If I ever meet the guy who invented the man card I plan on punching him in the face. With my fist. Actually, I probably won’t, since that would be assault and the man card fucker totally isn’t worth jail time. You know what is worth jail time? Pretty much nothing, that’s what.
Anyway, the man card. It’s a stupid thing. It’s mostly an annoying thing, especially in those stupid Miller Lite commercials where they take some dude’s man card for drinking a different kind of light beer. Because nothing says, “I’m a masculine hunk of manhood,” like drinking shitty, mass-produced beer. Beer should not be a masculine/feminine thing, anyway.
The man card has become a sort of self-regulating thing amongst men. It’s incredibly fucking annoying to have to deal with this and pretty much requires a certain level of abruptness in its handling. Because all the “man card” does is enforce a specific idea of what a man actually is based on really dumb and transitory societal rules.
A few weeks ago I was out with friends. There was an extremely cute redhead there and I was talking to her. At one point a Matt Nathanson song came on and I was all, “Hey, Matt Nathanson.” She was all, “Oh my god, I love Matt Nathanson.” And I was all, “Dude I was totally at the show he did at the Riviera last summer,” and she was all, “I was in the front row.”
We had what I like to call “a Matt Nathanson moment.” For those keeping track, I was having a conversation and connecting with an attractive redhead. I’m a huge fan of redheads, even more the attractive ones. It’s kind of a thing.
My buddy was sitting there and he said, “You listen to Matt Nathanson? I’m taking your man card.”
I turned, looked at him, and said, “Shut up, dude. The man card is bullshit.”
This, I think, is the only appropriate answer to the man card issue. It’s just an attempt to enforce a certain set of behaviors or values that belong to the category of “men.” So, for some reason, “men” aren’t supposed to like Matt Nathanson or the music of Matt Nathanson. That means that if I, Geds, like the music of Matt Nathanson then I am not a “man.”
Of course, there’s also the issue that while the attractive woman was talking to me about Matt Nathanson she was not talking to my friend about, y’know, acceptably manly things. So I think there’s a certain level of competition in the whole thing. Because if we’ve learned anything from reruns of Saved By the Bell, it’s that girls see relationships as the outcome of a round of combat, or a battle of wits, or an embarrassing '80s sweater/feathered hair off. They will watch two men fight and then pick the winner because we all still live in caveman times.
And now here I find myself in a bit of a bind. I’ve written one page of text and two pages of footnotes and haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of my original intentions in this post. I’m also pretty sure that I’ve already gotten completely off-track, so I think I’ll go all multi-part series on your asses.
But, just to create an illusion of continuity, the thing that’s gotten me thinking about this is this piece by David Wong at Cracked. It’s one of those things that starts really well and goes completely and totally off the rails by the end. Basically, I read it and was in total agreement with items 5 and 4, then in total disagreement with 3 (but not for the reasons you might think) and partial disagreement with 2 and 1. Part of the problem is that only points 5 and 4 are actually related to, and in support of, the title of the piece. Ironically an article that's ostensibly about women becomes almost totally about men at the end.
Hence, post. Erm, posts.
True story: I went out on a first date with someone last year to a brewpub. I proceeded to order a wheat beer of some sort and a chicken wrap. She ordered an IPA and a cheeseburger. I pretty much pointed out that this was not how things are supposed to work according to standard relationship gender roles. ‘Twas hilarious to everyone involved.
She was also the only person I’ve been on multiple dates with since, well, since Amy, pretty much. So I guess that means that, at least for some people, such things as “demonstrations of manliness based on really fucking stupid criteria” are, well, really fucking stupid. And, um, no. No relationship developed. Why? Because any relationship requires two people. When one of those two people is me that means that one of the people is actively attempting to cause the relationship to fail for no damn good reason. But that’s a story for another day. Maybe. Probably not.
Actually, it is kind of an interesting thought experiment. What it boiled down to was that she was more into me than I was into her. The reasons for that, at least from my perspective, were entirely valid and based on a complete lack of emotional engagement (and, honestly, a sense that she wanted to immediately jump into something to which I wasn’t sure I wanted to jump. On many levels that whole thing actually did reverse the traditional rom-com gender roles, which is kinda funny). But, again, the party that wasn’t engaging was me, and I tend to think that's at least partially because that’s what I do in general.
I’ve realized in the last few weeks all my bullshit criteria and rules and whatnot of dating aren’t actually worth spit and there should be one and only one criteria worth paying attention to: is this person worth caring about? But that’s part of a much, much larger discussion of how people interact and is wedded to a whole set of other thoughts I have that start from my realization that religious affiliation as a sorting hat for friendship is the worst possible mechanism. Except possibly sports fandom. Or what bands you follow. Basically, it’s that you aren’t friends with or in a relationship with a checklist. So someone who is a yes in every checkbox might be someone you can’t stand and someone who hates everything you like might be your absolute favorite person in the world.
That, then, gets back around to a critique of online dating as a thing, because creepy-ass eHarmony founder guy and his scientific surveys can’t really predict why people will like each other. The sooner we stop thinking science can the better off we’ll be. I think.
But that’s a whole ‘nother post.
Unfortunately I think the man card, or at least its popularity, needs to be blamed on Scrubs. There’s one episode where Dr. Cox hands JD three man cards and takes them away whenever he does non-manly things. Much of the humor of that show was built around JD doing non-manly things according to Dr. Cox’s assessment and then Dr. Cox calling JD by girls’ names. I love Scrubs and I think that it was set up in such a way as to make sure that Dr. Cox was seen as a broken man who should be emulated by no one, ever, at any point, but JD wasn’t exactly depicted as a hero, either.
This is a moment that occurs when two people connect over the music of Matt Nathanson. Also, note, too, that he plays a 12-string guitar. That's not an instrument played by just any dipshit trying to impress girls in a coffee shop.
Part of the problem is that he seemed to take the “get songs played over the closing credits of shitty WB chick shows” route to fame. I’ve been listening to his music since some time in 2005-2006. He suddenly busted out all over the place after Some Mad Hope blew up overnight in 2008 or 2009 because he was suddenly on TV soundtracks (at least, as best I can figure out). Other than hearing one of his songs on an episode of Scrubs, though, the only time I’d hear him would be playing over the ending credits of primetime soaps marketed to teen girls. There’s nothing wrong with this particular route to fame, since money is money and people making money for doing what they’re good at isn’t exactly something I begrudge. But it immediately pigeonholes him as a guy who writes that kind of music for the teen girl audience.
So it doesn’t matter that I was listening to him before that happened. It doesn’t matter that I’ve never in my life seen a single episode of Gossip Creek or Gilmore High (I did, however, once sit through a couple epsiodes of of Everwood for some reason. Oh, wait, no, I remember now. There were two reasons: Emily VanCamp and Sarah Lancaster. Also, probably, boredom, which I'm assuming was exacerbated rather than assisted by watching Everwood, since I remember exactly nothing about it, save attractive women and the fact that I should probably be embarrassed by this whole parenthetical thought. Sarah Lancaster, of course, went on fame in the role of Gift Shop Girl on Scrubs. And she was on some different NBC show or other, too, but who really keeps track? Emily VanCamp now stars in some show I've never watched and that I only know because someone bought ad space on Chicago bus shelters and I'd walk past an think, "Hey, that's that hot chick what was on Everwood.") or whatever he’s now associated with, someone who doesn’t know me hears me mention Matt Nathanson and he’s like, “Dude, what?”
Again, I do not begrudge Matt Nathanson his success, no matter the route. I get the general impression that he’s one of those people who you can genuinely say deserves every good thing he gets. But I dunno, maybe he goes home, takes off his public persona, and rapes kittens or something.