Tom Chiarella muses on what is a man in the current issue of Esquire, one of our fave reads here at TheSwankStyle. It's a pretty tall order, if you want to subscribe to his definitions. I mean how many men do you know who even comes close? But it's a good read. Just pick your own truths. Here, excerpts.
"A man is good at his job. Not his work, not his avocation, not his hobby. Not his career. His job. It doesn't matter what his job is, because if a man doesn't like his job, he gets a new one.
"A man can look you up and down and figure some things out. Before you say a word, he makes you. From your suitcase, from your watch, from your posture. A man infers.
"A man owns up. That's why Mark McGwire is not a man. A man grasps his mistakes. He lays claim to who he is, and what he was, whether he likes them or not.
"Some mistakes, though, he lets pass if no one notices. Like dropping the steak in the dirt.
"A man doesn't point out that he did the dishes.
"A man knows how to bust balls.
"A man has had liquor enough in his life that he can order a drink without sounding breathless, clueless, or obtuse. When he doesn't want to think, he orders bourbon or something on tap.
"Never the sauvignon blanc.
"A man welcomes the coming of age. It frees him. It allows him to assume the upper hand and teaches him when to step aside.
"Maybe he never has, and maybe he never will, but a man figures he can knock someone, somewhere, on his ass.
"A man gets the door. Without thinking.
"He stops traffic when he must.
"A man knows his tools and how to use them — just the ones he needs. Knows which saw is for what, how to find the stud, when to use galvanized nails.
"A man knows how to lose an afternoon. Drinking, playing Grand Theft Auto, driving aimlessly, shooting pool.
"He knows how to lose a month, also.
"A man listens, and that's how he argues. He crafts opinions. He can pound the table, take the floor. It's not that he must. It's that he can.
"A man is comfortable being alone. Loves being alone, actually. He sleeps.
"Or he stands watch. He interrupts trouble. This is the state policeman. This is the poet. Men, both of them.
"A man loves driving alone most of all.
"Style — a man has that. No matter how eccentric that style is, it is uncontrived. It's a set of rules.
"A man does not know everything. He doesn't try. He likes what other men know.
"A man can tell you he was wrong. That he did wrong. That he planned to. He can tell you when he is lost. He can apologize, even if sometimes it's just to put an end to the bickering.
"No one taught him this — to be quiet, to cipher, to watch. In this way, in these moments, the man is like a zoo animal: both captive and free. You cannot take your eyes off a man when he is like that. You shouldn't. The hell if you know what he is thinking, who he is, or what he will do next."
The entire essay here.