Be­ing a man just ain’t what it used to be

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Living - - FRONT PAGE -

THE boss has asked that to­day I would pro­vide an up­date on how my New Year’s res­o­lu­tions are go­ing. Which shows you what she knows about be­ing a mid­dle-aged man in mod­ern Ire­land.

Time was when it was easy be­ing a man. Ev­ery day, you went to a se­cure job where you put down the day. When you went home in the evening, no one re­ally con­tacted you again about work un­til the next day. You called into the pub on the way home for a sharp­ener, and if you lived in Amer­ica, your wife would have a mar­tini ready for you when you got home.

A mar­tini, for those of you who have never been pre­sented with one on the thresh­old, is ba­si­cally a glass of straight al­co­hol. Wives in those days ac­tu­ally en­cour­aged their hus­bands to hit the hard liquor at tea time. What a time to be alive. You were then pre­sented with a din­ner, and then you re­paired to read your pa­per or watch TV. Your kids did not an­noy you be­cause you had had a hard day at work. This was be­fore women worked, so men could pre­tend that work was re­ally im­por­tant and hard and that you’d be ex­hausted af­ter a day of it.

At the week­end, you maybe went to the race track or played golf. No women or chil­dren were al­lowed in these places be­cause they might an­noy the men. And that was life. You were not ex­pected to make any res­o­lu­tion to im­prove your­self, ei­ther at New Year, or any other time. What was to im­prove? You were a man!

Nowa­days, ev­ery day is like New Year’s. Men are ex­pected to im­prove them­selves not only once a year for about a week un­til the res­o­lu­tions wear off, but all the time. There is a cam­paign to give up the booze nearly ev­ery month of the year, and if you’re not do­ing that, you are ex­pected to be grow­ing a mous­tache to raise aware­ness or be out march­ing for women’s rights.

Self-im­prove­ment for men is no longer for just af­ter Christ­mas. Now we are ex­pected to be in a state of con­stant evo­lu­tion. I am work­ing so hard on self­im­prove­ment I could barely think of any new res­o­lu­tion to make for the new year. Lose weight? That’s a con­stant. Drink less? An on­go­ing process for all of us these days what with the non­stop fin­ger wag­ging. Get more ex­er­cise? Again, that’s a given. We even have track­ers at­tached to us all now to make sure we are all con­stantly im­prov­ing our times, our lev­els, our heart rates, that we are climb­ing the stairs more. And we put these shack­les on our­selves vol­un­tar­ily! We ac­tu­ally buy our own chains, lock our­selves up, and throw away the keys. Men these days gather less and less in the pub and in­stead gather at road­sides to cy­cle up hills at the week­end. The leisurely pace of a golf game is not enough any more. And of course with the cy­cling, there is a built-in guar­an­tee that no drink is taken. It’s all tea and scones. It’s as if men are lit­er­ally turn­ing into old ladies. As far as I can as­cer­tain they even seem to wear thick tights for many of these ac­tiv­i­ties. It’s not even enough these days for a man to do one thing, like run­ning, or cy­cling, or swim­ming. You have to do all three. To­gether. Wear­ing a class of a one­sie and tights.

You’d say that the women had done some num­ber on us, only for the fact that some­how we did this to our­selves.

So don’t ask me how I’m get­ting on with the res­o­lu­tions. I’m putting in the work all year round, baby. I’m not out do­ing the triathlons, but I am like a ham­ster on a wheel try­ing to be a bet­ter per­son, mind, body and spirit. I’m a few steps off tak­ing up re­li­gion at this stage.

But of course, de­spite my­self, I did try to im­prove a few habits for 2019. I’m try­ing to drink more wa­ter and to fin­ish books rather than aban­don­ing them once I feel I have the gist of them. Too early to say how it’s go­ing. But if you see me go­ing to the jacks a lot with a copy of War and Peace un­der my arm, you’ll know I’m putting in the work.

‘If you lived in Amer­ica, your wife would have a mar­tini wait­ing for you’

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.