On the road. Discovering who This New Man is.
It was the middle of the afternoon; warm, sunny, pretty quiet for a coastal town in Southern California. But it was winter time, the New Year having just rebooted us all for a new beginning. The 35th Anniversary of the Santa Barbara Brewing Company sign had caught my attention and I went into to see what The New Man of this area might be up to.
I sat down next to a table of younger guys, mostly in their 20s and 30s. Seeing groups like this was refreshing since it gave me confidence that my generation was around and involved. They were joking and having fun with discussions about their lives. It was clear they were getting ready to leave soon, but I managed to capture their attention.
One of the guys asked me about what I do. I shared with them my Traveling 4 Men project and how the economy and technology were changing perceptions of what it means to be a man. They seemed to get a kick out of the idea.
While we were chatting, Steve, who was sitting nearby, spoke up, freely joining the conversation. Clearly and outgoing guy, he wasn’t afraid to join in. Perhaps he had a couple of drinks before accepting the round I bought him. The young guys took to him right away.
By the way, Steve was about 80, had been married for nearly 50 years and was pretty open about what he was thinking about the future of men.
The conversation turned quickly to online dating and connecting with women. I presume the guys were straight and they seemed to speak freely about what their take on today’s man. “Nothing like it used to be,” one of them said. The others thought no one really cared; you could be what you wanted.
What was funny was when Steve made the conversation go crazy. He felt the need to share his secrets to life, love, marriage and success. “A good bit of don’t ask, don’t tell,” he thought.
He wasn’t bashful about saying that things were really changing. “Reality blogging” and the business of buying sex and dating online had given him a different perspective, though he met women the person to person way. “Before technology,” Steve said, “I made my own rules for love and marriage. Most of which I and my wife learned to live with, even if we didn’t talk about it in polite company!”
The younger group had to leave, returning to their girlfriends and young wives. They had a nice goodbye with Steve. Then he sat down with me for some more private thoughts. “You know, I’ve learned a lot about little lies and big lies,” he said, when it comes to keeping the marriage healthy and alive. His wife was the best woman, friend, partner he could have. But still.
“I have three rules,” he then added, not embarrassed at all by confessing them with a stranger. In fact, he was proud of them and let me know that he wished things had been different for him. The new game for men was getting better.
His three rules were the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell elements of his philosophy of connecting with other women:
We laughed a lot before I had to go. He whispered more here and there about other “little” and “big” lies that he thought The New Man might benefit from. And he gave me permission to share his wisdom, though he didn’t really want me to use his name.
Some habits for The Old Man die hard – but you got to give the guy credit for being willing to go head to head with what The New Man is going to be dealing with. Create fun, Steve. Thanks.
Cultura, Salud, Sexo, Viajes LGBTQA
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a blog to complement: "Memory Lake: The Forever Friendships of Summer," an award winning novel-memoir
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