Used to be that a fellow, no matter how browbeaten, nagged, neglected and abused by his spouse he might be, could at least go into the bathroom, unzip, take a long leak, and then damn well leave the toilet seat in the pointing skyward position.
But now it seems some enterprising Dutch woman has invented a thing called the Pmate, Go girl and some other such products, which serve to remove that last bastion of masculinity from benighted menfolk everywhere.
Guy is out for a walk in the woods with his wife, and he could formerly, gloatingly say “I have to have a pee. I’m just gonna unzip by this tree. If you gotta go, honey, I guess you’ll have to find a secluded spot, drop pants and panties, expose your elemental elements to all and sundry, and then let go so that any passer-by could catch you in a very undignified position.” No longer. He can make ready to make water, and she can stand right beside him and do the same thing through this little cardboard device.
It’s not right, I tell you. For a long time now men have found it increasingly difficult to, well, be men. Now they are going to find it virtually impossible. “We can stand to pee,” can no longer be gloatingly recited. That is just one of the societal adjustments with which males now must contend if they want to survive in a world in which conventional mores and behaviors are being rent asunder and are dropping away faster than Sharon Stone’s underpants once did.
Let it be understood that earlier generations of males had it easier, primarily because they still made the rules. My old man, for example, had it easier. That is because life was simpler, and wants and expectations were fewer. A man could dream and ponder, but if he was a member of that great middle-ground of North American males, he knew the dreams would remain just that. With few expectations, there are few resentments.
Men didn’t actually need much to carry them through their days, either. All they needed was a roof over their heads, three-squares a day, a wife of some sort, a deck of cards in the sock drawer that illustrated 52 sexual positions (49 of which seemed exotic and alien in terms of their life experience), a pack of cigarettes, some power tools, a pint of rye on the upper shelf in case company dropped by, and a job to go to. Same job. Day in, day out, until retirement.
A scenario: My old man is out in the driveway doing a valve-job on the 1953 Chev. A man could do that sort of thing in the 1950s. As life was simpler, so were automobiles. Manufacturers simply assumed the average male owner could grind his own valves, replace a head-gasket, carry out an oil-change and lube, and rotate his tires without the intervention of a mechanic. I, on the other hand, look beneath the hood of my contemporary vehicle, and what I see there frightens me, and I wouldn’t dream of doing anything other than checking the oil level. Just too many damned electronics. Cars didn’t have electronics once; they merely had electricity and electrical connections. You had a battery, distributor, coil, spark plugs, ignition and assorted lights and fuses, and anybody who had passed grade eight had learned all this stuff in school.
So, back to Dad and his valve-grinding. He’d work there for a while, cursing a bit, and smoking cigarette after cigarette. The neighbor from down the street would wander up. He would look under the hood, too. The two men would get into a conversation about valve-pitting. They would reminisce about other cars of their experience – “I had a 36 Willys, and it was hopeless with valves,” – and they would continue to ‘jaw’ in that regard. Sometimes conversation would switch to power tools. If they talked about women – their wives or others – they didn’t do within my earshot. Kids were rarely if ever privy to adult conversations back then.
Generally, men didn’t talk a great deal – especially to kids. They were men, you were a kid. You had little to contribute, so you were going to be ignored or, at the most, be asked to hand the Old Man a particular wrench that was just beyond his reach. No, men didn’t talk to kids, but they did yell at them. My Dad yelled at me a lot. He didn’t hit us, or “whale the bejesus” out of us, like some fathers did, but he sure did yell.
Eventually the scenario for men changed. We became more affluent; women became more assertive and evolved from Harriet Nelson and June Cleaver into ‘modern’ women like Mary Richards and Murphy Brown. Not always a salutary transition within households, but if men were going to survive within the family unit, albeit with a diminished role, then they had to find within themselves sensitivities they’d never been forced to bother about in the past.
So, men came to be involved with ‘nurturing’ for example, and learned that nurture went beyond saying things like: “Buck up. Be a man. Boys don’t cry,” and “Never hit a girl, no matter how dirty they fight.” The ‘new’ male was expected to ‘relate’ to his kids. When with other males they started to talk about ‘relationships’ and ‘sharing’, and less and less about valve jobs.
With that sort of man, for whom Alan Alda provided a kind of role model some twenty years ago, all elements of lifestyle like smoking or excessive drinking came to be eschewed, and were replaced by running, cycling, and going on family hikes with the entire family. Such men also persistently and tiresomely tried to relate to their kids, and to form strong bonds with them.
Some men refused to go along with the new ethic and they either backslid, or they carried on regardless. In fact, they became even more adolescent than males of yore, and took to wearing backward ballcaps in lieu of ‘man hats’, restored venerable ‘muscle cars’ and took to riding Harleys well past an age in which they should know better. For such cases of arrested development, Sturgis SD became the New Jerusalem.
They also, as new men, went to retreats, beat drums, and felt it was their bounden duty to be carnal with any and all females that came within their scopes. If the other guys chose Alan Alda as a mentor, they selected Tim Allen, with all his grunts and brain-dead posturing.
Such guys – guys’ guys – could also rest assured that they never needed to return the toilet seat to horizontal, and that they were the only ones who could pee standing.
Until the Pmate appeared on the scene.