Last week I saw a rerun of Friends. At one point, Chandler was asked to do some handy work, and he said to wait while he goes to get his wife’s tools. I was struck immediately with the thought, “Is this the American man now?” That episode probably aired ten years ago, of course, so I understand it’s a bit outdated. But I wonder if there are more Chandler Bing’s out there now. Men who are not tough.
I remember when men on tv were ones I could look up to, men with character that were chivalrous and strong: MacGyver, Cliff Huxtable, Uncle Jessie, possibly Danny Tanner (although he wasn’t very tough except in the episode where he dressed like a rockstar to play at D.J.’s fundraiser), Mr. T, the father on Boy Meets World, Tom Selleck, James Garner and Tony Danza (Who’s the Boss?).
But over the course of a couple of decades they’ve turned into Charlie Sheen (Two and A Half Men), the guys on Big Bang Theory, Barney Stinson, the Situation, and professional athletes that get in trouble for domestic violence. It seems like men in the spotlight now are either over the top, or way under the top. Womanizers, or pansies. We’re persuaded to tolerate those kinds of guys and that tolerance creates more of those kinds of guys. We mock the jerks on The Bachelor, and yet we tune in every week to watch. I guess I’m just tired of seeing the pansification of men in America. I’m tired of contributing to it.
Bring back the men that open doors for women, that don’t call or text after 10pm. Men that can budget money. Guys that play football on the weekends and go to church, too. Men that are less concerned if their fingernails are clipped and more concerned about securing leaks in the house. Men that rough house with their kids, nieces or nephews but will not tolerate outsiders who do the same. Men that care less about matching their shoes with their belt, and more about making a woman feel pretty and wanted. Men that get down on one knee to ask their girlfriend to marry them not inspite of it being old-fashioned but because it’s old-fashioned. Men that would give their life to protect the ones they love. They drive trucks. They have a dog. They may even cuss a little when they get fired up. They eat horse radish because it puts hair on their chest. It’s ok to have calloused hands. It’s ok to believe in something and disagree with someone who believes differently. Tolerance is for the birds. Buck up and be a man. Respect women. Cook burgers and steak. Grill chicken and eat all of it that night. Eat broccoli because it’s healthy, but it’s ok if you don’t enjoy it. Eat a salad and take care of your body. Excercise and get strong. Compete. Compete fairly. Own tools and use them. Be old-fashioned. Don’t be a Chandler. Be a Fred Wilder. He plays the drums. He travels weekly. He’s been married for over forty years to one lady, my mom. He still enjoys washing his car and hers on the weekend. He was in the Coast Guard for twenty-seven years and served in Desert Storm. So he’s tough, but he also likes Hallmark Channel movies. He’s got a truck and a beagle. He has four grown kids that he makes an effort to see or talk to regularly.