Thursday, June 4, 2015

Book Review (with Sermon): Real Men Don't Apologize

A Fair Trade Book

Title: Real Men Don’t Apologize
Author: Jim Belushi

Author's web site:
Date: 2006
Publisher: Hyperion
ISBN: 1-4013-0182-7
Length: 270 pages
Quote: “[G]rilling...may be the only thing women really need men for.”
Actually, if they’re Jim Belushi’s kind of men, we could do without the grilling. Because what Jim Belushi defines as “real men” aren’t Real Men; there’s nothing in this book about prudence, justice, and fortitude. What Jim Belushi calls “real men” are what Dave Barry calls “guys.” Women should talk to them for entertainment only.
Nevertheless, Real Men Don’t Apologize is a book this country needs. Men don’t need it; it's a collection of comedy advice from an unattractive fifty-something who is safely married by now and wants other men to look worse than he does.  The summary of Real Men Don’t Apologize for men should have been a subtitle: “How to Get Dumped.”
Women, however, do need to read Real Men Don’t Apologize. So that, if you’re tempted to go to a bar to meet guys, or have a glass of wine on a date, you’ll know what kind of game is being played and what you could find yourself stuck with. Alternatively, so that, if you have a Significant Other, no matter how unsatisfactory some aspect of the relationship may be, you’ll feel more appreciative of it and him. You could be dating the type of guy this book describes.
First of all: If a man is famous for having a brother who died from an overdose, you’d think his book would, like books by Art Linkletter, contain a few warnings about any kind of substance abuse. It doesn’t. Belushi encourages guys to look for bar-hoppers.
Besides trawling in bars, how can these guys make sure they date only insecure, depressed women? Don't exchange phone numbers; insecure, depressive woman will give out a phone number and then sit by the phone, just waiting to pick up and talk to a guy who’s not even confident enough to leave a phone message. Don't get into a serious conversation; even an insecure, depressive woman won’t go to bed with this type of guy if she thinks there’s any safer way to get to know him. Then, keep the relationship interesting to an extremely insecure, depressive woman by making it obvious to a woman with any self-respect that the relationship is hopeless. “If she thinks you can take her or leave her, she’ll work to get you!” The kind of guys described in this book need to avoid women who have any other options.
Women need to understand that selfish, unreliable guys—the kind who think that it’s possible to “cheat” while they’re only “dating,” not engaged, and will dump women after the women have told all the other men they know to disappear—do most, if not all, of the obnoxious things they do as a deliberate strategy. The kind of women these jerks want has some weird inner need for an emotionally abusive, stressful, depressing relationship. Maybe constantly worrying about guys who try hard not to show any affection or appreciation is these women’s excuse for slacking and compromising in other ways too. And cheating, and divorcing...because no matter how much a woman thinks she needs a jerk in her life, after a year or two of a relationship with a jerk she’ll be wide open to any hint of a possible relationship with anyone who seems less of a jerk.
Once women understand where guys’ little dating games are coming from, we have two choices: 
(1) If we really hate work, and a guy is filthily rich, we can settle for a Marriage In Name Only. Understand that love has nothing to do with marriage. We can love our children. Or, after the children move out, we can marry the men we would have married in the first place if we’d valued love higher than money.
(2) If we want a real marriage, we can avoid being seen with guys, so that we’re available when we meet Real Men. The kind we instinctively know we want—not the peevish, selfish, boring, manipulative, ignorant wormboys this book misidentifies for men.
“Women say they want a man who is kind, gentle, com­passionate, polite, considerate and nurturing. [Vulgarity.] They just described a chick!” Sorry, igmo, they just described a Real Man, who is kind and considerate in completely different ways than a chick. (For the record, although “chick” is a word some women use to describe ourselves, with pride, it’s not a word men should use in public.) 
Belushi observes that, when you hear a woman describing a man in only good ways, she’s a widow talking about her late husband. Well, actually she might also be talking about a departed friend or relative...but it’s true that prudent women are cautious about describing how anyone “is” while the person is still living. What s/he “is” might change. However, smart women don’t talk about their men’s shortcomings, either. I know it’s hard for anyone in Hollywood to imagine, but some of us just don’t talk much about one living, present-time friend to another one, period.
Warning: Relationship Sermon ahead...Regular readers know I’ve mentioned, once or twice a year, having a Significant Other, whom I met early in the second year after my husband died. From the fact that he’s still a Significant Other, and not yet a husband, you can tell that he has a lot going for him despite some imperfection in the relationship. From the fact that I usually describe my husband as perfect-for-me except for his literally fatal hypertension, you can tell that he was a tough act to follow. Therefore you can tell that I see much that is admirable in my Significant Other. You don’t need to hear stories about him. He’s still alive; his stories aren’t over yet, so who knows how they’ll “really” turn out in the end.
Let’s just say that, if we don’t believe a man is kind and gentle and so on, or if the children and animals we know don’t agree with us about that, that’s a good reason not to touch him. No matter how “powerful, passionate, confident,”  or talented, hardworking, successful, or handsome, or debonair, or let’s-face-it rich, he might be. If you want a real marriage, you may have to wait until you’re 25 or 30, which is a good idea in any case, but you have to hold out for a man who’s powerful and nurturing and passionate and polite and successful and sweet and sophisticated and your best friend. Likewise, men usually have to wait until they’re 25 or 30 to find a woman who’s kind and honest and faithful and passionate and sensible and amusing and depression-free and successful and their best friend. People like that do exist but it’s hard to pick them out in a crowd of cute, half-grown, hormone-saturated college kids, who haven't lived long enough to become very powerful or passionate or nurturing anyway.
And here’s a free clue for guys who may want to read Real Men Don’t Apologize: the less sex with all the Ms. or Mr. Wrongs in this world you’ve had, the better it is for your eventual real marriage, even if you’re male. Shapely, passionate, honest, mentally healthy women don’t sleep with guys we don’t trust.
For me, personally, if a guy doesn’t give me his home phone number first, that’s a red flag. Maybe he doesn’t have a home. Maybe his phone’s been disconnected.  Maybe he has a phone and another woman picks it up. The fact that he’s given me his home phone number in no way implies that I intend to ask him for a date. The way he shows that he’s pursuing me is a big part of a man’s sex appeal. If I do call a man at home, it’s work-related. But if he doesn’t want to be called at home, he’s certainly not welcome to call me.
Well, I’m funny that way. Odd. Oldfashioned. Religious, even. But, not to identify any specific couples here, among people I know, the more odd and oldfashioned and religious they are about sex, the longer they stay married. You can be the king or queen of popularity in high school, sleep with two thousand different people, be a player of the game, or you can be the love of someone’s life and still feel like flirting and cuddling after sixty years together—which is the norm in my family. Most people seem to get to choose one.
And the people who opt for the real marriage aren’t the ones spouting this “lover or friend” kind of talk. I don’t know where that came from. I know I don’t relate to it. How could sane, sober people ever sleep together if they weren’t each other’s best friends?
Belushi mentions the way people in their twenties tend to think they’re looking for someone different from their family of origin—fresh, exciting DNA—and then, in their learned behavior, end up replicating the relationships they had with their parents. (Freud thought relationships with the opposite-sex parent were more interesting; more recent research shows that most of us learn our social behavior from both parents, and are therefore likely to wind up replicating the dysfunctional relationships we may have had with either parent.) People who read psychology in their twenties, and get married in their thirties, have time to sort this one out. 
When I was younger and people attacked me with the idea that everybody needed to be paired off at all times, sometimes I’d tell them what I was holding out for, and of course I’d hear, “That’s not realistic. John Wayne existed, and St. Francis of Assisi existed, but there’s a reason why John Wayne never played Francis of Assisi.” So now I’ve lived and learned, and I can report to young people: the reason why John Wayne never played Francis of Assisi was, in a word, Hollywood. John Wayne became famous by playing a Green Beret, and I happen to know one of the real Green Berets who's still alive, and he does make pets of wild animals. The real man or woman you want probably exists somewhere too, even if, at this particular moment in time, he or she hasn’t reached the age you’re going to be when you find each other. Do not settle. Do not pick up inferior mates or disgusting diseases in bars. Do not make babies, or take chances on making babies, while you’re only “dating.” Practice loving your friends and relatives, and save the passion for the one you really want to be with. That person is worth waiting for.
End of sermon. The point is, given that a woman can and should hold out for something better than a bloke like Belushi's character, Belushi’s for-slobs-only guide to the dating game is a hilarious warning.
Tempted to rush into bed with a guy who’s not your partner for life, but is cute? Turn to page 152 and read Belushi’s advice about “the thirty seconds you spend [touching]” being “a feminist invention created to further pro­mote the idea that we’re supposed to be pleasuring them.”
Tempted to apologize for something you did, or might have done, instead of punishing him for dumping his anger on you? Read pages 121-123, the story of a Belushi-type bloke who consumed so many of the drinks that shouldn’t be inside your home even if they’re inside a guy that he couldn’t find the toilet. Belushi’s moral? “If it’s me, I turn on the faucet, splash water all over my pants and come out of the bathroom fuming, ‘What the [obnoxious word] is wrong with your sink?’ I’d make her figure out a way to make things better. Remember, her insecurities are your leverage.”
Tempted to talk more then you listen? Even answer more questions than you’ve asked a man you’ve just met? Don’t see the necessity of giving only short evasive answers to direct questions about yourself, telling your stories only in the course of a real conversation? Page 118: “[B]ecause women love to talk and they think you love to have to...Ask three questions, answer one, get the number in four minutes, then get out of there.” 

All women everywhere need to own this book. And bookmark the pages that remind you what you can avoid just by not participating in this kind of dating games. The feminist relationship counsellors of the 1980s certainly weren’t infallible, but whenever you’re tempted to lower your standards and break The RulesReal Men Don’t Apologize will be worth its weight in gold as a reminder of what it’s like to be stuck in a relationship with an unrepentant drunken slob.

So, it's still a Fair Trade Book; it made me laugh, though not quite the way Dave Barry or Douglas Adams made me laugh, and Belushi deserves payment for that. As regular readers know, when you buy a Fair Trade Book from salolianigodagewi @, the minimum price is $5 per book + $5 per package for shipping, for a total of $10, from which we send 10%, or $1, to the author or a charity of the author's choice. (Only books whose authors are still alive are Fair Trade Books.) Last time I checked, the packages the U.S. Postal Service was allowing us to use at this rate would hold four copies of Real Men Don't Apologize, so if you bought four copies, you'd send us $25 and Belushi or his charity would get $4. However, any combination of different books by different authors can be shipped in one package, and our Message Squirrel will send the different payments to the different authors as long as they can still tell us where to send the money.