Lately I've been seeing posts on Facebook on how to be a man, how to be a better man, how to be a gentleman, all sorts of advice on manliness and masculinity. The trouble is, with few exceptions they are all mostly written by women. This is the feminization of men and we would be fools to fall for it, the occasional snippet of good advice notwithstanding.
I'd offer my own advice to young men, but only my sons can tell you whether or not it's any good, so instead I'll share three things I learned from my father. Dad was never going to be father of the year but I don't doubt he did what he thought was best, so in that way we're a lot alike.
Here's what I learned from my dad:
1. Learn how to shake a man's hand. Learn how to shake a women's hand. You can tell a lot about a man by the way he shakes your hand. Stand up when you shake someone's hand. Look him in the eye. You can tell by the way a fellow shakes your hand if you have his trust, and he yours. All that in one lesson. All that in one handshake.
2. It's not how much you can drink that makes you a man. It's about whether you show up to work the next day, on time, not complaining, clean and properly dressed, and ready to put in a full and productive day. That applies to everything. Play full out, period.
3. A woman is not an object like a new car (or a used car as the case may be.) You don't get to take her out for a test drive first. If you love her enough to move in with her, then you love her enough to make a commitment and marry her. And then you stick by your promise. It's no different with your friends, your job, your kids. You make a promise, and then you do your best to keep it. Period. No exceptions.
Oh, and here's one from my mom:
4. You can tell a lot about a man by his shoes. Keep them clean and polished gents. According to my mom that's the first thing a lady notices.
I think mom used the word "lady" very deliberately.