I hate mowing my lawn. Hate it with a passion. This is not an exaggeration either. If I could, I would have solid gravel all around my house. That, or a magical lawn fairy who would keep my lawn looking pristine without my ever having to lift a finger.
Since the lawn fairy still ignores my calls, I mow my lawn myself. The other day in the afternoon heat, I ventured outside to mow my lawn in the skimpiest outfit, publicly appropriate. Sounds sexy — definitely the opposite.
While grunting along, I noticed several guys redoing a roof across the street. If there’s one thing I hate more than mowing the lawn, it’s the idea of redoing my roof. The guys were on the housetop in the blazing sun, no cover to offer respite, and two were completely shirtless — their dark skin showed they did this often.
As I begrudgingly trudged across my grass, I had a moment of panic: what if those shirtless guys see me mowing my lawn? What will they think?
Some may scoff at my panic, but it was a legitimate fear.
What if those manly roofing men saw the poor little excuse for a masculine man chopping his lawn and laugh?
I was positive they’d think so little of me. And I knew they would realize how pathetic I was as a man. They’d realize how much more masculine they are on that roof than me on the lowly ground. I found comfort in keeping my head down, hoping to avoid their mocking me.
My fear realized, one of the guys came down to his car and walked right by me. I freaked, unsure what he would do. Would he stop me to point out my weakness? Shake his head in pity at the sight of me?
Would he know how insecure I am when it comes to doing something stereotypically (and unfairly so) masculine?
True story — the guy just walked by and simply gave me a head nod with a “hello.”
No laughter, no pity — just a nod to say hi. I was shocked. Surely this meant he would wait to laugh at me with his buddies.
Yet, as far as I know, Tan Roofing Guy never paid me another thought. I didn’t hear any laughter from across the street. No pitying eyes burned the back of my neck. There was no reaction.
I realized something while mowing my lawn: I was the only one pitying myself. The only person doubting my masculinity was me.
I was the only person mocking my pathetic self, because I was the only guy outside that day who even had a thought about my being pathetic.
It caused me to stop and wonder: how often have I done this in the past? Have I made other assumptions about another man’s view of me? Has my view of myself grown negative simply because I believe others view me negatively?
I finished mowing the lawn and headed inside for a much needed shower. As I looked at my work that afternoon, all I could think was: I did this. I accomplished this.
An unusual sense of masculine pride came over me. Something I am not used to.
And then I called the magical lawn fairy to leave another message.
Do certain tasks make you feel more/less masculine? Have you doubted your masculinity based on your abilities, especially out in public? How do you find your own sense of masculinity in today’s culture?
* Photo courtesy ngillis, Creative Commons.