Esquire is still asking the question, "What is a man?", purportedly because they have yet to find a satisfactory answer. During this round of querying, writer Tom Chiarella traveled the country and asked it 504 times over seven days.
According to Chiarella's data, America has spoken and America says that men are two things: strength and leadership. Behold, some cold hard facts:
- "strength" - 155 people
- "arm strength" - 35 people
- "physical strength" - 8 people
- "leadership" - 119 people
Men also eat sandwiches – preferably "something with capicola", a traditional Italian cold cut – "Mike's Way", which is to say with olive oil and vinegar, not with mayo. Or so Chiarella learned in Indianapolis during an exchange with some dude who was not named Mike:
"Didn't sound appealing. 'Is that how most people do it?' I asked.
He shrugged. 'Most men do it that way.'
What the hell? 'You mean mostly men do it that way,' I said, 'as opposed to most women?'
He looked bright enough — short haircut under the little hat they gave him, solid eye contact offering no apology, biceps, and suntan. College kid, I figured. Still, I would have said he was a boy, mostly because of what he'd just told me.
'No,' he said. "Most men get it Mike's Way. Most women go their own way."
Hold up, let's take a break and sing along with this really loudly...
Sorry, what were we saying?
Oh right. I don't know, what is the real intrigue of these pieces? To ask what America thinks of "men" is certainly more interesting than 2011's edition when, at one point, Chiarella tried to "forget his penis" in a quest to relinquish his own male form or something. One actually interesting revelation from this round of "What is a man?" questioning is how many people interviewed amended Chiarella's query to answer what they thought "a real man" was, and how many thought that's what he was asking in the first place, thus proving that that's a phrase that shows no signs of leaving our vernacular.
I really like this woman from Kentucky though:
"'Real men climb mountains!' she said. 'Is that what you want me to say? Real men fuck women and climb mountains.'"
1,000 Miles of Men [Esquire]