Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Less Than Conventional

There's nothing more amusing than walking down The Drag here in Austin, Texas to see what the University kids believe to be the next cool "thing." 
When I first got to town I remember two-foot high spiked hair, which morphed into skinhead mosh-pitters, which in turn became flannel-shirted, stocking-hat grungers, who became nose-studded, inked hipsters who became, well, I haven't figured out what look today's men get to be.

For the cool, it's important to be different and some would say unconventional.  However, I take exception to the latter because I strive to be unconventional and I'm nothing like those cool folks.

I never got a tattoo. I never did anything to my hair in order to be different (although if you've seen my picture, you know I'd be willing to do that just to have hair). I didn't wear jeans with a hole in the knee to be cool—I wore jeans with a hole in the knee because I would do work that wore out the knees in my jeans.

I guess it’s because I believe being unconventional has more to do with behavior rather than appearance.  I attempt not to act the way society may expect me to act.  You know, things like get out of school and buy a nice car, invest in a house, get married and have 2.5 kids.  Instead I kept driving my beat up old car, I didn’t want to be known as a landowner, so lived in apartments until I finally felt backed into a corner and bought a house (it’s a looonnng story) and my relationships…Well, you’ve seen this blog and know that I’ve been less than conventional in relationships and so remain single.

It all began decades ago while a teenager.  I had a good friend named Phil Johnson who developed cancer after my family had moved away.  We kept in close contact via mail (it was long before anything like the internet. No, not the Stone Age. Jeez) so I knew of his struggles, including the loss of one of his legs.  So my family traveled from El Paso back to Topeka to go to his brother’s wedding.

When we got to the church, our first time to see each other, he was at the top of the stairs with his family, I was down at the door with mine.  He was so excited to see me that he yelled my name.  I looked up at the smiling face of my young friend and fought the urge to run up the steps to greet him.  Instead, I did as I was programmed and stayed at the bottom of the stairs in the receiving line with my family.  Heaven forbid I do something out of the norm that the conventional folks of Kansas (and my family) would think was out of line.

Oh, we had a nice reunion when my family finally made it to the top.  He was still happy to see me, but that image of his smiling face looking down at me while I stayed motionless haunted me.  Especially when he died from that cancer a few short years later.

That conventionality, that formality, burned into my thoughts.  I vowed to never let formality or being conventional interfere with the important moments in life.

I remember at my high school graduation a cousin shouted out as I walked across the stage “he’s got tennis shoes on!” I think I was the only one who didn’t wear formal shoes and attire.  I didn’t mind the public abuse.  I felt comfortable.

(Jay working graduation. Nope, wouldn't wear a suit)
My parents always insisted that my brother and I wear a suit and tie to Sunday church services yet all during high school I somehow managed to get away with just a sweater and open neck. One time I needed to borrow a black suit jacket from someone so I could go to a funeral of a relative.  For about 20 years the only time I would wear a tie was when I had to work the graduation ceremony as part of my advising duties.  So in that 20 years I only wore a tie twice a year (spring and fall graduation).

Yes, it's Jay's VW & Datsun, circa 80s
When everyone else would buy a new car every other year because they wanted to stay in style, I would hold on to my old car or truck for ten years no matter its’ looks.  If I did buy a different car/truck, it would be used, usually with dents and ugly paint job, and the main feature had to be good MPG’s—which is a popular trend today, but I’ll keep that habit no matter.

This latter habit didn’t help relationships with females.  As noted in previous blogs, while men may be superficial in how a woman looks, women want a man who has a fancy car (in other words, money).

My desire to avoid formality and the conventional affected relationships in other ways.  For example, I actually wanted women to make choices, not to let me make all the decisions. Oh, sure, as you may have noted in my routine blog I can get set in my ways, but I like trying different things, I'm almost always looking for different experiences.
So often I'd call a girlfriend up and ask her what she wanted to do and she'd get flustered and insist I decide. It could be that it was early in the relationship and she hadn't committed yet (yeah, I blogged about that too) and so didn't want to make a mistake. But surely with all the females around wanting equal rights you'd think I'd find a few willing to express themselves on a social level.  Most guys, the macho types anyway, probably insist or want to be the decider.  I wanted to hear something from her.

So no, you may never see me inked or with purple hair.  I may not wear a tie or fancy clothes to your formal event.  You will definitely never see me with a ring in my nose.  However, there's a good chance that I will not act the way you expect. I may even do something just to get a reaction from you.  Forgive me, it's just me doing my best not to be conventional.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Vive la Difference

The Alamo Drafthouse here in Austin has had some really interesting movies promotions.  They had a "Jaws" film screening in which the patrons are on floats in a pool; they had the "all you can eat spaghetti" night while you watch "spaghetti" westerns; and recently, they had a women only night to watch "Wonder Woman."

Interestingly, this latter one has created a firestorm of protest from men who state it violates their rights.  Although it might be a little hypocritical, it is stretching it to say the screening violates anybody's rights—especially mens.  Face it, men are the most spoiled, pampered and entitled of the sexes. Well, white men.  People of color, no matter the gender, have not had it easy.

With all of the above in mind The Thurber Brigade wishes to stress that we are not a "men's rights" group/advocate.  If anything, we stick out our tongues at those guys because, well, we think it's so goofy.
The Thurber Brigade is here to point out the differences between the sexes—and hopefully do it in a funny, tongue-in-cheek manner.  
For example, when men's rights groups say men are treated unfairly at bars or banks, we at TTB are more likely to say isn't it funny how women can shop for men's underwear with impunity, while men roaming the women's undies section are likely to be arrested.
When men's rightists swear the men are treated unfairly by the courts in divorce lawsuits, we at The Thurber Brigade are likely to make fun of women who scream for equal rights, but wouldn't dream of asking that cute guy at the bar out on a date (First Contact).

We at The Thurber Brigade know for sure that men have all the advantages in life compared to women, but also know there are some major differences in the way the sexes act/behave.
For example, women are lost at 4-way stops and are likely to let every single driver go first no matter if they got there first.  Women will complain about how men are sooo superficial and that they stereotype women by the size of their breasts, yet women are just as superficial and stereotype men about the size of their wallets (or style of car among other things).  Women seem to think that men have ESP and can magically tell when they are interested in them. While men will go up to women they don't know, women will instead try to use signs/mannerisms to get a man interested. Women seem to have different vision than men, in that they'll go "ewww" when they see a man in a Speedo—unless that guy is Justin Timberlake.
So sure, there is plenty of hypocrisy on both sides of the gender wall, but it has more to do with social issues, like men's and women's fashion, rather than economic or legal rights.  The Thurber Brigade will continue to stay away from mundane, silly ideas like "Men's rights," but will continue to make fun of the weirdness of both genders as they interact with each other. 

 Once again, angry feminists somehow acquired an early copy of this blog and have complained that The Thurber Brigade was more interested in presenting pictures of a scantily clad female superhero rather than make a definitive statement.  The Brigade states clearly that we really wanted to make a statement that we do not advocate for men's rights—AND wanted to show more pictures of Gal Godot as Wonder Woman.  Sorry.