The Chakachas – Jungle Fever
Last week I talked with my mama for about 20 minutes or so. She and I discussed my birthday and the usual questions were asked about birthdays and what not. (People forget sometimes that their birthdays are monumental days for their parents too, especially the mothers. I mean a few hours of labor are a memorable event for a woman. Just saying.) She then asks me what I thought was a hilarious question “You’re 32; I guess you think you’re a real man now?”
Of course my mama’s query was laced with the appropriate amount of snark that I am blessed to enough to have inherited from both sides of the gene pool. We both laughed at question because it was asked in a funny manner but I thought about it again on Saturday in between writing some other things and how I can destroy all of the copies of “Last Train to Paris” on the Earth. Being a man is a mixture of a lot of interesting things. It goes so far beyond having a Y chromosome, a twig and berries, and hair that just pops up in the oddest of places. These things just make you a male but being a man can get a little deeper.
I think about the actions of my daddy and granddaddies. Then I reflect on those of my friend’s fathers and then those of uncles. A blue print was set out for me and I have the choice of following them exactly and repeating the past (Doing this would include the pitfalls made by those who walked before me.) or I can always pull out my eraser and make changes to the blue prints for the better. At 32 I know for sure that a healthy combination of both actions is probably the best but you’ve got to pick your spots.
Anyway, I’m not going to get into some Hill Harperian type tangent about being a black man. It’s Monday and 90 plus degrees outside so I’m going to just list some of my favorite quotes about being a man. These are partially inspired by Esquire magazine’s 11 Words Project. The quotes that I use from there will get Barry Bondsed.[i] They’ll come from fictional characters, authors, everyday folks, and lots of others. Truth is they all make a lot of sense. (To me anyhow.)
“I’m just a man, no more enlightened than any other.” – Gus Ramone (From The Night Gardener by George Pelecanos)
I’ve used this quote here before and I’ll probably use it again too. It’s the closest thing I have to a personal mantra. Simply put a man is a work in progress. It takes time and there isn’t any chance of being perfect, only approximations of perfection.
“Stand up. Accept responsibility and be an instrument of change.” – Michael Vick*
There’s something to be said for owning up to all of your f*ck ups.
“When I fight someone, I want to break his will. I want to take his manhood. I want to rip out his heart and show it to him.” – Mike Tyson
Sometimes we’re just cavemen.
“Youth is a blunder; Manhood a struggle, Old Age a regret.” – Benjamin Disraeli (You don’t even know who he is.)
“F*ck the money. Leave this world a better place than you found it.” – David Simon, Executive Producer of The Wire, Treme, and The Pacific.*
You’ve got to give back because you aren’t last a**hole that will inhabit this space. Clean up after yourselves.
“Not in the goals but in his transitions is man great.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sometimes it’s about the trip. Destinations can be meh sometimes.
“A man can’t ride your back unless it’s bent.” – MLK Jr.
Not only is freedom, manhood, and prosperity a mindset, it’s also in the way you carry yourselves.
These are some of the more thoughtful quotations about being a dude that I came across. Some of them aren’t necessarily favorites but they did strike me as poignant when I read them. Like I said, it’s ain’t easy but in my short 32 years it can be a hell of a ride. Feel free to add your own if you care or give a damn.
Vaya con Dios.