Because the town was so small, there wasn’t a lot to do in the mid to late 70′s, so it didn’t take much to get the whole town all spun up. People in town were so desperate for excitement, they’d believe anything. And I do mean anything.
Like for instance the time a crazy woman convinced everybody she was going to marry Elvis. Not only was she was going to marry Elvis, the wedding was going to take place at the First Baptist Church. This was before the internet and snopes.com so there was no way for people to find out if it was true or not. Wait, there actually was. The pastor and all the deacons kept telling people Elvis was not going to be in the building. But none of that mattered and the day the wedding was supposed to take place, deacons (my dad included) were posted at all the doors to keep people out.
Needless to say, Elvis didn’t show up.
That’s the thing about the South, we’re generally a trusting bunch and if you repeat a rumor long enough, folks will start to believe it. No matter how much evidence there is to the contrary.
Like what we thought you had to do or have to be a real man.
You could break them down into three categories:
When you’re a kid it’s all about who can run the fastest, jump the highest or throw a ball the farthest. At least it used to be before a bunch of puds took over and started making dumb-ass decisions like banning dodgeball and playing Tag in elementary school, but that’s another rant. Anyway, pretty soon the lines were drawn between the guys who were good at sports and the ones who weren’t. The good ones were put on a pedestal and considered more boy than the ones who had two left feet.
It continued on as guys started playing organized sports and a kind of jock Darwinism took over. Every time you moved up a level, fewer and fewer guys could play at the higher level. Until you got to the pinnacle of small town life, varsity football. Every guy who plays is automatically thought of as a real man. Especially the ones who got recruited to play college ball. Any guy who signs a Division I scholarship is granted “The Man” status.
If you’ve ever been to a 10 year high school reunion, you already know how the story ends. “The Man” that used to have 2% body fat and head full of hair, now has 2% hair and a body full of fat.
That’s why the ballfield is a false indicator of masculinity, guys get old and can’t play anymore.
Part of being “The Man” is girls want to be with you and will happily crawl in your backseat to prove it. That’s when the second false indicator of manhood kicks in, the bedroom.
The more girls a guy has sex with you, the bigger stud he is (but the girls are all sluts. Hmm. Another rant I’ll need to write about). This one is as tough to convince guys that it’s false, as it was for my pastor to convince people Elvis was not getting married at First Baptist. Partially because sex is fun but mainly because the negative, long-term consequences of having sex outside of marriage take longer to show up.
A guy’s brain is a weird thing. Before about age 25 a guy’s brain is still developing, which means it’s still creating connections around significant milestones (Where they happen, what the circumstances are, etc..).
Take a guy’s first sexual experience. If it’s in the back of the car, parked in the middle of nowhere, trying to get it done before he gets caught or the girl changes her mind, then that’s what imprinted onto the guy’s brain of what sex is supposed be like. It’s something that has to be done in secret and fast.
On the other hand, take a guy who waits until his wedding night to have sex. He commits himself to a woman for the rest of his life in front of family, friends and people who he wouldn’t want to disappoint by breaking his commitment. Then he has sex. That’s what is imprinted onto his brain of what sex is supposed to be like. Part of a committed relationship that has been blessed and approved by people he loves and respects.
Which one do you thing is going to have the more satisfying sex life? BTW, when both the bride and the groom are virgins, the divorce rate is less than 10%.
So after a guy has finished playing ball and has dealt with the bedroom, the last way a guy is considered a man is the billfold, or how much money and stuff he has.
If the people of my hometown had been as easy to convince that Elvis was not getting married as it is to prove that the billfold is a false indicator of manhood, I wouldn’t be using it as the opening to this story. If you believe that money and stuff are an indicator of manhood then what happens to the guy when he loses it? Did he suddenly lose his manhood? What about the guy who loses his house to a hurricane or tornado? What about the guy who’s business goes under because of a bad economy?
Money and stuff are lousy indicators of manhood because it’s too easy to lose them.
Just like the people in my hometown learned who to believe the next time they heard Elvis was coming to town, experience has taught me there are better ways to identify a real man.
More to Come.
What about you? What do you think are indicators of a real man?
(Thanks to Joe Erhman for the ballfield, bedroom, billfold idea)