You can call it life imitating art if you so desire, or maybe in this case, it was simply a case of the answer to such a monumental, yet loaded question being right there in real life, waiting for its opportunity to manifest itself.
A few months ago, an Esquire magazine mysteriously showed up in our mailbox. I know there is almost always some number of magazine fundraisers invariably underway for this youth program or initiative or that youth program or initiative, but the fact it was an Esquire magazine was a puzzler for me. I deducted that someone out there somewhere was presented with an opportunity to contribute to a reasonably worthwhile, youthful cause by ordering some magazine subscriptions, and decided that I might dig a subscription to the legendary men's magazine known as Esquire. Who was this person, I wondered, and why did this person think I'd take pleasure in reading Esquire magazine?
The first few issues just kind of sat there on the coffee table. I'll admit the primary reason why, too, and that's because I like a little gender diversity between my magazine covers. When I read Rolling Stone magazine, I know I'm going to read about beautiful, famous men and beautiful, famous women. The famous men and famous women might enjoy such lofty status because they're incredibly talented or smart, or it could be that they're simply attractive and/or infamous instead of actually famous, and they have a habit of not wearing a lot of clothes.
The reason Esquire didn't necessarily appeal to me at the start is probably similar to the reason why I never golf on Wednesday Men's Day at Minakwa: I can only take so many guys for so long. If you're looking for me at a weekend gathering at someone's house, check the kitchen first and you'll probably find me gabbing with the women, while the guys in the other room tell the same stories they did six months ago, but no one in the room remembers the stories being told six months ago.
Then an Esquire issue arrived with actor Brad Pitt on the cover. The Timing made sense, since his "World War Z" film is about to be released. As I read the cover promos of the articles inside that particular issue, it became clear it was an annual "special" issue that focused on what it means to be a man. Pretty much every word between the covers twisted the question in any number of ways, and asked how a man acts like a man in countless challenging and/or negative situations, such as after his dad has died, if he finds out his wife is cheating on him, if he's arrested, etc.
The one article that intrigued me most was written by a guy whose father had died young, and he'd been wondering if at the moment his dad died he himself officially became a man. The author ended up traveling the country and asking a wide variety of audiences, from guys at a bowling alley, to a couple women on a bus, to his own son, "What is a man?" The answers he was given, as you might expect, ran the gamut. Some were silly and superficial, some were deep and profound, and some were glib and uninformed.
Page 2 of 2 - I might have rattled off quite a rambling, lengthy answer had the author crossed my path during his cross-country travails, until last week that is. After a memorable couple of moments one night last week, my answer is now much more short and concise.
What is a man?
He's a guy who, without pausing to think twice and, if he had, maybe in the process think of less bold and brave measures to take, is overcome by a manly dose of adrenaline and defends his family, pets, home and property from a renegade, rogue, and obviously-up-to-no-good adult-sized raccoon who shows up right outside his back door too early one evening to be considered nocturnal, and won't go away despite repeated attempts to get him to go away, and stay away.
Dude, that there's a man.
Beyond that, I'm afraid I'm going to have to rely upon the words of the immortal Forrest Gump when he'd reached the end of one of his many lengthy yarns: And that is all I have to say about that.