Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Saying No to Bro

I have once in my life addressed another as bro, in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset. I and a fellow motorist converged on a parking space simultaneously. I was feeling magnanimous that day, and called, “All yours, bro,” in what I hoped he, a black man, might hear as having been said in a spirit of brotherhood. “Don’t call me bro,” he snarled, apparently in a spirit of thinking I was a patronizing cracker asshole.
I regard bro as part of The Great Dumbing Down. Bro is laconic, except when he gets enough beer in him to make him keep bellowing, “Whoo-hoo!” He emits a single tear at the sound of Bob Seger’s “Like a Rock,” as heard in commercials for Chevy trucks, but otherwise regards expressiveness as effeminate. He affects defiant slobbishness, exemplified by the backward baseball cap, because…well, that’s what dudes do, dude! Duh!

My enmity might have something to do with the my always having been hopeless at regular-guy stuff. Coming of age at a time when drinking alcohol was roughly tantamount to having the words I’m Uncool tattooed on one’s forehead, it took me a long while to realize that I don’t like beer, the best of which tastes to me like something in which you’d pre-soak your laundry. (The worst, that which the vast majority of bros seem to drink because the bro-defining commercials make them want to, tastes like beer-flavored soda pop.) Because of its carbonation, it makes you feel all gaseous when you drink it, and doesn’t get you drunk unless you drink a great deal of it. I just don’t get it.

As a boy, I loved sports, but was generally awful at them. Fear of falling off precluded my learning to ride a two-wheeler until eight years old, as fear of the water kept me from learning to swim until around 15. I was in neither Cub nor Boy Scouts, and thus had no knowledge of camping. I have never been hunting, and find the idea of hunting barbaric. My dad, bless his kind heart, had no shop in which to tinker, while smoking his pipe and murmuring, “Hmm,” every now again, with malfunctioning household appliances, and if he had, I’d only have gotten in the way. In my various shop classes in junior high school — wood, metal, print, and electric — my instructors unanimously frowned at me disbelievingly, having never witnessed comparable ineptitude. Of knots,  I knew nothing, and in fact still have trouble with my shoelaces. Later, in high school, I was never one to gather around the opened hood of a classmate’s car to assess his engine. As for Ford vs. Chevy, I was without an opinion. 

I have never been laconic — tightlipped by reason of petulance, certainly, but not actually terse because I regarded talking as the province of womenfolk. I love words, and was always as good with them as I was rotten with knots or tools. I’m not one to suffer in silence, my conception being that suffering’s quite bad enough without being able to elicit everyone’s sympathy. I’ve always hated a challenge, and am not remotely averse to asking perfect strangers for directions. At my first graphic designer job, in Oakland, Californa, late in the 20th century, I came to understand that I was widely perceived as gay because I occasionally described things about which I was enthused as fabulous, or even magnificent. My closest friends have usually been women.

There have been times in my life when acquaintances or colleagues at work have, in a spirit of camaraderie, come at me with a hand raised on high and the apparent expectation that I would raise my own for them to slap — to high-five, I think it’s called. I have always felt foolish at such moments. I tried wearing a baseball cap backward for an hour or two earlier this century, but felt stupid doing it. When I embrace a male acquaintance I haven’t seen in a long time, I give it longer than the prescribed two seconds, and generally dispense with the three quick pats on the back.

I watch lots of sports, as I’ve always done, but not in the way other men do. If the Minnesota Timberwolves, let’s say, trounce the Lakers, I in no way feel personally diminished. Nor, in the opposite case, do I feel validated. I’m actually a little bit embarrassed by the pleasure the San Francisco 49ers’ victories in their two playoff games have given me, not only because I haven’t inhabited San Francisco since 1998, but also because I recognize that the team is made up almost entirely of mercenaries who couldn’t find their way from the Haight to Cow Hollow.

I dislike road movies, and bromances. I hope never again to see anything starring Josh Rogen. Adam Sandler doesn’t make me laugh. I am deeply unamused by movies about the zany things dudes do when they’ve drunk too much beer. I find the music of AC/DC tiresome, and have never exclaimed, “Whoo-hoo!” at a concert or other performance.

I have never described anything as awesome. There was a time when I might have invoked that word in relation to the Grand Canyon, for instance, but the bros have rendered that untenable.

Dare to defy them, say I. Dare to wear a tie when you don’t have to! Dare to use apostrophes properly, and to be proud of doing so! Dare to enjoy the work of Zadie Smith and other female novelists. Cease to care if your region’s NFL teams is doing well. Describe things you like as marvelous or grand, rather than awesome. Say no to bro!