(Last) Weekly Roundup: Masculine Fragility Edition

As cultural headshots go, the idea of “fragile masculinity” is just about perfect. Grown from the Marxist concept of hegemonic masculinity, it adopts Saul Alinsky’s fifth Rule For Radicals (“Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon”) to associate the legitimately risible — “Is it gay to use scented soap?” — with the traditionally male — “Shouldn’t I, the husband, have the final authority in my house?” Naturally, the media uses it with abandon, creating the hashtag #MasculinitySoFragile to drive the nails into the coffin just that much further in hopes of immanentizing the eschaton before the 2020 election.

You suffer from fragile masculinity if you voted for Trump, at least according to the Post, which published a study on the topic. (Even if you’re a woman.) If you disapprove of relaxing the standards applied to firefighters or SWAT troops or Green Berets so more women can qualify, your masculinity is fragile. If you own a gun… well, I’m literally shaking right now, I can’t even, wow just wow. In fact, if you are any more conventionally “manly” than the nu-male in the Swagger Wagon ad, you have gone right past Fragile Masculinity, all the way to Toxic Masculinity. Even African-American men can suffer from Fragile Masculinity, although in their case it was. apparently, forced upon them by white men.

Expressing dissatisfaction with the idea of fragile masculinity is also, you guessed it, a sign of fragile masculinity. Pay no attention to the non-binary character behind the curtain. If you see something, say nothing.

Ah, but this isn’t the Fragile Masculinity Edition of Weekly Roundup, it’s the Masculine Fragility Edition. Which, as you will see, means something quite different.

My son and I spent the last three days in Las Vegas as a kind of pre-Christmas holiday trip. He’d never been there before, but I knew that his mathematically-inclined mind would be fascinated by the games, the odds, and the manipulations involved. We went go-karting at three different facilities and visited tall buildings and ordered room service via robot. Along the way I asked him to figure out a variety of mysteries: Why do the slot machines look like they do? Why would you make it hard to find the exit of a casino? Why is every single salesperson in the high-end watch shops a woman of Chinese ancestry? Our first evening in Vegas was a “boys’ night” away from Danger Girl, who was busy at the spa. We went to the Circus Circus Adventuredome so we could play the same air hockey and video games that we play back home in Ohio. Everything was going swimmingly until we came around a corner and found… a roller rink.

John took a few ice hockey lessons last year, because central Ohio has a bit of a hockey fetish and quite a few of his friends play on junior teams as a consequence. It didn’t resonate with him — “super-boring” was the verdict — but he does enjoy ice skating and he was therefore eager to give the rollerskates a try. “Go right ahead,” I told him.

“You should skate, too.”

“Dude, I haven’t skated since 1985.”

“Well, you still should.” Which is how I found myself lacing up a set of disgusting rental rollers and attempting to stand up as John skated away towards the dark, laser-pattern-splattered rink. I was not an accomplished skater as a teen; the only reason I went to “United Skates Of America” was because that was where the girls were. Sure enough, after five or six sessions of learning to skate in passable, chick-attracting fashion, I met a remarkably busty blonde named Tara near the rental lockers. We skated together for a week before exchanging phone numbers and agreeing, after one particularly long and smutty call, that we were boyfriend and girlfriend. Our first “date” started with my mother driving me down to a less-than-distinguished school district and dropping me off at Tara’s split-level house. The family room smelled like smoke, the carpet was spotted with foul-smelling stains, and someone had leaned a Remington 870 shotgun against a corner. Tara’s thirty-something uncle walked in the front door without knocking, stinking of gas-station wine at seven in the afternoon. He pinned her to the wall, kissed her on the mouth, and pinched her nipple through her sweater, saying “Gotcha!” as he did it.

“Can we leave and walk to dinner?” Tara pleaded with me, so we did. Over Rax sandwiches she strongly implied to me that she had been molested by every man in her extended family over the past two years, but that she was still interested in us possibly having sex in her room that night before my mom showed up to get me at nine. “If my uncle knocks you have to get rid of him, maybe keep him from coming to see me any more,” she clarified. Then, to close the sale, she pulled the collar of her V-neck down so I could see the depth of her cleavage and the line of fine, slightly darkened hair between her breasts.

Chewing a french fry in idle distraction, I imagined the scenes to come. She would take my hand and lead me to up to her bedroom, which would probably be just as dirty as the rest of the house. We would definitely do the thing — how the pieces fit was medically clear to me but the details of the actual interaction were fuzzy. At some point, the uncle would probably bang on the bedroom door, expecting no effective threat from a five-foot-six thirteen-year-old boy who weighed approximately 110 pounds. I would answer it, say something suave, and deliver a high front kick to his jaw, exactly the way I had been taught at the Jay T. Will Karate Academy in the course of receiving my yellow belt. Then I would take Tara back to my father’s house in Muirfield and teach her the Standard American Dialect so we could be married.

On the walk back I thought and spoke in measured, Eastwood-like terms of the heroism to come. As Tara crossed the threshold to her house ahead of me, however, I thought about her uncle and that Remington shotgun for a moment before turning and sprinting into the trees across the street. A few minutes later, she came back out, accompanied by the kissing uncle, shouting and searching for me in the dark. They laughed together in the throaty familiarity of family or lovers. I flattened myself against vinyl siding, nearly invisible on her unlit street, and imagined that I was a Green Beret, separated from my unit, being hunted by the Viet Cong. An hour later, I intercepted my mother’s Nissan King Cab a quarter-mile away and locked my door as I closed it.

“I don’t ever need,” I told her, “to go skating again.” Yet here I was, thirty-four years later, rolling unsteadily along a makeshift wall of half-height barriers from a place called “United Rental”, pitching fore and aft in spastic but successful attempts to stay upright. John braked to a halt next to me.

“You don’t actually look that bad,” he offered by way of consolation, “but you should try moving your feet out to the side, one at a time, to go faster.” His demonstration took him away from me with startling speed. I attempted to emulate him and was rewarded with a tottering, terrifying ride on my left foot into the next barrier. A gap-toothed Latino fellow who was standing on the far side threw himself off said barrier in exaggerated, theatrical fashion.

“At least choo are out there,” he told me, in the low voice of conspirators. “I could not even try, man, I would crack my head chust like that,” and he made a chopping motion with his left hand.

“That,” I replied, “is what I’m trying to avoid, but I’m not sure how to do it.” I felt very tall on the skates, and indeed I was a head above everyone else there, a side effect of also being the only adult white man on a rink full of visitors from Mexico and India. In the two decades since I first came to Las Vegas, the place has stratified by race in a way that would shame a California prison. The poor end of the strip is almost entirely brown, the middle is white twentysomethings trying to cosplay Swingers or The Hangover, the Bellagio and the Aria are majority-Asian. I’d noticed, on our sojourn through Circus Circus, how the crowd melted away from me and John in the same mix of deference and defiance I recall from trips to Asia. We were aliens here, imperial interlopers imposing our presence on America’s future like the last drunken guests to linger at a party, T. Rexes in a world of furry mammals who both feared the violence of our oversized stomp and pitied our impending obsolescence.

The ground seemed very far away to this particular dinosaur. I became conscious of just how fragile I was on these skates. Not in the political or emotional sense, but in the sense that I was forty-seven years old and I could easily crack my wrists, or skull, with one ill-timed fall at speed. I was afraid, as I skated, in a way that I am not afraid in a race car or on a BMX bike. There is something in me that laughs at the idea of death or dismemberment behind the wheel and sneers at yet another bike-related trip to the ICU but absolutely freezes in terror at the concept of cracking my arm on the ground of a children’s roller rink. All around me, people were falling, tripping, landing harmlessly on butt or elbows or hands. I couldn’t take even a single one of those falls. I had to be a perfect skater from the first kick-off.

I forced myself to circle for a precise half hour, rarely exceeding walking pace, vibrating with fright but smiling and giving a thumbs-up every time my own kid buzzed me. Over time, I re-learned how to keep my head up and my feet steady. My knees hurt in that familiar tendons-and-ligaments fashion, particularly when I tried to steer on the move. Then I shucked the skates and gave John another half-hour of his own as I lined up with the other parents. Some of them had been there for the whole time and they nodded at me as I took my position on the fence: We see you’ve finally given that idiocy up. What an American, meaning stupid, idea, that adults should skate, particularly if they obviously don’t know how! And how inherently privileged of me to try. I could do my job with a broken arm or even a broken leg; how many of them would be immediately terminated in the same situation? How can you clean a table or nail a sheet of drywall with a fractured wrist?

At least I was out of danger — or so I thought, until my son looked up and saw the sign for “Ice Rink” at the Cosmopolitan the following night. He wanted to go, as did Danger Girl. How could I vote against it?

The roller rink at Circus Circus had been dark and dirty, with a $5 rental fee. The Cosmo’s ice rink was on a rooftop, illuminated in the current hipster-mandatory manner by string lights, charging thirty-four dollars per head for skates and a “S’mores” package with Sterno stove, marshmallows, Hershey’s chocolate, graham crackers. A veritable army of dark-skinned, five-foot-four uniformed functionaries circled the rooftop, silently cleaning up the messes left by food and drink. Did I happen to spot the Latino fellow with whom I’d commiserated the night before, wearing casino livery and scrubbing the sticky floor next to a reserved cabana seat on his hands and knees? Perhaps it was my imagination. Every thirty minutes the sky filled with artificial “snow” made from frothy bubbles. The whole thing felt absurdly self-congratulatory and deliberately Instagram-worthy, surrounded by fireplaces and neon and the insistent throb of the “Vegas beat”, 120bpm dance mixes featuring whatever tripe is trending on Spotify at the moment.

The rink was crowded with children, parents, teens, young adults, all enjoying the effortless prosperity that had brought them to the Cosmopolitan, almost entirely white and Asian, well-dressed in whatever fashion applied back home, bedazzled sneakers with incomprehensible logos, massive Canada Goose coats. My son stepped across the threshold to the rink and simply disappeared into the crowd. Twenty minutes later, I followed him on, clutching a odd “seal sled” given to novice skaters so they wouldn’t fall over. My son commented on it every time he skated by. After two laps of the rink, he said to me,

“You don’t need that. Give it to me?”

“I do in fact need it. And you don’t.” But I handed it over anyway, thinking that maybe he was tired or nervous. He sprinted away, guiding the seal with one hand. “Seal wheelie!” he yelled, and sent it spinning between two adults before taking three strong kicks, recovering it, and skating away at high speed with the “seal” balanced on the back corner of its “flippers”. Some teen girl screamed in fright as the seal zipped past her and in response John performed a mock bow in her direction as he skated by. Was this toxic masculinity in its earliest form? Who made him a cocky little showoff — nature, nuture? Society, partiarchy? I remember those same impulses from my youth, the urge to show off and invent tricks and impress my personal awesomeness upon innocent bystanders. Who put those impulses there? God or Man?

Not that I had any bandwidth in my head at the time to process these questions, being entirely too consumed with sheer blinding fearful misery. Rarely did I make it more than thirty or forty feet before falling prey to some sort of unbalanced paroxysm that ended with me clutching the rink wall — but that was enough to raise me to the middle rank of Cosmo ice-skaters, many of whom were on the ground more than they were on their feet. Not a luxury I could afford. As with the roller rink, my first fall would likely be my last. I’d refused the helmets they were handing out; that would have been a humiliation greater than pushing a seal. This time I gave myself a mandatory twenty minutes before retiring to the observer’s section. I made slow and steady progress. Eight laps of the rink, sans plastic sled. Then I stepped off and shuddered at the cowardly flush of relief that swept through my body.

Sipping a soda with Danger Girl at the rink’s edge, I watched my son absolutely terrorize the world. He bumped, prodded, buzzed, teased, and enraged nearly everyone on the ice — but every time the referee in the center pointed at him, he would grin at her and she would accept this as an apology. “If you have the guts to be yourself,” Updike had “Rabbit” Angstrom say, “other people’ll pay your price.” Once, John was forced to lift a foot at high speed and zip by an errant seal-sled in flamingo fashion; when he saw me laugh at that, he deliberately created the same situation a dozen more times, usually causing the seal-holder to slip and fall in response. It occurred to me that I should probably discipline him for this, but I did nothing about it, always loath to take any action that might crush his belligerent high spirits. Surely there will be enough of that in his future. I need not add my voice to the chorus. The nail that stands tallest will be hammered down, but I will not be the one to swing that hammer. “Stay away from the old people,” I told him, expecting that he would define “old” as “like my dad, or above.”

He was not the only fellow out there having a good time. I saw an impossibly handsome, John-Mayer-esque kid, early twenties, six-three and whipcord-thin, sitting arrogantly on a seal sled that was being pushed by two beautiful co-eds. (Can we still say co-ed? When does that go on the Proscribed List? Do my younger readers even know the word? It refers to when the better colleges became co-educational facilities by the introduction of female “co-eds”.) The girls alternated between laughing for his benefit and side-eyeing each other. Was it that our young Mayer didn’t know how to skate? Two laps later, having sufficiently harnessed the ladies to his will, he hopped off and began circling the rink with long, powerful strides, his hands clasped behind his back to demonstrate skillful nonchalance. The girls scrambled to keep up but had to settle for grabbing at him each time he went by. John took offense at his speed and resolved to match him, chasing at a distance that never shrank but rarely increased.

Eventually, Mayer stopped to favor his companions with a word. Either of them, with their perfect bodies in yoga pants and chiseled bone structure beneath rosy cheeks, would command two grand a night or more as escorts to the high-floor suites above us. Credit the folks at Seeking Arrangement for letting us old guys get back in the game: NYU has almost 1,300 “sugar babies” available, for example. The going rate is usually three figures, not four. The tire bill from my World Challenge race would have gotten me a week in an upstate cabin with a nineteen-year-old. What does it say about me that I no longer even consider it?

Ah, but these particular beauties weren’t here on business and they only had eyes for their… date? Friend? Mayer leaned towards them to say something witty, but right at that moment, my son saw the triangle formed by their mutual body language and contrived to blast through it, jumping cannonball-like as he did so. The two ladies yelped and spilled to the ground; Mayer twirled gracefully in response and laughed out loud, nodding at John’s receding back in the universal “game recognized” expression. Each of the distaff victims then received the favor of a hand and they used it to stand and physically crowd their savior, laughing bright-eyed, a natural aristocracy of beauty in the midst of the merely money-#Blessed. John arrived on his next lap and, with obvious disdain for this in-rink hugging, skipped one-footed around them. Then our curly-haired hero skated away towards the exit, his hands fervently gripped on either side by a brunette beauty, his head held high in satisfaction.

For a long moment, I envied the fellow the same way I occasionally envy my own son. All their lives ahead of them, with the confidence and skills to write their own rules along the way. And here I am, wobbling unsteadily on rental skates, one slip away from being treated like an old man by some emergency-room nurse. More life behind me than ahead, the remainder sure to be laced in ever-swelling percentage with pain, sickness, the slow painful decay of both body and mind. If I permitted my envy to fester, what would grow in that fetid ground? Would I seethe with pustulent hatred for “bros” and “frat boys” and “Chads”, the way so many of my repugnant younger contemporaries do? Would I take steps to level the beauty and confidence of that young skater with my own sullen fecklessness, the way Harrison Bergeron was burdened with goggles and sacks of lead shot? Would I speak against the “fragile masculinity” that leads impossibly self-confident boys and young men to tease girls and show off to them? Would I advocate for complicated “codes of consent” to clip their wings and bring them down to the same grinding sort of negotiation with the opposite sex faced by the nerds and geeks of the world? Would I labor to destroy every institution held dear by boys and young men, from the Boy Scouts to the NFL to the Green Berets themselves? How long would it be before I independently invented that ridiculous and hateful concept of “fragile masculinity” as a stick with which to beat young men into the ground?

Alternately, I can offer the seedlings of my envy nothing but rocky ground in which to take root. I’ve had more than a fair share of time in which to shine. I have a woman to love, a few cars to drive, a bike to ride, a son to cherish. If I have any role in the future, it is to sustain and defend a world in which young men like my boy and his skating adversary can flourish, prosper, find their best selves, and encourage others in turn. If my contemporaries are sworn to “destroy the patriarchy”, then perhaps I should be the one to defend the most worthy parts of it. I do not want to live in a world where we geld our young men then cauterize the wound with ridicule.

Allow me to channel Crash Davis for a moment: I believe in the soul… the late-braking pass… the Church Gap… the American shoe and the Swiss watch and the Savile Row suit… the freedom to have two girls with you on a skating rink or on a press trip… I believe in Audie Murphy and Manfred von Richtofen and Isoroku Yamamoto… I believe that we should encourage our masculine impulses, not to hurt or demean others but to excel in our own selves, to walk that fine line between bravery and stupidity knowing that we will occasionally err, and sometimes fatally. I believe in the podium trophy and the champagne spray and the astonished crowd. I believe in the femur nail and the fused joint and the post-concussion headache. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

* * *

For R&T this week, I covered the problems with EVs, the emotional resonance of suicide doors, and a great program for young drivers.

36 Replies to “(Last) Weekly Roundup: Masculine Fragility Edition”

  1. AvatarTony LaHood

    Jack, I wish you, Bark, Tom, and the rest of the Riverside Green crew a wonderful Christmas and a rewarding new model year !

    Reply
  2. Avatar-Nate

    Pretty well said Jack ;

    I don’t really give a horse’s patoot who thinks what about my masculinity and I think this is just click bait from you, I doubt you care either .

    Good points about the risks of injury, I gave up trying to learn how to skate as my 6YO son was learning….

    Circus Circus cannot be long for this world ~ it used to be nice and clean, SWMBO always has me take her there when we’re in L.V., the last few years it’s gotten dirtier and dirtier, I no longer want to go even for a moment .

    -Nate

    Reply
  3. Avatartrollson

    Maybe clickbait, but still one of the best posts here in a while. After all, someone has to counterbalance all the other bullshit clickbait out there with real talk.

    Merry Christmas.

    Reply
  4. AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

    Your skating stories brought back a memory of the last time I was on an ice rink, New Years day 1989. I was dating a girl/woman (age 23 I think). Her, originally from Ohio, and her roommate, originally from Wisconsin, decided they wanted to go ice skating. I thought, sounds good to me. I had played on my high school hockey team a decade and a half before, so had a lot of experience skating. Only rink around was at Stone Mountain Park, about 1/2 hour away. Same deal as yours with the rental skates, which were in the style of figure skates( remember this part, it’s important). We get out on the ice and I find that these two females, both raised in the frozen north, couldn’t skate worth a damn. So here I am with a blonde on one side and a redhead on the other, wobbling around the rink trying to keep them from landing on their ass too often. After about 20 minutes, their ankles were sore, their asses hurt and they decided to sit it out for a while. I decided to get back on the ice and crank it up. So I started getting slightly faster each lap, on what was a regulation hockey rink. I finally decided to go WO. Got to one end of the rink at full speed, and started “cross toeing” thru the turn. Remember the figure style skates? They differ from hockey skates in that the toe has an “ice grater” that sticks out a good bit more than the toe of a hockey skate. In the midst of cross toeing thru the turn I got up on the grater and took my legs clean out from under myself. I went pinwheeling across the ice and managed to knock 3 other folks on their asses. I drug myself up and beat a hasty, red faced, retreat. Me and the blonde drifted apart a few months later, and a few years later the ice rink was torn down. Haven’t been on ice since, and now at age 61 I have no plans to get on it.

    Reply
    • AvatarCompaq Deskpro

      This confirms my suspicions about the young man in Vegas with the two girls. What do you do two of them? At the same time? You only have one…

      Reply
      • AvatarDirty Dingus McGee

        To make it work, you must be a cunning linguist. 🙂

        For those with inquiring minds, that was NOT sexual with that particular relationship mentioned above. It had been the case previously, and subsequently. Neither had been planned on my part, not sure on their part in one of them. The other, it was obvious early on that they came as a team (no pun intended)

        Reply
  5. AvatarRonnie Schreiber

    Credit the folks at Seeking Arrangement for letting us old guys get back in the game: NYU has almost 1,300 “sugar babies” available, for example. The going rate is usually three figures, not four.

    A 60 year old guy called in to Stephan Molyneux’s YouTube show about being a Sugar Daddy to twentysomething women (girls?). Mostly college girls that he described as hard 8s or better. He might have been lying but he said the going rate was $100-$150 a date, with no time limit set.

    Considering the whores that formerly advertised for “roses” on Craigslist wanted $100 for full service, those college girls are selling themselves cheap. Hell, dinner and concert tickets cost more than $150.

    Regarding skating, my family was on the edge of the upper middle class. My dad was a veterinarian who was good at doctoring, less so at collecting bills from clients. My best friend growing up, Stevie, was a third generation country club member. His maternal grandfather started a plumbing supply the did very well as Detroit boomed in the ’50s and ’60s, but he had no sons. Despite their wealth, Steve’s parents were very down to earth folks. His dad came from a poor family in NY. He got into Columbia on a violin scholarship and later went to Michigan where they met.

    I’d often go to Knollwood Country Club as Steve’s guest. In the summer we’d swim. In the winter, the club set up a natural ice skating rink on the back nine of the golf course.

    I’d wonder why Steve wasn’t a stuck up asshole like the other folks there. I figured it was mostly his dad’s influence. By the time we were teens, we’d play pickup hockey with other teens and young adults. One family, the Lehrmans, would usually show up, a middle aged father and two teen sons. He was the only real adult on the ice. Also the only person wearing full gear.

    This was a country club so it wasn’t like guys were skating on hand-me-down figure skates. CCM Tacks and Bauer Black Panthers, and real gear under the sweat pants and jackets. But it was still pickup hockey. Checking was allowed but nothing too serious. Except that one family. I remember the father was pushing 50, a successful contractor, who came out every week in a full Minnesota North Stars uniform, that ugly green one. He and his boys were way too serious for a friendly pickup game, and would throw their weight around.

    I loved hockey but never really learned how to skate as a kid so I didn’t bother with organized hockey. Besides, my mom would never have spent the money on equipment. You should have seen the excuses for baseball gloves she got me and my older brother when we started to play little league.

    After stumbling around at the games at Knollwood, I figured I’d have more fun if I knew how to skate. The suburb I lived in had just rebuilt their skating rink. They hadn’t yet built the building around it that now stands. I used some money I’d saved from shoveling snow and babysitting and signed up for adult skating classes. I was the youngest there, I might have been 14 or 15.

    The teacher was really good. He stressed the fundamentals, push off on an inner edge, glide on the other outer edge, and had us do drills to see if we could traverse the rink in just three strides, using long shallow arcs. I learned how to skate well enough to enjoy myself, doing crossover turns and hockey stops (left to right, for some reason, doing those while making right turns is less natural to me). I could even skate backwards a little, and since I liked to play defense that came in handy.

    I’m no athlete, but learning how to skate allowed me to enjoy playing hockey a lot more. One weekend, Papa Lehrman was flying down the ice, flanked by his boys. He could easily skate forwards faster than I could backwards, but I just happened to time it right and hip checked him as he went past me, sending him sprawling.

    His sons immediately came over and started making noise about picking on an old man and I told them that if he was going to mix it up with the kidshe’d have to take his lumps. Dad got up and told them to back off. Good thing as either one of them could have beaten me up.

    Reply
  6. AvatarRock36

    Value judgements about hyper/toxic/fragile masculinity aside, I actually think there is something to the descriptive claim that the hyper masculinity of black men is a by product of American culture and history (even if it wasn’t the direct result of a deliberate white male conspiracy with that end in mind). I dont think it is too far a stretch to imagine how the economic and social factors brought to North America, which had European imperialistic/merchantile roots (which is usually distilled down to “white”), could have influenced black male hyper masculinity. Note I say influenced not caused, as it was probably a factor that was necessary but not sufficient in and of itself for the phenomenon.

    Anyway, a historically emasculated and disenfranchized minority eventually over-compensating within that culture through hypermasculinity is a plausible hypothesis.

    The logic isnt too far removed from your article on “Hype and Hypertrophy”
    article where you used metaphor of hyper-masculinity and the causes of the phenomenon to take aim at Lamborghini.

    Reply
  7. Avatarhank chinaski

    Merry Christmas, Baruths.

    “Let’s you and him fight” will never go out of style. The herpes would have got ya even if the 870 didn’t.

    Pops cracked his pelvis at some suburban roller rink in a very similar setting.

    At some point, after enduring years of contempt, the chads, bros, general surgeons, firemen, cops, linemen, Green Berets, et.al. will “whisper ‘no’ “. Then, we’ll be well and truly fucked.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      He has a real knack for selling pitches, I will say that. I think of him as Cinderella to Dan Neil’s Poison: a lotta lipstick and glam on them but you’ll wait in vain for rock n’ roll.

      Reply
      • AvatarRonnie Schreiber

        But, but Pulitzer.

        Speaking of which, there are writers who cringe at the thought that someone writing about cars could have gotten an award like that, so they insist that Neil’s prize was for “criticism”.

        Reply
  8. Avatarrambo furum

    So why is the sales staff of high end watch shops all Chinese women? The easy answer would be that the customer base is Chinese men? Or is it something kinkier?

    Reply
  9. AvatarVtNoah

    In the spirit of toxic masculinity and your longtime sports injuries, have you looked into Yoga? Laugh if you want but if you can find a decent class, it could help extend your BMX / racing career by improving your range of motion. I’ve taken my share of lumps doing freestyle BMX and pursuing a pro-snowboarding career. Yoga has really helped me out and kept me going.

    Anyway, Merry Christmas Jack and Mark. Hope you both have a great 2019

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      I did yoga for a few years in my thirties. If I had the time I’d go back, for sure. I’m a believer in the process.

      Reply
  10. AvatarAoLetsGo

    I remember those awkward adventures at the Northland Roller Rink when my high school would bring busloads of kids for the night. I just looked it up and amazingly the current photos are exactly how I remember it. When my kids were in elementary school and had their nights at the local rink I would skate the entire time (on in-line skates) and usually did okay in the one lap adult race.

    I never played organized hockey as a kid, but we did get out a few times a winter to the local frozen pond to skate. My dad had grown up with a homemade rink on a vacant lot and he told us how they would spend hours on the ice. So skating was something he would take us out to do, although I think he was secretly ashamed of my weak ankles and poor skating ability.

    When I was in my late 30’s I also started to play in-line hockey in a school parking lot. My boss knew I did some in-line skating so he invited me to join in the weekly game that he still played with friends from his childhood. Talk about toxic masculinity! Half these guys were brothers and the other half were from the same rough, blue-collar neighborhood. They had all played ice hockey their entire lives and they still played a chippy, trash-talking game. I was definitely a complete outsider but because I was a friend and co-worker of “Bob” I was tolerated. We played hard in the hot sun on cracked asphalt and then drank beer afterwards. I mostly listened and did not talk much, but then one day I must have said the wrong thing and I was thrown off the island.

    I still had a goal of playing ice hockey so I went to a lot more public ice skating sessions to get better. Finally when I was in my early 40’s I decided it was now or never so I signed up to play on a random team in a league for adults that was just for beginners. We played at 11 pm or even midnight on week nights and let’s just say my skills and skating were lacking. However, one night I intercepted a pass and wobbled down the ice on a breakaway and scored on a 5 hole shot. We even won that game and I was feeling great, until after the game in the locker room a teammate looked at me and said “I knew they were a shitty team when YOU scored on them”. That was my one and only season.

    Reply
  11. AvatarGreg Hamilton

    Very entertaining read, and so well written. I think your humility endears you to a much wider audience than your bravado, although your bravado is usually presented with a sense of humor which makes it entertaining as well.

    Merry Christmas

    Reply
  12. AvatarTexn

    Hey Jack, saw your article on the GSF. Moments later, I saw my local Lexus dealer has a GSF for $14k off sticker. Wish I could remotely swing that, and replace my Accord… his and her Lexii V8s.

    Reply
  13. AvatarWidgetsltd

    I’m a bit late to the party with this comment, but what the hell? My two cents. I have a hard time understanding why some folks can’t see that EVs are very good for some people and some use cases. Sure, apartment dwellers might have difficulty charging the things, and one-car households would on occasion have a serious problem with range, but so what? An EV is not the right choice for everybody. For two-car households in which one spouse commutes from the suburbs to the city, the EV can be perfect. My wife is extremely happy with her Chevy Bolt. She has run the odometer up to 31,000 miles in the 21 months we have had the car. She can make a 200 mile round trip across Los Angeles with no trouble; in fact the car usually shows 50 miles of range remaining when she reaches home. Put another way: Jack owns a 3/4 ton, 4-door pickup truck, but probably doesn’t use it much for commuting. It’s no fun to park in the city, but instead excels at hauling heavy stuff around. For some uses, the pickup is ideal but for others it’s a pain.

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  14. AvatarTexn

    An EV would make sense for me, to eventually replace the Accord. I work 6 miles from home and love in a relatively compact city. Plus, I work for the electric utility. I want more EV options.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth Post author

      In truth, if this country had anything like a domestic solar-panel industry I would think of those panels as extremely worthy of subsidy, particularly the new ones which go net positive within the first few years.

      Reply

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