What Men Do

Men make. We make houses, machine parts, clever boxes. We make decisions, pronouncements. We make mistakes.

Men fix. We fix cars, tractors, snowblowers. We fix potholes, sewers, power lines. We fix public policy, international relations. We fix mistakes, sometimes, when we’re not making another.

Men know. We know the right way to baste ribs, the right way to plow driveways, the right way to mow the lawn. We know what the shortstop should have done, what the coach should have called, what the umpire should have seen. We know that the policy is stupid, that the legislators are on the take, that the strategy defies “common sense.” Which only we know.

Men love. We love mutely. We love in spite of knowing that we are fundamentally unlovable. We love by demonstrating that we are unlovable, daring our partners and friends to leave and thus prove us right.

Men take. We take charge, take up space, take the bull by the horns. We take the reins, take over, take what’s ours. And we don’t take any shit.

Men defend. We defend nation and family and position. We defend pride and honor. We build our shell to defend our hollow center.

Men enforce. We enforce laws and standards. We enforce borders, treaties, agreements, each other.

Men man up. Which is to say, we shut up. We man up about embarrassing things we’ve done, about our frailties, about our resentments. We come together, if at all, over the combat of other men. We look outward, not inward. We don’t fucking whine about it.

Men die. We die flamboyantly, in racing crashes and drunken boating accidents. We die of stupid habits—smoking, eating Buffalo wings, fucking around with guns. We die on the job, crushed by a tree or dismembered by the saw, lungs blackened, ears deafened. We die at each other’s hands, the sudden flaring argument or the lifelong grudge. We die from disappointment, from stress, from confusion, from stubbornness. We die from what we do.