Sunday, 12 April 2009

Doing the Mandango

by Manflet of the Moment; Paul Forse, of comedy/DJ troupe Hot Doctors.

I am (supposedly) a man. At the tender age of 28 I've given up trying to pretend otherwise, and go about my daily business in a manly fashion. I have facial hair, my voice is deeper than a woman's and my build completes the disguise – but that's all it is, a disguise. I live a parody of the Superman Mythos where Superman is a confused child and Clark Kent is an idealised version of my dad. I've always felt like something was lacking, and even in my late twenties my attitude and actions seem inherently, disgustingly, childish.

Years ago I decided that none of this was my fault. Either my mother or my father or society had failed me. No one had instilled in me a readiness for Manhood or even a real tangible idea of what a MAN is. I don't even know when I'm supposed to become a man, when 'to put away childish things' – and this is the crux of the problem.

Coming of ages rituals and rites of passage have existed for millennia. From the Bar Mitzvah (when a Jewish child reads from the Torah to symbolise their ability to govern their own faith) to the Gempuku (in which a samurai boy is given adult clothes, an adult haircut and even an adult name), these initiations provide a signpost to life, a definitive leap into adult/Manhood – something which seemed to be missing from my own largely secular upbringing.

And so I have been left to wander the wastelands of boyishness, not blokey enough for the men down the pub and far too tall to still be in the comic shop. I have no legacy, no legend, and no Manhood. I have vowed that this ends here – that any son of mine will be prepared, will be ready and waiting for Manhood. I will train him and make him Man!

I have updated one of the most basic rituals, in order to prepare my own flesh and blood for Manhood: The act of dominating another species by bringing about its death. I could never actually kill something myself and, although it’s probably the fastest route to Manhood, I could never make my child do it.

Instead: from an early age, my son shall be taught the intricacies of frozen meat. He will learn the exact defrosting time of pork in comparison to its own weight. Via a series of picture cards and unannounced quizzes, he will learn a variety of techniques for separating 200g of frozen mince from a 400g packet. And on the day of his 16th birthday, I will unplug the microwave, arm him with a knife, present him with a whole frozen chicken and tell him; “mother will be cooking fajitas, if he can provide the chicken pieces.” He will sweat and he will fight and he may want to give in but, like Luke entering the mysterious tree in Star Wars, he will emerge a Man!

And so my son will not fall foul to the same fate that felled me. But what of my own misplaced Manhood? Well, I have decided to take action. I have procured a bearskin from eBay and will not return from the wilderness of Camberwell Green until I have killed (or at least harmed) one pigeon…

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