A Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing?

Some stereotypes ring true

The reason there needs to be an “In Defense of Men” column is that, unfortunately, the actions of some men leave the rest of us needing to defend ourselves. There are idiots among us. Serious jerks. The worst thing about stereotypes is that, for some, they are absolutely true. I guarantee that right now, somewhere, some jackass is saying something sexist or homophobic or making fun of someone who’s different. Tell me I’m wrong. I wish I were. I wish they knew how much weight and power their words carry. How much pain they can cause. I believe it was Jean Paul Sartre who once said, “Words are weapons, sharper than knives…” no wait. That was Inxs. My bad.

Words that hurt

I’ll be 40 this year and I can still clearly remember countless days ruined by nothing more than words. That’s right, I’m talking to you, bullies! Not just the “schoolyard” sixth-grader that has probably reached his full height (John!). No, I’m talking to the other ones who don’t know they are. Teachers, coaches, teammates, and even camp counselors can leave scars. By the way, if anyone ever runs into two guys who were junior counselors at camp Howard near Sandy, Oregon in 1983 that went by the names “Rascal” and “Bandit”, tell them I’m looking for them. Let’s just say the zipper in my sleeping bag kept “breaking” and they laughed and made fun of it. In their defense, they didn’t know I was in the bathroom stall when they came in and announced “Whoa! It smells like ‘Jack’s’ bunk in here!” You see, to this day, they are still unaware that they are total losers.

True to myself

Ok, I’ll admit it. Much of the abuse I took, I brought on myself. I had the nerve to really, really love musical theater. I guess, then, it was my fault (not theirs) when my high school coaches would laugh and make jokes when I got a lead in a spring musical. Questions like, “Musical rehearsal?!? What, are you gay?” make perfect sense now. Now that I think of it, it was my third grade teacher’s fault! She never should have given me the first moment of my life that I remember feeling proud of myself. Couldn’t she see that asking me to play William in the musical Free to Be You and Me was a bad idea?!? “A doll, said William, is what I need to wash and clean and dress and feed. A Doll to give a bottle to and put to bed when day is through. And any time my doll gets ill, I’ll take good care of it,” said my friend Bill”…What was she thinking?!? They’re out there!

Marching to my own beat

If you were to meet me today, I don’t think your first thought would be, “I’ll bet this guy has a lot to say about being bullied…” I am 6’2” and weigh 220 Lbs. I have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, wrestled for eight years, played twelve years of competitive football (at linebacker)…and by the way, I didn’t start playing football until the seventh grade (You do the math). I am confident that if I were to bump into one of the many bullies from my past I could tie them in a bow. But that’s not the point! Bullies don’t need fists. All they need is power. I was even bullied in college.

I have always marched to the beat of my own drummer. I have always been a “sheep in wolf’s clothing”. I have more pride in that than in any other part of my personality. As a father, I hope that is something I can give to my little girl. And to protect her from the pain that goes along with it.

Yeah, I’m talking to you, bullies! I’m looking for you! The bad news is… No, I’m probably not talking to any bullies right now. Do you really think they are reading this? Never the less, here’s hoping.

By the way…I’m totally serious about Rascal and Bandit. A name, a number…Anything.

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