I spent three days with men. I spent two of those days with three particular men. Then one day with many men. Moving in and out of groups of men is always the same. The same small bunches are sometimes different. Different to the point it compels reflection. Reflection eventually shows you what you’ve been seeing all along.
T’ hell you on about empath?
I re-figured something out.
Handshakes all around at the Mobile regional airport. Collection of the luggage, some golf clubs, discussion of automobile logistics…”who has a GPS?”….and we headed for the course. Two cars, two men in each. Two cars, two generations in each. Sort of. A 70 and a 60 in an Avalon, a 50 and a 49 in a rented red Impala. The second group was more feminized. I’m in the second group.
That mean anything?
My car partner was my cart partner as well. We were similar enough to be fast friends, and similar enough to bring to the fore some differences between us and the other two guys. It was this contrast, so stark, that hit me.
We were not steely eyed and focused on getting the stuff from the cars, being changed and set up, flexing our efficiency, showcasing some skill at getting ready to showcase lack of same. The other guys were. They have been, no matter who they were over the 28 years I’ve been doing this sort of thing , the older guys have all been the way those two guys were. My cart partner not being that way was a deviation for me. I’d grown accustomed to the ways of the other pair, and me as a subordinate with a sense of age deference I thought was best for my career in these circumstances. But now I am an older guy, well past half the career, more guys younger than older…like that.
They waste no syllables. Wasted syllables are frowned upon. Jokes are only opportunistic, like slap stick, not nuanced or layered, not buried or overly clever, and there is some sort of honor in being first dressed, shod, and ready….not breaking from stoic. Never break focus, do not speak while doing these tasks of setting things up. It’s serious business.
Not having a father around growing up, if I want to make a pop psych analysis I’d guess some of my deference to men 10 years my senior would be mentioned in it. It is unpleasant, this deference… I realized. I also realized I don’t need to be that anymore because I am middle aged and going along faking it sucks. Not to say I was verbal about it. No. I just realized that I’d been trying to be a leader by example. By following a silly script. It’s crazy on its face, here I was fake following these guys, and thinking the way to lead or be more credible among these older men who are retired or near it was to take their stoicism on board. Bullshit. I do not do this under any other circumstances. I do not afford blind deference in business discussions or other social interactions. Just these types of outings, fishing, hunting, golfing….I think the nature of the activity contributed to the tendency. Bullshit. I stopped it dead. These are small things in the scheme, so I was disproportionately angry with myself when the reality set in.
More…the lunch banter, with high viscosity topical flow controlled by the older guys:
“Look how this place was built” “Pier and beam?” “Maybe….soft ground here” “Yep”
“Check the size of that joist” “Old school”
“D’you see that live oak on number 8 hole?” “Old” “Yep”
“Good thing I don’t play golf for a living” “Yep, be stockin’ shelves” ”Ha ha ha ha”
“There is a cemetery out on 18, Civil War era” “Was a Confederate hospital here”
“Nice day” “Yep”
Not one thing real.
We played all day with the two older guys seemingly annoyed that we were talking while playing. They were, as many golfers are, in a hurry….for no reason. No following group pressing us, we were playing at a four hours or less pace. Yet they had the vibe of frustration.
Then we arrive at 18 tee box. The cemetery is adjacent. I was the only one in the group who had never seen it. I took note from the tee box. The older guys though, they had to walk through it, touch a cannon, and make remarks about the cannon, little remarks, and obvious statements of three words or so. It took lots of time. These men and their cohorts do that. They may spot a particular bird, or other wildlife…a home under construction, and they will stand and stare. They will make a remark.
“You ever seen a duck in a tree?”
“Where would you get stone like that?”
“Must come from out west somewhere”
Not one thing real. Not. One.
And that’s ok, it really is. Over four hours of sitting an inch from someone, I’d rather tend to total silence than say small things all day. I am more comfortable with total silence. The point is not to insult men whose communication is similar to theirs. The point is that time has passed, years. People change, and they must stop following along out of deference.
Back in the carts Tom and I are talking about family, about Jesus, about our kids, we are talk talk talking. Laughing rich and deep, talking over and past each other. We even failed at hurrying, I think. We succeeded at having fun and making a friendship, a new one. It is good when that kind of kindred spirit is discovered.
Fascinating was the overt show of affection the older two guys made when greeting, and then when departing. Twenty years of meetings like this, a few syllables muttered, and they consider themselves very close. I do not doubt them. I am always baffled about this. It recalls an image I have from childhood, one I saw repeatedly…men standing around something, say a pickup truck with a tractor tire in the bed, all leaning on the sides of the truck staring in at the tire, and saying nothing….not one word….for long periods of time.
Good natured ribbing ensued that night at dinner, them ribbing us.
“You see those guys talking?”
“Hell yes they were talking, both at the same time, and no one even listening”.
The older guys were belly laughing at these remarks. That is good…the belly laughing. But it’s odd to me that they found sufficient humor in our bonding, and found none in their own brand of camaraderie. Different, not funny.
I split from these three the next day and took off from Mobile with tornado warnings looming over the airport. On to the next group. I had a short flight, a three hour drive, and a lot of time to mull over the prior two days. It’s when I realized that we men, as time passes, really have done this thing about getting in touch with our feminine sides….a bit….if you buy all that stuff about women being more communicative. I certainly do not believe the notion that they are superior communicators, but more communicative? Doubtless. I wonder if I’d had a father who was stoic and quiet if I’d have been that way as well. Seems my sons are taking after me, choosing deeper relationships resulting in somewhat a smaller posse.
Forward and for the first time in my life I was privileged to be someone’s guest and attend The Masters. I was with a group hosted by a large corporation that is a household name. There were over 50 men in the group broken into smaller groups that had a member of the host company with each. Big groups of men, (across every age group from 30 and up) can fluctuate between the type of banal observational banter as I mentioned above, and a more verbose but equally banal form of corporate-ese AMOGing. I can hang with that, it’s not real, and it’s not really me, but I do well at these types of functions. Affable, a clever wit, bit of a polymath, it usually works out well. The guy who was my direct host was 34. He is the mold. Military bearing all American good looks, fitness is a huge priority and it shows on him, and a very nice young family man.
The large group was better overall than the little group of four, 2 x 2, separated by 10 years. At the same time less rewarding than the time with my new friend in the cart. He is Catholic and was basically conversant on manosphere matters, not from reading anything about it, but just because he is a perceptive guy and took on board things I said that most men glaze over when hearing . The young man who was my host at The Masters… not so much. An evangelical raised insular in a wealthy southern family, a hard charging career wife and some new kids….he was not going to adjust his worldview, so, we talked mostly about Guan Tianlang. Kid is pretty awesome, we followed him a bit.
Men have changed a great deal over time. Not all….of course….but it is a trend. Even the shallower ones are far more effusive in groups if tracked across some decades. It peaks and starts to wane with the advent of social media, and because I’m way on the back side of the age, barely plugged in to the gilded days of PC etc. explosion, I’m immune to it. Not Luddite by any means….but immune to the dilution of social skills via technology. That’s another side bar.
As this relates to men in the church and feminism, both the older guys and the younger guys are, in vast numbers, sold out to churchian feminism. The manners in which they convinced though are very different. The older guys would be glommed onto the weaker vessel type rationale, while the younger ones who have, so to speak, gotten in touch with the feminine side, are steeped in emotionalism regarding women in churchian environs. One group, quiet, staid, consistent white knights, disinterested in any argument to the contrary of their frame not because they have a counter argument, rather, because they feel manly after being allowed out to play golf and talk about building foundations and joists.
The younger ones are all twisted up and conflicted, trying to grow more and more into the feminine image they have been taught by women (who say one thing and mean another) and church leaders who find themselves really messed up because they have to be the stoic like the older guys and feminine emotional like the younger ones. Something for everyone, and all to keep the men in line.
What did I personally learn? Do not be so deferential to the older guys. I am one of them. Be mindful of younger men than me doing the same to me, and do not encourage it to excess. From the sycophants to just polite young men, bring influence to bear where it matters, not just to bask in their deference. These outings are fun in small doses.
Back to work.