Heavy Lifting Is Easier Than You Think

Credit: Amazon Credit: Amazon

By MATT SHAPIRO

There is no lack of advice for guys, especially millennial guys, on how to be a guy. There is also no lack of voices out there calling for young men to grow up. A millennial guy hears the term “man child” so frequently, I’m surprised there hasn’t been an “own the insult” movement around it with dudes out there proudly proclaiming their man-childness to the disapproval of all the right people.

It is to this end that Heavy Lifting, the book by Jim Geraghty and Cam Edwards on manly advice, seems mis-marketed. From the first chapter “Ward Cleaver Was a Stud,” I was expecting something along the lines of the standard litany on the failings of “guys these days” along with the standard exhortations to just grow up. In which case, yawn, no thanks, I’ve heard that story before.

But the celebratory tone of this book is what really separates it from the rest of the scoldings that young guys are used to getting. In fact, I almost wish I could change the subtitle from “Grow Up, Get a Job, Start a Family, and Other Manly Advice” to something that might be more at home on the “How To” shelf. In this book, Geraghty and Edwards spend only a little time diagnosing the problem of guys who aren’t aligning with the view of how a man grows up. Instead, the book is filled with the stories and struggles of two guys who did grow up and found out that it is a lot more fun than you might realize. Think of it as a “playbook” with great “moves” for life.

That’s why I want guys to pick up this book, ignore the subtitle exhortations and treat it like a list of fun things to try. Protip: There are a lot of women who would happily go for a guy who’s willing to try these “moves.”

With that in mind, here are seven tips for millennial guys who aren’t afraid to do some heavy lifting … complete with Barney Stinson GIFs because you might as well do a playbook right.

1. Get your own place

Women like guys who aren’t afraid to strike out on their own. Step one in that process is getting the hell out of your parents’ house:

“I want you to imagine my voice as one of the supporting characters calling the protagonist in a horror movie, informing him that the condemned old chainsaw factory that they’re tendering around was built upon a Native American graveyard, then used by the government by secret bioweapon mind control experiments before a UFO crashed into it and made it the nesting ground for cursed gypsy werewolves. You’ve got to get out of there, do you hear me? Get out of there now!”

2. Start a career

Sure, you can get a job, but careers are built slowly. Putting in the work takes time, but don’t think no one is noticing. Make friends at your job, even the people you might not immediately get along with.

“Even in those difficult jobs, I was making connections, building a thick stack of clops, and demonstrating that I could do what I wanted to do: write. After a while, my freelance submissions stopped being from Jim Geraghty, Some Schmo, and instead were from Jim Geraghty of the States New Service, whose work appears in the Boston Globe, Bergen Record, Washington Post and elsewhere. I took a giant step forward when I stopped seeing my job as a burden or a source of grief and aggravation and started seeing it as a giant opportunity that few other people get.”

3. Ask her out

Ask her out. Like … on a date. Give it a try. Call it a “social experiment” if you must.

“Be honest, direct and clear that YOU ARE ASKING HER OUT. You are asking her out because she’s interesting. She’s attractive, charming, and engaging. You’re asking her out because there’s a spark, at least on your end. And if you’re okay with who you are, then there’s no reason not to be confident in your actions…”

4. Go on a real date

A little initiative goes a long way and a real date goes a long way too.

“… a trip to the movies is a really lame first date. So is a loud bar. Basically any place where you can’t really talk to your date is a poor location for your time together. That doesn’t mean that the only requirement is a quiet place. Graveyards are a bad choice, unless she’s really into vampires and werewolves. A quiet restaurant or even a picnic at a park is always a good choice. It could be as simple as lunch from a food truck while sitting underneath a shade tree. I think the most important thing is that you’re able to talk.”

5. Scale back on the video games

I’m actually a little separated from Jim and Cam on this one. I still play games, but with far more moderation than I once did. I had an experience similar to Cam’s:

“Here it was, a Saturday afternoon and instead of playing with my kids, or helping with the laundry, or reading a book, or any number of halfway productive things, I was playing Xbox football with myself. Yes, I was destroying the secondary of every team I was facing, but really, who beyond me cared? I had a sense of accomplishment while actually accomplishing nothing. From my perspective, I had worked my way up to starter, had taken my team into the college football rankings and had thrown some unbelievable touchdown passes over the past ninety minutes or so. But anyone looking at me would have just seen a dude on a couch. And in reality, that’s all I was.”

(It’s worth noting that Cam didn’t give up video games … he just scaled back the time he spent playing)

6. Get married

Living together isn’t getting married. Show her that she isn’t just “fun to be around” but actually worth the commitment. It’s not as hard as you think.

“Marriage is actually easier if you and your loved one have a yin-and-yang dynamic – different strengths, different preferences. We’re a bit wary when a couple insisted they’re perfect together because they ‘have so much in common.’ Your spouse isn’t supposed to be a clone of you; you’re supposed to have offsetting strengths, weaknesses, perspectives, and ideas. She’s a woman, after all, and you’re a man; you’re different and that’s good. It’s literally what makes life possible, not to mention more fun.”

7. Be a dad

The dad parts of the book are the most fun because the authors spend a lot of time talking not only about the responsibilities of being a dad, but also the childlike fun that comes with it.

“You get knocked around by the stormy seas of life everywhere else, but when it comes to your children you’re a king… You are now The Man. You make the rules, and you get to decide when a rule can be broken. You decide the lessons, and you get to teach them everything you wish you had known when you were little. You get to introduce fresh eyes and ears to everything beautiful and amazing in this world. No matter how the rest of the world sees you, in your child’s eyes, you’re a giant.”

We spend a lot of time trying to be giants, be respected and adored, in our personal and professional lives. Kids will give that to their dads almost by default.

So to guys who haven’t done any of these “moves” yet, maybe it’s time start some heavy lifting of your own. You will find it more fun than you realized.

Matt Shapiro is a software engineer, data vis designer, genetics data hobbiest, and technical educator based in Seattle. He tweets under @politicalmath, where he is occasionally right about some things.

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