When looking at my dad one will probably first notice how short he is at five feet five inches high. Then, because he is so short, the rapidly receding hairline becomes all the more obvious to a person of equal or greater hight. After noticing the shortness and baldness one will probably greet him and immediately pay attention to the gap between his two front teeth when he opens his mouth to greet them back. By this time it may become more obvious just how hairy he is in odd places, such as his hands, nose, the back of his neck, and ears. While looking around for patches of strangely located hair one must take note that his legs are very short compared to his torso and also quite skinny. And if someone is really looking for physical abnormalities, it might become apparent that his feet are rather short and also wider than one would expect. I often rip on my dad for all those qualities I have mentioned, but I also view him as the manliest man I have ever known.
Usually when people think of manliness they tend to think of guys who are muscular, intelligent, fearless, handsome, and confident, among other qualities. This is probably due to the media telling young boys who they should grow up to try to be. Even to this day, whenever I watch Predator with Arnold Schwarzenegger I feel like that is the epitome of masculinity. His entire squad of equally tough guys is hunted and killed by an advanced alien who can cloak and shoot lasers. Arnold rescues the girl and fights the alien with brawn, as well as wits, to ultimately come out the victor.
Although I would argue until I die with anyone who does not think Arnold is an awesome and manly specimen in Predator, when I think more about the topic of masculinity I prioritize completely different traits than those possessed by the seven time Mr. Olympia champion body builder in the movie. And I have realized that all of the important traits of being manly I have learned from my dad. Possibly the most important of these is taking care of your family by any means necessary. This is something my dad always does but never speaks about. He is also a man who always selflessly gives his time to not only his family, but his friends as well. He is so generous with helping a neighbor shovel their driveway in the winter, as well as jumping into a bar fight to help out a friend who pissed off the wrong guy. My dad is resilient when times are tough, whether this is a financial matter, family problem, or fulfilling a duty he deems important. One of the first major commitments to duty he ever experienced was when he was drafted to fight in the navy during the Vietnam War. Many of his peers faked some sort of physical, mental, or emotional illness to avoid the war, or even fled to Canada. My dad just went and served as he was supposed to choosing not to be a defiant teenager as many other people did during the time. I imagine getting shipped off as a teenager to go fight in a war hundreds of miles away from home and doing all sorts of things you have never done before was probably some scary shit. But the most amazing thing to me about my dad is how different he is from his dad. Many guys grow up to be just like their fathers whether they mean to or not. It just seems to be part of the whole nature versus nurture argument with nurture usually coming out on top. My grandpa deserted his family shortly after my dad was born, only to return again seven years later after figuring he wanted to ditch the girl he was running around with and try again to settle down with his wife and kids. Even after he came back he wasn't the warmest dad around. At least to me, my dad has never showed anger toward his father for any of the less-than-fatherlike things he had done throughout his life. I'm fairly certain that my dad learned a few good things about being a man from his father, but probably learned more of what a man should not be like. Either way, I can't help but be thankful for both the negative and positive experiences by dad went through to make him the man he is today so that he could show me by example what the true definition of masculinity is.
Possibly the manliest thing about my dad is his lack of a middle name. His father did not have a middle name and did not believe in giving his kids middle names. My dad has exactly the same name as his father, and he is not considered a junior or a second. That is unusual for America and at least moderately badass.