I am 35 years old. I own more suits that I do jeans or tshirts. I am a director of a fast growing, high profile firm. I still hold back a giggle when I hear farts and I still enjoy comics. I always have been told that there are certain milestones to reach in order to be a grown up or a man. I have been challenged the past few years to see if I believe I am still required to shed my childish ways. I have said before that boys are the true opposite of men. I have also made the claim that I am for certain a man (I mean look at me). So how can I be a man if I still have some habits that boys have? Is potty training the end of emotional growth for me?
For starters, in the typical cliché; I blame my father. One of my best memories of my father was Saturday mornings. He would make our family’s version of pancakes (German style) and when he was done and I stopped watching the Gummi Bears we would watch Looney Toons together. Kind of silly, a 43 year old man watching 35 year old cartoons with his 7 year old son. That said, my father was the epitome in my mind of what it was to be a grown up. He enjoyed alcohol but I never saw him drunk, he had an easy authority, hardly yelled or raised a hand to us. The man could fix almost anything, I learned auto repair from him (and inadvertently many alternatives to swearing) and basic home repair. I learned my troubleshooting process from watching him. He helped keep a roof over our head for all of my young life. He was an engineer, designed machines that made things, and for a short time he was a floor trader on the CME (my family can’t seem to escape the finance world). The man watched cartoons and secretly, I think he loved putting my toys together at Christmas more than I did playing with them, mostly Estes model rockets and two words “Millenium Falcon” though I think he liked the engineering of Slave1 more.
I read comics and I am not really shy about it. If you ever make it in my home you will see a bookshelf prominently displaying some graphic novels and trades. I know a few women who have told me that reading comics is a deal breaker. The reason they tell me is men who read comics are still boys not rooted in reality. They want to escape into fantasy. Well of course who doesn’t want to? My high profile job brings a metric shit ton of stress in my life. Reading about Superman, Green Lantern or Iron Man really helps me relax and gives me some examples of how to live my life. I have learned the following lessons from those three comics. Superman: Use your strengths to help people instead of control them, serve with your abilities. Green Lantern: Will and imagination are powerful weapons, be fearless with them. Iron Man: Creativity and industry can make you fly. What is wrong with continuing to learn about truth, justice, the American way and, in Iron Man’s case, fighting evil with 3 Manhattan’s in your blood stream? Everyone has something that keeps them a kid. My friend still insists that she is a princess… and if I had a dollar for every grown princess I have met… I work with guys who still use farts as weapons. They manage millions of dollars and take it very seriously, but don’t tell me that they don’t crop dust each other once in a while. So I have to ask, why let fart fascination, comics, or fantasy football keep you from seeing yourself as a man?
You have to ask yourself a few questions to find out if it is a problem. Does this get in the way of you living an adult life? If you are passing up some exploratory sex with the wifey to finish a raid on some keep in WoW, you may want to revisit your priorities. If you are keeping up to date on bills and the stuff you need to do, good. If you are doing that but still checking out from family and friends with whatever your child vice is, you may want to look into why. It isn’t just computer games, comics, watching sports on TV or TV in general. It is why you are doing what you are doing. Using this to shirk responsibility or to stop participating in the real world is a real problem. We all need escape from time to time so use it, hell share it with your kids. It will help create wonderful memories that will shape their personality as they grow. I know because of this, my humor was built around Bugs Bunny, and if I don’t look down while walking off a cliff… I stay up.
Pictures by Braden of Interrobang Photography (Well the good ones at least)
About the Author: Tom is a director of IT for a financial start-up. He spends his days designing infrastructure and supporting high net worth advisers and their clients. Traveling much for work affords him a great perspective on life and what is important. The high travel has ensured that he goes on a lot of first and second dates. Mel Brooks honed his humor. Johnny Carson, Cee-lo, and Groucho Marx are some of his inspirations.