Well he can’t be a man ’cause he doesn’t smoke the same cigarettes as me.
Those classic words, penned by Mick Jagger and Keith Richard months before I was born, are at least as true today. Despite what the advertisements may tell you, manhood has little to do with what kind of cigarettes you smoke, what car you drive, or how white your shirts could be.
The post’s title started as a placeholder; a prototype of the sort of posts we would write at MANzine. But there seems to be serious question on this issue.
I happen to drive a Nissan 350Z Roadster, a two-seater, convertible sports car. It’s easily the coolest, most fun car I’ve ever owned. Unless it’s raining, under 30 degrees, or above 100 degrees, I’ve got the top down.
A few weeks back, we learned that the practicalities of road trips with our infant daughter made it worthwhile to trade my wife’s small SUV for a minivan much like the one pictured atop this page. I occasionally drive it. While it’s neither as cool nor as much fun as the Z, my manhood doesn’t mysteriously vanish when I’m behind the wheel.
Sadly, manhood can’t be purchased for a few thousand dollars.
I get why men fear the minivan. It is a pretty tangible symbol of giving up our youthful ideal in exchange for domestic life. If we drive a sports car or motorcycle or pickup truck — or even an SUV — we can at least pretend the we haven’t changed. But get a minivan, and it’s over. You’re a daddy now.
This classic Peyton Manning commercial on the subject is pretty funny:
Because I married and became a dad later in life and I’m thus more financially secure than I would have been if I’d done those things in my 20s — and because our child care situation allows for it — I’ve managed to keep my sports car and drive the minivan only occasionally. We’ll probably get a third car before I give it up entirely.
But who knows? We’ve just got one child now, a 7-month-old. The time may well come where I’ll be picking up a car pool and shuttling my kid off to soccer practice, making a two-seater silly rather than merely a luxury. If so, I’ll do what tens of thousands of men before me have done and get a mini-van.
It could be worse. Once upon a time, men had to make much bigger sacrifices. Whether it was a long cattle drive or fighting off Indians, men often put their lives in danger to take care of their families. Now, we’re called upon to set aside our egos and drive a less cool vehicle.
- Vanessa reminds us that women hate the idea of driving minivans, too.
- Chaz Hill contends that, “A Real Man drives whatever he goddamn well pleases, be it an old Jaguar or a New Beetle.”
- Matthew @ Billy Ockham argues “[M]asculinity has nothing to do with possessions. Manliness has to do with responsibility first and foremost.”