I grew up in a time when men were men and women were women, and I suppose I received a strong helping of “machoism” that has not always served me well. As the years have passed and the world’s complexion has changed, wearing the “He-Man” armor has become increasingly taxing.
Idols of my day were Superman, John Wayne, The Marlboro Man, Johnny Cash, The Fonz (from “Happy Days”), Elvis and, well, you get the idea.
Like the story about the frog in the water that slowly graduated to a boil, changes in my machoism began transformation about the time my children came along. I found myself changing diapers, pushing strollers, talking baby jibber-jabber, allowing the kids to mess up my hair and finding interest in, and discussing with other parents, which baby foods caused the least amount of intestinal irritation for the little tikes.
The day finally came when the subtle changes in who I was hit a dead end. While at a local mall, my wife, desiring to try on clothing or some such activity, handed me her purse. Just then, earth shattering screams of sirens filled my head, overwhelming bursts of white flashing lights blinded my eyes and suddenly I found myself morphing into a ninja warrior evaporating from view, hiding behind planters, kiosks or stealthily posing as a mannequin, anything to avoid the ultimate embarrassment of holding my wife’s purse, any purse, in the middle of a busy mall.
In my mind I imagined the roaring laughter to come, the taunting of other macho-ites (I am certain that is not a word) such as myself with a finger of disapproval pointing in my direction as they walked by. Don’t ask me why, but for some reason I cared. Of course, none of that happened. But, in my imagination it was all so real. All which answers a lot of questions about my mental condition, then and now.
In a fraction of a flash, I would disappear, and my unsuspecting wife’s purse would crash to the floor. Of course, I would pay for such disrespect and my uncaring nature on the drive home later.
Time has a way of changing things though. This “macho man” loved to hunt. My greatest love was hunting rabbits. I suspected something was wrong when my aim began to be off and I was missing more shots than I was hitting. I knew I was finished the day I injured a bunny and tearfully scooped him (I think it was a him) up and raced him to the veterinarian.
But it didn’t end there. I began not only liking, but I found yard sales to be irresistible. Previously, the 3rd Battalion of McArthur’s Army could not have forced me to visit a yard sale.
Just when I prayed nature would have mercy on me, I discovered I could no longer pound my fist on the table demanding to be fed. Instead, I began to find joy in cooking. I could hear the board of directors of the International Machoism Organization of the Universe discussing the revocation of my Man Card.
Fast forward. Now, the things that were so bothersome back then make me tired. Maybe it’s age, maybe it’s maturity or maybe it’s irregularity, but I like to cook, I like to hunt with binoculars rather than a shotgun, I love going to yard sales, garage sales and flea markets, and yes, I will hold my wife’s purse while she shops. In fact, recently, while holding my wife’s purse in a local store, someone commented how nicely the purse matched my boots. Rather than being embarrassed, I found a full-length mirror and nodded in agreement, “Yeah, this is a nice look!”
Should I be worried? I don’t think so. I remember a wise old man’s advice from long ago when he said, “Don’t sweat the petty stuff … and don’t pet the sweaty stuff.” I was never sure about what the second half of that advice meant though.
Herb Day is a longtime local radio personality and singer-musician. You can email him at HEKAMedia@yahoo.com and follow his work at www.HerbDayVoices.com.