;#90: Testosterone, My Religion

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This article is written for Men, or maybe boys who want to be Men. Women are more than welcome to read it, but ladies may not find the value in it that males might. Thanks.

At Age 18, after a Spring/Summer of getting my ass beaten by vicious 21-year old Men, I decided to go to college instead of trying to latch onto a Junior Hockey team for the upcoming Fall season. Getting punched in the face repeatedly by players much bigger and stronger than you is incentive for Higher Education, if any exists.

I ended up at my beloved Duquesne University, and things ultimately worked out. But I almost didn’t make the Duquesne team, largely because I assumed I would walk-on because of my ability to put up points.

While my ability to score wasn’t an issue, the Duquesne coach had major concerns about my ability to play physically. Though I could surely take a beating, there were questions about my ability to dish one out. Duquesne was largely a Hitting/Skating team at the time, and I was told that I would not make the team unless my speed and strength rapidly improved.

Insistent upon making the team, I took a crazed approach to getting my strength/speed up to par, living at Duquesne’s modest gym and pounding enough Protein Powder and sports supplements to give Jordan Belfort pause. I probably was the last man on the roster, but damned if I didn’t work my way onto that team.

For training geeks, I took my body fat down from 12.5% to just over 9% (Bioimpedence), took my scale weight from 179 to 195 (noting that I was all volumized from the Creatine), shaved almost 1.5 seconds off my blueline-to-blueline time, added 60 pounds to my Squat, and generally transformed myself into a raging beast in 21 days. I’m living proof that love and feverish dedication can help you accomplish the seemingly-absurd.

(Note: I didn’t take steroids due to NCAA drug testing and whatnot, but at the time I probably would have considered it. That time period was a blur for me, but I remember heavy doses of ZMA, Creatine, Glutamine, and the now-banned Ephedra by the fistful. Shoot to Thrill, indeed.)

But love and dedication alone didn’t get me onto that team. To achieve my goal of making the team, I used two primary sources of information to guide my nutrition and training:

1) A then-fledgling website called Testosterone.com, or T-Nation, and

2) A book written by two prominent T-Nation contributors called The Testosterone Advantage

I would not have made that team without this information, so this article serves as my sincere thanks to Dr. John Berardi, Christian Thibaudeau, Chad Waterbury, Chris Shugart, Lou Schuler, Dr. Jeff Volek, Charles Staley, Tim Patterson, and anyone else who may have indirectly contributed to my efforts. Thank you all, very sincerely.

Anyway, while I was satisfied (somewhat) in achieving my goal of making the hockey team, the real treat was the change in body chemistry that I had undergone. Three straight weeks of daily high-volume leg training immediately followed by 30 minutes of Sprint Intervals, combined with John Berardi and Lou Schuler’s dietary recommendations, had my hormones gushing.

I am privileged enough to know what it’s like to walk into a 75-seat lecture hall and have every girl and woman in the room turn to gawk at you, which of course contributes to my legendary modesty. It was almost as though the girls, and even an instructor or two, could smell me before they could see me. I would get this prolonged, overtly-sexual eye contact from Women who from appearance would not seem to want anything to do with me.

Once a Man has experienced this high – having lots and lots of Women interested in him on a primal level – he will almost certainly chase the dragon for the rest of his life.

People sometimes talk about what their addictions are, as though everyone must have one. Most people say alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, etc. The tack taken by many is that everyone has a vice. While I’ve dabbled in all of the preceding to various degrees, at eighteen I found an addictive force more compelling than all of the collective indecency in Las Vegas. This of course was Testosterone.

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The Good Lord is my Savior, but Testosterone is my Religion. Since my freshman year of college, I have relentlessly sought more and more natural Testosterone and Growth Hormone, even as years of this pursuit have turned me into a twisted mix of Buddy Love and a Caveman.

In the process, I’ve become a Mentor to other Men who are still finding their way. I covered a lot of this in my satirical article The Sidekick Manifesto, but what I’ve experienced is that a pronounced uptick in Testosterone levels will have both Men and Women flocking to you. Even if they claim to detest or fear you – as is regularly the case with Mad Men’s Don Draper – people are compelled to seek the approval, comfort, and counsel of High-Testosterone (or Alpha) Males on an almost-biological level.

Having said that, it’s been brought to my attention recently that some of the “Men” in Wilmington have taken to asking themselves, “What Would Jack F____ll Do?” While this is somewhat flattering, the impression I get is that the clownish and wayward are not doing what I would do in given situations. They are not heeding Jack’s Rules and they are not Doing the Right Thing. They either lack understanding as to what I would do in certain scenarios, or they are asking the wrong questions entirely.

In fact, I almost titled this article “What Jack F____ll Would Do”, but I ultimately decided that was too self-indulgent and not at all Vague. I touched upon most of the reasons that I don’t want my name all over the internet in my article on Quitting Facebook, but the short version is that I don’t like being stalked on the internet. If anything herein needs clarification, I can be found at a hockey rink in either Wilmington or Greater Pittsburgh. I’m in the #11 jersey.

Instead of a WJFWD article, I decided to compile The Testosterone Ten Eleven Commandments in the interest of both enlightening and entertaining both low-T males as well as intrigued women.

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Before we begin, I will shill for both T-Nation, Coach Schuler, and Doctors Berardi and Volek. I suggest you visit both T-Nation and Precision Nutrition and consider purchasing a copy of The Testosterone Advantage, as I did when I was 18.  I have no financial stake in any of the above, but I find it all to be excellent information.

In addition to citing specific examples on how to be more of a high-value male, this article will also aim to guide beaten-down and frustrated Men by providing them with more general advice on how to live successfully and the beginning steps to take on a path to long-term happiness. Enjoy.

The Testosterone Ten Eleven Commandments

I) Be Hilarious…and Sexy

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(Note: as noted above, I am no longer on the Facebook, but I remain Hilarious and Sexy.)

When people start assigning personality traits to me (more on this below), they frequently acknowledge how Sexy I am, but because I’m not a clown they assume that I lack a sense of humor.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I am Hilarious with a capital H. But there is a big point of distinction revolving around my use of humor.

To be Hilarious and Sexy, a Man must let comedy flow organically, mostly by making smart-ass comments about the Women in his orbit or working as many as 12 Meows into a professional e-mail. Comedy, not variety, is the Spice of Life, and some people make the mistake of thinking more is automatically better.

What a Man should not do is dance for an audience like a puppet. That’s a critical difference between an Alpha and your standard-issue clown.

I am Hilarious, but it’s on my time and the select privilege of my family, friends, and readers. I don’t go into a car dealership and do my best schtick like Chris Rock opening a set, because that’s a business negotiation. I have a gift for comic timing, and I chose to share that gift for people I enjoy being around rather than those I actively despise.

If you want to be a Hilarious Man, I highly recommend you downshift and seek a more subtle approach. It’s Hilarious when Vince Vaughn quietly pokes fun at the obnoxious characters in his life, but it’s only marginally-funny when Ben Stiller rams his awkward idea of comedy down our collective throat. With comedy, Less is More.

In fact, the Dodgeball dichotomy between Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller’s characters is an excellent example on Being a Clown versus Being Hilarious … and Sexy. Find the guy who’s trying too hard in this picture:

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If you are a Man, and if you are trying to be Hilarious/Sexy, my strongest recommendation is that you develop a complete infatuation with yourself. What I’ve found is that Women are fascinated when Men are preoccupied or even self-obsessed to a certain degree. I am not going to breakdown the psychology at play here, but I will link to a wide number of celebrity examples demonstrating attractive women doting on self-obsessed men.

The key is to always walk the line between being serious and bringing the hilarity. My favorite personal example is from many years ago, when I was lounging in my living room admiring my muscles. My female roommate Pickles walked in, and not really sure if I was kidding or not, I lifted my leg off the couch and barked, “Pickles, look at how ripped my calf is,” commanding her to stare at my flexed lower leg.

Was I kidding? Was I serious? It doesn’t matter, because it was Hilarious. Pickles rolled her eyes, but then came and sat down on the couch to listen to more of my outrageous, self-aggrandizing claims.

A large number of people have come to these same conclusions about comedy. Some of them have even attempted to brand my particular style of comedy, to varying degrees of success. But the key is to have a seemingly-unhealthy preoccupation with yourself, mixed with a modicum of self-awareness. Being Hilarious…and Sexy requires having the right proportions of each, used judicially and with practiced restraint.

II) Be an Original

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I will always have a soft spot for Professional Wrestling, as Pro Wrestling basically saved me from full-blown alcoholism. I’ll save the complete story for another time, but the short version is that I had to start locking myself in my apartment on Friday nights because if I didn’t, I would be apt to have 10-12 vodka clubs immediately followed by a tryst with someone’s wife/girlfriend. It was a bad look.

Not sure when you last watched Friday Night television, but the pickings are slim. There’s a healthy amount of Tween porn, white-trash theater reruns such as COPS or Jerry Springer, QVC-type infomercial programs, Pawn Stars mini-marathons, etc. There’s almost nothing substantive.

(Note: Cinemax fixed this problem by putting the Best New Show on Television on Friday Nights. Meet the New Boss is exactly right.)

As far as original programming goes, I can assure you the top of the card used to be Friday Night Smackdown, one of WWE’s signature programs. So, I developed this weekly ritual where I sat myself down with a bottle of lemon-lime soda water and watched these incredibly-athletic egomaniacs scream at each other for two glorious hours and dried out a bit.

I will always be grateful to Vince McMahon of the WWE for providing me with a few hours of mindless distraction on Friday nights, which ultimately prevented me from death by alcohol poisoning or furious-husband stabbing. Maybe Vince can work a “Smackdown Saves Lives!” angle later in the year.

Anyway, one of the signature performers on Smackdown was CM Punk, who has since left the company. Like many other stars who gained mainstream appeal, Punk looked around at the abysmal corporate culture that has killed Professional Wrestling and decided that as much as he loved Pro Wrestling itself, he no longer wanted to be a part of it. Punk has since become a celebrity in his own right, and his personal popularity easily eclipses that of the current WWE product.

Though I’m disappointed CM Punk decided he could no longer reconcile the corporate oppression of the WWE Machine with his personal beliefs, I am thrilled that he was enough of a Man to leave something he loved behind for the sake of his personal well-being. See the 8th Commandment below for more on this.

Punk was willing to give almost everything he had to the WWE, but there were two ways in which he absolutely refused to compromise:

1) Punk was unwilling to sacrifice his personal dignity. He was unwilling to take on a dated, obnoxious Russell Brand-style gimmick or wear a ridiculous bunny rabbit costume for the greater glory of WWE.

2) Punk was unwilling to compromise himself and his personal beliefs. If he was going to be part of the WWE, he was going to do so pantomiming Jesus Christ and playfully forcing his Straight Edge beliefs onto others.

CM Punk is an Original. He took what he personally believed in and made it cool. He did not chase popularity and let it contradict what he knew in his heart to be true. The downside of Being an Original is that you are frequently misunderstood, and that people will tend to denigrate you rather than appreciate you, at least initially.

The mistake would be to copy CM Punk’s attitude and values. Punk is thoroughly counter-culture and anti-authority, and while that can be you to a certain degree, it’s likely you don’t hate authority for it’s own sake.

Instead, Be an Original. You probably don’t think like other people, and if you want to be High-T, you shouldn’t act that way. Being true to yourself and doing things your own way, sometimes to your detriment, is an essential part of being both a Man and an Original.

It’s easy to tell someone to Be an Original, and if it were easy everyone would do it. The problem is that innovators and people who act and think unconventionally are usually not well-received by society, at least not at first. People tend to distill all others in their orbit into concepts and stereotypes that they can wrap their minds around. When someone genuinely unique comes around, it’s our nature to cast stones at them.

It’s also human nature to fear and hate what we do not understand. Part of the reason I am so divisive is that, in my view, I’m fairly original. I can’t really be shoe-horned into the most of the standard categories because my personality is complex and my interests are varied. But I’m both comfortable and confident in living this way, as all Men should be.

Being an Original can and does cause some social strife, but this approach ultimately leads to greater glory. Having said that, in my case it doesn’t help that I refuse to explain myself or my actions most of the time, which leads me to my next topic:

III) Be Vague

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Most people have this burning desire to be understood and to connect with other people. I am no different, but even more than being understood, I don’t want to be misunderstood. It leads to contradictions such as this, in which I will write 9,000 words about my outlook but refuse to offer some of the most basic details about my personal life.

To again cite a recent example, I quit Facebook because it was taking value from my life. While I was mainly using it to keep in contact with friends that live far away, what was happening was that people with agendas were taking some of the most off-base, trivial aspects of my personality and using them to make assaults on my character.

I covered it at length in the Quitting Facebook article, but an example was that people I dealt with professionally would take a Facebook picture of me from New Years 2007 or a profanity-laced post about the 2010 Hockey Olympic Gold-Medal Game and use it against me in any way possible.

Also as noted in the Facebook article, I can’t bring myself to take Facebook seriously, so rather than keep an account and censor myself, I chose to just eliminate the problem all together.

As noted above, people frequently misunderstand me because my appearance greatly varies and my personality traits are so contradictory. One moment I will come across as extremely intellectual, the next moment I will be involved in a fistfight. One minute I’ll be wearing a three-piece suit, and a moment later I’ll be wearing the tattered remains of a $5 t-shirt. One day I’ll have Conan-length hair, the next I’ll have a military buzzcut. There’s usually method to the madness, but to the unobservant it looks like I just do things.

But most people don’t care about your perspective or reasoning. Most people just want to stereotype each other for self-serving reasons. You don’t have to like this about people – I certainly don’t – but it’s a reality.

A high-value Man is not going to be drawn into the sorority-girl scheming and backstabbing that many people love to partake in. People are always going to talk about each other, but there are some people with nothing in their empty lives other than spreading gossip and baseless rumors. Like many Men of value, I consider people like this beneath me.

But people like this tend to create problems for me by constructing erroneous character assassinations, while I will not. As you may know, I am more of a “walk up and punch a guy in the face” type, but I obviously can’t risk going to jail every time someone spreads a rumor that I’m a drug dealer or a male escort.

My suggestion to the like-minded is to Be Vague. Limit your exposure. Your personal and professional business should not really concern other most other people. Plenty of very successful people, including the Greatest Man Alive, play their cards close to the vest. This method simply filters out potential problems, the same way a Spam folder filters junk e-mail.

People are always going to be critical, but you don’t need to give them additional ammunition. I prefer to choose my words somewhat carefully, and present my views on my own forum and in full. I’m a complex thinker with complex views, and I want these views to be fully explained before people jump to judgement.

I hate it when I’m having a conversation with someone and they take two sentences out of a 45-minute discussion and use that to form their impressions of me. But I really hate it when people take something I say or write as an obvious goof and use it to slander me. Being Vague just keeps a lot of the sorority sisters out of my personal affairs, and makes my life less complicated.

IV) Bros > Hos

I love women, to such a degree that it frequently gets me into trouble. I would say I have 80% of my private conversations with women, and surround myself with women by preference. Typically, women are a joy to be around, and I tend to prefer their company.

Meanwhile, I don’t have tons and tons of guy friends because I spend most of my time thinking about ways to beat other guys in competition or otherwise outdo them. For me and probably most other Alphas, male friendship is a rare privilege.

But I’m lucky enough to have 10-12 brothers, scattered across the globe, that I would push most other people out of a moving car for.

Let me tell you about my brother Chuck:

At the end of 2013, my housing development used a small contractual window to unilaterally terminate my lease. In English, they pulled a low-class move to evict me because I was locked in at a lower rent rate than they liked.

Anyway, I was left scrambling for a place to live. Faithful readers may recall that I got robbed at gunpoint that month. Those who know me personally also know that late 2013 was a really stressful time for me professionally. It’s like they say: when it rains, it pours.

Chuck must have seen my temples throbbing especially hard at Hockey one day, because out of the blue he says:

“No worries, bro. You can move in with me.”

It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. After I settled in, Chuck and I proceeded to have the best time two non-gay grown men can probably have. I haven’t laughed as hard in years as I did watching YouTube clips of LA Beast or Predator or Starship Troopers for the 80th time with my brother Chuck.

I’ve since moved out and Chuck has since gotten married, but at the time I needed a brother, and Chuck was a brother to me. He’s a tremendous individual, and I’ll always be extremely grateful to him.

Normally, I would dump a full drink on another guy or throw him down a small flight of stairs if he was preventing me from talking to a certain girl. So while for me it may be “Chicks Before Dicks” in most cases, like most High-T Men, my real brothers mean more to me than all the women in the world.

I actually have another very recent story that further speaks to that point, but I don’t think this is the time or place for it. I’ll probably retroactively link to it after the story is told. But the short version is that I picked the happiness of one of my brothers over a girl, because girls come and go. Brotherhood is more important than that, at least to Men of Value.

Speaking of girls coming and going…

V) Get the Girl

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Everyone has “the one who got away.” Hell, by my count, I have two girls that got away, at least as of this writing.

But as a Man of Value, what you want to do most of the time is Get the Girl. Do not piss and moan and agonize about whether she likes you or not. Make your intentions known and aggressively pursue her, outside circumstances be damned.

There’s been this disappointing trend in which weak Men make excuses as to why they can’t get the Woman they want. They tiptoe around the central issues – the biggest of which is that she can probably get someone better – so they mope and wallow and ultimately chase her away with their desperation and neediness.

I’ll get into this more in the section Kill Before It Kills You, but until the time comes in which you need to totally wash your hands of a bad situation or a stiletto-wearing dumpster-fire of despair, you may need to ride things out until a certain lucky lady comes to the realization that you are in fact the Man for her.

This concept segues nicely into the 6th Commandment:

VI) Have a Set or Grow a Set

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This is basically the same as Jack’s Rule #11 (Don’t Be a Coward). But if you want to take things a step beyond being unafraid, you need to Have a Set or Grow a Set.

If you’re going to Be a Man, go assert yourself. If you’re not, live the contented, quiet life of a mouse. But don’t whine about circumstances and misfortune if you’re never going to take a chance or make an ambitious play.

I don’t exactly know where it stems from, but many if not most people live entirely different lives in their head than they do out in the world. I’m a realist and I understand that for most people, family and work take precedence over their personal desires.  However, it also bothers me that most people marginalize themselves so much and compromise their sense of self so easily.

In Men, this reluctance to step on toes can become paralyzing to the point of contempt.  I sometimes want to shake indecisive or timid males and bark in my best Sobe Voice, “You are a Man. Grow Some Fucking Balls.”

This condition – prevalent, diluted masculinity – exists for a great number of reasons, most of which would go past the scope of this section. But the takeaway point is that in 2015, it’s harder than ever to be a High-T Man without being seen as a relic or a social outcast. The ability to navigate socially, rather than aggressively dominate, is a much-handier skill set to possess today.

For me and other High-T Men, it would be an ideal world if one could go around tuning up every amoral, disingenuous, and passive-aggressive coward that we came across. Alas, we live in an unjust, lawsuit-happy era, and it’s not socially acceptable to beat the tar out of every clown that cuts you off in traffic.

I may not act on all of my aggressive impulses – like Johnny Rico says in the award-winning film Starship Troopers, The Mobile Infantry doesn’t make stupid Troopers” – but when I have a strong opinion about something, I certainly make it known.

The Passive-Aggressive approach, i.e. being friendly to someone’s face and disrespectful behind their back, doesn’t fly with High-T Men. If you’re a Man and you have something to say, say it to someone’s face. Don’t wait until they get up to get a Sprite and then start whispering behind their back like a catty sorority girl.

In High-T Men, this mindset endures in all areas. While discretion may in fact be the better part of valor, there is also the notion that fortune favors the bold. As Woody Harrelson’s character Tallahassee likes to say in Zombieland, Nut Up or Shut Up.”

VII) Be Physically Dominant

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Like most High-T Men, I am a Physical guy. Everything I like to do – sports, sex, working out, even the jobs I’ve taken on – is predicated on the use of my body. As such, it’s become my nature to be as Physically Dominant as possible.

Certain people are going to misread this idea and think, “Go start bullying people.” That’s not what I’m suggesting at all. But if you’re ethical and just, it almost behooves you to also be physically dominant so that you might uphold these values. It’s a cornerstone of Testosterone.

I’ve mentioned it several times, but there was an incident recently in which I was suspended from the Wilmington rink because I fought a kid. The kid threw a slew-foot on me, so I got up, and I warned him that his behavior was out of line. He not only refused to apologize or heed my warnings, but he continued to buzz around and say things that offended me. So, I fought him and roughed him up, and very honestly I could have beat him much worse.

People may rightly look at me as the bad guy in this situation, and that’s fair. But even in wailing on him a bit to try teaching him a lesson in respecting those bigger and stronger than you, I protected the kid. I’m a Hockey purist, and I don’t think there’s much honor in beating on a smaller person. But there’s even less honor in kicking out someone’s skates from behind and exposing them to severe injury.

The point is this: if you’re going to be an Alpha, i.e. Simba in the Lion King, you need to be physically dominant. If you are not, there is a good chance you will become a beta, i.e. Skar or the Jackals in The Lion King. As a craven beta, you will have to be the type that has to kick out the Alpha’s skates from behind because you can’t physically-compete with him. You will then you will have to cry out “I’m only 17!” so the Alpha doesn’t maul you. It’s a potentially bad life.

Apologies for mixing metaphors, but I’m a writer. It’s what we do.

Moving along, the more-appealing reason to be physically dominant revolves around a Man’s interactions with Women. I’m going to be as Vague as possible and not incriminate myself, but my  experience has been that most Women want a powerful Man who makes them feel protected. This is hard to accomplish when your girlfriend can out-lift you at the gym and wears the same size jeans as you. Remember what you’re supposed to be bringing to the table as a Man.

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Since we’re talking about being physically dominant…

VIII) You WILL Do Squats

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By my estimate, Mr. Olympia/fitness icon/actor/California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is the most fascinating person of his era, possibly only superseded by actor/martial artist/philosopher/writer Bruce Lee. The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding remains my favorite book and an essential read in the fitness community almost 30 years after first publication.

Arnold’s most-recent book, Total Recall, tells a tale that would be roundly rejected by book publishers as an absurd work of fiction due to unbelievability. Yet the spread of photos in the middle of the book, to say nothing of Arnold’s bodies of work in Bodybuilding, Acting, Fitness, and Politics, are proof of the epic life that he’s lived.

Like many people, I sometimes get very busy, and at the end of a long day the last thing I want to do is go force myself through a workout. But I like having high Testosterone and being good at sports, so most of the time I manage to drag myself in.

On the rare occasions when I absolutely lack motivation and my usual motivational carrots – Hockey, Women, personal pride, etc. – fail to inspire me, I use a photo of The Oak such as this to shame myself into going:

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If you’ve read New Encyclopedia, then you’re familiar with the very distinct manner in which Arnold writes. He has no issue making up his own Austrian/English words (such as Problematical), and uses his unique brand of motivation/humiliation to inspire others. After a few reads through the massive tome that is New Encyclopedia, you can hear Arnold’s voice as clear as day shaming you into being less of a whiner and more of a winner.

Maybe I had a dream about it, but somewhere amidst the meandering 800+ pages of New Encyclopedia is a very basic tenet: You WILL Do Squats.

Squats are non-negotiable, if you consider yourself anything other than a complete girly-man. You WILL do them, under order of the Terminator himself.

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Maybe you aren’t interested in Strength Training, but if you’re interested in Testosterone there’s a good chance that you have an unhealthy obsession with the iron. If you want to make Testosterone your religion, there’s no better building block than a high-volume squat workout. You WILL Do Squats, starting immediately.

IX) Kill Before It Kills You

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I’m not going to get all Darwinian on you or overburden you with scholarly articles, as I’m apt to do. The cold truth of life is that the world is not a terribly nice place most of the time. As they say, it’s a dog-eat-dog world, and this is something most everyone will comes to learn as they mature.

While many are able to embrace this savage aspect of human nature, many others who are hard-wired with the instinct to protect others.

I am wired this way. I may be, as one woman famously put it, “a colossal dick”, but at the end of the day my instincts are to protect people in both physical and emotional ways. I am far from alone in this regard, as there are innumerable people who think of the good of the collective before they think of their personal desires.

A notable example from fiction is Rick Grimes, lead character of both The Walking Dead television show and The Walking Dead graphic novels. Throughout both the novels and the show, Rick is described as “a Man of Conscience”, and is frequently shown to have ethical objections to some of the horrible things he must do to ensure the safety of his family and friends.

But in the epic 4th Season finale, Rick very literally puts the 9th Commandment of Testosterone into practice:

The clip from The Walking Dead serves as a metaphor. In life, there are a great number of threats – some insidious, some obvious – that can compromise our health and livelihood. The key is to identify and eliminate these threats before they take a severe toll on you.

There are two particular areas in which I apply this commandment: Women and Work.

As I will discuss below, one of my bigger character flaws/traits is that I am a sucker for a damsel-in-distress. If a Woman appears to be in trouble or vulnerable, I am basically powerless to stop myself from trying to help her. Over the years, shrewd Women have observed this trait in me, and tooled me to various degrees.

While some people may read this and chuckle about what a chump I am, this trait – the need to intervene and help others – is also one of the strongest aspects of my character. I wouldn’t be who I am if I suddenly started turning a blind eye to others in need. I often proceed knowing that I’m being played, because that’s more palatable for me than the alternative.

Acknowledging that, the maturation process for me has been to identify when I am clearly being used, and to kill the relationship before it kills me.

I touched upon it in “On Doing the Right Thing I”, but I ended a close friendship with my former roommate because her toxicity was sucking the life out of me. In addition to being a sullen wench, not a week went by in which she didn’t manipulate me into helping her solve one of her personal problems or self-constructed dramas.

She was usually pretty personable with me, but she would surround herself with these douchebag, effete hipsters who would rightly see me as a threat and passive-aggressively provoke me into confrontation. I enjoyed her friendship a lot, but it was exhausting. One day, I took a deep breath and decided I had to remove her from my life, for the sake of my own well-being. I “killed” our relationship before it took anything more out of me.

That’s just one example, but it’s part of a larger pattern of traditional behavior for me. I’ve written in the past about what a problem quitting is for me, and for the longest time I was unable to separate quitting a relationship from “killing” one. I’ve changed in that regard, and while it may not be progress, but it’s definitely evolution.

The same goes for work. I was raised by a family of farmers, and I am fortunate enough to have a great work ethic and pride in being professional. The downside of this, as I discussed in Jack’s Rules, is that I’ll tend to let my personal pride keep me from leaving a bad job or hostile work environment.

I think everyone reading this can empathize, as they are either like me – i.e. tend to stay too long in flawed relationships because of personal integrity – or they are the sort of person who tries to exploit people like me. Regardless, the lesson is this:

To grow and thrive, a Man will sometimes need to make a hard choice and “kill” a given relationship. There could be any number of factors – money, sex, emotional investment, honor, etc. – that make the relationships seem salvageable, but a high-value Man will identify when a relationship has outlasted its usefulness, and sever it.

This isn’t as easy as it sounds, because most of the time there is a strong human component to a given relationship. Most of the time, “killing” a relationship will involve putting a weaker person out to pasture for the sake of your own well-being, and as a Man of Conscience, this will wear on you. But as a Man of Value, you will tap into your inner strength and make a hard choice that most other people cannot.

To be a strong-enough Man to accomplish this, you will need to learn the 10th Commandment well…

X) Don’t Beg for Mercy, Work for Strength

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(John Cena Deadlifting 650 pounds, like a boss – don’t dare say he doesn’t deserve his spot)

We were told just to sit tight,
‘Cause somebody will soon arrive.
Help is on the way.
But it never came
It never came

Rise Against, Help Is On The Way

Megatron: [feigning defeat as he reaches for a gun] No more, Optimus Prime! Grant me mercy, I beg of you!

Optimus Prime: You, who are without mercy, now plead for it? I thought you were made of sterner stuff

Let me tell you one thing I’ve learned about Women. Free tip:

For many if not most Women, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Good Man or a Bad Man. What matters to them is if you’re a Strong Man. The rest is negotiable.

This isn’t meant to paint Women in an unflattering light, and there are certainly exceptions.  But my experience has been that Strength – be it emotional, physical, or otherwise – is the critical component Women seek when searching for an ideal mate.

There are some awful Men who do or have done extremely-well with Women. We also all know some great guys who can’t get anywhere with the fairer sex. Unfortunately, the misconception of many Men is that Bad Boys automatically get all of the Women, while nice guys don’t. This leads Good Men to behaving badly in the interest of doing better with Women.

But there are plenty of Good Men who do great with Women, and in fact I think if Women had their way, they would all have a Good Man. But their Man needs to be a Good, Strong Man, both emotionally/mentally as well as physically.

Strength is More than Physical. A Strong Man ideally would provide financial and psychological support when needed, and as noted above should be a pro in making his Woman feel comfortable. If he’s physically-strong to boot, the Man in question should be so busy fighting off Women with a stick that he doesn’t have time to address his other shortcomings, whatever they may be.

(My two cents? You should take care of your Woman, and she should let you. After all, she takes care of you. But I’m traditional.)

So let’s say I can sell you on the idea of being a Strong Man rather than a Good Man or a Bad Man. If you want Strength – emotional, physical, or otherwise – you’re going to have to work for it. Life is largely unfair, and you are not going be magically transformed from weak-willed to resolute. You are going to have to fight for Strength.

Let me tell you another thing I’ve learned: The Only Help is Self-Help.

Not to say that a lot of people haven’t helped me through the years, because I’ve been blessed enough to have had an outstanding support network, at times. But there have been a lot of times when, like most Men, I’ve basically been on my own. It always seems like this happens when the circumstances of life are at their most overwhelming.

Again, life can be brutal. I’ll steal this speech from Rocky Balboa:

Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!

Now if you know what you’re worth, then go out and get what you’re worth! But you gotta be willing to take the hits. And not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!

A Man can beg for mercy, but sometimes, there will be no mercy. A Man will need to work to find the Strength needed to Rise against whatever circumstances life has thrown at him. Testosterone will help greatly in this regard.

Lastly:

XI) Be a Hero

beahero

(Props to me for working not one but two relevant Zombieland references into the article)

If there’s an overriding theme to my work, it’s Be a Hero. There is very little in my eyes more masculine than stepping up when no one else will, especially as circumstances grow more daunting.

Anyone who reads my writing knows that I am a big fan of Heroes in all forms and shapes. But if I had to pick one, we all know it’s Batman. Here’s why:

Even the most casual fan is aware that young Bruce Wayne witnessed his parents being murdered, and rather than pout like a little girl or turn to chronic substance abuse, he dedicated himself to ensuring that such an incident would never have the opportunity to repeat itself.  He went on a decade-long odyssey in which he prepared his body and mind for a forthcoming war on injustice.

Being as realistic as possible in looking at the situation, if an eight-year old saw his parents killed before his eyes, he would likely be a fucking mess. Any number of emotional or psychological disorders would have likely crippled any child in Bruce Wayne’s position, and the fact that he was a pillow-soft rich kid makes it all the more likely he would have collapsed under duress. The real-life Bruce Wayne would have turned to drugs and alcohol, and ultimately let substance abuse consume him.

But that’s why the idea of Batman is so special, and resonates with fans as it does. Bruce Wayne, even with irreparable psychological damage, chose to Be a Hero. It would make him a one-in-a-billion type of person considering the circumstances, and that’s why Batman is a work of fiction. But it’s inspirational nonetheless.

batman

It’s interesting to me that both Bruce Wayne and Patrick Bateman of American Psycho infamy are played by actor Christian Bale, because it allows for some interesting comparisons. Both obviously come from a great deal of money. Both have obvious psychological damage. Both exhibit great intelligence and extreme control-freak tendencies. Both show an obsession with their bodies and their health.

Watching the films in succession, it’s almost impossible at times to distinguish between Bale’s Bateman and his Batman. It’s a very thin line between the Man Bruce Wayne became and the one Patrick Bateman became. But that’s the point of the 11th Commandment of Testosterone. Be a Hero, by choice, even if circumstances lead you in the opposite direction.

It’s far more-realistic that a traumatized eight-year old would become Patrick Bateman, i.e. a murdering psychopath, than he would become a Hero. Not even a Man in a Bat costume, but a cop or a doctor or a firefighter, i.e. someone who works for the good of others.

In fact, I would go as far as to say that Bruce Wayne and Patrick Bateman even think in fundamentally similar ways. Not just in terms of control and precision, but also in terms of emotional scarring from trauma during development. In most interpretations, Batman/Bruce Wayne is shown to a borderline sociopath at best and at worst a very disturbed individual.

But that’s why Batman is so revered, even 75 years after the character’s creation. Batman does something that most people are incapable of, which is that he creates something good from great tragedy. He does not let tragedy dictate the person that he is or what he aims to accomplish. Even if Batman’s brain is not a nice place to be, he still opts to make positive, tangible contributions to the world around him.

Two scenes from Batman Begins reinforce this concept:

A Man can choose to benevolent, even if he’s an aggressive or even malicious person by nature. A Man can choose to Be a Hero, because a Man in control of himself. That’s the fundamental difference between Batman and Patrick Bateman: Bateman can’t control himself because deep down, he’s a scared little boy. Batman can control himself, and focus himself in a positive direction, because he’s a Man.

Batman is also the model for those who have had to work for their success, which many Men of Value have had to do. While some Men are born with seemingly-endless gifts and have their own unique struggles – not unlike Superman – many Men have had to build themselves from nothing. They have had to overcome a lack of talent with education and work ethic, and they have had to overcome personal issues on their own. Batman is a choice role-model for Men like this.

As a Man, realize that you have a choice. You don’t have to Be a Hero, but you also don’t have to let tragedy and circumstances outside of your control define you. The one thing a Strong Man can control is himself, how he acts and reacts to the world around him. It’s a great responsibility, but it’s also a tremendous freedom that weaker Men may never get to experience. As a Strong Man, the choice is yours.

Bonus Section

These two extras aren’t Testosterone Commandments per se, but they are both helpful things to know.

Bonus #1) Dictate Your Environment

jacknicholson

“I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.”

– Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), The Departed

This isn’t a full-on commandment, but as a Man you do want to be conscious of how your environment impacts you, and vice versa.

My friends know that “the world is my living room”. I can frequently be seen walking around Hockey rinks barefoot or plugging my iPhone charger into any power outlet within sight because I am, for whatever reason, very comfortable making myself comfortable.

As my friends also know, I am very comfortable forcing my preferences onto other people. I’m a sport and I’ll be accommodating, but if you give me the slightest bit of latitude in making a decision, we are going to end up watching Super Troopers way more often than we watch the latest Sarah Jessica Parker farce/Rom-Com.

It’s the nature of Men to take something and make it theirs, and a Man’s environment is no different. A side effect of ramping up my natural Testosterone levels has been that I have become almost territorial. If you ever want to be embarrassed, come into my Hockey team’s locker room some time without an invitation. I promise no one will belittle and berate you louder that particular day.

You don’t have to be as obnoxiously-territorial as I can be to learn an important lesson in masculinity: Dictate Your Environment.

There is definitely a line between being a bane on society and being a mindless, timid conformist. A Man will dictate his environment to a large degree, as he knows his personal worth meets or exceeds that of the people around him. But a Man will usually not make those around him deliberately uncomfortable for his own sake. The key, as with most judgement calls, is to Walk the Line and show a reasonable amount of discretion without letting anyone else step on you.

Bonus #2) Understand the Nature of Estrogen

Before you get your thong in a twist, hear me out. This is not an attack on women. In fact, it’s a defense:

I’ve written extensively about the benefits of Testosterone, which you can of course read more about elsewhere. The opposite of Testosterone (not the antagonist, obviously) is Estrogen, a hormone that prominently occurs in Women. Estrogen exists in Men as well, leading to a disturbing number of maladies if left unchecked, but offers a number of benefits to Women including:

  • Increasing serotonin, and the number of serotonin receptors in the brain.
  • Modifying the production and the effects of endorphins, the “feel-good” chemicals in the brain.
  • Protecting nerves from damage, and possibly stimulating nerve growth.

Estrogen is also of course critical in female sexual development and child bearing. But the downside of Estrogen is that it’s an extremely volatile hormone, and that it can cause wild fluctuations in mood irrespective of gender. You can read the entirety of this WebMD article on Estrogen and Women’s Emotions here.

A condition called Estrogen Dominance can occur in both Men and Women, in which Estrogen levels run rampant and unchecked, leading to numerous problems. Here are some of the effects of Estrogen Dominance:

estrogendominance

I am not going to do your reading for you, but you should understand the basic positive and negative effects of both Estrogen and Testosterone. If you’re thoroughly-undereducated, you can start with this scholarly article and work your way through.

Estrogen Dominance sounds like hell on earth to me, which is why I so voraciously chase Testosterone. But I am a Man, and I have the luxury of attempting to turn on my Testosterone like a spigot with smart lifestyle choices.

Women, however, generally have about 1/10th of the Testosterone of the average Man, thus missing out on most of the benefits of Testosterone while combating the Estrogen Dominance conditions detailed above. As an example, the average Woman has to work much harder to lose a few pounds than the average Man, again due to the average Woman’s Estrogen: Testosterone ratio.

Once more, this is not to say that there are no positives to Estrogen. There are many. It’s a hormone not unlike Ghrelin or Luteinizing Hormone or Cortisol and serves a major purpose within both male and female human bodies. But Estrogen Dominance is not a desirable condition for Men, and as noted above, even Women do not want out-of-whack Progesterone: Estrogen ratios.

I included this section for two reasons:

1) I think it’s important to educate Men on how problematical Estrogen Dominance can be, and how it can be contributing to any number of mental or physical problems a Man might be experiencing. I highly recommend that as a Man, you educate yourself on ways in which you can mitigate Estrogen Dominance – if only to limit your chances of conditions like Prostate Cancer – even if you do not wish to aggressively pursue high Testosterone levels.

2) I can’t believe I’m writing these words, but … try not to give Women such a hard time. Lord knows this is a case of “doing what I say, not what I do”, but the reality is that the hormonal deck is largely stacked against Women in many instances, and that’s before contributing factors such as Birth Control are thrown in.

As a Man, you can’t reasonably be expected to know what’s going on with a Woman at any given time. But as noted under the 11th Commandment, you can choose to cut a good girl some slack if she’s acting like a maniac. Educate yourself, adjust your patience accordingly, and make your own determinations.

Final Words on Testosterone

handshake

A brief list of things NOT to be:

Don’t Be a Coward

Don’t Be a Clown

Don’t Be a Crybaby

By now, you’re seeing a consistent theme in Testosterone-based behavior. Pretty much anything that lacks basic masculine dignity is a major no-no as far as this is concerned.

I have a passion for both Strength Training and body development, so it’s hard for me not to push the benefits of both. Do you need Strength Training to be a High-T or high-value male? Absolutely not. But is a passion for Strength Training or body development going to hinder you? Absolutely not.

In closing, if Being a Man were easy, every male would do it. Most take the easy way out and elect to gleefully conform to our current passive-aggressive culture, and generally bend over every time life decides to stick them. Being a Man of Value, rather than just a male placeholder, takes dedication and a stiff spine.

If you decide to rise to the challenge of Being a Man, know that the rewards are significant. But it won’t be effortless. You will need to dig in, and ideally with some support in the form of these Ten Eleven Commandments, you can become a Man of Conscience and Value. Lord knows we could use a few more.

Jack

 

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Issue #77: Gender Psychology: So, You Want to Be a Bad Boy II: Reins and Rumors

banshee1

A while back, I wrote an article on Gender Psychology called “So, You Want to Be a Bad Boy?” in which I broadly outlined some of the characteristics and traits of a Bad Boy. The article seems to be somewhat popular or useful, as about 150 300 people per week click on it, according to WordPress.

I am constantly getting new material on the subject. I had a pretty-absurd Fall and early Winter 2014, and my condition as a Bad Boy contributed greatly to the Highs and Lows being so pronounced. I will save those stories for a later date, other than to say that that I am on the ground-level as a Bad Boy authority. Short of being involved in an international drug cartel as a meth cook, I cannot envision a more-tumultuous lifestyle.

My lifestyle stands in stark contrast to the lifestyles of my old friends, most of whom I have less in-common with by the day. Most of my friends from High School and College have now been married for a number of years, and most of them are working on their second child. While marriage-and-family is not the path I’ve chosen, I have great respect for those who have chosen to start families. The commitment it takes to build a family, and the transformation I’ve seen many of my friends undergo as they take on spouses and have children, is extraordinary.

My best friend from high school is my primary example. You never think the guy you used to get into childish slap-fights and drink ghetto malt-liquors with before hockey games would develop into a tremendous father and husband, but he has. Almost all of my childhood friends have taken this route, to varying degrees of success.

Then, there’s me. Like Lon Chaney as the Moon grows more Full, I seem to get “Badder” and Wilder by the week.

I’ve written before that my Bad Boy path started in College, when I was the antithesis of the guy you took home to meet the parents. But I was still a college kid with a large support network and an undefined role in the world. I think the expectation from most was that I would eventually evolve and take the more-traditional route of Marriage and Children.

I suppose I still can go that way. But for the moment, I have clearly gone the other way. Like Hugh Jackman as Wolverine, I’ve played the Bad Boy role for so long that it has become difficult to separate the actor from the character.

The real change started several years ago, when the first of my friends began to announce their Engagements. There was an unspoken-but-sharp change in the status quo. The normal process of getting blind-drunk, dating strippers, and starting fistfights at dance clubs was suddenly immature and passe. There was an epic shift in both conduct and priorities as most of my peers sought to settle down and wife-up.

For a few years, from ages 24 to 27 or so, I was something of an outcast. Everyone in my peer group was focused on finding a committed, “mature” relationship. Like most people in their mid-20s, I probably attended 10 or 12 weddings in a two-year period. I attended most of them by myself and left many of them with only a well-vodka hangover.

Because I was seemingly not marriage-material, Women of marrying age wanted nothing to do with me. This was a drastic departure from college, when I was in constant high-demand. Interestingly, I continued to appeal to many older women, but both my friends and the girls we went to school with were both highly-invested in their long-term relationships. I was mostly an afterthought.

More recently, since about age 28 or so, there has been another shift. Like all trends, I again became fashionable. While almost everyone I associated with from ages 15-25 has committed to a spouse or had children (or both) and spent the last several years making the requisite personal sacrifices, I’ve been on my own. I have had time to work on myself and to learn a lot of things about the world. At the least, I’ve had a relatively-unique journey.

My married friends and all of the Women who had blown me off to start their families are suddenly very interested in what I am up to. The three or four or five years that they had spent building families, I had spent developing myself in different ways. My decision to do something different with my life is apparently interesting to people who began families shortly after college.

Which brings us to today. My entire thought process and approach to life is so unconventional that Women of all makes and models are attracted to me. I walk through a store and get extended eye-contact from wives, grandmothers, high-school girls, and especially the Women from my peer group who have now been married for a few years. I’ve become a cardinal in a forest full of robins, and for better or worse it has made my Life Experience very interesting.

Because for the moment I have chosen to forgo the comforts of family life, I have had a lot of negative experiences, and I have have had a lot of positive ones. My experiences have been pointed, bordering on extreme. Rather than playing the role of a Bad Boy, as I did when I was younger, I have become one. There is value in what I have learned, and will likely continue to learn, which I share for the benefit of other would-be Bad Boys and interested observers.

Here are more situations you can expect to encounter if you continue to take the Bad Boy track:

The Rumor Mill

gossip

The girl I’ve been running around with informed me of a rumor floating around that I had been taking my “Girlfriend” to public skate at the local hockey rink, apparently showing off my gorgeous Bret Hedican-style skating and re-enacting The Cutting Edge.

While my “Mistress” acknowledged that I would have to be unusually-stupid to take my “Girlfriend” to the hockey rink of all places (where my “Mistress” and I met and spend much of our free time), she knows me well enough to know that I’m brazen enough to pull something like that. She also knows that even though I’m crazy and slutty, I’m just not that disrespectful or stupid.

My Mistress pointed out that I am frequently involved in trailer-park dramas and rumors such as this on a regular basis. To cite a few examples, there were widely-circulating rumors that I shortly after moving into town that I was having sex with a pair of 21-year old girls who hated each other (which was traced to the source), that I’m a drug dealer (untraced), that I’m a stripper (partly true – I’m not currently stripping anywhere), and I’ve been linked to a number of women who are known to be unhappily married or recently separated.

trouble

Most recently – even since I started the first draft of this article – much was made of the fact I have a Plenty of Fish account. People, grown men and women no less, are so eager to discredit me that they have been running in droves to my Mistress, basically tattling on me and hoping to drive a wedge between us.

My Mistress of course knows about my POF account, because while I am many things, I am neither a Coward nor a Liar. The Women you tend to see on Internet Dating Sites, especially free ones, are like the options on a cheap buffet: you can have as much as you want, but none of it is very good. I am on POF mainly for entertainment value. The idea of finding quality Women on a free dating website seems remote, at best, and honestly I don’t really need help meeting Women. But I digress.

(UPDATE 8/31/15: For as much grief as I’ve gotten about having a POF account, I’ve gotten ten times that amount for having a Tinder account. Every bitter hag in a 100-mile radius can’t wait to tattle to anyone I’ve dated or potentially would date that I am a huge Tinder whore.

You may ask, if it’s such a big deal, why not just get rid of Tinder? I’ll save most of the reasoning for a future valentine to Tinder, which I adore, but for the moment:

A) I miss Tinder most when I am forced to wait for something, which as you know I despise. Like a recovering cigarette smoker, I reach for Tinder by habit every time I’m standing in line at the bank or waiting for my oil to be changed on my car. If I want to look at some pics of the current dating pool while I wait in line at Trader Joe’s, I feel like that’s a reasonable right as a red-blooded American male.

B) 90% of the women I know under the age of 30 have such retarded social skills that they preferentially communicate via text, Facebook, et al. rather than face-to-face. Younger women find the idea of a Man approaching them in a bookstore or at a coffee shop almost confrontational, as it rapidly exposes their inability to socialize like a normal human being.

In the interest of keeping myself sharp, I make myself meet women “80s-style”, meaning in absence of technology, and my experience has been that I receive a lot of odd looks and resistance. 

By rough estimate, I would say 15-20% of women I approach think it’s shady or sketchy that I don’t have a Facebook account. These women automatically disqualify men from dating consideration because they can’t be easily researched on the internet. We have gotten to the point where your electronic Social Proof surpasses your actual Social Value, apparently except in the case of writing.

Many modern single women pine for traditional romance and wish to be wooed, and many will gleefully send nude photos to complete strangers, but they can’t be competently civil when an unfamliar man approaches them. The mindset of the average modern woman necessitates innovations like Tinder, not the other way around.

C) I have met some really good people via Tinder. That’s not code for “thirsty thots”, but I’ve in fact made female friends that I otherwise would not have met. Again, this is just how people meet each other in 2015 2016: LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and yes, Tinder.

D) Lastly and most-importantly, certain people think they’re getting over on me by showing my Tinder account to anyone peripherally interested. It tickles me in an indescribable way to dangle my Tinder account in their collective faces, and dare them to confront me in an adult fashion about it.

As a Bad Boy, I thrive on actual confrontation, rather than the passive-aggressive whispering most whelps are reduced to, so I use Tinder as an invitation to engage me. Predictably, I always hear about this nonsense third-hand, as the craven masses feign “nobility” by “warning women about me”.

In American English, the beta males who can’t compete with me try to undermine my relationships with women, and the unfucked fatties who can’t land a boyfriend cattily try to interfere with otherwise-scintillating interactions between consenting adults. 

In short, I kept a Tinder account after beginning a relationship because what I do doesn’t concern 99.99% of the population. I’m disgusted by how much more people care about my social media activity than my actual feelings and thoughts.

Most people wisely don’t engage me in confrontation, but this is your invitation: if you want to know what I think about social media and dating sites in particular, speak to me in-person like a freaking adult. Otherwise, grow up and keep your mouth shut.)

I could care less about rumors involving me. I’ve always been of the “Let’s give ’em something to talk about” disposition. As my friends say, I crave attention, and any kind will do. However, I do get irritated when rumors that might be potentially disrespectful to my Mistress (who’s a peach) start spreading around.

My Mistress heard this latest rumor about “Endless Love in the Dark” from her roommate, who heard it from her 60-year old grandfather, who I have never really spoken with. I did not realize Gramps knew my name, let alone my personal affairs. Round and round the Rumor Mill churns.

My Mistress acknowledged that while I am frequently involved in rumors such as this, she does not fully understand why my name comes up so frequently. I tried to explain to my Mistress, a sweetheart if one ever existed, why a person like me is so often involved in the Rumor Mill. In my view, it boils down to these reasons, all of which tie into my Bad Boy presentation:

1) I look like the sort of guy who would have sex with someone’s wife or girlfriend. I wear a leather jacket and have bags under my usually-bloodshot eyes. I almost comically resemble Charlie Sheen in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”. This makes it convenient for me to be a bit actor in the self-serving, constructed dramas of manipulative, petty people.

2) Equally-relevant is the Bad Boy tendency to run off with the local Princess, which I have a striking tendency to do. Whether it’s Ryan Atwood winning the heart of Marissa Cooper or the street-rat Aladdin catching the eye of Princess Jasmine, there is a long-standing tradition of the guy from “the Wrong Side of the Tracks” ending up with particularly-treasured Women.

My Mistress is no different. She is indisputably the local Princess. As such, there are a large number of people who care about her and perhaps cross the line from Protective to Meddlesome. Rather than tell the Princess not to run around with the Bad Boy (which will only encourage her), the Meddlers go the opposite route and try to discredit the Bad Boy. This has been a subplot in so many Disney Movies, Teen Soaps, Vampire novels, and Shakespearean tragedies that I don’t need to list examples.

3) Misery Loves Company. There are countless people in unhappy marriages or relationships who do not want to see other people experiencing something exciting. The appeal of running around with a Bad Boy is that there is a time-limit on the relationship, due to the Bad Boy’s self-destructive nature. This makes every moment together richer and more cherished.

People who have slogged through fundamentally-flawed relationships for years see two people (or in my case three people – make sure you count my “Mistress”  and my “girlfriend”) happy, and immediately try to tear them apart. Again, this concept has appeared all across the land of Fiction for so long that I don’t need to cite specific examples.

As a Bad Boy, people are going to be extremely-reluctant to engage you directly. Aggression, hostility, and unpredictability are all cornerstone attributes of the standard Bad Boy, and many people are cowardly and passive-aggressive. While most people at least know better than to cross a Bad Boy directly, quite a few will plot-and-scheme for months or years in efforts to discredit and undermine the Bad Boy.

Bad Boys are prepared for this. As I wrote in Article I, Bad Boys are extremely-distrustful of people, for many of the reasons described above. My distrust of other people borders on paranoia. But like all Bad Boys, my lack of trust in other people is often warranted, as my Life Experience as a Bad Boy has involved backstabbing and deception rather than support and warmth.

As a Bad Boy, your name will continuously circulate in the Rumor Mill. If you are a legitimate Bad Boy, you will have much larger and more-pressing concerns than the opinions of the narrow-minded. If you are merely pretending to be a Bad Boy, you may have a problem having your reputation constantly run-down. In either case, be prepared.

Becoming Mean

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“…I’m already rough
I’m already lean
I’m already wanting to be obscene
I’m already cursed
I’m already dry
I’m already wonderin’ what am I
I’ve already learned a bit of sin
Enough already, let me in…”

Silversun Pickups, Dots and Dashes

Do you ever watch a movie or TV show and think, ‘I can’t believe he just did that,’ after some anti-hero double-crosses someone or acts in some self-serving way that screws over a lot of other people?

I used to as well. I used to watch Bad Boy archetypes and then imitate them in order to project a Bad Boy image. I did this because it’s really attractive to college girls.

But as I touched upon in the first Bad Boy article, this was a mask that came on and off. As my college roommate once remarked, I ‘took my hat off’ at the end of the day. At one point, it was accurate to say that I was genuinely good-natured.

That seems to have shifted somewhat. While I still Do the Right Thing most of the time, my sensitivity and thought process has changed dramatically.

Most current example: I sold a pair of skates on eBay. The buyer, a whiny malcontent if ever one existed, drove down the price obnoxiously, haggling with me over $5-$10 while claiming that he “absolutely could not pay a dollar more” after I gave him a $50 discount. I gave him a steal on a pair of nearly-new skates because he “just wanted to teach his son how to play hockey”, even though his user name looked like a sporting goods store. But I digress.

Predictably, upon receipt the guy e-mailed me and wanted to return the skates, citing a minor flaw and forgetting that he was shopping at the Internet Flea Market and not Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Also predictably, I sent him a scathing response. I not only belittled him, but I also used the details of the eBay Buyer Agreement to deflate his delusional demand for a return. I had no reason to do this, other than my refusal to accommodate an entitled pussy. It was not enough for me to just win the argument; I had to impart a good deal of shame on some faceless eBay buyer because he tried to make me dote upon him.

Berating some guy on eBay doesn’t make me (or anyone) a Bad Boy. But the mindset, meaning both an unwillingness to acquiesce to a needy person and the desire to extract a Pound of Flesh for being bothered, is a decidedly Bad Boy mentality.

There was a time when I would have talked myself into giving this buyer the benefit of the doubt and returned the guy’s money, albeit angrily. But that time has seemingly come-and-gone.

Becoming Mean is not a recommended way to live, nor is it necessarily a means to an end. It is a consequence of having good-nature exploited too many times.

There have always been people who cut other people in line at the grocery store or dangerously pull out in front of other cars in traffic. Both nice and not-so nice people repeatedly allow this to happen, to differing levels of acceptance. But Bad Boys not only have zero tolerance for inconsiderate or selfish behavior, they actively seek retribution. Not surprisingly, this calloused attitude gets a Bad Boy into a lot of disputes.

Again, being mean does not always correlate with getting results. There are plenty of people who agree that you catch more bees with honey. But a mean streak is an inherent Bad Boy trait, and one that distinguishes the Bad Boy from more well-adjusted types.

High Self-Confidence/Low Self-Control

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For reasons I won’t get into here, I’ve recently taken a number of personality/psychological assessments. Don’t worry, they aren’t shipping me off to the loony bin, at least not yet. These tests were more of a formality for work and school opportunities.

I took three separate tests, all of which were different and administered for different reasons. Surprisingly, the feedback was consistent, useful, and in my view accurate.

On all three tests, I tested high for Intelligence, Leadership, and Self-Confidence (huge surprise). All three tests also described me as “easy going”, but they were obviously not administered while I was playing Hockey or putting my foot in someone’s ass. Meanwhile, I consistently tested low for Openness (VAGUE) and Self-Control, again not a major surprise.

What’s interesting is that despite consistently testing low for Self-Control, I have traditionally been referred to a “Control Freak”, which is true in a sense. I will try to explain how this ties into Being a Bad Boy:

I think a common Bad Boy problem is Low Self-Control. To survive in modern society, people like me have had to learn to restrain ourselves to a great degree. I touched upon this in my article on The Wild Side. Because we Bad Boys have such a difficult time controlling ourselves, perhaps many of us fixate on controlling as many external factors as possible.

To cite one example, Christian Troy of Nip/Tuck fame is an obvious Control Freak. In addition to being a textbook Sadist, Christian has an obsession with money, power, and status – all things that allow him to maintain control over his environment and the people around him. Don Draper of Mad Men has similar predilections.

As mentioned in The Wild Side, I focus on routines as a way of controlling myself. For example, developing my body, which involves commitment and discipline to both diet and exercise regimens, is a passion of mine. But I’m Lon Chaney, living a simple life of Reps, Sets, and boring meals only to careen off-course and embrace hedonism with growing regularity.

Here is a direct quote from one of my evaluations:

“…As someone who exerts little control over your actions, you may find that you commit social blunders that might offend other people and get yourself in trouble. For example, if you’re given responsibility to work on a project that requires close attention to detail, you may be likely to overlook important details because you have difficulty staying focused. Consequently, you might feel more comfortable delegating such tasks to other people who are more detail-oriented. Being able to recognize such characteristics in yourself and having more detail-oriented people do such tasks could be an effective way to manage your own stress level.

Low self-control may diminish your effectiveness at work. Acting too relaxed can make it difficult for you to focus on projects that require organized sequences of steps or stages. Thus, your ability to accomplish may be inconsistent. Indeed, it’s possible that you might be criticized periodically for being unreliable or unable to “stay within the lines.” Nonetheless, you may still experience many short-lived pleasures and never be thought of as boring.

You may or may not know me personally, but that sounds exactly like two people I know: Don Draper and myself. To illustrate my point, you can check out this clip of Don attempting to work.

I am the same. Many Bad Boys are the same. The inability of a Bad Boy to completely control himself is both infuriating and extremely attractive to the fairer sex.

One of the reasons I so enjoy writing is that there are no lines to stay within. I can write about whatever I want. Rather than be chastised for my inability to think like other people, I am rewarded for it.

The downsides of Low-Self Control are obvious. As noted above, I have extremely-mixed results completing step-by-step tasks. Getting along with others in a professional environment is a chore, to say the least. A Bad Boy is easily provoked, and this leads to an almost-unending parade of interpersonal conflicts and disputes with authority figures.

I try to work on my self-control, but it’s like a Hockey Player trying to become a Golfer. The Good News for me is that I am intelligent and at least cognizant of the Bad Boy condition, and this helps me head off a good number of potential problems. Still, even if I catch 90% of these problems in-advance and map-out responsible courses of action, it still seems like I am frequently pulled into fights and romantic entanglements, which I will talk about more below in “The Drama Elixir”.

If you are a Bad Boy wrestling with self-control issues, or if you know one, weigh the points made in this article and consider adopting some sort of productive lifestyle routine. Body Development, Sports, and Writing have all helped me to a large degree, but Low Self-Control requires constant vigilance and a good deal of foresight.

Married Women and Bad Boys

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Confession: a Wedding Ring has never served as a stop-sign for me.

This isn’t to say that I go around trying to bewitch wives or wreck homes. But if an attractive Married Woman makes me an aggressive offer, I will usually at least consider it.

There are many exceptions to this: I will not consider Military Wives or the wives of Firefighters. I will not consider the wives of my friends or, God forbid, family. I’m not Marty Brodeur.

But as I wrote above, for me a Wedding Ring has always been more of a blinking Yellow Light rather than a stop-sign. The presence of a ring just makes me consider the situation differently. I think this mentality is unique to the Bad Boy breed.

Daniel Craig as James Bond probably said it best:

Bond: You’re not my type.

Vesper: Smart?

Bond: Single.

My view is not that Bad Boys run around trying to steal involved Women. But the willingness to physically-engage an involved Woman is a very common Bad Boy trait.

When it comes down to it, Bad Boys are animals. Bad Boys take the traditional rules of society with a grain of salt, or at least do not consider them as strongly as more-socialized types. This is both extremely-vexing to society-at-large and extremely-attractive to most Women.

Again, it’s not as though I go around trying to drive a wedge between happily-married couples, or for that matter, people in happy relationships. But as one Woman told me when I was 19, “I’m going to (cheat) with someone, and it might as well be you.”

Take a cursory run through Books, Movies, and Television, and you will see a consistent trend of Bad Boys and involved Women gravitating toward each other. As I have written before, the only guide in situations such as this are the Bad Boy’s conscience, however large or small.

Taking the Reins

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Maybe to my own detriment, I have never really lusted for power. In fact, my idea of happiness is being left alone in peace. A book, a comfortable place to sleep, something to exercise with, and something to write with is really all I need to be perfectly content. The brief company of a low-drama lady would be the cherry on the sundae.

My point is that I am not a power-hungry beta nor a would-be cult leader. But ironically, I frequently find myself Taking the Reins in almost every situation I’m involved in. Here is how that ties into Being a Bad Boy:

As I wrote above, I test high for Leadership qualities. This is the direct quote from one of my evaluations:

Perhaps the defining feature that sets you apart from most people is the exceptionally high standards that you set for yourself. Your competence in social gatherings as well as at work should provide ample evidence for this. With these characteristics, it’s very likely that people come to you for advice and generally think of you as someone with leader-like qualities.

This is all true. I don’t want to be in-charge, but I do expect those in-charge to govern fairly, judiciously, and professionally. Typically, I am disappointed because the decision-makers in most cases are crooked and self-serving. Rather than do the French thing and consent to oppression, I do the American thing and fight for Equality and Justice.

Bad Boys are hard-wired like this. While I think Bad Boys are generally loners by-nature, most of us are forced into extended social interaction. I don’t believe most Bad Boys think they are the best and smartest guys for a given job, but I do believe that most Bad Boys think they are better and smarter than the clown in-charge most of the time.

Bad Boys Take the Reins because there is often not a viable alternative. It’s not that a Bad Boy aspires to command, but liars and schemers are frequently those who ascend to authority positions, and most Bad Boys – no matter how rough around the edges – often threaten to trample a House of Cards that a beta social manipulator has carefully constructed.

When combined with a typical Bad Boy’s hair-trigger temper, politicking from a corrupt leadership figure often leads to a conflict. As the politician exposes her or himself as a disingenuous liar, more and more people look to the Bad Boy for guidance and resolve. Bad Boys often take leadership roles if only because they cannot stand the current leader, not because they crave power.

The Drama Elixir

vampire diaries season finale

I had an opening written for this section, but this trumps what I was going to write:

A woman just sat down directly across from me. She caught a glimpse of me from across the restaurant I am writing this article in, and walked across the restaurant to sit directly in front of me even though there is plenty of seating available elsewhere. I am experienced enough to pick up on her coy looks and suggestive posture. She wants me to approach and engage her.

I glance over at her. She smiles coyly, and lingers with eye contact. After a moment, she looks down, then looks back at me. She pulls at her sweater a bit and rubs her neck. My expression does not change, but I hold eye contact. There is no verbal exchange, just looks and non-verbal cues. I know this is not the typical for everyone, but it’s typical for me.

In fact, this happens to me often. I do not meet Women because they start casual, normal conversations with me, or by the conventional means that most of my friends have described to me. I probably wouldn’t know an appropriate, normal interaction with a Woman if it hit me across the face. I meet Women because they either bait me with sexual suggestion (to varying degrees of subtlety), or assign me a personality they crave and desperately throw themselves at me. I do not believe as an adult I have ever dated a Woman who started as a friend or via the traditional dinner-dating route.

You might be thinking, “Here he comes again talking about how Hilarious and Sexy he is, Yawn”. I won’t dispute this, but I am also trying to illustrate a point and stay within the scope of the article:

As a Bad Boy, I have a high Potential for Drama, due in large part to the Low Self-Control issues I described above. Many Women, particularly those in the 16-35 age demographic, readily pick up on this using some kind of advanced formula available only to Women. Leather Jacket + Bruises/Cuts on Neck + Contemptuous Look on Face + Muscles + Plain Black T-Shirt + Standoffish Attitude = Drama Reservoir.

I believe what makes a Bad Boy attractive is not necessarily how he looks physically. At the least, I do not believe Looks play the biggest part in the Female-to-Male attraction process as a Woman assesses a Bad Boy. The smaller cues – the hungry & lean look, the scars, the five-o’clock shadow, the distant look in the eyes – are what attract certain Women to Bad Boys.

Younger Women especially are drawn to this Drama Elixir. For reasons Men will never fully understand, younger Women feel this tremendous need to inject Drama into their lives, and a Bad Boy – with his lack of impulse control, unwillingness to commit, and short temper – is sure to inject Drama into her life in one way or another. I have never been able to explain or qualify it properly, but it’s almost as though many Women are not living unless they are experiencing the Dramatic range of emotions – angst, elation, excitement, jealousy,  joy, and so forth.

For many Women, a high Potential for Drama is like a seductive bombshell for Men. While the mind may protest otherwise, the base instincts want what they want.

As I wrote in the first article, a frequent occurrence is that a Woman will be borderline-rude to me for no reason whatsoever. Again, these are not Women I am trying to pick-up in bars or clubs, but Women in Retail who were hired to be pleasant to customers.  I will stand in line and watch a Woman be overwhelmingly-friendly with other customers, but become defensive and short with me before I even speak to her. I would ask these Women why they act this way for informative purposes, but I do not believe I would get a forthright answer out of most of them.

This also frequently happens between me and Women who are in longer-term relationships or marriages. As I alluded to above, I do not interfere with happy or successful relationships. But a consequence of my Bad Boy presentation is that happily-involved Women almost refuse to be civil to me. I suspect this happens to most Bad Boys.

A common occurrence is that an involved Woman will be a raging bitch to me for no identifiable reason, then get sexually-aggressive the moment after her boyfriend or fiance or husband leaves the room. As a Bad Boy, you are expected to take the heat in the event an angry husband or boyfriend catches you with his Woman. However, too little derision is placed upon the Women who shamelessly flirt or gleefully cheat with Men other than their own.

To tie a bow on the story from the beginning of this section, the Woman who sat next to me while I was writing this article continued to throw a variety of suggestive gestures and glances my way for 15 or 20 minutes, until her boyfriend/husband showed up. At that point, her entire presentation changed, as she switched from flirtatious and sexually-suggestive to bubbly, naive, and sweet. She walked out of the restaurant without so much as a second look in my direction, holding her boyfriend/fiance/husband’s hand.

This has been my continued experience as an adult. When I was a 22-year old bartender and Women treated me this way, I always assumed that it was situational and temporary. But years later Women continue to play this game, still throwing provocative looks behind the backs of their boyfriends and finances and husbands. As I’ve grown and learned more about myself and the world, I realize that I am just a certain type – or at the least, Women assume I am a certain type.

What does the Drama Elixir mean for a Bad Boy?

As I wrote previously, Bad Boys are usually not consciously-manipulating Women. Bad Boys are either distracted by more-pressing matters (like going to jail or having guns shoved in their face), or like me wish to be left alone. But as anyone who owns a cat will tell you: the more you push the cat away, the more the cat will keep trying to climb onto you. The indifference or even contempt a Bad Boy shows toward a Woman will usually only serve to make her more attracted to him, via one mechanism or another.

You will know that you are a Bad Boy when you start pining for a calmer or steadier lifestyle. While a Woman who exaggerates the circumstances of her life for attention is a Drama Queen, a Man who downplays or tries to minimize a litany of legitimate problems is likely a Bad Boy.

My last word of advice for the would-be Bad Boy is to be leery of a sexually-suggestive or aggressive Woman. As I pointed out above, the Woman who sat next to me and tried to bait me with an arsenal of slutty gestures and glances left the restaurant with her boyfriend/husband. Provoking a Bad Boy is a no-lose proposition for most Women, because they can always feign innocence to their devoted partner.

After all, who is an angry boyfriend/husband going to believe most of the time: the Love of his Life, or some shady-looking guy who is seemingly hitting on her?

Many Women come to know that a Bad Boy is not intimidated by approaching her, so Women are often much more forward in their actions toward him. But the Trap is that the Women who are beckoning the Bad Boy, as in the example above, are often in committed relationships. While these Women tend to justify these seductive invitations as “innocent flirting”, they are less likely to consider – or at least take responsibility for -the consequences of these actions.

Hell, some Women may want to see her boyfriend/husband fight for her, and may attempt to draw a Bad Boy into a self-constructed Drama just to reaffirm his commitment to her. Some Women may aim to turn a Bad Boy into a pawn in a kind of emotional game. I can personally attest to this, as it has happened to me numerable – repeat, numerable – times in recent memory.

A Bad Boy concocts the Drama Elixir the same way certain Women have blonde hair and big breasts: by nature, not by choice. Just be cognizant of the fact that as a Bad Boy, you consciously or unconsciously produce the drug of choice for many Women. While it will serve to make you more-attractive, it will also serve to cause you continual headaches and inconveniences.

Closing

These Bad Boy articles will likely be ongoing. As I wrote above, I am constantly getting new material on the topic. I would hope that as an astute reader, you are noticing all the caution flags I am throwing up for younger or would-be Bad Boys. Inexperienced Men will read this and cherry-pick for ways to sleep with more Women, but savvy readers and fellow Bad Boys will know that the Bad Boy lifestyle is pretty aggravating.

Above all, I suggest younger or less-experienced readers continue to learn from my mistakes. There will undoubtedly be more to follow.

Jack

#67: On Doing the Right Thing

superman5

“The more I live I see, this life’s not about me.”

– Anberlin, Burn Out Brighter

I have learned some lessons on Doing the Right Thing, some of which I have loosely organized below. I hope you can learn something from them.

Arrogance as a Barrier to Truth

arrogance

There is a saying in sports: “There are those who are humble, and those who are about to be humbled.” I alternately have read that this is Pride versus Humility. The point remains the same, being that the line between Confidence and Arrogance is perilously thin, and must be toed with absolute caution.

I am and always will be a little cocky. I am confident and optimistic, and that is always going to rub certain types of people the wrong way. In my view, the difference between healthy self-confidence and Arrogance gets crossed when one ceases to be appreciate of what one has.

Five years ago, I thought I deserved everything the world had to offer. Not warranted – deserved. I was a snapshot of entitlement. Since then, a number of circumstances have beaten a healthy dose of humility into me, and I think this has helped me to become a better person.

Appreciation for the gifts I have been given has overtaken the delusional narcissism that used to envelop me. I have a desire to Do the Right Thing not because I am afraid of Karmic retribution, but because I am thankful. I would rather start a Positive Feedback Loop rather than a Negative one. This is the well-covered idea of “Paying it Forward“, but personally I like the take-away message from Yes Man better.

I am not trying to sound like a motivational speaker, but the Truth is that if you Create and do Positive Things, more Positive Things will come back your way. This is something that I took a very long time to learn, because my own arrogance prevented me from trying it.

Writing has certainly been a cathartic and helpful part of the process, but my own Arrogance has been the biggest Barrier to Truth, as I interpret it.

This is a lesson I have a sudden urgency to impart onto others. I see people who remind me of my younger self – caustic, cynical, ruthless, and most of all, excessively-confident – and I want to save them the trouble my own personality shortcomings have caused me as a young adult. I have found my message goes over about as well as trying to bathe a cat, but out of appreciation for the intellectual and physical gifts I have been given, I won’t stop trying. In my view, getting the other Arrogant Bastards in line is simply Doing the Right Thing.

Letting Go of Negative Emotions

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This is going to double as closing commentary on my now-former roommate, so bear with me for a bit while I make a point:

The analogy that comes to mind when I describe my experience with the ex-roommate is that we were like two people walking toward each other from opposite directions: I was coming from a darkened road, while she was heading that way. My view is that we are frightening similar on a number of levels, so it’s obvious that we would stop and talk to each other for a few moments during our respective treks. This moment of “talking” was the 21 months we lived together.

I like the traveling analogy because she and I hit right in the middle of a Morality cross-road. I did not realize the entirety of it at the time, but I used to be constantly angry and miserable and negative; like a deep sickness, it had gotten so bad that I almost did not feel the symptoms anymore. Feeling irate and vindictive all the time was “normal” to me, but thankfully this cloud of negativity was a function of the company I kept and the people I worked with. As I have gotten away from hateful and pessimistic people, I have gradually started to lighten up.

Meanwhile, when I met my ex-roommate, she was in a pretty good place, from what I can tell. She remains sharp and worldly, but she had not had an endless parade of bad experiences in the same way that I recently did. When we first met, the good still outweighed the bad in her life by a decent margin. She was hopeful, optimistic, and for the most part a pleasure to be around.

However, she has been in a kind of gradual descent since I met her. She has been somewhat victimized, but she has also been the cause of some of the problems that have led to this free-fall.

In my view, a main problem is that she got away from her 9-to-5 job and went back to bartending. Working at a bar is fine, except that you are constantly exhausted and surrounded by irresponsible, selfish people. Bartending works as a limited-time-only way to make extra money, but the people who make it their long-term or primary business get pulled through an emotional meat-grinder on a regular basis.

Again, I am not criticizing her line of work. I was a bartender for many years. I just know from experience that it leads to this negative cycle in which people become disposable and the uncertainty over your future becomes suffocating. Most bar jobs do not offer 401K plans and insurance benefits, and this eventually becomes a millstone around the neck of a person once they start moving through their 20s.

Going back to the analogy, a series of poor choices and circumstances compelled her to start heading down the dark road I had just come from. Meanwhile, I was desperate to get away from the darkness and negativity, and I spent most of our time together trying to drag her with me away from it. But like me just a short time prior, she was insistent on surrounding herself with noxious, two-faced people and living a septic lifestyle.

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True Story: the consequence of being constantly surrounded by service-industry vampires is that you start treating the quality people in your life badly. You pass along the me-first selfishness and vitriol of the after-hours crowd like a plague. Don’t get me wrong, you can have a blast working as a bartender, but it comes with a toll. You become calloused and sometimes vicious, because you are frequently degraded, marginalized, and lied to.

I am not writing this to make my ex-roommate out to be the Devil. I do not think she is an evil person. Again, I think she’s largely a victim of some bad luck and a few regrettable decisions. I know this because I was just like her, not very long ago at all. But she kept dragging me back into her lifestyle of lunacy and turmoil, and eventually I got so sick of the endless drama and negativity that I basically cut her out of my life.

Our personal relationship came to an end because I had worked almost all of the bitterness and resentment toward the world out of my system, like a poison being expelled. Writing has certainly helped me, but for the first time in a long time I have a loyal and supportive group of friends. My ex-roommate had become what I would call a “tough cut“, in that I did not really want to remove her from my life, but the baggage that came with her was affecting everything else to too great of a degree.

We met recently to settle some debts between us and effectively end communication. It’s kind of a sad story, because we used to be close friends, but this happens in Life.

We fought for months over what are relatively small sums of money and personal property. I was so tired of wasting energy battling with her that I basically surrendered, handing her a wad of cash and opening myself up the risk that she might never reimburse me. I just did not want to hold onto the bitterness needed to keep fighting her over what amounts to ash in the grand scheme of things.

Meanwhile, she continued to lash out at me over things that no longer mattered. It was mostly nonsense – just pure rage spewing out of her mouth. I sat there patiently and let her vent for 30 minutes over a matter that could have been settled with a handshake. In the end, all I could do was sigh, because she was using so much of her energy and focus on hating me and trying to make me out to be the Bad Guy.

Once more, I am not trying to throw rocks at my ex-roommate after the fact. Maybe two or three people reading this would have any idea who she is or what she looks like. I am trying to paint a picture and make this point:

Letting Go of Bitterness and Rage is a way in which I am attempting to Do the Right Thing, or at least do the Wrong Thing less often.

Do not let me convince you otherwise: I am no saint. I used to be berserk and had an insatiable lust for atonement in the form of corrective punishment, alternatively referred to as Wrath:

Certain people want to devote the time in their lives to fighting every trivial battle that might potentially lead to personal gain. They claw and gnash at each other like animals over things that, again, amount to ash in the end. I am not judging these people, because I was one of them for a long time. But I no longer want to be one of them. The big step for me personally has been to become less of a bastard, which meant putting an end to grudges, petty feuds, and spitefulness.

The Real Truth is that if you work to help other people, you get it back tenfold. You just have to be a little selective about the people you help, and sometimes let go of people who are more trouble than they are worth.

Doing The Nice Thing versus Doing The Right Thing

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This is the simplest lesson in principle to learn about Doing the Right Thing, but the most difficult in execution.

There are some people, like me, who have a burning need to help other people. This is not like Nightingale Syndrome, but more of a survival instinct. Some of us just know in our bones that protecting other people is what we have to do, and people like me often end up becoming Doctors, Police Officers, or Firefighters.

You may be confused by the picture at the top of this section, which is plays the cast of the hit television show The Walking Dead. The overriding theme of both the show and its source-material is a realization by the main character, Rick Grimes: while Rick is initially hardened and views others as disposable cogs who only serve to provide protection for his wife and young son, he eventually comes to realize that by being so dismissive of others, that he is indirectly making Life more dangerous for his wife and son. Rick comes to learn that Cooperation, rather than self-absorption, is the Key to thriving in Life.

Regardless of which anecdote is more relevant to you, Cooperation is a conclusion that most intelligent people come to. We are nothing without other people. Helping and Protecting those who cannot protect themselves is the most basic form of Cooperation, and this is often a great thing. However, many people have learned to manipulate others by feigning weakness as a way of dodging responsibility, forcing more accountable sorts to take Life’s lumps for them.

Let me describe it another way: picture a loving parent with her or his child. Let’s say the child starts begging the parent for a gallon of gasoline and a lighter, or for a gun.

Would it be responsible of the parent to give the child anything this dangerous? Of course not. No matter how much the parent loves her or his child, giving the child a weapon would not be the Right Thing to Do, in normal circumstances.

Unfortunately, this is what many of us do every day in Life. We do not arm children, but we do acquiesce to the demands and wishes of those we dote upon, even if we know we are not Doing the Right Thing. Many people would rather be Liked than Right.

You Do the Right Thing when you use a measure of temperance in your decision-making. Remember what I said above about nurturing positivity? You seek to do that, but you should not arm children, which is what we often do when we opt to do the Nice Thing rather than the Right Thing. Sometimes, you have to be a prick, lest the children of the world burn everything down in search of their fun.

Carefree versus Careless

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Speaking of which…

Moving to North Carolina, and in particular a beach town like Wilmington, is a drastic departure from a place like Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steel City is conservative and resistant to change, but the typical Type-A, East Coast mentality that dominates the Metropolitan Northeast is still very present. A lot of people in Greater Pittsburgh are businesslike or brusque, and many are just flat-out rude.

By contrast, the common demeanor in a beach town such as Wilmington is comparatively very lax. Most of the people you meet in Wilmington are happy and pleasant to be around. I have touched upon the differences between Pittsburgh and Wilmington frequently, but in this case let me point out the difference in attitude in the interest of explaining Carefree versus Careless:

It’s great to be carefree and breezy, as most of the people I have met in Wilmington tend to be. However, as prevalent as the easy-going, Southern-mixed-with-beach-town attitude tends to be down here is the equal tendency to be Careless. 

As I have written before, I get into an auto accident almost daily (knock on wood) because the drivers of Wilmington cannot be bothered to use their turn-signal, or wait to change lanes, or wait to pull out into flowing traffic. I don’t believe these wayward drivers are malicious or intent on causing an accident; they are simply being Careless, otherwise known as Irresponsible. I think you know how I feel about Responsibility and how it ties into Doing the Right Thing.

I don’t expect everyone to feel the Burden of Responsibility on the pathological level that I do, but I also expect people to have a measure of respect for others. The problem is that people who tend to be carefree and easy-going also tend to cause problems with their Carelessness.

Moving to a laid-back beach town like Wilmington has been very instructive, because it allowed me to see the flaws in my character magnified. For example, while I was bartending, I was once angrily sent home from work by management because I did not check I.D.s on a group of 20-somethings that walked in. Granted, we ordinarily had a bouncer who did that, but that does not mean that I had no responsibility to double-check. At the time, I did not really understand why such a big deal was made of the issue by management, but I now see how my Carelessness could have been equally as destructive as purposefully serving under-agers.

It may come as a surprise, but by nature I am much more laid-back than the standard Type-A East Coaster. It turns out I fit in fairly well down here. But I am also Responsible enough that by comparison, I am frequently correcting the Carelessness of others and trying to teach them how their happy-go-lucky attitude can lead to disharmony if a measure of discretion isn’t used.

Carefree become Careless when the consequences of choices become potentially-destructive.

Conclusion

The conclusion is summarized in this quote:

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
George Bernard Shaw

The takeaway lesson is that you can choose to Do the Right Thing, or to Pay it Forward, if you will. I now wholeheartedly believe in Karma, and as they say, What Goes Around Comes Around.

If you choose to be bitter and vindictive, you will find yourself mired in this swamp of never-ending negativity. You may be able to get away with burning through other people for your own selfish reasons for a length of time, but eventually your inconsiderate and self-serving actions will bury you.

Alternatively, you can choose to let go of negativity, and choose to Do the Right Thing on a regular basis. You have a Choice, which most people understand but do not internalize. You do not have to be malicious and underhanded just because other people in your orbit happen to be that way.

You can opt to look out for the interests and well-being of other people, as well as (and occasionally at the expense of ) yourself. For sure, there will be times when your choice to pick up other people, rather than step over them, will be costly to you. But you will want to weigh the costs of looking out for the other people in your life against the spiritual toll it takes on you to feud with and spite them.

More on this later,

Jack