It happens everyday in varying degrees, from the moment you first interact with other men until you go to bed at night, sometimes, it even persists into your dreamscape. That moment you see another man and quietly think to yourself, “now that’s a man”. The last time it happened to me was two days ago when the Springboks showed up to train at the gym I go to. Mind you, I wasn’t the only guy who got more than a little distracted from their workout. If you say you have never appreciated another man who is better than you in some way, physically, intellectually or economically, you are either in denial or you’re blissfully unaware. The latter is highly unlikely. It’s confession time and today’s topic is man-pains. It’s not quite a man crush nor is it perving because this is not about a particular individual, it is a fleeting appreciation, that glance at the next man that lasts a little longer than it should but ends there. Unlike chest-pains which just hurt like the combined fires of seven hells, man-pains are bittersweet.
As men we are conditioned to not express ourselves in certain ways for fear of being seen as effeminate, physical contact and complimentary language between us are often guarded or tinged with bravado. We constantly maintain that bro space, what goes on in our heads however, is something totally different and only rarely given away. I realised this after spending the better part of this year working out, after an almost eighteen year break. Spend enough time in a gym and you’re going to catch yourself looking appreciatively at the guy with the body you’re working towards and when you do, hoping to high heaven he didn’t notice. The irony is, the men who epitomise our physical fitness goals do this and more on the playing field all the time. we’ve all seen the goal celebrations that involve hugs, kisses and butt-cupping or is that butt-slapping? Whatever, my point is, if we weren’t so guarded around each other it may just do wonders for our self-esteeem, but beyond the occasional all-knowing mutual head nod, we don’t dare cross that line. Why? Because of a questionable sense of masculinity.
That last part requires more qualified minds than my own, that said, I think I’ve lived long enough to be able to throw my two cents in. What could possibly be wrong with being openly appreciative of a guy who is better than you in some way? He might just let you in on his secret and you can be great together, not together, together, but you know what I mean. Sharing is caring so share the love with a well-timed nudge or wink and end a life of self-inflicted man-pains, it’s not like you haven’t been looking already.