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By Jason Offutt
The car on the side of the street sat on a flat tire. Two guys standing at the trunk were having a hard time figuring out how to remove the jack.
“Go get the user’s manual from the glove box,” the driver said, tossing his keys.
The other man dropped them.
I started across the street to help these pour fellows, but the man next to me said, “No. They need to discover the nature of Man for themselves.”
He was right, of course. Men should know certain things, even though society has done a pretty good job beating Man Skills out of too many of us.
Not on my watch. Here are the Top 10 Things Every Man Should Know:
1) Fix a tire. By this I don’t mean change a tire; every human being past the age of 10 should know how to change a tire. I mean fix a tire. Pull out the nail, insert the plug, put the tire back on the vehicle and drive.
2) Start a fire. If you’re a man there’s always the chance you’ll be on a camp-out or trying to survive the zombie apocalypse. Either way, you’ll need fire.
Can you, like our Cro-Magnon ancestors, successfully create fire? Yes, because Cro-Magnons were idiots. They never discovered metallurgy, the light bulb, or Scarlett Johansson. You can make fire with friction, a magnifying glass, or science fun (a six-volt battery and some steel wool). Fire is necessary for survival, and burning hotdogs on a stick.
3) Find your own food. If you can’t hunt, fish or butcher your own livestock, you’re dependent on someone else to survive. Being dependent on someone else to survive is like being an infant. Don’t be an infant. Hunting has the potential to bring in enough meat to sustain multiple people, but if noise is a factor (zombies), stick to fishing. Fishing is even easier than fixing a tire.
4) Build what you need. Every man should know how to use tools. When called upon you may need to build a bed, a table, a Scooby Doo trap, or a shelter from wolverines. Learn the basics of carpentry; don’t let your loved ones be eaten by wolverines.
5) Enjoy a glass of whiskey. Clear alcohols are used in drinks with umbrellas. Men who can build a wolverine shelter don’t order drinks with umbrellas.
6) Read a map. I once drove to Canada on back roads. My friends told me to buy a GPS, or to at least plan my trip on MapQuest. I picked up paper maps and used the sun to tell the time of day. Was the trip difficult? No. Canada is north. Go that way.
7) Cradle a newborn to sleep. If a man who can fix a tire, start a fire, find food, build a tree house, drink whiskey and read a map can’t cuddle a baby, he doesn’t understand the purpose of life.
8) Read for pleasure. Enough said.
9) Tie a knot. You never know when you’ll need to fasten a boat to a dock, fix a clothes line, or restrain a vagrant who may, or may not be, a serial killer. Tying a proper knot can save your life.
10) Be nice to women. They’re smarter and much, much more dangerous than we are.
Now go out there and be a man.
Jason Offutt’s latest book, “Across a Corn-Swept Land: An epic beer run through the Upper Midwest,” is available at amazon.com.