lessons in love (for my son)

it’s taken me nearly 44 years on the planet to understand what it means to love a woman…here’s some of what i’ve learned, jack…because you might want to know what that might mean for you–if “loving a woman” is something you want to do, or choose to do yourself someday–if not, that’s another conversation we can have–regardless of what path you take–know that you’ll get the same love and embrace from your old man, cheers!

  1. know yourself…take time to examine and evaluate the things that you’ve said and done…learn from the past…sometimes your heart gets broken because of things they’ve done…but, sometimes it gets broken because of things you’ve done–from the way you’ve been living in the world, guaranteed.
  2. love yourself…see and “believe in” the good that’s in you…no man can have love for another person while at the same time despising himself.
  3. let her know that she’s your queen…court her, pursue her intentionally (and in a healthy/’law-abiding manner’)…listen to her, show up in her life when it counts, give a timely gift, treat her right, woo her–to win her over and beyond!!!
  4. women are not disposable objects that were put on the earth to please and entertain you, son–treat them with love and respect…’call out’ men who don’t.
  5. only say, “i love you” if you really mean it…those words carry a lot of weight.
  6. balance – if all you’re doing is spending time with your “special one”…then, that’s a problem …now, if you’re anything like your old man, when you do fall for someoneyou will fall hard…it’s gonna happen…and you’re gonna lose your mind for a minute (at this time, you will most likely start to see cartoon versions of blue birds flying around and chirping as you randomly and uncontrollably burst into song–zippity doo dah day!)…it’s o.k., it’s a good thing to have those feelings and emotions–but, don’t forget to share your time and love with your friends and family, too!
  7. date one person at a time.
  8. reciprocity – no romance is 100% fair or equal…but, most good ones get close–if you’re doing all the work, making plans, showing up in her life, etc…and she’s “phoning it in” and “treating you bad” — that’s a red flag, son–so, cut her loose, “break it off” and move on.
  9. don’t play games – if you’re not “into her” or “not feeling it”–have the balls to tell her that to her face (never “break it off” by text or email) and move on.
  10. when your heart gets broken, and it will–(privately) share your pain with those “select few” family members and friends you trust; you will know who they are–not everyone gets the honor and privilege of knowing this shtuff–they will be there for you; and keep your distance from her–physically, socially, online, phone, etc…trying to pursue her beyond this point doesn’t do a damn bit of good and makes you look like an idiot.
  11. and if/when you “mess it up” (in how you’ve treated her)…step up, be a man, own it–and apologize for the harm you’ve caused.
  12. sometimes, “i’m sorry” doesn’t cut it…and what happens is a product of not knowing yourself and not dealing with yourself and your shit (this one goes a lot to #1, but probably pops up at other points as well)–because eventually, your shit will rise to the surface – – my shit has a long history of flying out sideways  🙂  [if some of your issues keep resurfacing, keep coming up…then, have faith, be brave, and do the right hard thing–talk to a trained professional counselor–someone who is qualified to advise you and who doesn’t have an axe to grind].
  13. you can talk to me, too…anytime, anyplace…in joy, in pain, in exuberance, in sadness, and in all those “in-between” times…you can ask me anything–and i mean anything…i’ve been there, believe me…and i’m still here, i’m still standing.
  14. trust God, trust the process.

i love you, son.

dad

[this is the tip of the iceberg for the things that i hope to impress upon my son regarding this topic (as he gets older), most of the other things “not listed here” are not for public consumption–they are private matters, personal ones, that are just for me and jack–but today, you get a glimpse behind the curtain…so, enjoy–and have a happy valentine’s day!]

(keep going out) where the wild things are…

“the core of mans’ spirit comes from new experiences.”
-jon krakauer

this summer has had its share of adventures (some planned, some unexpected)…in fact, i was just telling my wife that this has been one of the most action-packed summers of our life together…from road trips to utah and chicago, to camping at state parks around minnesota…i feel like we could’ve run our own outfitting group for travel adventures-

dett-fitters…

not only that, but my friend (nate) and i were able to take a long-awaited canoe trip down the southern part of the st. croix river…we had been talking about taking the trip off-and-on for the past 4 years…but, we both had experienced the arrival of our own children during that time–four children (two each), all told…so, i guess it wasn’t surprising that the trip wasn’t realized until just this summer?!

honestly, i’ve always loved the outdoors…but, i’ve been inspired, once again, by just how excited my children get when we go camping, especially, when we get the tent out…their sense of wonder is completely and absolutely unmatched…it is awesome…so, i was fired-up and determined to make the canoe trip happen this summer–and it was clear that nate was, too…

and as awesome as it was to have all those earlier adventures with my wife and kids…there was something equally as awesome (albeit different) about taking an overnight canoe trip with my friend…we put in at the osceola landing–after hitting the local pizza buffet and downing a couple of miller lites (it was 11am–so, that’s a good start right there)…we headed down the st. croix…the water was the perfect temperature, so we stopped a couple of times to get out and swim near some sand bars…afterwards, we continued on, stopping about 12 miles down to set up camp…after swimming and relaxing by the campsite the sun started to set…so, we went about our chores–and with a good campfire going, we had a hearty, man-made dinner of steak, potatoes and beans–and jack and cokes, of course (that dinner was tasty…and a bit nicer than what you’d get on your average outdoor trip, but hey, it was one night and we could pack the canoe!)… eventually, the fire faded, so we hung up our food and anything else that was “scented” (to keep the wild things away) and hit the hay…

the next morning, we woke to another sunny day…and a deer…checking out our campsite…just 10 feet away …it was unafraid…and, what an amazing sight?!  before breakfast, i had to make a run to the “bathroom”…so, with my trowel and tp in hand i walked a good distance from our site…i dug my hole and took care of business…there’s nothing better to test your mettle than “poopin’ in the woods” (i had to dig my hole pretty fast, too–it was coming!;) …anyways, after i shook out my leg cramp from my “yogi squat*”, i covered my hole with dirt and left no trace behind…i took care of the tp in our “burn can” (a new trick we learned), washed my hands, and relaxed as nate prepared breakfast–i was on dinner duty…

[*yes, i know what a “yogi squat” is…because i took a few yoga classes with my wife this summer…apparently, i need a few more classes, if i’m still getting leg cramps when crouching;)]

after a filling campfire omelette–eggs, cheese, and sausage in foil…and coffee…we took it easy and lounged a bit before hitting the river again…

all packed up and on the river, we continued south…we enjoyed the paddle and the conversation–it was good to be able to catch up on life…just “us men” and the open river…what a great trip it had been…

nate and i on the river

nate and i on the river

but, like all trips, there is a beginning and an end (or, at least, “until next time”)…and, after another 8 miles or so, we reached our destination–the boom site landing near stillwater, mn…

after loading up the canoe and gear, picking up the second vehicle near osceola, we returned to nate’s house to ‘break-down’ and claim our individual supplies…after a few words, we shook hands and went back to our everyday lives…

a few days later, when i was back at home, i thought…

it is important for men to do such things together, to have adventures together, to wonder…once again…at the world.

this father’s day…verse 1

i was thinking that…

fathers and sons don’t say i love you all that often…

i can count on one hand the number of times i’ve told my dad i love him…i’m 42 years-old, people…that should give you an idea about the scope of this kind of thing…

but, just because we don’t say it all that often…or as often as women and mothers do…it doesn’t mean that we don’t have that kind of love for each other…

when i was growing up, my dad was the provider and protector for our family–in the traditional sense–with my mom at home with us most of the time, taking the lead in the child rearing…my dad was there for us (my sister and i)…but just in a different way…

among men…love is most certainly revealed in the act of doing something together…and so it was with me and my dad…whether we were kicking a soccer ball, going to a movie, watching a sporting event, completing a household project, taking a road trip, or having a catch…or even, just sitting side by sidesaying nothing

it was in those little every day interactions and activities together that i knew my dad loved me…

so, thank you, dad…for being there, for doing stuff with me (and chris)…

and though it’s understood, though it’s known…let me tell you, let me say it ‘out loud’ (nearly)…

i love you, i always have…

 

 

ryan

so, ryan asked me…

hey, mr. d….would it be o.k. if i asked melanie (his girlfriend) to prom during your last hour?

i agreed…saying…

sure, what do you have in mind?

what he “had in mind” was this…

ryan showed up to my last class of the day…and i introduced him as a guest speaker that would be presenting on adolescents and alcohol…it fit with what we were doing…and right away, when he came in the door–melanie looked up, surprised…the look on her face said…what is he doing in class?! (i think it was the most attentive i’ve seen her all year;)

he went through his presentation (he had made up a power point that i ‘previewed’ earlier)…he talked about ‘the dangers of alcohol use for teenagers’ and ‘how we see increases in use around the time of prom’… then, he said…

given all these dangers…there’s just one question i have…melanie, will go to prom with me?

she got up, said “yes” and gave him a hug…the class erupted in applause… and, after what seemed like an eternity…i said, you can stop hugging now

[thought i might have to call a code purple…’unauthorized public display of affection’ ;)]

i share this story not because of how it relates to prom…because depending on your perspective and/or your child’s high school experience, prom may or may not be a positive social ritual/tradition for your teenager…

but, i share this story for another reason…i share this story because of what ryan did, because of how he treated his girlfriend…because of his boldness (it takes courage to do that kind of thing in front of a group of students you don’t know)…

he put in work...he took the time to come up with a creative way to ask her to prom; he took the time to think about her…and, i think it was even more significant because she was his girlfriend…the look on her face was priceless, i could tell (at that moment) that he had succeeded in making her feel special…because of the love and respect he demonstrated…

i congratulated him later and said, ‘good work, young man’…

it’s important to hold up these stories, to celebrate these moments…

because there are a lot of guys out there who wouldn’t even think of doing something like that; there are a lot of guys out there who just expect things from girls…like they’re entitled to it…

but, they’re not…they need to put in workshow love and respect…like ryan did…

 

joe

joe has been in my class for two years (the curriculum is set up so that you can take four semesters of criminal justice if you want to (and if your schedule “allows”)…

joe is a rarity among adolescent boys in today’s world…

because joe is the real deal; little about joe is a “front” or “false”…he possesses real self-confidence and bearing and maturity…and holds a worldview that, while not perfect, is truly positive…

joe has the potential to be a great man…

a few weeks back, i told the students that we would be watching freedom writers in class as a part of that week’s lesson (as a teacher, it is a truly inspirational tale–erin gruwell did some amazing work with those kids!)…a movie which usually gets groans from the boys, especially in a criminal justice class…and there was a groan that was voiced by one of the guys…but, joe cut it off…instantly…saying…

dang, d….you’re getting all inspirational on me now…it’s a good movie…makes me want to volunteer and donate all my money to the community…

he was saying it in a very awesome way, kind of giving me a hard time…but, mostly lending his positive support to the movie choice…legitimately so…and the other guys got on board with it too…they got on board with it because joe said it, because joe is a leader…to the positive…

not in some cheap-ass, rose-colored, leave it to beaver way…but, with gravitas (a word i’ve never used to describe a teenage boy before;)…and because he can communicate in that way, he can speak with some authority to his peers…in a way that immediately wins them over…

iron sharpens iron, and so one man sharpens another…

it is something that i’ve appreciated all year–and especially, during this year…one that’s been really tough, one where i’ve been ‘on the ropes’ more than not…

but, joe’s been there (many times)…in my corner, and i can pretty much guarantee that i wouldn’t have made it this far without him…

in a couple of months, when he graduates…i plan on shaking his hand and telling him…

thanks for ‘having my back’ this year, i appreciate it…keep on keepin’ on… with ‘what you’re doing’…you’re a good man…you give me hope…

big e

outside of my father, there are a handful of men that have been and continue to be (in some cases) mentors to me…i consider it an honor and a privilege to have known these men…because they are…

men who have made me a better man…

iron sharpens iron, and so one man sharpens another…

one of “my guys” is affectionately known as “big e”…his real name is rev. eric olsen…and he runs luther heights bible camp in the sawtooth wilderness (in central idaho)…he’s been the camp pastor/director there for more than 20 years…i was fortunate enough to have worked closely with eric over the span of 6 summers…a short, but highly potent and influential time in my maturity…

the term “big e” is fitting because he is a big guy…nature made him that way…he’s the kind of guy who can crush boulders with his bare hands and pull fully grown pine trees out of the ground without breaking a sweat…

ever hear of paul bunyan? this guy trained paul bunyan, folks…

no, but seriously…

you won’t see him on the front cover of a magazine or hear about him on twitter…but he’s the kinda guy you should see and hear about there …because he’s a good man, a man who has dedicated his life to the service of others…and when you’re around him this is unmistakably clear…

you won’t know what he’s about by what he says, he speaks sparingly after all…

you’ll know it by what he does…

by his faith…he lives it out every day…

by the way he treats people…the kindness and love he shares with his family, the staff, the campers, the supporting congregations and individuals from those churches…

by the way he works…whether balancing the books, repairing a leaky roof, rebuilding a trail, building a new cabin, raising money for the camp, or digging out the composting toilet…(yes, he’s the camp pastor/director…but, he doesn’t leave the grunt work to someone else…he doesn’t shy away from the dirty jobs)…

working alongside big e is a lesson unto itself…if you can keep up, you can learn a lot…

so, thank you, eric…for everything…you made a difference in my life…you gave me trust, responsibility, and most of all–grace (and there was more than one time when i needed that;)…for a ‘gentle giant’…you were a powerful presence in my life and in the lives of many other people…and i know i’m better for knowing you…

cheers! peace. dett.

 

you can’t handle the truth…

there are traits that make a 16, 17, or 18 year-old male student truly amazing; like fearlessness, youthful optimism and a sense of adventure about the world around him — however, there are two significant adolescent male traits that can be a challenge in the classroom, home and community:  1) the edgy and ‘confident’ attitude that reveals itself as — i know it all and 2) the attitude/posture that says–i don’t care…about anything…

because boys don’t know it all AND should care (about something) …teaching boys is a really important thing for us to do well…in fact, we are at a critical time for ‘bringing up boys’ in u.s. history…a time when we need a few good men–to teach our boys…and i’m not talking about teaching specific subjects or curriculum components…i’m talking about teaching them what it means to be a man…we need male teachers who will stand “toe-to-toe” with boys and shepherd them into adulthood — truly!

don’t think this is teacher’s job? think again…it’s one of the most important things we can do in schools today…and, believe me, there are countless opportunities each day to help ‘grow boys into men’…in fact, there’s probably a teachable moment every time a boy opens his mouth to say something in class, guaranteed–in addition to a responsible male parent and/or family member (if available), most boys need a responsible male teacher in their lives–one who will smack ’em upside the head–figuratively, of course, in the school setting (heh, heh)–in the way that only a grown man can do…

don’t get me wrong, i’ve had amazing women teachers throughout my life; my wife and my sister are two of the best educators i’ve ever seen–they can rock the classroom…and there are thousands of great women teachers out there…and women can teach boys any subject in the book, no doubt…but, we’re not talking about teaching boys subject matter here…

we’re talking about teaching boys man matters

and when it comes to teaching man matters…no one is better equipped for this task than a man…as evident in this quote from dr. leonard sax:

“…when it comes to showing boys how a gentleman behaves–how a gentleman interacts with women, how he responds to adversity, how he serves his community–then there is no substitute for having a male role model…that’s where boys can benefit most, in my judgement, from seeing a man, perhaps a teacher or a coach, who loves to read in his spare time, who participates in projects for habitat for humanity or in community service with his local synagogue or church, who’s a regular guy–not a saint, not rambo, not john wayne…just somebody real”(sax, 2007).

let me give you two, real-life examples about teaching boys man matters from my classroom…times when i needed to go ‘toe-to-toe’ with the boys in my class…

classroom case files (fall, 2007):

male student: men are smarter than women, that’s a fact (other men in class are nodding in agreement)

female student: i agree with them

(i am shocked at this!)

(other male students clap and laugh)

other male students: see, mr. d.!

mr. d.: let me ask you something young men, and the woman over here — where in the world did you get this idea? (we engage in debate and discussion — where i include facts/research that debunks and challenges what the boys put forth)…

it’s important to not let some comments slide; to openly challenge what has been stated with strong counter-arguments that are based in fact–and this was one of those times… and in the back of my mind, i was thinking…come on, do you really believe this? do you really believe this in the year 2007? come on, this is mad men shtuff…

let’s move on to the next example…

classroom case files (spring, 2014):

this next story takes place during a week when were discussing risk factors (for juveniles that may need social services and/or become delinquent)…on one particular day, i had them write down all the things that they do that drives their parents nuts…things that their parents wouldn’t want them doing …and they came up with some good ones: staying out past curfew, lying, using alcohol or drugs, ‘back talking’, not answering their phones, not cleaning their rooms, skipping school, etc…then, i had them flip it and write down all the things that would drive them nuts if they were a parent–things they wouldn’t want their kids doing…

[a few of my students are actually parents (teenage moms), so that always makes these exercises a bit more interesting; fyi-the teen parents i have in class this semester are not in this particular block of students, though i wish they were]

“things they wouldn’t want their kids to do” items: use/become addicted to drugs, drop out of school, bully another student, get arrested, get thrown in  jail, etc…then came one that was gender specific (daughter specific)

get pregnant…

while most parents (regardless of gender) would agree that they wouldn’t want their daughters to get pregnant in high school…this item was voiced by a boy in class and then, immediately, a bunch of other guys chimed in to agree with him and comment on that item…some of the girls agreed, some stayed silent…but, the boys got louder and made “the getting pregnant thing” a one-sided deal, they talked about it like it was “her problem”…this is when i stepped in…

mr. d.: say that again? 

male student: you know, i would definitely be upset if my daughter got pregnant, i wouldn’t tolerate that…but, i would’ve kept her under lock and key beforehand…

mr. d.: what about your son? i take it that you put this item into a different category, according to gender…because you think it’s different for your son?

male student: of course, he’s got more freedom to date and see girls…it would be different with my daughter…you know…it’s what guys do…

mr. d.: what if your son was involved with a girl…and got a girl pregnant? then what? i mean, it takes ‘two to tango’, you know…are you gonna give him a free pass?

the male student started to lose steam…it was at this time that his friends tried to save him, to take his side and come to his rescue…so, they came at me and tried to back me down…

but, i didn’t back down…i continued to push back, hard–against this group of boys…i was forceful and there was iron in my words…

mr. d.: you know, we teach teen moms over here…i’ve had quite a few of them in my classes…and these girls have to take responsibility for their actions–the part they played in the pregnancy, no doubt…but, so should the boys, the teen dads…the boys who chalk this up as a ‘notch on their belts’…a ‘conquest’…like it makes them a man…but, let me tell you something…these guys…most of ’em…they don’t ‘show up’, they disappear–after the fact…you think that’s what it means to be a man?! you think that’s what it means to be a father?!

it got real quiet after that…

importantly, i didn’t shame, belittle, or ‘name-call’ any of the guys in my classroom…but i didn’t sit there quietly either, i didn’t let their comments slide, like it was nothing [importantly, a lot of where they get this mindset from is…the media, their male peers, and some older males (who get it wrong)…the double standard for men and women on this issue is pervasive throughout our society (i’ve got to guard against it myself)…but, it’s no excuse]…it was something they needed to be challenged on, it was something they needed to be called out on…because it’s part of the greater negative worldview regarding women…a negative worldview that some men hold and pass onto the younger generations–that women are objects…for the amusement and pleasure of men–and that kind of thinking affects how men treat women…thinking, after all, affects action (i am one to know, i’ve been there–intentionally and unintentionaly)…so, if you can influence the way a boy thinks, positively, he’ll be a better man for it, he’ll treat the women in his life with love and respect…

there are countless other issues that come up at school that need to be addressed with boys…bullying and harassment, work ethic, motivation, problem-solving, perseverance, responsibility, adversity and how to respond to it, ‘admitting when you’re wrong’, etc…i chose these two examples (that focus on gender bias) because it is an issue that comes up a lot at school (out of the mouths of boys) and in our society, in general …where it is common to equate masculinity with the ‘degradation of women’...male teachers can change that

when a male teacher confronts a boy in class, it lands differently than if the same conversation had taken place in the presence of a female teacher (just as it would be different if a female teacher confronted a girl in class about the domain of women)–it carries a lot weight…or, in biblical terms (proverbs 27:17):

iron sharpens iron, and so one man sharpens another

in these moments, it becomes immediately clear that when boys are up against a male teacher who won’t back down (yet talk to them with respect and reason)…a male who possesses real swagger, who really knows something about the world, who really cares about the world–that their ‘(over) confidence’ and i know it all attitude is most often revealed as a front…and that, most of all, they’ve got a lot to learn

who better to challenge a male than a male teacher? who better to counter a negative behavior in a male, than a male? who better to call out a male on ‘what he thinks is cool’ — but is, in fact, a harmful approach to life, than another male? who better to encourage and support a male, than another male? especially, at this time in their lives, when they really need it — when they are pushing up against every parent and every other authority figure around them…when they are looking for an opponent, a fight — intentionally and deliberately — who better to push back with bravery, wisdom, and love…than another male?

the following observation from poet robert bly soundly sums up such things:

“during the sixties, some young men drew strength from women who in turn had received some of their strength from the women’s movement…one could say that many young men in the sixties tried to accept initiation from women…but only men can initiate men, as only women can initiate women…women can change the embryo to a boy, but only men can change the boy to a man” (bly, 1990).

we don’t need perfection, but we do need a few good men…

a male who is brave is best, a male who is tough is best, a male who is stubborn is best, a male who has been through some shit is best, a male who has moral fiber is best…and above all, a male who cares is best…*

in 2011, 84% of public school (k-12) teachers were female (Feistritzer, 2011)…and, given the impact that a male role-model can have–it is clear that we need more men in this field…men who will match, step for step, the young boys they will go up against every day…and given the class-sizes of schools across the nation, i think we can add men and balance the ‘teacher-profile ledger’ without threatening the jobs of women teachers…

so, men, sign up today!

*nowhere in this section do i mention that the male has to be straight…that’s not a prerequisite for this kind of work…for teaching man matters…one of my former colleagues–that i still hold in the highest regard–was/is an openly gay choir director at a church i worked at in omaha, nebraska…talk about stones…try doing that in nebraska, people…anyways, this guy had the respect and admiration of the staff, the families and the kids in the church community…and was an outstanding leader and role model for the boys in our youth programs…

recommended reading: boys adrift: the five factors driving the growing epidemic of unmotivated boys and underachieving young men–video games, teaching methods, prescription drugs, environmental toxins, and the devaluation of masculinity, dr. leonard sax, 2007; (one of the best books i’ve ever read about teaching and parenting boys in america); profile of teachers in the u.s. 2011, c. emily feistritzer, 2011: http://www.ncei.com/Profile_Teachers_US_2011.pdf; iron john-a book about men,  robert bly, 1990.

your in trouble, man…

one thing that still surprises me about our society is that…sometimes i encounter men who never got a copy of the manual of bathroom policies and procedures: men’s room edition…volume VII in the expansive body of work that concerns the ‘man code’…

it’s like they missed that day of class or never got the memo for this type of thing…

it doesn’t matter that the manual isn’t an actual publication or that it isn’t written down anywhere, for that matter…

because it’s the kind of thing that is passed down from generation to generation…it’s the kind of thing that is understood, or should be understood among all men…at least, in america…press play on lee greenwood’s proud to be an american…

what should be understood, what is so very important to understand…is…what you do and what you don’t do in the men’s room…not knowing these things (the do’s and the don’ts), not knowing the rules is a problem…and in the worst case scenarios, not knowing the rules could result in the revocation of your ‘man card’…

that should give you an idea of just how serious these offenses and violations are…

i should know…because i’ve been violated multiple times at work recently…

let me recount the tales…

one day, i walked into the men’s room at our school…

[it should be noted that our school does not have staff bathrooms…so, we have to use the same bathrooms the kids use…which means we’ve got bathrooms that look like all hell broke loose in there (this usually happens as soon as 30 minutes into the start of the school day as best as we can figure)…graffiti, trash, damaged stall doors and walls, un-flushed toilets, you name it…in all honesty, it looks like a scene straight out of the science-fiction classic escape from new york–with some of those same looking characters ‘in and out of there’ all day long…sometimes, when i’m in there, it gives me a bad feeling–the heebiejeebies…like…i’m not getting out of here alive]

and, i found my urinal…it’s the one that is located against the far wall…on one side of my urinal is a second urinal (there’s only two) and on the other side is the wall i just mentioned…behind me (if i’m facing my urinal) are two stalls…on the other side of the urinals are two sinks/mirrors…

anyways…i’m at my urinal, doing my business…alone…a moment of contentment, you know…

when the door creaks open…

and ‘a fellow’ comes in (all males in this post shall remain nameless, to protect the innocent)…then it happens…he does the unthinkable…

he saddles up to the urinal next to me and starts doing his thing (violation #1)…

then, he commits a second violation almost immediately…he starts talking to me (violation #2)…

let me break this down for you…these are two things you don’t do in the men’s room…especially, in tandem…these are two blatant and reckless violations of the ‘man-code’…

first, let’s address violation #1…any man who knows the manual…knows that if there are just two urinals (as in this case)…and one man is already at one urinal…the ‘open one’ is not really open…especially, when both stalls are free…in this case, the correct move for the new arrival is to take one of the vacant stalls

[this is true in just about every men’s bathroom situationbut the exceptional cases, the outliers…the rare cases where there are exceptions to the rules…which we’ll get to in a moment]

it’s known, it’s understood…

at the same time, this guy adds insult to injury by trying to talk to me…this is a big “no-no”…this isn’t a time for a casual chit-chat like we’re having a coffee at starbucks or enjoying a big ginger at the local irish pub (one of the best bars in minneapolis)…this is a time when you’re exposed and vulnerable…it’s it place of privacy–and it’s no place to start-up a conversation or make ‘small talk’–you’ve got to respect the space, man…

it’s known, it’s understood…

or so i thought…

unbelievably, later that same day…another ‘fellow’ committed the same exact offense, with the same exact one-two punch: 1) he took the adjoining urinal when there were two open stalls and 2) he tried to talk to me?!…and later that week, the guy who had violated me the first time–got me again (and then, it all became quite clear to me–this guy, missed that day of class…this guy, never got the memo)…

anyways, what happened was…i had just passed him in the hallway–he was talking someone…and, i thought–i’m safe…boy, i was wrong!  i had barely got to work and he was there, right next to me–again!  by the third incident (sixth violation) i was so rattled that i was hugging my urinal like it was my last true friend in the world…like tom hanks gripped wilson in castaway…if i was any closer, i would’ve been standing in the basin

so, nowadays, i survey the scene completely (immediate area and nearby hallways) and have only come to accept a “no visual-contact” radius (for those two characters) of 100-yards as my safe zone

anyways, if you’re an up and coming man, a young lad (this includes you, jack)…pay close attention to what’s been said here…and to the few rare exceptions below…and don’t ever forget what you’ve been told…

urinal decorum: exceptions to the rules (situations where it’s o.k. to take the urinal next to a man who’s already ‘in position’)…

  • you can take up a position next to an occupied urinal if there is a partition between the urinals
  • you can take up a position next to an occupied urinal if there are no open stalls and you ‘can’t wait’
  • you can take up an adjoining position if you are at major event like a football game, concert, etc…where there is a trough urinal (the over-arching rule in this situation is: get in and get outquickly!)
  • in such cases where there are multiple urinals and multiple men in position, you will, to your best efforts, attempt to keep one urinal between you and any other man in position 
  • the only time you can talk to someone at an adjoining urinal is when a) you are drunk and/or b) when the person taking up a position next to you is your homie

[the policies, procedures (and exceptions) have been included in this post with the expressed written permission of the international coalition of men’s men]

*the term violation refers to a norm violation…a norm is defined as an unwritten rule for socially acceptable behavior…other such violations would be sitting next to someone in a movie theater when there are other available ‘open seats’; farting in church; eating off of someone else’s plate; etc (many others of which were highlighted brilliantly in the show seinfeld)…

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