Show Notes — Bourbon, Beards, and Bullets

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Today we wanted to focus on a singular, focused topic, but on one with many subtopics. This issue? Manliness. What is masculinity? What does it mean to be a man? We wanted to explore the societal notions of being manly in this discussion and then find out where we all fall on a spectrum from manly to not-so-manly. We had a special guest for this episode, one who for professional reasons wants his name left out of the tabloids, so we only ever called him “Mystery Guest” or at times Tyler Durden. He added a great amount of laughs to the show, and we thank him for his participation.

I know this episode will edge around the drain of feeding gender stereotypes, but we all do that every day. I don’t think any of us are advocating or denouncing the way men and women are perceived in our culture here in this episode. We are merely having a talk about those stereotypes, and admiring how much we tend to fall to our social/genetic programming that says what a man or woman should be like.

So, in our discussion of manliness, we managed to talk about several things: whiskey, beer, sports, barbeque, and men’s rooms.

Whiskey came first. We talk about how delicious it is and why it seems to be perceived as more manly than other drinks. I suggested it was because of cowboy culture. In any old Western movie, you don’t see manly cowboy studs drinking a gin fizz. They drink whiskey, straight, and follow it with coffee. If you doubt me, watch any episode of the excellent Deadwood and see what they drink. Brad and Brent and our guest all drank some Pendleton, a favorite of mine, during the show. I declined, though they all looked at me like I was breaking some sort of man code and had dishonored myself. But, as is the with George Thurgood, I drink alone…

We transitions to beer next and talked about the rise of craft brews and micro brews. Some good friends of Brent are known to have beer tasting parties where they get expensive and rare beers and sip them to compare taste. It’s a total bro fest in there. They even have an app that lets them rank the beers and keep track of which ones they’ve tried. I said in the show that the worst beer I’ve had isn’t much different to me than the best beer I’ve had. I don’t have the palate for it. I’m not crazy about beer. Our guest suggested maybe there is a genetic component, like they can taste subtle variations in the hops that the rest of us can’t taste. Maybe so. Either way, I’m fine with a Heineken (though my favorite is Peroni), and I don’t need a thirty dollar raspberry wheat APA bitter summer limited release with hops grown on a rare mountain under Seattle. But, maybe I’m not manly enough to enjoy it.

We then hit sports. I went off on professional athletes and how they don’t deserve to be held on pedestals or to get paid that much money. Our guest suggested that we have all run or picked up a ball, and these guys are so far beyond us that they deserve the pay and respect. I suggested the same is true about a great kindergarten teacher or a physicist, but they get no money and no recognition while being MUCH more valuable to our society. We agreed that some of the less prominent sports such as shooting or judo or things in the Olympics are way cooler than the NBA or NFL. Brent got bored. We changed topics.

They talked about barbeque. I’m a vegan. It was gross to me. I had nothing to say. They talked about juices and heat and fire and things. We changed topics and talked about men’s room and men’s room etiquette. I don’t dare try to capture our conversation here. You need to give the bathroom talk a listen. There is a very interesting conversation about human anatomy ending up in a sink.

So, what did we come to after this discussion? Not much, but it was a lot of fun. It turns out that most of us aren’t too manly if we hold things like sports and drinking and meat eating as a masculine standard. I know plenty of women who outdrink, out shoot, and out meat me on a daily basis and still manage to be feminine. My ultimate take is that gender distinctions are strange and forced and required by most people, and if you step away from them, you seem odd or less than you are supposed to be. Men who can’t tile a floor are considered less manly. Women who drive a motorcycle are considered less feminine. This is all horse shit. We should be who we are, not judge one another about it, and enjoy life. Okay, with that, I’m off to do a load of laundry and cook dinner that involves no meat or beer. Not very manly of me, I suppose.


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