Listening to: Wolfmother - Joker and the Thief
Reading: The Picture of Dorian Gray
Watching: A lot of Big Bang Theory lately...
Playing: Mass Effect 2 for a second run through
Eating: Home-made burgers.
Drinking: Coffee. ALL the coffee.
This is going to be a fairly strange, boring and airy rant at first, but, I would greatly appreciate it if everyone who sees this in their notifications could read it and provide feedback. If you are running out of time, skip down to the part that says "Rant over, purpose begins."
In my year 13 year of high school, I picked up two very bad habits. When I first learned to shave back in year 7 (I developed early, ok?), my father taught me to do it with a stick of soap and a shaving brush. And for the next 6 years, that was how I shaved. In year 13, I started a bad habit of sleeping in as long as I could. Alright, it may have started a little bit before then too. I've never been a morning person. But, it wasn't until year 13 that I started my second bad habit; shaving in the shower. My reasoning was that I could save time and therefore sleep longer if I shaved in the shower instead of using the stick and soap like my father had showed me. He disagreed, thinking that my time would be more productive if I stuck with the method he first showed me. But, I stuck to my insights and for the last 3 years I have shaved in the shower.
I recently decided, after a look in the mirror, that this bad habit has had detrimental effects on my skin. I'm not particularly "metro", but, that doesn't mean I want my jawline covered in bloody craters. To that end, I went shopping this afternoon for a brush and a stick of shaving soap, since that was what I learned with. The first supermarket that I visited on the way home had neither brushes nor sticks, only foam in a can as far as the eye could see. A little disappointed, I moved to the next supermarket down the road. To my surprise, I could again find neither. I asked one of the shop assistants, a man who looked in his 30s, if he knew where they would be. It turned out that the brushes were still fairly common, just not stored in the shaving section, which is just a little odd. But, no supermarkets carry bars or sticks of shaving soap anymore. It took two visits to separate chemists to find someone who knew why. Nobody makes them anymore. All suppliers moved to making shaving foam in cans around 5 years ago. The second chemist did have a type of shaving soap in a disc form, but, only because of a local supplier. The big brands just don't make them.
I was, frankly, quite gutted. Shaving isn't a particularly important part of my life; I've grown facial hair a few times before and it's now just something I do in the mornings before work or university life. But, this wasn't about the shaving. I learned how to use a brush and soap stick back when I was only 11. When I was still too young to know the uglier sides of life, before my parent's divorce and before I learned how to be a proper man. It was one of the first manly things that I learned to do and I'm sure there are other men who share that with me. It was one of the few times that my father purposefully took time out of his day just to show me something purely masculine. More than that, using a brush and stick of soap felt like an art. A tradition. It had that old school feel of something that was almost ritualistic. Learning how to handle a razor with skill and patience, how to judge if you had enough foam on the brush, the best motions for spreading the foam onto your face and keeping it there.. It feels skillful. Like a real art to taking care of yourself.
And it felt good. I've used foam in a can before and it never feels as smooth or rewarding. Your face never feels as soft and the foam just gunks up your razorblades. More than that, it's more masculine. I spoke to two men and three women while trying to find the brushes and sticks (hardly a representative sample, I know). Out of the five of them, both of the men knew exactly where the brushes were and that the sticks hadn't been on the shelves in years, two of the women had absolutely no idea what it was I was asking for, and the last woman could find the brush but had no idea about the soap and had to ask a man that worked there. I know this isn't a great test and that women shave too (and over a greater area), but, I think it shows a difference in approach. From where I'm sitting, it seems women tend to shave in the shower, behind closed doors, in private, whereas men do it out in the middle of the bathroom, using any sink they can find, in groups and in barber shops. They shave publicly and with other men.
This got me thinking about what other things have a truly masculine feel to them. What things are a uniquely male experience, or that men experience differently to women.
Rant over, purpose begins.
My 21st birthday is on July 26th of this year. In most countries, I already legally count as an adult, but, at 21, you're no longer underage for anything at all. You become a fully fledged man or woman with full control and no extra barriers.
I want to make a list of the 21 manliest experiences and finish them in the next three months.
This is where you all come in.
I want you guys (and girls to!) to take a minute and think of an ending to the statement;
"You're not a man until you..."
If you're in a particularly generous mood, I want you to share any personal stories of what a manly experience was for you, or what you think is a manly experience. The experiences need not be exclusively masculine either! Some of the things may apply to women as well! (see number 2 on the list below)
At the end of this month I will take the 21 answers that I agree with the most and compile them into a list. I will then complete all of them by my 21st birthday or die trying.
My list so far (with two from my life already);
1 - Shave with a soap stick, brush and bladed razor. Nothing electric, nothing from a can.
2 - Learn to drive a manual car and pull a handbrake turn in it.
If nothing else, I want you to think of the manliest experience in your life and thank the man who made it possible. For guys, who was the man who showed you how to do it? And for girls, who was the man who you saw do it?
Thank you for your time and (hopefully) your contributions.