Walk Like A Man

One thing that really sets my teeth on edge is gender-based stereotyping. You know the routine...men fear commitment, hate to shop, withhold emotions and love tools. Women, on the other hand, hate sports, can't drive and are bad tippers.

Can it be that I am not truly male but, instead, the anti-male, possessed of all the surface elements required of that gender but not the inner makeup, lacking a certain something -- a gene, a chromosome? Perhaps my testosterone tank requires a fill-up. Lord knows, if I listened to the experts, from Tim Allen to whomever creates those quizzes in Cosmopolitan magazine, I'd be one perplexed fellow.

Think you, perhaps, that I exaggerate? Consider, then, this litany of red herrings: I have, more than once, refused sex. I can spend hours on end browsing in stores, provided, that is, that I'm to be the recipient of the impending bounty. I can't tell a crescent wrench from a crescent roll. I weep. I hug other men freely. Hell, I even kiss my father. I've never set foot in a strip club. I couldn't care less what's under the hood of a car, as long as the sum of those various and sundry parts is purring like a kitten. I like foreign films. I can't build anything. I can't fix anything, don't particularly have the desire to. I stop and ask directions at the first hint that I might have lost my way.

Present the above profile to, say, Dr. Joyce Brothers and I'm willing to bet she'd peg me as female. And yet I am as male as the day is long. Is it any wonder that generalizations regarding the sexes and their respective characteristics get my dander up?

And yet, even I must admit, certain gender-based tendencies simply can't be denied. For instance, while I have known only a handful of men over the years who enjoyed dancing, I don't believe I ever met a woman who didn't. Many, in fact, place the ability to dance very high on the shopping list of traits they seek in a partner. Now, I am not terribly fond of dancing, myself. And yet, I think I could allow myself the occasional session of rug-cutting if I didn't know full well just how much importance many, if not most, women place on this activity. One can almost see the mental checking-off as it occurs: "Let's see...looks? Passable. Gainfully employed? Yes. Good sense of humor? Check. Intelligent? Yep. And how would you characterize his dancing? I'd have to say it most closely resembles a spastic seal playing Charades." And that's it. Game's over. Hit the showers, you're through, bub.

Better then, I suspect, to opt for the crusty, contrarian, stick-in-the-mud approach. She'll more easily forgive that than a set of two left feet and no sense of rhythm.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the sexes, however, lies in the willingness, or lack thereof, to share clothes. Women, as a group, seem to have no qualms whatsoever about this practice. I have known women who chose their roommates almost exclusively based on their wardrobe. I, on the other hand, have never borrowed another man's garments and if I live to be a hundred, I don't believe I ever will. There's something...I don't know, creepy about wearing someone else's clothes. My clothes, for better or worse, say something about who I am (mostly, they say "here is a man who washes everything in warm water and never uses bleach"). To wear someone else's clothes strikes me as a sort of sartorial lie. I would feel no less sullied than if were I to lie to an evening's companion about my age or my occupation. I mean, why stop at clothes? Why not borrow a friend's car, if it would impress the young woman? Why not appropriate a pal's interests, his likes and dislikes, his pet peeves, his rich and varied past? His dreams and aspirations?

I actually take a certain comfort from the fact that these two vital, undeniable differences between the sexes exist. My aversion to dancing and refusal to swap shirts with a buddy place me squarely in the "real men" camp, in spite of my many other failings. And I sleep better at night, as a result.

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