America Needs Guys Right Now, Not Men

Illustration: Laurie Rollitt

The men are at it again.

This time, they’re crowding into Nashville bars and throwing Frisbees in the middle of Prospect Park and showing the world that a little pandemic ain’t gonna stop them from havin’ a good-ass time. They’re logging on to tell people who are self-isolating that they’re ignorant, weak, and allergic to fun. Some of these men are gonna die shortly, and probably take your grandma along with them. But for now, they’re flipping that ‘rona the bird and showing it who’s boss.

This is extremely on-brand for my people. If the coronavirus had ravaged the globe 20 years ago, I’m sure I would’ve also gone full bro and defied it by double-fisting brews on a bar patio somewhere. This is because I grew up believing — worshipping, really — an idealized American male archetype: tough, drunk, strong, horny, etc.

I was taught that to be a man, you had to inhabit the role of Man. You had to do manly shit like build log cabins and carry a gun and get into bar fights and ignore your lady when she’s givin’ you too much sass. I subscribed to Maxim. I made cheap gay jokes. I did all that.

It took me far too long to realize that particular male archetype was a colossal pile of shit. Being a good man just means being a good person. And being a good person right now literally saves lives. And all you have to do to fulfill that criteria on this day is stay inside.

But what do you do now that you’re quarantined but still wanna indulge in a few male instincts? I humbly suggest you become a Guy: a man who wears his manhood with an abundance of good cheer and harbors a deep, if not distressing, enthusiasm for a novel hobby or way of living.

For example, I am now a Robe Guy. I do not start wars in my robe. I do not commit white-collar crimes in my robe. I just enjoy wearing a robe. From that enjoyment, I radiate a warmth and a tiger-like allure that others cannot help but appreciate. I do not INSIST upon them appreciating my flowing robes. You can’t be a Great Guy if you’re constantly badgering others to tell people that you are one. You can only follow your Guy muse and hope that the joy you take in the process rubs off on those around you.

We need that Guyness more than ever to get through this pandemic. And so, while you’re in self-quarantine, here are some Guy ideas for you to try on at your leisure. Please note that while “Robe Guy” is not on this list, it would be very un-Guylike of me to hog that role all to myself. By all means, try it out if you’re so inclined. This is an open-source Guydeation session. Take these ideas, test them, discard them, and/or tweak them however you see fit. There is no judgment in Guyworld.

No socks Guy

There are certain Guys out there who never wear socks. They can usually be found at a Jimmy Buffett concert, but there’s no law saying you need to be a Parrothead to enjoy living 24/7 with your feet au naturel. I myself have to wear socks because my feet grow shelf mushrooms the second I wiggle my toes. But perhaps YOU have more forgiving sudoriferous glands. In that case, why not peel off that suffocating pair of Wigwams and let your feet go free? I used to work with a guy who NEVER wore socks. He would show up to meetings in loafers and nothing else on his feet. Every day is Friday when your socks are off.

Beard Guy

I know that many of you city-dwellers out there were already lavishly grooming your Van Dykes, your Fu Manchus, your handlebar mustaches. You were part of a collective experiment in small plate facial hair. But now is the time to grow a quarantine beard that’s less fussy and more jolly. You ever meet a man with a thick warm beard and think to yourself, “Boy, he seems friendly and jocular!” I have! I wanna be that guy! Alas, my facial hair grows with all the speed and lushness of a cactus, so I cannot be. But you are not necessarily hampered by such follicular limitations. You can grow that bad boy out, give it a casual trim, and then become the Pa of the house. You will become RADIANT with happy Guy energy.

Science Guy

I’m currently reading Cosmos by Carl Sagan because I whiffed on being a dork when I had the chance. NO LONGER. Now I’m learnin’ about the stars and sneaking astronomical factoids into everything I say and do, like this post! Did you know that you won’t age at all if you travel at the speed of light? It’s true! (NOTE: It’s probably not true.)

Home brewing Guy

You thought home brewing kits were a ’90s thing, but guess what? We can bring them BACK. Now you can sit around all day, talkin’ hoppiness and orange peels with your loved ones! They’re gonna love it!

I’m not gonna lie to you: Brewing your own beer is a HUGE pain in the ass. But what else do you have to do, besides frantically checking in on your mom to remind her that she needs to stop going to bridge night?

Weed Guy

Always helps to know one.

Bread Guy

The Bread Guy phenomenon has taken root with a frightening quickness during quarantine.

I know bread has become a thing now because my wife made challah for the first time the other night and half a dozen people I follow on Twitter did likewise. Making bread is cheap AND time-consuming. That’s why I recently grabbed three bags of flour off the shelf at the grocery store, treasuring them like I had found a stash of coronavirus vaccines. I never make my own bread or pasta because it’s never as easy as peppy online recipes claim, and because I figure bakeries can make it better. But now I must be the bakery. And I’m willing to learn.

That’s an important Guy quality, by the way. No one likes a man who thinks he knows everything. If you approach your nascent home boulangerie with an eager mind and an open acknowledgment of your own inexperience, you’ve already made things 85% more tolerable.

Handy Guy

Not a handyman, but a Handy Guy. I am limited in my handiness. I can’t do much yard work (back problems). I can’t install drywall (don’t want to). But I CAN hang pictures, assemble mail-order furniture, fix the house Wi-Fi, and build shelving. Before the lockdown, my wife and I bought the lumber and supplies to make a built-in for the TV room. You really earn your beer when you take on a project like that. I am casually handy, but there’s nothing stopping you from being handier than I. What’s more, Handy Guys are essential personnel at the moment. You’re the exact kind of Guy that our infrastructure needs to volunteer in spots where volunteers are both necessary and welcome: food banks, pop-up hospitals, etc.

Being a Guy people NEED, and not simply pretending you’re important because you’re an asshole, is a tragically rare asset in America right now. You can even go hybrid and become a Handy Cooking Guy, like José Andrés. We need more José Andréses. We need more Guys. You can sit there and be a bro, or a boy, or a dude, or a wannabe man’s man. Or you can soberly assess both your passions and your capabilities and dedicate yourself to being the best Guy you can. For your sake and for everyone else’s.

Columnist at GEN. Co-founder, Defector. Author of Point B.

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