The other day, as I was perusing a certain popular social network, a link posted by a friend caught my eye: “A Man’s Guide to Sweaters,” it was called, and being a wearer of such garments, I clicked, eager for an education.
What did I learn? That sweaters can be made of cashmere, wool, cotton, synthetics or—you won’t believe it—blended fabrics. Gadzooks! On I clicked through this website, entitulated The Art of Manliness, growing ever more shocked and offended at the unbearable elementarity of the advice proffered therein: How to take a girl on a dinner date. How to know if you’re in trouble on a hike. How to have a conversation. A conversation!
Really? Are men today so stupid, so poorly educated, so addicted to professional wrestling, and so ridden with Asperger’s that we need Websites to explain such basic components of 19th 20th 21st-century life? I guess when you’ve got no brain, even a no-brainer seems like an insurmountable challenge. And I think the site’s whole schtick might be what my esteemed colleague Theodore Ross, Esq., would dub “link bait.”
At the same time, I’m probably just being a bitch. There are plenty of things that “The Art of Manliness” can teach me to do, like change my nonexistent car’s air filter or… uh… let’s see… start a fire without matches. And hey, why should I assume that everyone out there knows the difference between a sport coat and a blazer? I suppose the site can be useful. Sort of.
But look, AoM, here’s the deal as I see it: If you’re only going to be sort-of-useful, you need to be more clever. You know, funny, inventive, expansive in your notion of what constitutes manliness, ready to puncture the stereotypes that trap us. (I’m thinking in particular of the dull clichés of “Three Moments Every Father Dreads.”) In other words, more like us.