Archive for January, 2014

Mark’s manual for modern men

Move along, ladies, nothing to see here. This column is for men only.

Attention, guys, a new year has arrived. Now is the time to change some of your tactics with the ladies, the fairer sex, your better half, your honey, sweet’ums, the old ball and chain, or whatever you call the beloved female in your life.

First, join her in watching so-called “chick flicks,” which aren’t half as painful if you know how to watch them. Chick flicks almost always feature several good-looking women; smile to yourself as you sit by your sweetheart and ogle other women, all in the line of husbandly/boyfriend duty.

Watching a movie with her also works well as a mood-enhancer, if you get my drift. Two hours holding hands at the theater often pays better results than dinner and a bouquet of roses, and costs much less.

Chick flicks also reveal how women think.

These clues can come in handy, especially when she mentions the c-word — “communicate.”

Don’t flinch when she says something womanly like, “Communication is the key.” Now that you have seen chick flicks, your manly memory will snap into gear and you can make an on-target yet generic response like, “Yes, it reminds me of the movie we saw last week.”

Then she will be off to the races with communication chatter and you can sink back into male torpor, wondering what’s on the next episode of “Duck Dynasty.”

• Another tip: There’s much wisdom in the saying, “Don’t ask, don’t tell.”

I saw just such an example the other day while meeting with some of my fellow philosophers at the cigar store.

One of our buddies mentioned, apropos of nothing, “I spend $10,000 a year on cigars.”

We were startled, but he was right: Three $10 cigars a day, 365 days a year.

We nodded silently, for men don’t comment on another man’s spending choices. Besides, we were busy calculating how much we spent on cigars and then praising ourselves for not spending $10,000 a year on cigars.

But then he really got our attention.

“I told my girlfriend I spend $10,000 a year on cigars and she got mad. She said I don’t spend $10,000 a year on her.”

“You what?” we roared in unison. “You don’t tell a woman stuff like that!”

A little secrecy — and separate bank accounts —  go a long way in oiling a relationship. Don’t ask her how much she spends on shoes; you don’t tell her what you spend on your  hobby.

• Technology is helping us improve in women’s eyes. They used to complain that we never would stop to ask for directions, but this problem has been solved by the global positioning system every man must have, right next to the smart phone that supplies sport scores 24/7. Problem solved.

Next: Let’s hope technology soon eliminates the constant debate about toilet seats, up or down?

• Face it, fellow man, you’re going to get old, so you want a woman who is a keeper. It seems like just yesterday when you were a kid trading baseball cards with your buddies. But soon enough you will be showing your buddies pictures of your grandkids.

Find a good woman for these days. And remember, until technology improves, you can be a hero and put down the toilet seat.

Published in Splash! January 2014

A hair-raising metaphor for progress

These days you hardly ever see a balding man trying to hide under a comb-over, and we should consider this to be progress.

It’s not on the scale of world peace, but still, it’s a step forward for society, certainly better than those hideous hair twists and turns so common among middle-aged men not so long ago. (And standard coiffure for Donald Trump even today.)

The vanishing comb-over is a reminder that the world is getting better in many ways.

It’s also a reminder that progress is incremental, a forward march that shouldn’t be overlooked even as the pessimists scream daily that all is wrong with the world today. Remember your individual forward steps and hope for more optimism, less fear.

Maybe you smoked cigarettes but finally quit years ago. Today, you suddenly remember, “Hey, I smoked for years,” and then you do the math and realize you saved several thousand dollars — and extended your life expectancy — by quitting. See, more progress.

Or you recall how you talked yourself into thinking that Herman Cain would be the ideal presidential candidate in 2012, taken as you were with his simplistic “9 9 9” chant of an economic policy.

Thank goodness that woman came forward with her claims of sexual harassment and Cain’s goofy campaign slid south faster than the fast food he used to sell. Wow, there’s a disaster averted.

Speaking of disasters, the comb-over was standard for many male Baby Boomers as they fought off any signs of resembling their elders.

Confession: I was one of those guys, thin strands of hair plastered across an increasingly wide space of pink head. I had to act like a sailboat and tack back and forth across the street to cope with wind that threatened to bare my chrome dome.

Eventually I admitted my baldness, gave up the comb-over and found myself actually feeling better about myself.

Life was so freeing without the crutch of a comb-over, just as ex-smokers find themselves liberated from the need to carry cigarettes, a lighter and a hangdog attitude with them wherever they go. And even conservatives must feel better that Cain’s ludicrous campaign bit the dust and they still have Barack Obama to kick around.

Maybe it’s too soon for Millennials to start going bald, but I hope they skip the comb-over.

Rather than repeat Baby Boomer mistakes and bad habits, let them find new ones — and new solutions.


Jan. 2, 2014