As a man I am part of an exclusive club where every move you make and every word that comes out of your mouth is scrutinized by fellow club members. As a part of this club we are even issued cards and we men spend our entire life trying to hold on to our "man card."
For those who don't know what a man card is, the idea is this: When a boy becomes a man, or grows his first facial hair, he is issued a man card which is good for a lifetime. Only men can see these cards and there are a list of rules that make the tax code look like a Dr. Seuss book.
For example: Rule 171, section 8, subsection B: "There are only 16 actual colors, much like a Windows default. Any reference to any color otherwise, such as salmon, mauve or lilac is deemed to be unmanly."
All right, maybe I am making that up. I'm not sure it is subsection B.
But there are rules and the breaking of these rules can lead to the clipping of your card or lead to the revocation of your card all together. The idea being that if you do something that isn't manly you get your card clipped or taken. A man without a man card is open to intense teasing and ridicule from other card holders.
Some acts take your man card immediately. Obvious things such as violence against women or sleeping with another man's wife are despicable acts and those guilty parties were never real men in the first place.
But you can lose your man card for many trivial things. A "man" who is caught knitting immediately loses his card. A "man" who calls his significant other little pet names like "princess" or "honey bear" in public immediately loses his card. Suggesting watching a film like "The Notebook" is another card-stripping act. The only notebook a real man needs is the one where he writes down the man cards he has taken.
I, myself, am a part of the man card police and use such a notebook. It is a self-appointed post that requires a great deal of responsibility. I must create and enforce the rules and level serious penalties in the form of barbs, zingers and scathing remarks.
It is a hard job because the violations can be many. I constantly have to answer questions regarding the keeping of one's man card.
-- The accused goes to watch "Twilight" and admits liking the movie. Also an active duty Marine. (Man card clipped but not revoked. He's a Marine after all.)
-- The accused wears matching T-shirts with his girlfriend in a non-Halloween situation. (Man card revoked.)
-- The accused drinks an alcoholic drink with shrubbery in it. (Man card suspended until accused stops drinking like a girl.)
-- The accused has attended a Justin Bieber concert and also has Bieber songs on his iPhone. (Man card revoked with prejudice)
-- The accused actually cleans house instead of kicking things under the bed and hiding items in a closet. (Warning issued but man card kept)
I recently took my friend's man card for being a single "man" who lives with his mom and purchased a mini-van that is built for soccer moms.
Now my friend can get his man card restored although it is rare for it to happen. He could run into a burning building and save a family, he can get shot and remove his own bullet without any anesthesia or rebuild an engine from scrap parts.
But there is a ton of gray area which men argue over daily. For example just the other night my girlfriend and I went shopping with some friends. While they were looking at items at a kiosk, my girlfriend asked me to smell something in Bath and Bodyworks.
I felt the "you're coming in or else" vibe and I looked at my friend and his wife with their backs turned. I thought I had a short window so I slipped into the store about 10-feet, well... maybe 15-feet, and smelled some fruity concoction.
"Do you like that scent?"
"Really, I wore that last night?"
And just about then, my friend spots me and announces "Well there goes your man card!" Double crap.
Only he had crossed the threshold with his wife and was in the store five feet before he saw me. Maybe I lost a corner of the card, but I didn't lose the entire card.
He on the other hand, has no card. He has an Elton John CD and was debating which James Bond was the best looking with his wife after we saw "Skyfall" later in the evening. Another name in my book.
Maybe he can get that card back. But first he has to wrestle and kill a full-grown, starved grizzly bear with his bare hands.
My card, however, may be cut and roughed up but it is still in hand. However, I have found that having a girlfriend puts me at risk daily. I'm already trying to find that starved grizzly bear and learning how to build an engine just in case.