Just an Average Guy

I am an average guy. But, I am not normal.

And that is a good thing.

Very few things are average when it comes to people. Let’s start with the basic question: How do you measure a person? Height? Weight? BMI? Years of education? Income? Age? How many pushups they can do? How often they have sex?

I don’t want to ruin my reputation as a writer, but I did a lot of math and statistics in college. The first thing I learned is respect for the numbers. The second thing I learned is that with the right perspective, the numbers can be made to represent lots of things. It is a statistical thing. How you measure determines your results. In graduate school I did a really interesting (Hey! It was for me.) thesis that used all kinds of statistical machinations to see if my hypothesis was true. I won’t get into the gory details, but I will say that along the way I had to make decisions on how and what to measure. I was able to find all kinds of research justifying how I did it. I’d be fooling you and myself if I didn’t think I could have found the same amount of research to justify a totally different approach. And that was before the world wide web and Google and wikipedia. I had to use a real library and keypunch my statistical analysis onto Hollerith cards and batch run them in a thing called a mainframe.

hollerith01

Melancholy over numbers taught me one thing; I could measure an entire population, calculate the mean (that is the statistician’s word for ‘average’) and find that no specific sample equals the mean. It happens all the time. So why does average matter? For manufacturing I think these kind of statistics are priceless, but for people? I’m not convinced. Sorry Dr. Oz, psychology and the weight loss industry, but I think you have it all wrong. We don’t exist on a normal density function (normal curve, bell curve, whatever). Only the measurements do.

normal curve

If I look at my height (5’5″) I am in the negative side of this normal curve. But, if I look at the number of men over 50 who have run at least 3 full marathons, written several books, have a graduate degree, most of their natural hair, a US patent, and a hip replacement, I think I’d be on the very end of that long, positive tail.

Like everyone else, I exist on many curves. The average of me is the sum of many measures, many of which are not normal. And I am okay with that.

multi curves

By blurring reality with summary statistics, analysts are missing the micro-trends of normal. Normal is context driven and very subjective since there is no such thing as objective perception. Sorry Ayn Rand. Objectivism belongs in fiction, not in reality. Normal is a blend of traits, attributes and myriad other characteristics that make each of us different.

Why is this important? 

It demands a change in perspective. We focus on all the wrong things when we equate average with desirable. Think about body style, food consumption, exercise, and don’t even get me started on how fucked up our educational system is because we quantify all the wrong things and then apply them to our children.

What is normal?

As I am often willing to do, let’s take it back a few million years. Back when we were developing as humans and became the greatest hunters on this planet. The only animal that has learned to survive in all areas of the planet – well, except for cockroaches.

We didn’t understand statistics while we evolved. (Yes, evolution is a fact.) What we understood was that every person could contribute. I am assuming that unless you were a liability to the pre-history man, you were considered a positive resource to have. That meant that the range of acceptable characteristics was measured by contribution, not focus on a specific attribute. I say that because survival was about getting enough calories to sustain while we had sex to procreate, which led to the need for more calories. During that 2 million year period of pre-civilization our DNA got wired in. We learned to dream because we learned to track animals. Successful tracking meant we had to project our minds into the animal we were tracking to understand where they would go when we lost the trail.

Zip forward to today. (Sorry for the whiplash.) I am seeing people beginning to fight against that averaging of expectations. In some cases they are fighting at the outer edges of the curve (#StigmaFighters) in other areas they are fighting in the middle of the mix (Virgin Industries and other employers who focus on people). There are men and women I know who have found new strength in accepting who they are and then building on it in a positive way. Some lift weights that are heavier than me, others craft words that melt my mind, and others move across the world with fleet feet and strong hearts, touching the essence of what made man dominant – distance running.

You homework is to find one trait you are most average about and one that you are least average about. First, humor yourself that you are the product of 3 million years of evolution. Then have a beer. Then be proud of being just an average guy (gal). Then celebrate not being normal.

Run Free. Run Smooth.

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The Lost Art of Picking Up Women

This was one of those mornings where my blog subject is a gift of circumstance. Talking with a friend this morning who was out for a night with her girlfriends. While enjoying their company in the bar she was subjected to the latest style in men picking women. It is called a bump, followed by an “Excuse, me.”

My first thought was, “Hey, it worked in grade school, why not in adulthood?”

I filed that tidbit of information in my back pocket. I’m not in the market, but if the need ever asserted itself, at least I was armed with the latest hipster move. I felt happy as I commuted to work. At least with this approach all I had to work on was my aim. I figured the bump had to be direct enough to get their attention, but not so direct that it would knock them over.

The-Continuing-Evolution-of-Man

Stopping for coffee at McD’s I took a seat within earshot of a coed group of septuagenarians and older. There was a nice banter going on and at one point a woman made mention of having heart palpitations. The man sitting next to her rejoined that he would be happy to give her mouth-to-mouth. My day was made. I guess a really cliche line works in every generation because the subject woman giggled like a school girl and I expect added days, if not months, to her life from the pure joy of flirtation.

Photo Jan 21, 9 19 53 AM

Then, the writer in me took over. You know, that part of the brain that starts to think about these events and tries to figure out what sinister plot lies beneath. As a story teller I am geared to make up continuity between scenes I witness that have no relevance to each other. That is why I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

Stick with me here. If you have read any of my previous blogs you know that if I drop right into the evolution of man you won’t be surprised. Here’s the deal. Three million years ago we didn’t have language. We had gestures and noises and, well, that was about it. In those days, if a man wanted a woman he bumped her. Sound familiar?

As we started to wander out from the rainforest into the ever expanding savannah (don’t you just love that word?) we developed language for two reasons.

  1. Complex verbalization, or language, was needed to be able to hunt prey or keep from being prey while we walked and ran out in the open.
  2. Language was needed to pick up woman.

Beyond those two survival skills, any other use of language is, arguably, just showing off. That is until we became civilized. When we gathered in communities and cities people would often bump into each other just because of proximity. Clearly, the ritual of picking up women had to change because bumping was now a generalized activity. In response, men turned to words as their means of access to the feminine favor. Let’s be honest. I say men you and I both know women had to coax and cajole us into becoming literate and finding ways to craft words into rhythms that made their pulses race and skin glisten. For the next millennia all things invented by men; art, literature, science, football; were invented with the sole purpose of picking up women. The pickup line dates back to the earliest of pre-Roman civilization when a man would look at his sleeping mate with amorous thoughts, lightly slap her on the arm (a modified bump) and ask, “Hey, you awake.” That line is the first instance of foreplay that has been documented. We’ve come a long way since.

As the 21st Century began the art of the pickup line had reached a peak. There were books and movies and personal trainers, an entire cottage industry, around how to pick up women. Then hipsterism hit and the bump began.

In defense of hipsters, they are the unknowing subjects of the new lord of technology. They have been smart phoned and twitterated into reverting to our Paleolithic roots. Most days are spent walking while looking at a 4×2 inch rectangle of illuminated glass. And literacy has been suppressed to 140 characters at a time. The punctuation which gives the spoken word the ebb and flow of conversation has been suborned by emoticons. Men still have a need to pick up women and given there is no more practice in the art of verbalization, the primal instincts have moved to the surface.

My goal here is to see if I can turn that tide and help my fellow men address the fair sex in a manner that women deserve. To get to that point, there are a few prerequisites for men who are interested in having women open their flowers for them.

Before taking that first verbal step, read a book. NO. Read three books, two fiction and one non-fiction. The two fiction should consist of a modern classic (like To Kill a Mockingbird (chicks love that book)) and a current edition. The current can not be something like Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Fifty Shades of Grey. It doesn’t have to be heady, it just has to be fairly decent, like a good murder mystery. The non-fiction has to be something other than campy prose (no psycho-babble or self-help). It can be about sports medicine, the history of anything or political/technical revelations. No, books by anyone who works at Fox News do not count. These should be real books, not ebooks. Nothing against ebooks, but to do this right you need to feel the weight of the words you are reading. Reading gives you a baseline for actually having a conversation. Trust me on this.

By reading you’ve stimulated the latent intellect that has been stilted by social media. Doesn’t it strike you as funny that social media has led to the current pandemic of lack of social skills? Go figure. That is a hole different blog that I might take a shot at.

As you move into the real world and muster the courage to take that first act to talk to a woman you have never met, there are some basic rules.

  • Please, use complete sentences. Do not talk in the syntax of Twitter. It is okay and often admirable to take more than 140 characters to make a point.
  • Be yourself, not your avatar. The only place in the world where you can be an avatar and have it work is Las Vegas. Everyone is being someone else there, so go with it.
  • The easiest way to talk to a woman is to shut the fuck up and listen. Really. It seems like some kind of inversion principle, but it works.
  • Keep the conversation going by…asking questions. It is fine to pepper the dialog with a bit about you or answer a question from her, but listen and ask relevant questions. Don’t be patronizing with the questions because…
  • Women are smarter than men. Period. Just deal with it. Sure some of us may know more science, but that isn’t what smart is. Smart is knowing how to read other people and be good at social interaction.
  • Most important, put the phone away. Period. Your attention should be on her.

Now that you have mustered the courage and know the rules, let’s talk about pickup lines. There are a massive number of pickup lines, but I have the one that works. When I was single I experimented with many lines and finally honed it down to this one line that achieves the open door to conversation almost every time. I’ll save you the all the learning and let you skip right to the gold mine. Here it is”

” Hi, I’m (insert your name here).”

The most effective way to augment this opener is to tag on a complimentary observation like “That nail polish is great. What color is that?” or “You’ve got a great smile and I just had to come and talk to you.” or “When you walked by, I noticed that scent you are wearing and I just have to find out what it is.”

It goes on.

Okay. I have to confess. I didn’t really discover this line by extensive trial and error. In my single days at the bar in Houlihan’s in Phoenix I saw an attractive woman having a drink with friends. I thought I would be clever and went up to her and said, “What would be a good line for a man to use to start a conversation with you?” My expectation was that she would throw out one of those cliches. I was wrong. She looked my in the eye, smiled and said. “Hi,” usually works with me.

The sound of enlightenment could have been heard all over the bar. The DJ stopped the turntable wondering what had just happened. I ignored it all and started a good conversation. So, as you can expect, I got the best direction on how to approach a woman from a woman. Not being too stupid, I have relied on that advise for just about any social situation.

As you have that conversation she might giggle or laugh, just like the woman I heard in McD’s. When that happens you have gifted her with an extension of her life. She’ll now that and be grateful.

And there it is. The most effective social mechanism is not acting like you do on social media. It is acting like yourself.

The Bionic Journey Begins

On Tuesday morning around 8:30am a female anesthesiologist getting ready to administer a spinal block said to me that I would feel a little pinch.  I was sitting up resting against something akin to a massage chair. The second anesthesiologist had put a plastic mask over my mouth and nose and was feeding me oxygen. Several other members of the surgical team were off to the side preparing the computerized arm that would assist the surgeon in my total hip replacement.  I was expecting the anesthesiologist to say “You’ll start feeling a little sleepy,” but that didn’t happen. Actually, nothing happened. In one split second I was wondering when they were going to put me under and in the next I was in recovery with a nurse rubbing my hand and arm asking me how I was doing. About 4 hours had passed and I was now bionic. An average guy turned into a potential superhero. Don’t get excited.  I still haven’t figured out my super power, although it might be recovery from major surgery.

I did experience the one thing that I was dreading most – catheterization. I’ve had fantasies of nurses fondling my manhood, but this wasn’t one of them. Any man reading this will momentarily cringe at the thought of a rod being inserted in their member. It is just not a natural thing and something we are genetically taught to protect ourselves from. Then there is always the weird fear you have about the nurse being pretty and worrying if you will have a manly reaction to her touch. Well, don’t worry. That kind of thought is the furthest from you mind. With multiple layers of discomfort engaged, she used a confident hand and administered to catheter which, much to my dismay, wasn’t a painful as I thought it would be. It did feel good to get my bladder relieved.

When my room was ready I made the trip up to the 12th floor and got wheeled into my room. Then began the first of a repeated process of blood pressure, oxygen, pulse, temperature and going through the identification checks. And the meds. The meds were multiple pills, the best being those light narcotics that made the pain be fuzzy in the background.

I wiggled my toes for anyone who walked into the room like a second grader who had learned his first song on a violin. Feeling warm and cozy I figured I would settle in for a long nap and wake up in 2 days to go home.

Then it happened.

Her name was Stacy and she was the physical therapist. Hidden behind that cheerful smile, dark hair and pretty face was an evil demon. Well, that’s what I thought when she said “We’re going to get you up and walk for a while.”

Here’s where those many years of going out to run or being at mile 20 of a marathon and wondering WTF paid off. I didn’t protest or grumble. I knew this was where the rubber met the road and with the first step out of the bed I was going to set the tone for my recovery. Getting well is like going into training. There is a program and you have to follow it. Stacy was great and showed me the right way to get out of bed without twisting things. She also made me do it myself after she showed me.

I used a walker to go from my bed over to the door and back. That was all I was going to do on the surgery day. That small journey was about all I could take. She said it was also very good for right after surgery.  They’d be back for more later.

I was in and out of drug and pain induced sleep. Teri got there just after my PT and stayed with me until it was dark and she had to go to get to the grocery store before it closed. I was not great company, but just having her next to me was all I could ask for.

Day One Post Op

I won’t bore you with the repetition of pokes and prods except that I was very consistent in my blood pressure (115/65 on average) and heart rate (62bpm). My pain level never really got above what I characterized as a 4 on a 10 scale and the basic pain meds were taking care of it. That felt really good. I wasn’t trying to be a manly man and suck it up. If my pain went high, I wanted them to know because it meant something. Plus, a body in pain is not focused on healing, but on prevention. For a short time and in the right amount pain medication is a great curative.

The main program each day was my PT and my occupational therapy. That and mastering peeing in a bottle while lying down in bed. Not as easy as you think.

I got a toweling off and clean surgical pants from the OT. Even got into the clean T-shirt I brought. I was beyond being self conscious that I was commando style under my garments. Getting comfortable trumped most everything else.

On the morning PT I managed to steer the walker on one round of the 12th floor. That wore me out. I tried to read but my brain could not engage. I learned that daytime TV is totally worthless and repetitious. There are women discussion panels, hollywood watchers, stars who want to be psychologists, psychologists who want to be stars, and judges.

I was thankful for the sleep induction from the drugs.

When the second round of PT came time I was grateful for the escape. We started down the hall but this time we turned into the PT Gym. There I did some leg exercises (more on that in a future post) and climbed stairs. One day after surgery and I was climbing stairs.  I even impressed myself.

Day Two Post Op

PT was there first thing.  At 7:30am Stacy and I were rambling down the hallway in the walker and I was moving with a lot more flexibility, even though it was still very still stiff. In the gym I completed four rounds of stairs and Stacy handed me my cane. “This is yours to keep.” She set it up and I walked around the gym getting used to the rhythm of the movement.

I decided I would leave the walker and go with the cane. She said I could now move around freely and that she would warn the nurses so they wouldn’t try to tackle me. When we got back to the room she set me up in a chair, not the bed, and showed me how to get up and down and what not to do. She told me I should get up frequently but that was an unneeded instruction. I felt glorious with independence.  No one was going to stop me now. I could pee in a toilet. I was a big boy again!

With OT I learned how to put on my clothes and got to use this sock thing. I was skeptical at first, but it is a very cool way to put on socks when you can’t bend over. Being able to do that was the icing on the cake of me feeling independent.

Day Three Post Op

I was going home today. Early PT and visits from all the doctors and head nurses to make sure everything was in order. I had been moving a round with a cane with great ease and changed myself into my street clothes with great satisfaction. Dr.Gupta came for one last hospital visit and we covered all the details. After he left I recounted that I had gotten all of the “wants” in my new hip that I had listed. It was ceramic on plastic, done with computer assisted technology and the stem that will allow the bone to grow in (the option is to have the stem cemented in).

I got home and had a wonderful reunion with the family. They held off Thanksgiving dinner until the day I got home (Friday) and by the end of the day I was only using the cane to help me keep balance on the stairs and outside. We all stayed up late and had pumpkin and apple pie and laughed about things in general.

Today is day four, I am pretty much walking unassisted. I showered this morning and feel refreshed and nearly normal. It was much easier getting in and out of bed last night and this morning than at any other time since the operation. Basically, the recovery continues and much faster than I had expected.

I don’t have any biological reason that my recovery has been so good. I am an average guy except that I am now bionic. The only differentiator between myself and the other patients I saw on the floor who had undergone similar surgeries is that I am in shape. Not as good as I have been in the past, since I am up about 5 pounds, but I was still riding my bike and doing yoga up to the day before the surgery.  To me, the reason for the recovery is that I believe in running and the power that doing it well will give an individual. And keeping a smile on your face. It is hard not to recover when you are smiling.

I can’t end this without extending my thanks to all the the nurses and nursing aids who tended to me over the three days I was under their care. I was subjected to a constant barrage of smiles and good nature and, most important, true caring for my wellbeing. each time they touched me for a pulse or to feel my skin temperature they were healing me. It is a gift that I am grateful they share.

Belated Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.  As I remind myself each morning when there is that twinge of pain – “Persevere and be of good cheer.”  It was an admonition from a professor I had in graduate school, but one that seems appropriate right now.

Run free!

A Cascade of Fear

A good friend of mine, Savannah George (www.dsavannah.com), posted a great piece on fear today.  She is a wonderful writer and a world class editor.  I suggest you click the link and read her post. It’s about getting rid of fear and the stifling effects it has on us.  The concept came to her after she had spent some time online with a friend who said he wasn’t afraid of anything.  From him, to her, to me.  Kind of a fire brigade with the topic of fear in the bucket. Hey!  It’s 5AM and metaphors have never been my strong point in writing.

Although I agree with Savannah’s concept and that fear can have devastating effects, I’m not sure I want to rid my life of fear.  In some ways I’ve turned fear into motivation.  Just after I read her post a fellow writer posted a comment in a writer’s forum about being afraid that her words were eloquent enough and her plot had already been written.  I remembered those same feelings from when I started writing my first book.

I sat there in front of my typewriter – the one at the top of this page – and stopped writing.  Fear had tied my hands.  Fear that I was not good enough to write a book. For a long time I just sat and stared at the mechanical beast, lost in self-ctitical thoughts. I wasn’t coming up with anything unique.  The plot I had was about a young adult and his father and friends.  It was just another YA novel. A clone of thousands of other novels already on the shelves.  Why go on?

Fear is like water. It finds its way in, no matter what. The fear that started to rise in my head was the fear of not living up to what I had said I could do. Wasn’t it better to write a shitty book than to have not written one at all? A fear of failure started me thinking.

I thought of the millions of songs and books that men and women have written. Isn’t that amazing. Relatively speaking we have no new words or notes, yet we keep throwing them together and coming up with something new. In retrospect, it was fear as motivator that made me put my fingers back on the keyboard and type.  Soon I became more afraid that I would let the ideas I had in my mind evaporate than I was of righting a bad book.  Three hundred thousand words later I had completed my first novel.

It is still unpublished.  It kind of sucks.  But it has a glowing premise and some great characters. If I hadn’t spent the months writing that first book, I wouldn’t have attempted SYN:FIN.  And SYN:FIN is a good book even if I say so myself.

What I’m getting at is that fear has two sides.  It can make you freeze at the presence of a threat or it can motivate you to run long and hard to find escape.  Fear was one of the reasons we started to run and kept running. From our response to fear, we developed one of the most powerful weapons in our arsenal – the ability to run long distance.  That ability is arguably the reason we are what we are today – all full of imagination and melody.

I’m OK with fear because I have a greater fear of standing still than I have of moving forward.  Hmm?  I wonder if that is the definition of ADD?

Thoughts?  Don’t be afraid to post your comments.  I don’t bite. Much.

The Confidence of Women

“Here’s how I do that.”

The woman’s voice was well modulated, confident and upbeat. It totally eased past any defensive response I would have had to a woman stepping in at that time.+

Let me give you some context.

I was standing in my cubicle with a disemboweled 8086 grade personal computer on my desk. Yes, it was several years ago when RAM was measured in kilobytes, not gigabytes. It was the RAM on this machine that was the source of my consternation.  I needed to upgrade the memory by 256K. The new chip was in my hand, but I had no tool to remove the old memory chip.

Kim Komando to the rescue.  Yep.  The Kim Komando you know from the infomercials, radio shows and multimedia.  I worked with Kim for a short period of time at ATT.  She was an Account Executive and I was a Technical Consultant specializing in voice and data communications.

Kim knew PC’s and she had seen my struggle.  With grace and confidence, she showed me how to use the cap from a Pilot pen to extract the old chip. We joked a bit about the advanced toolset and then went on about our work.  Over the next year or so we worked together on a couple of accounts and then I changed jobs and lost touch.

Fast-forward a few years.  I was flipping through early morning TV looking for something to accompany me while I worked out.  And there she was.  Kim Komando talking about how to be at ease with personal computers.  She was exactly how I remembered her from that day in my cube – bright, upbeat, non-threatening to a male ego and knowing of her shit.

Kim had found her niche.  It was clear, in retrospect, just how much passion she had for PC technology and she had found a venue to share that passion with other people.  She still shares that passion and I will tell you if you need to understand anything about the digital beast under your fingertips, you can’t go wrong looking to Kim for help.

What got me thinking about Kim?   It was seeing another woman with similar characteristics who is starting to find her way to a niche in a man’s world.

In the same way that computers back in the days of 8086 machines were the domain of men, so is rock guitar today.  Just look at YouTube and you’ll see most guitar vids are of the male side of the species strutting their audio feathers.

I was in YouTube looking for a decent demo of a guitar effect I was thinking of buying.  That’s when I discovered Fuzz Box Girl.  Amidst all of the chest thumping, speed noodling, testosterone driven demos was this very different approach from a young woman.  Her guitar effect of choice is an organic device called a fuzz box that blends soul and technology into an outrageous sound.  For those not familiar, a fuzz box was used by Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones when they recorded the main guitar for “Satisfaction”.

Look at one of FBG’s demos (FBG Blog)and you will see how she has used her unassuming personality and her understanding of her audience to create an identifiable brand.  The demos aren’t too long.  They focus on the equipment, not the flash of her playing, and they start you off with a light and funny intro while she pans the effect, her guitar and amp and a special cocktail to match the demo.  She understands that her target audience is primarily male, gregarious (they play loud rock guitar), interested in sex and very dedicated to their avocation.  These guys work hard at their craft, practicing for hours at a time, and have no patience for posers.  FBG is the real deal.  Not because she is the best player out there, but because her passion for what she is doing is clear and evident.  It shows because she, like Kim, has the confidence to just be herself while stepping onto a male playground.

When I started to follow FBG, I was taken by what she had in common with Kim.  They are two different people, but have both shown success in traditionally male markets.  Both of them also maintained their feminine quality while establishing themselves as experts.  They have gained loyal followings because they are doing what they are passionate about and they have respect for their audience.  Each understands that they are a brand that needs to be managed and nurtured.

I admit it.  I am attracted to women. Always have been. Looks might get my initial notice, but it is the depth and clarity of personality that keeps me attracted.  When I wrote my novel, SYN:FIN, I didn’t intend to have smart, competent women take play major roles, they just happened naturally because that is what I expect women to be.  The women who I hold close in my life are cut from that same cloth – smart, aware, confident, giving.  It doesn’t intimidate me to be around competent women.  If anything, I find it to be an absolute rush.  We men aren’t better or worse, just very different.  Sometimes, we let our egos get in the way of admiring competent women.  It must be a relic of the hunter gene.  If we can get passed that, then the differences are worth celebrating!

I am sure you have met women who strike you with their confidence and passion for their work or avocation.  I’d love to hear about them from you.  Add a comment or send me an email at jlg@jlgentry.com

Thanks for reading.

Links of interest:

SYN:FIN

Kim Komando

Fuzz Box Girl

Primal Man – What Women Need to Know

Men are eloquent, forgetful, passive, caring, aggressive, shy, brilliant, emotive, insensitive…well you get it.  We are a confused slush of behaviors that both enamor and frustrate our female friends and mates.  At any point in time we might exhibit behavior of such valor that it inspires or such stupidity that you wonder “WTF?”

Men are simple.  So simple that it is complicated to understand us.  If you are a woman and decide to stop reading at this point, then I ask that you take a deep cleansing breath and just enjoy the ride as the men in your life switch personalities and dependability like you switch your shoes.

If you’re a female and choose to read on you will get my simple theory on why men are what we are.   I’ve been reading a book, Brain Rules by John Medina, and it got me thinking about why I acted a certain way to an event this week.  brain-rules

That got me thinking about things I have done over the years that even confused me.  Before I get go any further I want to be clear that I am not making an excuse, just trying to help understand the source of my confusion.  None of this has been tested or proven scientifically.  I’m a writer.  I’m good at making irrational things make sense.  I’m getting ahead of myself, and my concept is not what you might think.

Men are basic.  All of our behaviors tie back to a simple impetus.  We follow a Primal Urge.  That’s my label and it is about as good as I can get.  It’s not sex, but the drive for sex stems right from this urge.  The Primal Urge is a sense of power born of the delight and need for self-preservation that means survival.  The Urge is an instantaneous sense that, once triggered, can grow into the most creative or senseless behavior with equal force and conviction.

The Primal Urge sparked Steve Jobs to create his Apple empire knowing that he was going against the conventional wisdom of the market.  It also sparked Anthony Weiner to post pictures of his private parts on Twitter in spite of knowing that anything you put out on the ether of the Internet is public (which is the basic premise of my book, SYN:FIN).

When man was taking his first shaky steps in the savannah of Africa he was developing awareness.  An awareness that was immediate and allowed him to survive.  That morphed into the Primal Urge.  It is what gave primal man the adrenalin rush to either run or take a stand when a saber toothed tiger attacked.  That is an important point.  The Urge doesn’t predict a specific behavior, it just predicts that an action will be taken.  That action is always in the simple context of what will best insure survival.  Admittedly, a lot of survival relates to having sex, so it is easy to confuse the Primal Urge with a sexual urge, but sex is just one derivative.

The-Continuing-Evolution-of-Man

You see, in a man’s mind the Primal Urge acts as a kind of an invulnerability shield.  This is a very subtle point.  The shield is not a sense of immortality.  Primitive life taught man that he was mortal, but needed to act to protect his cojones so he could propagate.

The shield allows the male mind to suspend the sense of consequence for a brief moment so we can react to a context in a very selfish way, doing what we wish and worrying about making amends later.   This moment of decision is what makes us men.  It is also the atomic element that makes us shift from being a dependable spouse who shares the burden of life to a little boy who wants to get a new toy.  It is the moment that a soldier steps into enemy fire to save a comrade or the instant a sectogenarian propositions a woman half his age.

Don’t get me wrong.  I make no apologies about being a man and allowing my male nature to infuse all parts of my life   When that essence moves me in a way that conforms with the group sanctions I am considered a leader and a partner.  Then there are the times I act in an aberrant direction and I am considered an asshole.  The reality is I am both.  That means I receive accolades one day and make apologies the next.   Days of confusion are when both are happening to me simultaneously.  That was yesterday and it is what got me thinking about this.  It also got me listening to a lot of blues by male singers.  Now that is music that stems from the Primal Urge.   Thank you Willie Dixon.

Loud is good!

Loud is good!

The Primal Urge is cellular, not localized to a portion of the brain.  It is embedded deep in our genetic code.  A fold in the dna that occupies each cell of our bodies and makes us potent, scary, valuable and a pain in the ass to live with.

What triggers a primal response in a man?  It can be about anything.  The predictable ones are imminent danger, the flirt of a women, expensive toys, or a competitive challenge.  Each of those has an element of unattainability that drives the response.  Something desired that is out of reach.  The response can be either obsessive pursuit or redirection of the energy to something more attainable.  It is all situational and it is all in earnest.

The trickiest of these is the interaction with women.   There are the clichés of conquest and subjugation, but there is much more.  You see, in my estimation, all relationships with a woman who are not related to you have some sexual aspect to them.  It could be a light touch of ego boosting flirtation or a more lusty dialog that goes with finding a similarly depraved sense of humor wrapped in female clothing.   I am a sucker for a great and earthy sense of humor.  That is because humor is something that quells the immediate fear stemming from a Primal Urge reaction to danger.  Humor has all those positive reinforcements that make facing danger a little more palatable.  That makes a sense of humor attractive.

There is a part of me that thinks evolution has played this trick on women just to frustrate the shit out of them.   We men love women.  We cannot live without you.  We cannot live without pissing you off.  Kind of a screwy dichotomy isn’t it?

It is because my respect and attraction to women that I have put this post out here.  If it helps you to understand the self-centeredness of your partner, then I have accomplished something.  I will caution that you cannot change that fundamental in a man, so don’t frustrate yourself.  Yes, we can be dressed up and camouflaged for society, but under the covers we are the survival engines spawned in the deep past.

I’ll close with something for my writer friends.  Understanding this element of a man is foundational to any character you create.  Recently I read a thriller written by a woman.  It has great reviews and is very popular.  The book revolved around a detective and a serial killer.  The killer was sadistic, but without a reason to be.  He hit me as very flat. Someone who killed for the sake of killing.  And killed kind of stupidly.  I didn’t get the sense of reason, that deep Primal Urge, that was perverted into a serial maniac.  What I captured was a series of caricatures that seemed pale reflections of other well written serial killers, like a Hannibal Lector.

My caution to you is to fight the desire to stereotype us to one of our multiple personalities.  Even in our worst moments we have a glimmer of hero on the edge.

Hit the little comment bubble on the upper right of this post so I can hear your thoughts!  I’ll be sure to wear my flack vest, so please be forthright, but keep your sense of humor!