“Dude, what do you think you’re doing?”
His shocked tone both surprised me and didn’t at the same time. I wanted to come off as curious while not sounding stupid. I simply asked “What?” and watched his eyes widen even further.
“Dude, you took a bath,” Martin exclaimed, eyes now larger than originally thought possible. “How could you take a bath?”
The question seemed ludicrous to me. I walked a lot that day. I was tired. My legs were sore. The bath was hot.
However, I knew where he was coming from. I had interacted with Martin several times before this trip. He would not have been my first choice for a roommate. Or second. Or third. Probably fourth.
He is your typical super straight guy — nice guy, but super straight for sure. Based on my handful of conversations with him, I did deduce he would balk at the idea of taking a bath. However, rooming lists for this trip were assigned, and my other two roommates were awesome. So, I wasn’t going to complain.
I had a few ways to respond to Martin. I figured my initial idea for a response — “Suck my d***” — would not go over well. I also nixed this one: “Guess you’d better guard your loins from the gay bather, then.”
Instead, I went with response number 3: “What’s wrong with a bath?”
“What’s wrong with a — what’s wrong with — what’s WRONG?!” Martin acted like he’d just found out Santa’s not real. “You took a BATH!”
At this point, I couldn’t even respond. I just stared at him, waiting for him to come up with a better argument than stating the obvious.
After a moment, Martin shook his head and said, “Well, I guess I’m just gonna go take a MAN shower before bed.”
Yes, he said “MAN shower.” I couldn’t stand it. I lay in my bed, still somehow relaxed after my soothing bath. I shook my head and said, “Right. It’s just a bath. We’re not in the 1960s, man. Deal with it.”
The conversation diverted from there, thanks to our other two roommates. Martin trudged off to his “MAN shower” — whatever the heck that is — and I continued to feel relaxed and less sore.
It makes me sad, though. This guy is a genuinely nice guy who loves God.
But he’s bought into a delusional sense of masculinity based more on actions than identity. He has given into the lie that men have strict do’s and don’t’s that will somehow contribute or detract from one’s identity and masculinity.
He is living a life led by outside reception and definition rather than by defining himself in Jesus Christ.
And, more importantly, he’s living a life that does’t allow him to enjoy a nice, soothing bath.
And that, dear reader, is the most tragic part of this story.
What are some other things “real men” supposedly do? How do you react whenever your masculinity is called into question?
* Photo courtesy alanszalwinski, Creative Commons.