Philosophy never held too many charms for me after it blew my mind with that whole "what-came-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg?" deal. Imagine my surprise when I found out there was no correct answer to that particular little puzzle! But it seems that most philosophical questions don't have bona fide answers, which would lead one to believe it is impossible to fail a class that doesn't have answers, but this is not the case. It is entirely possible to not only fail such a subject, but to earn derision from scraggly-bearded men wearing sandals and overly comfortable clothes who haven't worked a day in their lives. But one thing philosophy taught me was to analyze the nature of man. Well, I am here to report on the nature of man, and let me tell you, brother: It ain't good.
There is a school of thought that maintains that man is a product of his environment, which goes a long way to explain the state of men today. In a world obsessed with sensitivity and resolution and personalized ring tones, the nature of man is being diluted and watered down. Just like Coca-Cola and Kentucky Fried Chicken, the original recipe should have never been tampered with. The nature of man is brooding, angry, laced with whiskey and cigarette smoke, and it's getting increasingly annoyed.
The nature of man was perfectly defined and explained in the past. Men like Lee Marvin with a dangling smoke and a sullied necktie illustrated the savoir-faire of the "Y" chromosome. Audie Murphy didn't waste bullets in Germany. Duke didn't waste a lot of time trying to understand the feelings of the man receiving dental adjustments at the north end of his knuckles. Frank Sinatra demonstrated just how manly a career in performing arts could be by one-handing his tumbler and smoke while referring to a woman—respectfully—as a "dame." Martin Luther King stood up to a bunch of armed rednecks with passive resistance.
Popular culture wasn't making a big deal of men who have a special flair for interior decorating or for knowing the difference between a salad fork and a dinner fork. Instead, the American man was a study in testosterone and beer, a can-do fella who wouldn't take guff off nobody, and was as capable of handling a pistol as he was a truck. These were the kind of men who wore hats, who read their newspaper at the dinner table. Men were expected to have a bottle of bourbon in their desk at work. Men could change their own tires, fix their own cars, and impregnate their own women.
Sadly, the nature of man has been suffering as of late. Contrary to our hunter-gatherer instincts, men are expected to co-nurture their children, empathize with the challenges of a modern working woman, and understand how to operate a box of Hamburger Helper. While it has certainly been proven that it wouldn't kill a man to help out around the house every once in a while, it hasn't helped matters much. With each concession made, and every basic instinct suppressed in order to conform, men have become increasingly confused and frustrated, some even desperate enough to wear matching shirts with their wives and drive around with bow-tied-and-coiffed Yorkies in their laps. While not exactly a sign of the apocalypse, this bodes ill for the boys' club.
This cannot end well for us menfolk. Men face either marginalization or rebellion, the former option resulting in stay-at-home dads and increased sales of Celine Dion records, and the latter promising a long-term nookie embargo. If things go unchallenged, it won't be long before male manicures become accepted, and a cooler of Bud in the fishing boat is replaced by a bottle of Zima at the couples' shower. Plumbers and tow-truck drivers will get rich as men fail to develop their basic skill sets for home and auto repair, and nobody will sell a plain ol' cup of straight black coffee anymore. The irresponsible largeness of pickup trucks will be replaced by the handy convenience of small sport-utilities and minivans. Tattoo shops will offer only designs featuring butterflies or Mickey Mouse and will apply them only above the butt cracks of their customers. Men will cry upon receiving a bad job review.
On the other hand, rebellion is simmering just beneath the flannel-clad, hairy surface of man. I see signs of quiet desperation and angst among many males, who seem to be developing an ability to communicate to their fellow men by a mere glance or subtle signal. Short of passing a cryptic message coordinating a midnight jailbreak, men are comparing notes and discovering that their genetics are outraged by the concessions they continually make.
There are some basic, inalienable truths that are being ignored by modern, non-male society: People should not talk during television programs. Relationships require discussion only when somebody is dying or moving out. The needle on the gas gauge doesn't have to go all the way to "E" before refilling. The thermostat is fine. Handguns are legal, an occasional cigar isn't fatal, and beer is good. Men are programmed to look at hot women, and they like beef. Telephones are tools, not entertainment.
If you really want to understand the nature of man, find out what they do when they're in the house alone. Man reverts to Neanderthal ways with very little prompting. He will sit on the couch in his underwear, eating junk food and drinking beer. Or he will seek male bonding, and go play pool with his friends and drink beer. Given his druthers, man will not read a romance novel, clean anything or go shopping. That is the true nature of man.