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Monday, 20 September 2004

Throughout our history, our folklore, generalized descriptions of men and women abound. Women bear children, nurture them, and bake brownies. Men wrestle saber-tooth tigers, fight to possess and protect women, and watch Monday Night Football. Women are delicate, timid, emotional, and nonviolent. Men are hardy, aggressive, logical, and bloodthirsty. Stereotypes, certainly, but our culture is filled with these images. I do not wish to debate the validity of these stereotypes -- stipulate that, by definition, a stereotype paints a misleading picture.

Instead, I wish to relate a tale that I hope will set these stereotypes back on their collective heels, and precipitate a few chuckles in the process, maybe.

Not long ago, the neighbors upstairs hosted a party, presumably inviting their friends. These neighbors are young single women, about 21 years of age. Readers may naturally assume as I do that the male guests at this party pursued the ages-old male pasttime of trying to impress eligible females through displays of masculine prowess. The party wore on, music accompanied dancing, I suppose, which interrupted drinking and perhaps other activities. Presently, the hour grew late and the party-goers began to wander away downstairs to their cars. As I sat at this keyboard, hoping the loud music would soon return to its normal, tolerable state so that I could resume writing articles like this one, I heard a commotion in the hallway outside our door. Much shuffling of feet, followed by a short scream or two, followed by more repositioning of feet, and I went out into the hallway to discover what trouble had arisen. I expected fisticuffs, or wrestling, or perhaps the aforementioned masculine display, or something similar.

What I beheld took me wholly by surprise. The hallway consists of stairs circumscribing a square, with landings at each floor. Upon our landing stood three able-looking young males, gesturing excitedly at the next landing down from ours, naked fear evident on their faces. I followed their indication with my eyes. Halfway down the stairs, two young ladies struck a pose typically found in cheap horror movies -- they hovered with timid curiosity as they hunched forward for a hesitant peek at the next landing. Puzzled, I moved for a closer look.

As I did so, the girls caught sight of something frightening, squealed and retreated back up the stairs. Their "masculine" male companions, however, put out hands to prevent the ladies from retreating so far that they might use these gentlemen as shields against whatever terror awaited below. Indeed, these boys seemed determined that it should be the other way around.

One of the lads inquired, "Is it still there?" Obviously, no detail escaped this young man's instantaneous perception.

"Yes!" came a chorused reply from the skittish ladies. They bounced around, threw their hands up and generally affected a Hollywood pose meant to convey fright.

"Well, how are we gonna get out now?" another young man wondered.

The first young man turned to the ladies, and with utter seriousness suggested, "How about someone goes down and opens the door. Maybe it'll go outside."

The girls took the hint, but would hear none of it. Almost as one, they rebuked him, "Are you crazy? I'm not going down there!"

The first lad frowned. "Well, I'm not going down there," he declared sullenly. His compatriots studied their shoes with great interest.

Annoyed with this trio of "men," I asked after the trouble.

The ladies seemed to notice my arrival, then. "There's a huge bat down there!" More squeals and ejaculations, followed by Oscar-class shivering and shuddering.

Recognizing my responsibility to set an example for these three bumbling divots, I adopted a countenance suitable to John Wayne. "Oh. Is that all? Wait here." I went back inside, and emerged seconds later with a large bath towel. Casting my best withering look of disapproval at the three male rejects, I descended the stairs.

Sure enough, a bat greeted me the minute I approached the next landing. 'Huge' at scarcely over three inches long, it fluttered silently against the upper walls and ceiling of that landing. Its soundless flight threatened to unnerve me, but I resolved not to let it show -- after all, I meant to set a standard for these three dawdling rejects from a Nirvana video. An example which probably would sail over their empty little heads, but that I hoped might set them to introspection and lead them to understand what it means to be male.

Holding the towel aloft before me, and being careful to affect a casual manner, I stepped off the stairs onto the landing. Keeping my eye on that 'huge' bat, I reached for the knob which operated the door leading outside. The bat flitted overhead all the while, clearly more afraid of me than I was of him -- or so I kept telling myself. My plan involved opening the door, throwing the towel over the bat, and then tossing towel and bat hastily outside. I got the door open, made ready that safari towel, and measured the bat's flight.

But the bat had a plan of its own. Grateful that someone had reopened an exit for him, maybe, he wobbled right for it. He got hung up against the door for a brief moment, during which I prepared to heave that safari towel, but he righted himself again and disappeared outside.

Satisfied, I climbed the stairs to my own landing again. There, I accepted the gratitude of the two young ladies, who thanked me profusely but seemed in a hurry to resume their departure. However, the three pseudo-males hesitated, uncertain that they might really proceed with safety.

"Are you sure it's gone, man?"

I glared machetes at them. Truly, by this time they had made me angry. Not only had they shirked their masculine duty and hid themselves behind two young women, but they remained timid even after the "danger" was passed. Moreover, they lacked the basic courtesy even to offer thanks. I remain uncertain which transgression grated me more, but letting this atrocious behavior pass without comment would be doing them a disservice.

I have a deep booming voice, well suited to authoritarian carriage. Hiking it up to an impressive volume and harsh tone, I barked at them. "No thanks to you three delicate little daisies. What's wrong, boys? Someone glue your feet to the floorboards? You three look a bit pale, to me. Maybe those two big strong girls down there ought to take you home before you pass out cold."

They got the message, I think. Their eyes dropped, their feet moved again, and they shuffled down the stairs. In their posture, I detected no pride, no confidence, no life. Nor had my minor dressing down affected them so, for they gave no sign of these traits before the confrontation, when they cowered behind the women. These pseudo-males may be products of our Politically Correct modern schools and culture; I hope not. I sincerely hope those three and others like them whom I have met represent flukes or tiny minorities among modern males. They possessed none of the best traits of a male, none of his fire or his protective spirit, those things that nature gave him to help his family survive. Without those traits, he may be politically acceptable, but he is no longer male. He is just a Ken doll, absent male parts and male traits, inoffensive and sickeningly meek. Should such "males" become popular, we may be doomed. For without male parts we do not reproduce. This latest batch of docile rascals may be our last, signaling the end of Humanity's reign as Lord of the Jungle.

Long live Tarzan!

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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