There’s been an idea pinging around inside my sloped noggin’ for awhile. The idea was out of focus, just kinda’ whizzing around so I couldn’t picture nor label it. Then, Ken “The Barber” Seames of Goodrich, unfortunately passed away last week.
His son Scott had given me a one-page essay about Ken’s Barbershop (an excerpt from a novel by G.P. Andrews) to help me craft his father’s obituary. I read the page. And, inside my harried brain time slowed down; the super-sonic pinging turned into a turtle’s paced pong. My idea showed itself to me.
I have no idea when exactly G.P. wrote that page (sometime in the Bush 1 administration), or who he or she is or was (I assume a he), but some words resonated.
“Ken’s Barbershop was the town hall for men . . . the barbershop was a place of safety, where men of the community could engage in non-threatening discourse, or just listen. It was the last bastion of masculine civility free of the oppressions of feminine interventions . . .”
Yes, at first I was a little disheartened to read that we men-folk were in need of a “safe place” like all the snowflakes in college today — not to say there are more snowflakes in college than students, it’s just those easily offended get more press time. Regardless, the line which struck home was “the last bastion of masculine civility free of the oppressions of feminine interventions.”
“Hmm,” thought I. “Men are being oppressed and by the better half of the gender divide! Who woulda’ thunk it?”
It’s right about now, as I turn over these thoughts in my head and assemble them into some sort of order that I hear nowhere save inside my head Darth Vader’s intro theme music.
Dun, dun, da-dun . . . we men need our own hashtag movement. Instead of hunching over and trying to stay out of the sights of feminine interventionists. Now, I am hearing the melody of a Helen Reddy song as I think it’s time to stand up straight, throw back our shoulders, hold our chins up and shout, “We are men, hear our roar as we walk out the door!”
Nah, “We are men, hear our cries . . .”
No, not, “hear our cries.”
How about, “We are men, we cannot lie?”
“ . . . we are often surprised . . . we can climb high . . . we like to surmise . . . wait!
I got it, I got it! “We are men and we like pie!”
* * *
Okay. Okay. I get it. We don’t need a theme song.
However, I think we all can agree masculinity in itself is not toxic. Some people can be toxic. Some ideas can be toxic, but just because it’s masculine doesn’t necessarily mean it’s toxic. My sons, as I am sure your sons, though masculine are not toxic. They are warm and caring human beings with feelings and emotions. They just navigate those emotions and feelings differently than women.
We, like many men, joke about our masculinity. Though they are fine young men, on their birthdays I still get them cards as if they are “Our sweet, little boy,” or “To Our Little Princess on Her Birthday.” They give it back, by either referencing my ancientness or getting me birthday gifts like they did this year. They got me a “GRL PWR” (girl power) coffee cup.
We men, we’re kidders and jokesters. Please don’t label us mean or toxic just because our parts are different than yours.
* * *
Men, we still need our hashtag moment — something to put the world on notice, something that can spread on social media like our middle-aged guts: We have had enough. We are tired of being the butt of every joke. We are tired of being to blame for all the world’s ills. We are tired of our women telling us what we can or cannot do with our faces. We will not be shamed for wanting to grow a mustache dangblabit!
I’ve got it. To reassert our place in society, I propose, men, let’s grow our mustaches back. We don’t tell women how to wear their hair . . . if they want to cut it, they do. If they want to dye it green, they do. And, even if we do not like it, we have to smile and say, “It’s beautiful, baby.”
In February, men, start using your God-given ability to grow facial hair above your lips. Then, in March let’s march in unison down Main Street for masculine civility with our mustaches front and center.
* * *
Back to Ken’s Barbershop. G.P. Andrews ended his essay this way, “Ken is the patriarch of the town hall for men. He is the convenor. He is the initiator. He is the facilitator. He is the detached observer. He is also a damn good barber.”
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