March’s Top Five Videos

5. Milton Friedman on Why Greed is Good (Donahue Show)


 

4. Taylor Mali on Agressive Inarticulation


 

3. Ann Coulter on Single Moms


 

2. Rick Mercer on Everything You Wanted to Know about Canada


 

1. Oren Lavie on Lazy Girls in Big Beds


 

Latin for ‘Suffering’

A visual history of my literary submissions.  

 

Alaska

Boston 2

Boston

 

 

 

 

 

Oberlin

Malahat

Second Letter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Debunking the “Bromance”

“Bromance” is a combination of the words “brother” and “romance”. It’s a close, personal but platonic relationship between two males. And according to Wikipedia, bromance is a relatively recent occurrence:

Research into friendship and masculinity has found that recent generations of men, raised by feminist mothers in the 1970s, are more emotionally open and more expressive. There is also less concern among men at the notion of being identified as gay and so men are more comfortable exploring deeper friendships with other men.

Preposterous. Men have been playing pool, poker, pick-up soccer, and shinny together for generations. Not to mention ice fishing, and other age-old, male-oriented social settings like the sweat-lodge and town saloon. We’ve been busy socializing with each other for much longer than women have (when we’re not at war). And today’s men are no more emotionally expressive with each other then they were 50 or 100 or 1000 years ago. While our modes of socializing have become less violent, on the whole, we haven’t change much.

Why not? Because in the relationship between two average straight guys, sex isn’t an issue. Sex, and the availability of it, is the only thing that changes men’s behaviour. It is true that in the West, men’s attitudes towards women have changed, but that is simply because what women find attractive in a man has changed.

I challenge you. Go eavesdrop on your average male gathering this weekend, come back and tell me if the men there were being “emotionally expressive” around the poker table or football game. What you’ll find there, is what has always been: a lot of chest-beating, back-slapping and bravado.

And what of the one-on-one relationship between two close straight males? Well, take myself for instance. I read and write poetry and often think of myself as sensitive. But when I’m around a close male friend, 99.99% percent of the conversation is on topics other than feelings or emotions. Only in extreme circumstances, like a personal crisis do these topics arise and are dealt with directly. Most of the time, our feelings and emotions are conveyed through other topics such as work, jokes or objects such as a pool table or table saw. Why do straight men need a third object, such as a nice car or a new power tool through which to communicate? Because sex isn’t an option. Sex has, is, and always will be the most important object, or objective (pardon the pun).

So, if men really haven’t changed much, why has the concept of the “bromance” arisen? Well, while it’s true that men are settling down and/or getting married later, women are doing the same, and therefore having children later. In the interim, the affection that would normally go towards a cute little child, is being directed at the male. And now, every time a husband or boyfriend laughs with one of his friends: “Oh, that’s so cute!” (This also may explain why Youtube is awash with puppy videos).

If you’re having trouble believing this, ask yourself: Do you really think the women out there with two or three kids are concerned – or even have time to care about – the emotional levels in their boyfriends’ or husbands’ friendships? I can guarantee that the idea of “bromance” wasn’t thought up by a mother of two.

I guess what I find annoying about this faux-phenomenon, this result of misdirected affection, is its invasiveness. I feel as though I’m being observed in my natural habitat. And the worst thing about it is it’s a fascination which is temporary as it is shallow. Despite what they claim, women don’t really want men to be all that sensitive. I once asked my wife if she’d be attracted to me if I cried in front of her a lot, to which she replied “definitely not”. When I asked how many times would be an acceptable amount of crying (I haven’t yet), she said two.

The term “bromance” was first coined in 1990 by editor, freelance writer and skater Dave Carnie. At the time, it was meant to describe the bond between that can develop between skaters. Now, I’m no skater, but if Dave Carnie’s lifestyle was anything like mine the early nineties, it’s very likely whatever feelings he had for his “bro’s” got a little boost from odd joint and shot of Jagermeister. In essence, the age-old common occurrence of drunk and stoned males hugging, slapping each other on the backs and yelling “I love you man!” has been put through the pop-culture meat grinder. Now you’re “out of the loop” if you don’t know the term. And we have TV shows like Bromance, and a global fascination with pairs of public male figures who spend any amount of time together (Affleck and Damon, Provincial Premiers Dalton McGuinty and Jean Charest). Worst of all, I can’t even meet up with a guy for a drink without it being called a man-date.

But I digress. Perhaps “bromance” is simply a sign that it’s man’s turn at being under the microscope. Women have been at the whim of men’s curiosity for thousands of years. They’ve been the subject of our gaze since time began. So it’s probably about time that the lenses were turned upon our hairy little forms.

They Said Bali was Rabies-Free

When the ten-pound
Balinese
Forest
Monkey
bit my arm
I felt nothing, at first
I had no point of reference
there had been no attack
like this before:
no dog
disturbed from a nap
no angry beaver
whose dam I would tear apart
every summer weekend
to clear the river
east of Orillia; we had
a donkey
once, on a farm
lost to the ’91 recession
she was a spiteful thing
-the donkey, that is-
and she would try to crush us
against fence posts
with the weight of her body,
bit even she refrained from using her teeth
and simply kicked my sister, once; the goose
that bit my cheek
and the rooster that picked
at my ankles do not count
because they don’t have teeth
and that wild mink
was just too slow;
as for my mother
yes, she bit me once
after I had bit my cousin
and I think my sister;
she wanted to show me
what it was like
so she, like this Balinese Forest Monkey
sank her teeth into my arm, but then
what kind of person
would use their own mother
as a comparison
to an attack of a primate, wacked
on tourist bananas?

Sadly
I had neither the fix
it desperately needed
nor anything to compare
the attack to, the only thing
it produced in me
-the attack, that is –
was a stunned look on my face
and a tingling sensation
in my arm
after it let me go.

We had a moment then
the monkey and I
a pause between worlds, planets
brushing orbits, as we looked
at one another and experienced
what experts
in the animal world
refer to as “making contact.”

And so when the ten-pound
Balinese
Forest
Monkey
bit my arm a second time
there was no mistaking it
what all the mouths of my life
had failed to convey:

This is what it means
to be ravaged.