – call me anytime and I’ll get you home.  Your friends will think you’re a fucking moron for not letting them text – but you’ll be an alive moron.

4) Speed kills.  Duh.  Never do more than 10% over the speed limit. I used to go 80 in a 65.  I don’t anymore because I realized it’s only saving me a couple minutes per hour while adding risk.  Who cares.  Keep it at the speed limit or a little above – and even slower if you have to use your lights or your wipers.  In other news – no cop worth his badge will pull you over for doing 10% over the limit – unless you’re drunk or using your phone.

5) Aggressive driving kills.  Don’t get mad at people who do stupid shit.  Expect it.  They’re stupid.  The best thing to do is to smile and drive away – even give a little “sorry” wave.  Let them win.  Who gives a shit?  Curse under your breath when they’re gone – but just let them go away thinking they were right and you were wrong.  No harm in that – really.

6) Don’t do stupid shit like bumping the bumper of your friend in front of you at a red light, “peeling out”, speeding, screeching to a halt to impress your buddies or any other show of “bravado”.  Use your testosterone for sex – not for driving.  It’s much more fun.

7) Never allow people to give up their right of way.  You’ve seen me do this, and you’ve heard them get pissed and call me names – but the truth is that 10% of all accidents occur because of a “right of way” breech.  I absolutely HATE it when some idiot who does NOT have a stop sign, stops to let me go thru my stop sign.  The big problem is that no one ELSE knows he’s doing this – so they all continue to follow the rules of the road – and then BAM.  I was a passenger in an accident due to this sort of thing when I was a teenager (17?  18?).  We were the car that didn’t know that some idiot had forfeited his right of way to someone else – and we were lucky that only the cars were totaled.  If someone is doing this, wave them on once – then don’t look at them again until they are driving past you – ignore their stupidity.  And of course – don’t try to be the nice guy by forfeiting YOUR right of way.  Follow the rules of the road and do what is expected of you – not what the stupid people want you to do.

8 ) if you’re driving, or a passenger in a car, and your curfew is 9pm, then you are LATE if you’re in the house after 8:59.  If you are late, your curfew is then 8:30.  If you meet the 8:30 curfew 10 times – you earn the 9pm curfew back.  if you miss it – you’re rolled back to 8pm.  If you roll it all the way back to 7pm – the keys are mine.  There are no exceptions unless you get your lazy ass a job that requires it – and then the curfew will be based on the time you are leaving, and the distance home.  I will not budge on this.

9) The number of miles (or number of times) per week you are allowed to drive will be directly related to your grades.  Your last report card had an average of 92 – but that included Gym.  Once you get your license – gym won’t count.  Keep it at or above 90 and there will be very few limits.  No, you’re not driving to school – at least not until you’re a senior.

10)  It’s my car.  Period.  You will pay for gas, insurance, registration, and maintenance for the PRIVILEGE of using my car.  You will follow all rules so that you can continue to have this privilege.  I will take the car away from you at my discretion - BUT ONLY if you break a law, or the rules involving the car or driving.

11) as always – throw me under the bus.  You know the deal.  If you hesitate to tell your friends “no” about something – drinking, racing, texting, whatever stupid thing they want you to do – do not hesitate to say “dude – my fucking father is a total asshole if I break the rules and somehow he ALWAYS knows what I did.  There’s no fucking way I’m doing this because i don’t want to deal with him and his stupid shit.  Trust me – it’s not worth the hassle to me – and yes – I will get caught.  He’ll give us a ride no questions asked though. I have it in writing.”

I love you.

I want you alive.

Please have patience with your mother and I as we go thru this.  It’s an exciting time for you.  But for us all we can think of is that we will become parents of a statistic.  It’s our worst nightmare.

If you are reading this and not my son – please feel free to give us all other ideas – especially if you’ve already been thru this nightmare with your own kids.

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Manhood. A User’s Manual – Part I

Dec 05 2010 Published by under Manhood User Manual

Welcome to the user manual for manhood.  This manual could be written by most men, and they would probably write it differently than I.  In fact, after I’m done, some may hand it to their sons and say “This guy’s a moron, don’t do any of this shit”.  They would probably be right.

But this is how I see it.  This is how I think one goes about “being a man”.  I’d like to think that it’s worked so far, but that I still have a lot to learn, and with luck, a long time to learn it.

Chapter 1:  Getting There

You’re not a man yet, yo.  You think you are – and you’re getting there – but you’re only 15 years old.  You, like all of us, still have a lot to learn.  First of all – contrary to what you and every other 15 year old testosterone laden pimple faced pants hangin off their ass, walking with a “tip” in your step boy (that’s right – I said boy) thinks, you are not the center of the universe.  So that’s the first step really – finding that balance between “hey, I’m cool, and important” and “hey, I’m kinda a nobody in the grand scheme of things.”  Not really sure when this will happen for you – and you may not even realize it happened.  Looking back, I think it happened for me when my parents dropped me off at Clemson that very first day.  I knew no one, and everyone there spoke a foreign language (“Redneck”) and I had about eight bucks.  This was before the internet and before cell phones (yes, I know I’m fucking old.  get over it) – so I was basically stranded in a foreign land with a bunch of people that looked like they wanted to play a game of “Kill The Yankee”.  So yeah.

It was a feeling of importance.  I mean, here I was, 18, and out on my own.  The world was mine to rule.  I was Pete Perry dammit, and these little southern boys and girls ain’t gonna know what hit them.   But it was also a feeling of complete insignificance.  I mean, here I was, 18, and completely alone.  I was a spineless little bitch looking for my place in the world – and maybe a friend.

Find your balance between that.  I think this past fall, you started that process with football.  Sure, you’ve been playing for years – but this year it started to all come together for you.  You proved yourself a little and tried to stand out – but at the same time you were a small part of a much bigger thing.  Find that balance – it will come.

That’s the first step.

After that, or maybe in the meantime, you’ll learn a few of the lessons that I’m going to be talking about in the rest of this series.  The first lesson is going to be on a subject that is very quickly approaching us:  Driving.

And now, for everyone that stuck with it, here’s a picture of me from that era.  It should be really very easy to discern that I have already turned the corner to manhood:

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An Introduction to the Series

Nov 09 2010 Published by under Manhood User Manual

I’ve been giving this some thought for a while, which is to say that I thought about it once a few months ago and then completely forgot.

I’m going to write a little advice on being a grown up – directed at my son.  I’m going to post it here for your review and boredom first – then I’ll give it to him after you all approve.  Or wake up.  Whichever.

I’ll be covering all sorts of topics, with the hope of touching on everything he needs to know:

Money/Career
Family Matters
Friendships
Love, Sex, and general woman issues.  (that may be a book in and of itself)
Raising kids

and anything else I can think of that fits.  It will be brutally honest, so Mom, stop reading now.

I’m open to suggestions on topics.  Please don’t tell me WHAT to write about the topic – but you may suggest topics. That’s why I’m posting this “introduction” – if you have topics you’d like me to cover – say so.  I’ll see what I can do.

Wish me luck.

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