Dave Barry: I Am Man, Hear Me Snore

The humorist provides a step-by-step guide to modern machismo.

department of wit snoring man
Steve Wacksman for Reader’s Digest

Like many modern American men, I don’t know how to do anything manly anymore. And by “manly,” I do not mean “physical.” A lot of us do physical things, but these are yuppie fitness things like “spinning” and “crunches” and “working on our core.”

These aren’t manly. I’ll tell you who was manly: the early American pioneers. Those guys didn’t even know they had cores. They set out into the wilderness with nothing but a musket and a sack of hardtack and hominy, and they had to survive out there for months, even years, completely on their own, sleeping on the ground in bear-infested forests. That’s why they brought hardtack: to throw at the bears. They had no idea why they brought hominy. Like you, they had no idea what “hominy” meant. It sounds like some kind of disease. But the point is, these pioneering men did not do “crunches.” These men crunched the damn continent—blazing trails, fording rivers, building log cabins, forging things with forges, etc. We modern men can’t do any of that. We don’t have the vaguest idea how to ford a river. We’d check our phones to see if we had a fording app, and if not, we’d give up, go back home, and work on our cores.

We American men have lost our manhood, and I say it’s time we got it back. To get us started, I’ve created a guide to some basic skills that every man should have. You may rest assured that these instructions are correct. I got them from the Internet.

How to Jump-Start Your Car When The Battery Is Dead

  1. 1. Obtain a working car from somewhere and park it next to your car.
  2. 2. Or, if the owner isn’t around, you could just take off in the working car.
  3. 3. No, that would be wrong.
  4. 4. On both cars, locate the hood, which is the big flat piece of metal in the front with bird poop on it.
  5. 5. Open both hoods. There will be a button or lever inside the car on the driver’s side that you need to push or pull, and then a latch somewhere under the front of the hood that you need to squeeze and release. So your best bet is to use a crowbar.
  6. 6. Locate your car’s battery. It will be a black box partly covered with whitish-greenish fuzz. This is car leprosy. Do not touch it.
  7. 7. Obtain some jumper cables.
  8. 8. Call 911 and let them know there might be an emergency soon.
  9. 9. Do this next part very, very carefully, or you will die.
  10. 10. Connect one end of the red jumper cable to the positive terminal (also called the ignition or carburetor) on your car’s battery. Then connect the other end of the red cable to an electronic part of the opposing car, such as the radio. Repeat this process in the opposite order with the black jumper cable.
  11. 11. Try to start your car. If the engine explodes into a giant fireball, something is wrong.
  12. 12. Maybe you should have somebody else try to start your car while you go get coffee a minimum of 150 yards away.
  13. 13. If by some miracle your car actually starts, do not turn it off ever again.
  14. 14. When you drive, be alert for further signs of trouble such as flickering headlights, which is an indication of a problem in your electrical system, or a collision with a building, which is an indication that you forgot to put the hood back down.

How to Order a Bottle of Wine in a Restaurant

  1. 1. Look at the wine list and tell the waiter which wine you want.
  2. 2. When the waiter brings it to you, take a sip.
  3. 3. If it’s OK, say it’s OK.
  4. 4. Then shut up about the wine.
  5. 5. Don’t talk about the wine anymore.
  6. 6. Nobody gives a damn how much you know about wine, OK?
  7. 7. And above all, don’t keep sloshing the wine around and looking at it as if it’s magical unicorn blood.
  8. 8. It’s wine, for God’s sake.
  9. 9. In an hour it will be urine, same as Bud Light.

How to Survive if You Are Lost in a Forest and Night Is Falling

  1. 1. Always remember that the most important rule of wilderness survival is: Do not panic.
  2. 2. Granted, there are probably dangerous wild carnivorous animals lurking nearby.
  3. 3. Wolverines, for example.
  4. 4. And venomous snakes.
  5. 5. But you must not panic.
  6. 6. For the love of God, get a grip on yourself.
  7. 7. Gather flammable wood to make fire. The best kind of wood in this situation is the “fire log,” which is easy to identify by its box of six.
  8. 8. Check your pockets to see if you have matches or a cigarette lighter, which of course you will not. You would not dream of smoking cigarettes, because you are a modern, crunch-doing, health-conscious, risk-averse individual.
  9. 9. A fat lot of good that’s doing you now with the wolverines closing in.
  10. 10. Fortunately, there are other ways to start a fire. An old Native American trick is to rub two sticks together rapidly to create friction.
  11. 11. This method has never once, in human history, resulted in fire.
  12. 12. It’s just one of those things that Native Americans enjoy tricking white people into doing. Like canoeing, face painting, and “hominy.”
  13. 13. Since there will be no fire, your only hope is to stay up all night making noises that will keep animals away. Many wilderness survival experts advise that you sing “Macarena.”
  14. 14. If you are still alive in the morning, carefully scan the horizon, noting landmarks—a river, a hill, a Motel 6 sign, etc. Use these to create a “mental map” of your current position.
  15. 15. Keeping all this information in mind, calmly, and without panicking, run in a random direction, throwing your hands into the air and shouting, “I don’t want to die!”
  16. 16. If you are anywhere in North America, within 20 minutes you will come to a Starbucks.
  17. 17. There you can purchase emergency scones while the staff calls for help.

Dave Barry’s new book, You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty, is available here.

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