OK. So here we have a list comprised of items I hope all men have an understanding of. I interviewed several people who swore to me that they are men. Real men, like drive a Ford F-350 Dually and drink whiskey for breakfast kind of men. Sure, certain situations or demographics may cause a variance in experience, but no excuses here.
If you don’t understand an item on this list, make it a task to do so within a year, you won’t regret it. Stay tuned for part two coming soon.
Operate a Chainsaw
I don’t mean cut down a budding mesquite tree after someone hands you a running chainsaw. You should understand bar length, bar oil, how to change out the chain and most importantly why you keep having a problem with the chain falling off. Understand the differences in Stihl, Husqvarna, and Homelite (and why one of these doesn’t belong).
Tie a Neck Tie
Dear God, please don’t ask your wife to do this. You will lose every man card you’ve ever had. If you can’t tie your own tie, learn how to right now.
No I am serious, if you are still reading and can’t tie your own necktie, go to your closet, get a tie and read the instructions above. Seriously.
Don’t continue reading.. Go do it now.
Own a Pair of Boots
I don’t care if you are a balding speed metal freak, a generation beyond a Goth experiment gone wrong or addicted to affliction. You need to own a pair of boots. Every real man owns a pair of boots, be it Justin, Ariat or Old El Paso’s own, Tony Lama. You can own cheap every day boots for $100 bucks. Some men get extra credit for owning nice dressy boots, preferably in the Lucchese Elephant skin genre if you are going to experiment (prep your wallet).
Be careful here as you can go horribly wrong if you aren’t paying attention. If you happen to pick up a pair of boots labeled 1883 or Zodiac, return them immediately.
Operate and Understand a Firearm
I’ll give everyone a pass on his by saying you can pick the firearm of your choice, but you should understand at least one, pistol, shotgun or rifle (extra credit for AR).
Basic understanding of guns and ammo is important. Guns had a role in building this country and saving us from tyranny. Guns prevent and deter crime and guard our borders. Hell, they helped feed our ancestors before someone decided soy burgers and bolts through cow brains were more effective.
It’s an Olympic sport guys!
Find a shooting range and ask them if they rent firearms, most do and most will get you started on shooting a rifle, pistol or shotgun. Don’t be afraid, the hardest part is getting started. You might take a class or watch a youtube video, whatever works. By the end of the experiment you need to know how to shoot a gun accurately without hurting yourself, load it, unload it and most importantly clean it.
Backup a Trailer
What a pet peeve this one is of mine. At age 12 your father should have made you back up a truck with a trailer. I don’t care if it was a boat, a U-Haul or your entire house on wheels. You need to learn this skill sooner than later.
One day you will go out to the lake after buying a brand new badass bass boat.
You, being the boat owner will want to be in the boat during the launch because you have no idea how to back up a trailer. You will delegate this responsibility to your girlfriend or wife.
You will get out of your truck, get in your boat, get in position and give her the signal to back up. She will then proceed to back you, your trailer, your boat, your truck and your poor dog (who was in your truck) completely into the lake until they drop off the boat ramp and sink. You will then be filing an insurance claim.
For the love of God, put your hand at the bottom of the steering wheel and turn it the way you want to trailer to turn. Go slow. You’ll be fine. It’s not rocket science.
A Woman’s Bra
Do we need to spend a lot of time on this or is it obvious? You need to know how to unhook one, with one hand.
Please do not practice with Mom.
Directions and Navigation
Everyone has GPS now. Even people in third world countries have advanced global positioning systems, apparently, they continue to use them to find where we store our ammonium nitrate.
Do you know your directions? You know, North, East, South, and West (ever wonder why it’s in that order, look up Cardinal Direction)? If not, you should, after all, behind your nose exists a wee bit of magnetite that some surmise helped men navigate and migrate before the advent of compasses and GPS. Whether this is an advantage over women or not, the fact remains that percentage-wise, women are far more clueless about direction than men (sort of, more on that in a moment).
As a man, you need to understand where North is on a map and what the city you live in looks like when it’s drawn out. You need to understand where the Interstates intersect and how to get from point A to B without a computer.
Here is the interesting thing about men who do have a keen sense of direction – we often find ourselves giving bad navigation suggestions. Our brain tells us point B is a certain direction but the city and/or state didn’t pay attention, the roads don’t always follow as the crow flies. Be careful about intuition guys.
Grill a Steak
Oh, I hope this is a skill every kid starts to learn in college (or High School if Dad is smart). Nothing should woo women better than a perfectly charred medium steak (or medium-rare if you have that special woman).
Gentlemen, this is not something you can do easily exclusively on a propane grill or on a cheap charcoal grill for that matter. There are two concepts you need to understand – direct and indirect.
Direct heat is what you get when you put flesh and muscle right on the flame of a hot burning fire. The heat runs from 550 to 800 degrees depending on your source.
Indirect heat is what you get with an oven, no flame touches the meat however the smoke and heat still cook the food. This usually runs from 250 to 500 degrees, depending on your setup. The tighter your grill holds in air and moisture, the better.
There are two ways to cook steak, sear and bake or reverse sear.
Sear and bake involve running the temp up very hot (700-900 degrees) and throwing the steak on for a minute per side then choking the fire down our out and oven baking the steak for anywhere from 3 to 8 more minutes.
Reverse searing involves cooking a steak in an oven or indirect heat around 250 degrees. Once the meat has an internal temp of around 125, take it off and sear that bad boy directly over hot coals or gas (about 700 degrees) for a minute per side.
Either way, your steak will turn out fine, just practice and watch your time. Charcoal hot spots are a killer if you don’t know how to address them.
Build a Fire
Look, I understand if you live in downtown Austin or somewhere in West Texas where you’ve been under a 10 year burn ban, this may be a bit of a stretch – but let’s go forth anyhow. You really should know how to build a fire.
I don’t mean possessing the skills required to bring flame from two sticks and a lot of frantic rubbing. I’m more concerned about the guy that has 30 pounds of firewood, 2 gallons of lighter fluid, matches and can’t keep a fire going.
Yes, possibly you.
Build your fire like a teepee. If you have never built a teepee before, you are seriously missing out. You can find out how here:
OK, now that you have your teepee, set it on fire.
Hell, that was easy, right?
Ride a Horse
I’m just gonna straight up say it. Horses suck. They don’t give one iota about you or where you want to go, so you better learn now the “command and conquer” routine.
Step 1: Don’t get an itchy horse. Check it first by scratching the horse lightly around the hindquarters (note – don’t stand behind the horse, they will kick you in the teeth and it’s a terrible feeling). If the horse acts like he needs to scratch, find another horse. That horse will run you into the trees.
Step 2: Mount the horse with dominance. Now that you have a non-itchy horse, get on that puppy and show it who’s in control. If your horse trainer wanted you to use a step stool to mount the horse, politely decline informing them you are capable of mounting a horse and your wife without a step stool.
Step 3: Immediately start asking how long it will be before you can bring the horse to a gallop. They will likely talk about concepts such as breathing, trots, and canters. Inform them you aren’t interested in all that and you need to go right now. Time is money and your horse is going to start passing gas pretty quick.
OK Gents, that’s 10 things you need to make sure you understand. If you don’t, get to work. 10 more are coming soon and you don’t want to be left behind!