Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Guys' Guys

The lost art of being a guy is being "frittered away" (as my dad used to say when he'd lecture me about my misspent paper route earnings) by the wrong headed (but very funny) portrayal of dads as dolts, young men as nothing more than walking erections, and all men as bumbling fools.  Add that to the abdication of responsibility by many fathers today, and we've got a society of thirty-something men who don't even know how to shake hands properly, don't know why they should put in a full day's work which might mean staying late and coming in early, or don't know when to go home to their wives and families.  That's a two-parter - first you have to go home, and when you do, you have to be there.  Put down the game controllers gentlemen, you have a three-year-old of your own now.

Here's some guys who are real guys (in spite of the fact that some are fictional):
  • Dick Van Dyke as Rob Petrie in the Dick Van Dyke Show, yes, he was a bit awkward, but he knew his stuff and his family and friends were important to him.  He was the boss, but felt no need to flaunt the title; he was in there with the troops.  A reformed alcoholic in real life, Van Dyke recognized his failings, hit rock bottom, and did something about it.  Still working hard into his eighties.
  • Daniel Craig as James Bond because he can and does get hurt.  He isn't very pretty at the best of times but like most men, he looks pretty good all cleaned up and wearing a tux.  He doesn't take any crap from the boss because he's just that damned good.
  • John Spencer as Leo McGarry, the boss who doesn't take any crap from his reports in The West Wing; he's all business; loved by his underlings and by his friends but always from a respectful distance.  
  • Pope Benedict XVI - he's an unapologetic expert in his field, a leader, and he gets straight to the uncomfortable point without messing around.  You may not want to hear what he has to say, but that's precisely why he has to say it.  I know a few priests who are just like that - damned hard to argue with them in matters of faith; damned glad that we're on the same side.
  • Donny Osmond and all the real life dudes like him who have stayed true to their faith, their wives and their families, guys have have stuck with their careers when times got tough, and guys who are driven to succeed not at the expense of others, but by sheer determination, hard work, continuous improvement and talent.  Guys other guys secretly respect.  My financial advisor, our favourite grade school principal, a school Superintendent I know and a VP I once reported to are all men like this - stand up gentlemen, perhaps even a bit boring to some, but guys who just get it done and stay true to themselves in the process.
  • Mark Wahlberg and Mario Lopez, my son's hockey coach and any other guy who is unashamedly Catholic, as best as he can be.  No one's looking for perfection in this department fellas, but one's very best effort is a shining beacon for others.
  • Gary Lautens, the Toronto Star columnist who was gone too soon in 1992 (almost 20 years ago!) at the age of 63.  His writing inspired young dads like me to hang in there.  There's humour in the strangest of places, our families.  I had the chance to meet him a couple of times, and thank him for my favourite of his columns - the time he catches Jackie (his wife) eating garlic.  I loved the way he wrote about his daughter and about his sons, the oldest is my age.  His heart attack and untimely death has been one of the key motivating factors in my own exercise and healthy lifestyle; he's the reason I see my doctor annually.  I may not ever be the dad he was, but I'd like to stick around to keep trying.  God bless the Lautens family.
  • Craig Kielburger / Neil Patrick Harris - boy wonders who still amaze now that they're all grown up; each making a difference in his own way.
Any man who respects his marriage vows, keeps Christ in his marriage, comes home when he should, gives his all in a job he can be proud of, and works hard to raise the best children he and his wife can send out into society is doing OK in my books.

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