(originally published in Bridges magazine, Summer 2007)
When the editor of this fine publication asked me to contribute something to this issue I asked, “Is there a theme?”
“This is sort of our ‘manly-man’ issue,” she said.
Ah! It was obvious why she had approached me, the guy known in some circles as Manly Mark, Fearless Lighter of Charcoal Grills and Killer of Spiders in the Bathroom. The Master of Masculinity and the Titan of Testosterone are two more monikers I have given myself – er, others have given me over the years.
Well, this was an interesting challenge. At first I thought I should use the opportunity to recount my many manly exploits, like the time I rescued the Swedish Bikini Team after their plane went down in the Himalayas (and my lips were chapped for a week after all that mouth-to mouth) or when the CIA sent Sandra Bullock and me to Iraq, playing newlyweds, to assassinate Saddam Hussein, only to fail when Sandy – as she liked me to call her – wouldn’t let me leave our honeymoon suite at the Baghdad Hilton.
But then I realized all manly men had similar exploits (which, by the way we share with each other over monthly dinners of boar and white buffalo at the He-Man Adventurer’s Club).
So I decided to use this space to perform a public service for the new members of the manly-man community. I am going to reveal, for the very first time anywhere, how to keep your manliness hidden.
I know what you’re thinking: Mark, if you’re gifted with an overabundance of testosterone, why would you wish to hide it?
Simple. Pure unadulterated manliness drives women crazy and causes less manly men to be jealous, making it difficult to lead a normal life. Hey, why do you think Superman dresses up in a business suit and glasses?
Because – as only the manliest of us know – merely walking down the street can cause even the most proper of ladies to disrobe and the unmanly men to slink away in fear.
Therefore I will now describe, for the very first time outside of the circle of manliness, the secret of camouflaging your turbo-powered testosterone. These are time-tested, rock-solid methods employed by me, so you know they work.
1) Sit on the same side of the restaurant booth as your date. This is guaranteed manliness camouflage. Note: it doesn’t count if someone else is on the other side of the table. You and your date must be the only people at the table. Manly-men never sit on the same side of the table as their dates, as it interferes with manly-man seductive eye contact.
2) Watch musicals. A lively musical is toxic to testosterone. No one will ever suspect you’re a manly man if you’re tapping your foot while singing along with the happy songs.
“I like to be in America!
Okay by me in America!
Everything free in America
For a small fee in America…”
3) Mention to friends or co-workers that you enjoy any of the following television shows: Gilmore Girls, Oprah, Dancing with the Stars, Dr. Phil, Grey’s Anatomy or any program on Bravo or Oxygen. Get bonus points if you’ve seen a Hugh Grant movie.
4) Go shopping. If you manly-men think you already do this, please be aware that buying tools or car parts doesn’t count. You must shop for clothing and groceries. Nothing says “I’m not manly” like a friend seeing you carrying a carton of yogurt and a package of tampons. Be sure to roll your eyes and say, “My wife is making me do her shopping.” Your buddy will offer an understanding comment, but as he walks away he will think, “Nope. Not a manly strand of DNA in that guy.”
And finally, the crème de le crème, the ultimate subterfuge, the perfect disguise for manly-men:
5) Collect comic books. If you’re worried your neighbor suspects that you possess an overabundance of virile genes, try this: the next time the neighbor says hi to you as you stand on your deck grilling fresh salmon and sipping a Zima, wave and proclaim, “So who do you think would win in a fight – Wonder Woman or The Hulk?”
There you have it. Never worry again that others will see through your disguise.
Please keep this confidential, brother manly-men. I have to go now. My wife says if I don’t pick up my comic books I can’t watch Pretty Woman tonight.