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Peter Mandel

It’s all cool in Guyville

By Peter Mandel
September 24, 2009

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LET’S PUT it on the table right up front. I am a guy, and not apologetic about it. I’m a person with a paunch, bristly whiskers that my wife wants shaved, and a tendency to talk about myself. A lot. And I can be loud.

My buddies are the same way. And now we’re laughing about the experts who make it sound like we’ve been suffering more than we thought.

We don’t read much. But we do see the covers of the new books - “The Decline of Men’’ by Guy Garcia, “Guyland’’ by Michael Kimmel, and “Save the Males: Why Men Matter, Why Women Should Care’’ by Kathleen Parker. Books about us! About our fumbles!

According to a recent study, 46 percent of young women had ticked off basic markers of adulthood: leaving home, finishing their education, starting work, marrying, and having kids. Only 31 percent of us dudes could say the same.

So, our recent track record of achievement is remarkably lame. But I want you to know that my fellow guys and I are cool with the experts’ solutions to our problems. In fact we’re delighted. We are passing the chips, cracking a beer. Here’s to experts. Let’s check out a synopsis of a few of their ideas:

Guys need extra attention and understanding.

Bingo. Right on target. Our sisters and moms and wives seem way too busy with all of their jobs and chores. They bustle around, doing more housework and volunteering than we do, hardly noticing that our blank expressions and belly-up positions on the couch hide our truly sensitive natures.

We need even more freedom in school to squirm around and to just be boys.

Um, sure. We agree. Though in stricter times we guys learned how to sit at desks, absorb books, and pay respectful attention, it was a drag. Teachers and parents simply expected us to put in the quiet time we needed to learn stuff and if we didn’t we lost a privilege or two. Didn’t they realize how unpleasant this was for us? Didn’t they get it? We guys prefer fishing or kicking a ball or just hanging loose, not being stuck in a room!

Men are being punished by a feminized, girl-focused culture. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Why, even though we’re fawned over and favored by moms, zip up the ladder at our jobs, get paid more, and trade in tired-seeming wives for trophies, you’d be crazy to think that we’re in charge. And, sure, though our secretaries always remember our birthdays and our daughters have turned into daddy’s girls who play guy-style sports, we are feeling the pain. Anyone can tell you.

■ Trying to civilize us guys is really just an attempt to turn us into women with whiskers. My favorite expert suggestion of all. That bumper sticker that we slap on our trucks - the one of an angry, urinating boy - that’s our flag, our Guyland coat of arms. So stop expecting us to behave or clean up our act. It may be kind of weird that we had none of these guy problems back in the day. When we were supposed to be responsible and, at least a little bit, polite. But it’s a new day now.

It’ll be way more relaxing for us when we can give up the little socializing and parenting we do and be couch potatoes full time. I’m glad to say we’re almost there. When was the last time you saw us take off our backwards ball caps indoors, or stand up when someone approached a table? When was the last time you saw us take a front-line stand and say “No, you cannot’’ to a child?

The age of total guy emancipation is approaching.

My buddies and I are flicking channels. We are belching.

We say: Bring it on.

Peter Mandel is an author of books for children, including “Planes At The Airport’’ and “My Ocean Liner.’’ He lives in Providence.

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