Sunday, May 23, 2010

What makes a man?

What makes a man?

Good question eh? Why don’t you ask Wikipedia?

There are far too many categories of manhood that help classify someone as a smorgasbord of toughness. This being said, a man is not just someone that has the words testosterone, but not estrogen, in their vocabulary as well as in their bodies.

Growing up I was told that there are three different types of “Men.” Man A: a man who understands absolutely everything about the components of an engine. Man B: a man that can stalk, hunt, and kill any type of animal. And then, Man C: a man that is an absolute sports junkie who could tell you the last 25 A.L. Pennant winners and Super Bowl Champs.

Certainly there are different components that make up what a guy is. A guy is someone that doesn’t worry about whether the toilet seat is up or down. Someone who gets far too excited about watching things go “BOOM!” Someone that doesn’t care if their pants match their shoes.

Guys are creatures that lounge around in absolutely nothing but a pair of basketball shorts all day long and not feel guilty about it at all. Guys eat a double cheeseburger at 1 a.m. and don’t worry about if any of it is going to their thighs. Guys don’t ask people for directions when they’re lost. Guys grow beards and pretend to be the Brawny man or Paul Bunyan.

A man’s euphoria is displayed over a good plate of nachos. A man loves seeing how many gummy bears they can stuff in their mouths on a Saturday night after drinking a 24-pack of Mountain Dew. Men love watching four hours of SportsCenter a day and being entertained throughout all of the highlights.

I’ve always wondered what the “true” definition of what being a man was. I was given more of an understanding this weekend though as Bryan, Mark, Jeremiah, Nate and myself drove out to New Castle (not White Castle) for what could be classified as a “manly” weekend.

We fished, we laughed, we shot at Eli birds that for some reason had a protective shell around them to spite men with guns. This bird also set up fishing line traps to spite the surrounding hunters. We talked about a variety of manly entertaining movies, which of course did not include Brokeback Mountain. We were men for the past 24 hours, and you could hear us roar.

When it came to what we all thought was a man, we did have differing viewpoints on how to be as masculine as possible.

Bryan’s definition of being a man was tracking, hunting down, and blowing the jaw off of a cottontail rabbit with .22 caliber rifle.

Jeremiah’s definition of being a man was skinning Bryan’s rabbit with a plastic fork, while attempting to lure crawdads in with chicken hearts and gizzards, a Chuck Norrisesque feat.

Nate’s definition of being a man was… well, drinking some type of cayenne pepper-lemon rind concoction that was supposed to “cleanse his system.”

As for Mark and myself? Well, our definition of being men was discussing last week’s Glee episode over the campfire, and being shocked that Rachel’s Mom was the leader of Vocal Adrenaline.

Alright, maybe that would be um, the Q Man…

Oh and by the way, 14 is NOT the new 17.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The joys of being a kid are fading...

After having a full-time four years of college under my belt, I somewhat have an edge of confidence about me, for the “grown-up” that I am turning into. I am turning into an adult. I am letting go of that little kid mentality that I had played in my hand since Day One. But do I really want to do this?

Getting older is just another step in life, and as of late, I am not so excited to walk down this aging path. Turning 25 recently was not a big a deal, I know. I have had bigger thrills in my life, like the time I ran naked down a set of train tracks while being chased by the cops. Not as big of a transition as I tentatively thought it would be. On "the big day" I got the usual forced awkward happy birthday wishes from disgruntled employees singing off-key at Iggy's Sports Bar and Grill, which I am always a fan of. Other than that, I simply walked around town, the gym it seemed, with an extra spring in my step being one year older. But along with that I was stuck at the fork wondering if being older really was “better.”

As the years go by and my facial hair gets thicker and coarser, I can't help but think about all the things that I will most likely be missing out on because I have to “grow up.” No more Saturday morning cartoons and faces covered in maple syrup from six helpings of French toast. No more building forts out of blankets that span the entire living room or time machines made out of cardboard boxes that have warp-speed capability. No more seeing how many pieces of Bazooka Joe gum I could fit in my mouth just because my best friend dared me to.

Playing baseball in the street long after the sun has gone down and my parents have called you in three times, that seemed to be out of the question. No more playing hot lava in my living room, jumping from couch cushion to couch cushion to avoid the ferociously molten rock shag carpet. No more eating 5 pounds of candy Halloween night and waking up the next morning with the excitement of a hummingbird, no sign of a caffeine headache in sight. No more wearing underwear on my head as a helmet while I explored the mystery caverns of a far off planet somewhere in my basement's imagination. No more going on a safari in search of an endangered hippopotoceratops hiding somewhere in my backyard. No more not caring about what the words “interest rate” or “expenditures” meant. No more building the world's premier photon torpedo bazooka out of a pillow, a water bottle and an old shoestring. No more sword fights with the cardboard tubes at the center of wrapping paper. No more having names for my stuffed animals.

It's as if all of that is coming to an end day by day, class by class, job by job. All of my childhood memories were being loaded into the scrapbook emporium of things that I would never ever experience again, and I will soon enough be getting after my own children for their goofball accomplishments. Things such as sterilizing themselves from cootie contamination after touching anything girl-related. Or playing video games for 17 hours straight and not being tired in the least degree when they are done. Staring at the T.V. aimlessly wondering if Wile E. Coyote is ever going to catch the Roadrunner. Or making up stories to my wife about how a polka dotted three-headed flying skunk threw their baseball through their living room window. Am I going to miss those things? The bike rides to the gas station on hot summer days to splurge on a diet of 7-Up, gummy worms and Oreo cookies and not feeling guilty about how many calories I was consuming? Let alone, not even knowing what a calorie is in the first place. Pillow fights with my best friend at 3 a.m. in our weekly tree house sleepover. The secret clubs with the secret password being “boys rule, girls drool.” Or what about sticking up my parents, wearing a pair of old nylons over my face so mom and dad would'nt recognize who I was. Is it all a sham now?

Time goes on and things begin to change: bowl cuts to baldness; sugar frosted cocoa bombs to Shredded Wheat, Spiderman tighty-whiteys to silk boxers. The glorious days of being a kid are left behind to embrace a world full of taxes, insurance payments and 401 K's. The stereotypical Toys “R” Us clich├ęs like I don't want to grow up or anything typical like that are not something that I was banking on. But I think to myself as the years go by, jobs are taken, bills are paid and memories are forgotten. I may have to mature and become a responsible adult, but dang I am going to miss being a kid, the days where nothing matters, the days where monsters lived in the closet and under the bed. The days where Kool-Aid and Skittles were an ample food supply, the glory days of being a kid.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Wait, golf? What was I thinking?

I wasn’t

Almost all of you have heard my rants on things that I just do not understand whatsoever. Water bottles, Guys in pink shirts, Spongebob Squarepants, you know the gist. Golf however, can be added to my anti-activity list of things that I will never grasp or appreciate. And those feelings were only confirmed yesterday when I made multiple attempts to hit a small white dimpled thing into a hole 4.25 inches wide, 300 yards away.

Growing up, my Dad was an insane golfer. INSANE! This was a man who would snowplow the greens in December to get a few putting sessions in. A man who had the Royal Greens clubhouse as the only phone number on his speed dial. A man who was late for his own funeral simply because he had a tee time that morning and was trying to squeeze in the back 9 before the eulogy was read. Yeah, he loved golf that much.

Now coming from my 6-and-a-half foot tall perspective, golf just wasn’t my thing. I never understood how people got enjoyment from hitting things all over the place and then walking to hit them again. I couldn’t figure out how to “read greens” or how to use a pitching wedge 30 yards out. I didn’t really know why a bunch of old guys liked to play with their little balls all day long (no pun intended.)

Don’t ask me what I was thinking as we teed up yesterday. Maybe it was because I was trying to be part of the X-Club golfing extravaganza, or that I owed Holland a favor for a few things that I’m not proud of. Heck, I probably had been smoking pot that morning, which in turn motivated me to lace up and tee off.

Three hours, nine lost balls, and a broken axle on the golf cart later, I confirmed my abhorrence for the Tiger Woods pastime. And no I am not referring to hookers and a beat up Escalade.

I was Tin Cup plus Happy Gilmore. The Dwight Howard of the 19th hole. A man who confused golfing with croquet. I was a maniac. I thought I did pretty well out there. I think I shot a 36? 37? And then on the second hole I shot a 31? Something like that. It was such a catastrophe that by the 5th hole, I simply started using nothing but the six iron. To tee off, chip, putt, wave around in madness, and smack myself in the face with. Well, that and my hand wedge…

The way I was looking at it, I was looking for a bowling score out there, and trying to get the highest score. And I did. Heck I shot so well I broke 100 on 9 holes. Which in golfing terms is something viewed at in almost a reverse perspective. Either way, I was on fire. Holland put it best when he said If I was going to pay the 19 bucks to be out there, I might as well try and take as many shots as possible.

I thought I did pretty well at that

Maybe I just haven’t been bred for the sport of golf. I know that my 93-year old three-fingered great grandpa hits a tee shot with a putter further than I probably will ever drive period. Maybe it’s the basketball shorts that I would wear that separates me from the real golfers. Yeah, that has to be it. The fashion. My lack of nipple high slacks and plaid collared shirts with a goofy beret makes it so that I don’t fit into the golf world. The fashion is my Achilles heel in this whole thing.

Somewhere, my Dad is shaking his head.

Monday, May 3, 2010

WoW, Where has the Time Gone?

So I used to have an interesting roommate. This was a kid who was captain of the geek squad. No exaggeration; he had failed to leave his room longer than five minutes.

Since the day he moved in he had worn the same ragged red T-shirt and olive green khaki shorts. To my knowledge, the guy lived off caffeinated soda and chicken fingers. As I passed his room every day I would poke my head in to see what kept him glued to his computer screen. I don’t even think he noticed that I dropped in, he was so captivated by the game he played. 

After a few days of poking and prodding I finally found out what kept him kicked out of socialistic reality. It’s a game called “World of Warcraft.”
Now forgive my ignorance when it comes to the culture of video gaming. Growing up in a communist household I was banned from anything Nintendo-related. Mario and Luigi were about as welcome as the KKK in my home. So when as a sophomore on campus I was invited to a “Halo” party, my interpretation of it was far skewed than what it actually was. The idea of a throng of college-aged guys loaded up on Mountain Dew and gummy worms playing a first-person shooter game into the next day for some reason didn’t appeal to me. 

However, video-gaming has continued to grow and take over the digital and fantasy worlds in this day and age, especially the game “World of Warcraft.” From what I’ve heard this is a game that is the cat’s meow when it comes to RPGs. (For the latecomer, that stands for role playing game. It’s OK; I had to look that up just for this blog.) Apparently the makers of the game envisioned it to be one of the most successful games ever created with the hopes of possibly 1 million gamers registered for it. Now that’s one heck of a lot of time sitting on your butt glued to a TV or computer screen.

A buddy of mine said it appeals to gamers for specific reasons. 
“The reason that I like it so much is the fact that it is such a realistic game,” he said. “Yeah, it’s based in a fantasy world, but it is so actual that you really feel like you are in the game.” 

Realistic, I can buy that. I can see what he means. I mean, I’m usually casting spells on a three-headed dragon all while riding a winged griffin across a purple sea on campus. Realistic? Yeah, I see where you’re coming from. 

Going along with this “real-live” action-packed, digitally-created world is the online version of the world that is beginning to be a trend all over, where each person can create what are called Avatars (not the nine-foot tall James Cameron alien creatures) and then live a real-live simulated life online. 
The thing that gets me the most is that you pay actual money to be involved in this. Say you want a new digital car: It could cost you about $25-40. If you’re looking to up your appearance as a female, throw down around $125 for a J-Lo body, full digital D cups and all.

The thing that is most outrageous to me is the idea of purchasing online real estate, which people do. The fact that someone is paying real, bona fide, hard-earned cash for a group of ones and zeroes online organized as imitation Internet real estate is a joke. 

That same game-addicted buddy said: “I had a buddy of mine in high school who actually spent about $250 a month on this kind of stuff. He had no life except for the Avatar and digital world that he created for himself.”

Am I wrong to think that video games are making a pathetic attempt at taking over the world? Well, at least the online and video game world currently. In reading this, are a bunch of die-hard avid gamers going to create an Avatar for me and then torture me digitally until I admit that being a gamer is truly an ideal lifestyle? I’m shaking. That’s OK, though, I just bought a double-headed battle axe and a magic staff with invisibility powers for $30 each online, so bring it on…