by James Gallichio
Four years ago, as I walked down the streets of Windsor, I passed a mother and her child. The child was running around the footpath with his arms outstretched, pretending to be an aeroplane.
“As soon as they leave, I’m gonna do that too,”I thought.
The child was taking up much of the footpath and didn’t seem to realise that he was blocking me from walking past. Then the mother said something that stuck with me for all of these years.
“Sweetie, watch out for the man, you’re blocking the footpath.”
I looked around. Where was this man she was speaking of? There was no one else around –Wait…was she talking about me?
I smiled at the pair and went on my way, slightly confused about what had just occurred. I was 18, had just finished high school and didn’t even have a driver’s licence, let alone a job or a penny to my name – at what point did I become a man? In my own eyes, I was still just a kid.
We are not born men. We are born boys – and through a myriad of trials, errors and experiences, we become men. But there’s no single defining moment; there’s no instant switch that turns on in your mind and says “Oh, ok, I’m a man now”. Which begs the question – what does it mean to be a man?
Rather than present a diatribe about what masculinity means to me, in this episode of Harrison Fjord I’ve decided to leave the question open to discussion. I asked a similar question on Reddit some time ago, and here were some of my favourite responses:
“As a young man, being self-sufficient, capable of moderation and being self-aware.
As a mature man, the ability to confidently, calmly and capably take care of and provide for your family.
Sadly, I think too many young men are focused on being “manly” and don’t spend enough time pondering what is actually means to be a man.
That said, I have a deep suspicion that all men are just little boys pretending to be adult and that, as soon as they are alone, it’s action figures in the bath, Nintendo in the bedroom and cereal for dinner.”
“It means not bitching about every little thing and being emotionally stable.”
“The ability to effortlessly open a pickle-jar. And on the occasions when one finds himself unable to – the sense to promptly defenestrate it, and never speak about this moment again.”
“I just try and remember what Kurt Russell did in Big Trouble in Little China and do that.”
“Real men have a couple of beers then project their inadequacies on others.”
“It means fighting every day of your life to keep up the facade of what society expects you to be.”