The trick of being a man

What would I know about being a man? Not much, but I have watched the men around me, and this sounds right:

This is an essential element of the business of being a man: to flood everyone around you in a great radiant arc of bullshit, one whose source and object of greatest intensity is yourself. To behave as if you have everything firmly under control even when you have just sailed your boat over the falls. “To keep your head,” wrote Rudyard Kipling in his classic poem “If,” which articulated the code of high-Victorian masculinity in whose fragmentary shadow American men still come of age, “when all about you are losing theirs”; but in reality, the trick of being a man is to give the appearance of keeping your head when, deep inside, the truest part of you is crying out, Oh, shit!

(from Manhood for Amateurs by Michael Chabon)

I envy men their ability to do this, to flood everyone around them in a great radiant arc of bullshit. It’s something I’d like to learn to do myself.

8 responses to “The trick of being a man

  1. Bullshit is overrated. Most of it comes back swiftly and forcefully.

  2. Good point.

    Still, it would come in useful sometimes.

  3. Leigh Truitt

    Perhaps the bullshit is necessary, protecting the shitter and the shittee in a protective coating like a layer of stucco on a house! Otherwise, reality is overpowering.

  4. Yup, I’ll admit to practicing the art of bullshit. But like most things, it has its layers. There is knowing bullshit practice, which I think is more admirable, such as when the family is stuck at Detroit airport for a wait of 5 hours because their 7am departure was delayed. Then there is clueless bullshit practice, which is much more dangerous, because one (well, me) does not know it is being practiced. But I am lucky to have a wife who seems to be able to tell the difference, and let me know when I am in the clueless bullshit zone.

  5. “Protective coating” I like that. I imagine as a doctor you had to use that sometimes! Everyone expects doctors to know everything and obviously you can’t always.

    Seems like the bullshit often does serve a good purpose and it means the bullshitter can accomplish more things than he (she?) would otherwise. You have to just pretend sometimes if the confidence isn’t there. Like Dad said, makes everyone feel better.

  6. Anne – I’m surprised your years in tech didn’t give you the skill of radiating BS. Maybe you were on the wrong side of the question? As for me …
    Q: can you have that done today?
    A: No, sir, I cannot. I have to renormalize the database, that’ll take hours and after the renormalization I’ll need to run new benchmarks for the BI systems …. etc etc

    the big (made-up) words and quick pace are overwhelming to the asker. A quickly paced answer is seldom questioned :)

  7. You’d think I would have learned that, being around so many men and so much bullshit for so many years! I think if I had learned that approach ten years ago I might still be in tech.

    Well I feel ready now, I see through it now, and I see the benefits too.

  8. Surely its all part of the eternal mating game?

    Guys think looking confident and assured will get them laid. No one wants to sleep with a dithering idiot.