Are You Man Enough?|
By Denis Leary
Here's a cold hard fact that you must now
chew and swallow: if you are reading this, you are not macho.
Period. Case closed. Real men do not read anything other than GUNS
AND AMMO, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, or SHAVED BEAVER.
Do not mention FIRE IN THE BELLY. Do not
clutch your copy of IRON JOHN. Sit your soft little ass down and
listen up. Understanding macho means that you don't possess it. I
have proven myself to be the pussy that I am by writing this piece.
(I'm wearing a powder blue cotton print shirt and peach panties as I
type) [sic] Ernest Hemingway, you say? Wrong. Ernest lived a very
macho life and wrote some very macho stories. But Ernest threw it
all away by blowing his head off with a shotgun. Very unmacho. Real
men do not commit suicide. Real men know just how much life sucks.
Real men grit their teeth and take it bill after bill, war after war,
tumor after tumor. You don't greet Death, you punch him in the
throat repeatedly as he drags you away. I think John Wayne said it
best when he said, "Fuck Death and the lung cancer he rode in
Macho is a very slippery thing. You don't
read about it, you don't write about it, you don't even know the
correct spelling of the word. In a vain attempt to keep some
semblance of masculinity, I didn't research the roots of the word
while writing this article, but I can only assume that "macho" comes
from "machismo," which sounds a hell of a lot like machine. Being
macho implies a tough, hard, blocklike approach full of pistons and
rods and axles and other big steel-type stuff.
It's hard to live by the old macho code
these days. They've chipped away at it over the years, slowly but
surely. Drinking has been reduced to a few beers or a couple of
whiskeys, if that. Otherwise, your AA friends begin to stare across
the table with that "I personally think you have a problem and that
all alcohol should be banned so that I won't feel the urge to drink
myself into a naked stupor but I'm not gonna say anything" look on
their faces. No mess, no mauling, no mistress, no mas.
From time to time, people try to use macho
as an image builder. Bush tries to make himself seem like a
card-carrying Mace Club member. He's not. The last macho pres. we
had was FDR. FDR-a man stricken by polio, stuck in a wheelchair,
fighting the Nazis all the while smoking 3 & 1/2 packs a day.
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!" Yeah, and
staircases, of course. And soccer and dancing.
I think the death of macho is easily
located on a very recent map. Sometime in the late '70s-right around
the time the Village People released "Macho Man" and Barry Manilow
sang "Copacabana" and Robby Benson was mewling his way into the
hearts of teenage ultra-virgin, men made a serious mistake. We
started TALKING to each other. We stopped punching each other and
began discussing why we wanted to punch each other. I'll bet my
right nut that if I had done some research, I would have found a
dramatic decline in facial cuts and brain contusions starting in
1977. Now we're supposed to be sensitive. We are supposed to share
our feelings and cry at funerals and care about our hair. We're, in
short, supposed to be women. Hello, my name is Shirley. Touch me in
I believe in equal rights. I believe that
women should get equal pay for equal jobs. I believe women should
have control of their bodies and be in positions of power. I believe
we should have the same size shoulder pads in our suits. But I also
believe that men should be men and women should be, well, women.
Women should be soft and smart and mysterious. And men should have
their own tools. I pine for the sheer stupidity of the old macho
days, when men would brandish hammers and build huge, bulky cars that
sucked up gas and tore open the ozone layer and crushed small animals
beneath totally useless but totally cool-looking tail fins. When men
were apes with good shoes and a dental plan. John Wayne, John
Huston, Bill Holden, Bob Mitchum, Clark Gable, Babe Ruth, Lee Marvin,
Sam Peckinpah. Men who drank and fought and puked and ate raw meat
right off the bone and drank some more and fought some more and puked
again and kept on drinking. Men who died of massive heart attacks or
sudden brain seizures or who just plain fucking blew up. Men who had
cancer six or seven times. Men made out of leather.
My dad was one of these men. My dad once
cut off his thumb with a power saw, duct-taped it back on, and drove
himself to the hospital smoking a Camel un-filtered on the way. My
dad's theory was simple: no pain-no fucking pain. My dad smoked 5
packs a day, worked 3 jobs 7 days a week, ate beef for breakfast,
lunch, and dinner. One night in 1985, he ate a big steak dinner with
a side order of bacon and extra steak fries. He ordered some coffee,
sat back, lit up a cigarette, and exploded.
I don't wanna hear about Arnold
Schwarzenegger. Even Arnold caved in. In Terminator 2, he was all of
a sudden Mr. Caring Guy, protecting the kid and hoping the earth
wouldn't end. Bullshit. There was even a sequence at the end of the
movie where a huge truck full of flammable liquid tears down a
highway for about 3 minutes and then doesn't blow up. A sign of the
times if ever there was one. Every real man knows the 1 golden rule
of macho movie making: if you see a truck on screen, blow it up. In
Thelma & Louise, the women saw a truck. What did they do? Susan
Sarandon pulled out her gun and blew the truck way the fuck up.
Another sign of the times. Arnold's tromping around praying for the
earth to save itself and Ms. Davis and Ms. Sarandon are drinking and
shooting and screwing their way all over the macho west. Citizen
Kane? A masterpiece. But every real man knows it would have been
better if a huge Mack truck with the word ROSEBUD emblazoned on the
trailer drove through the front gate of the mansion and then
Another movie matter I'd like to get off
my girly little chest: asses. Part of this new male code has men
baring their butts on screen the way women used to do. Mel Gibson,
Kevin Costner, Michael Douglas, and of course, Arnold. Hey if I
wanted to see Kevin Costner's ass, I would've married him. You never
saw Bob Mitchum's ass. I am in a macho movie called GUNMEN, and I
can guarantee you that you never see my ass on any screen but if you
do, it will not be shaved. It will be hairy and hoary and very, very
Our macho movie idols have changed
forever. No wonder they end up baring it all. Listen to the
names--Mel, Kevin, Michael, Arnold. In the old days movie stars had
real names: John, Bill, Duke, Buck, Chuck, Rip. Kevin sounds like
your skinny Irish cousin with the big Coke bottle glasses and a heat
rash; Mel, the guy in charge of aisle five at Woolworth's. ("Excuse
me Mel, where are the light bulbs?")
It's getting very bad, boys. We don't
blow up trucks anymore. Hell, we don't even drive trucks anymore.
We drive simple little Japanese cars with air bags. In the old days
we used to rip out the seat belts and fly through the windshield
ready for action. "Thrown from the car." Remember that phrase in
accident reports? Always the sign of a very macho driver.
We seem a little more sorry, a little more
plump, a lot more ladylike around the edges. If you really want to
reclaim your macho self, if you really want to be a macho, macho man,
stop reading this article.
If you are still reading, you probably
need a little more help. Forget Robert Bly or "FIRE IN YOUR
PROSTATE." Don't go on a Male-Bonding Self-Discovery Weekend, which
is just another term for Circle Jerk as far as I'm concerned. Here,
instead, is a guide:
- BALLS, A.K.A. COJONES: You should have
several. Preferably brass or steel. Extra large.
- CRYING: Never. Ever. Over anything.
Not death in the family, not a bullet in the chest. You may tear
up ever so slightly in one eye only when watching a favorite
sports legend retire. You may tear up in both eyes only when
kicked, accidentally or on purpose, in the COJONES.
- KISSING: see "SPORTS"
- HUGGING: see "SPORTS"
- SPORTS: Once all men within reach are
dressed in a team uniform, it is perfectly acceptable to kiss and
hug and grab each other's ass. This is probably because all men
are latent homosexuals and prefer male company to female company.
But if some guy points out this fact to you, punch him directly in
the throat. (Optional retorts: "Prefer this!" or "Fuck You!" or
" Shut the fuck up!")
- HEALTH: Never go to the hospital or
visit a doctor. If you have a stroke, keep drinking and act like
you prefer to use only one side of your body. If you cut off a
limb while using a power tool--so what? That's why there's duct
tape and staple guns. If someone tries to drive you to the
hospital after a heart attack or maiming, punch him in the throat.
(Optional retorts: "Drive This!" or "Fuck you!" or "Shut the fuck
- DIET: meat, cigarettes, meat, booze,
meat, and coffee. In case of aneurysm or alcohol-induced coma,
- FIGHTING: At all times, over anything.
Never hit a woman. Or a child. Or a bus. Never hit a priest
until he takes off his collar. (If it's the pope, wait until he
removes the large hat.) Clergy will often provoke a punch in the
throat with their "violence doesn't prove anything"
pontifications. (Optional retorts: "Prove this!" or "Fuck you
Father!" or "Shut the fuck up, Padre!")
- DRINKING: No falling down. No
puking--unless to empty the stomach in order to continue drinking.
No slurring of words. Tell a few war stories: "See that scar? I
was in 'Nam and I ate a grenade and it blew up in my colon." If
your aim is off due to alcohol, it's acceptable to punch someone
in the head or solar plexus.
- SEX: You're probably too drunk or just
plain stupid to have sex but pretend you get a lot, i.e. "You
should've seen me last night, blah, blah, blah, blah."
Absorb this info and you should be on your
way. If you have any further questions, call 1-800-COJONES.
Remember: We're men. Big, boxy, sweaty, ignorant men. We have
penises. Well, we used to have penises. Either way, I think Billy
Martin, the late Yankees manager, said it best when he said, "Hey, I