When it comes to relationships, usually the relationship between men is often the least regarded form of human relationships. In popular culture, the bond or closeness men share, have been trivialized with the creation and popularization of the terms ‘Bromance’ and ‘Man Love’. There are also themes frequently depicted in media with men having discomfortingly intimate interactions with each other.
Sure, many of these themes are funny, but even to the most secure, straight, Alpha male, such images are bound to send him into a tailspin. We suddenly become standoffish amongst one another. Our interactions with other members of the male species are often spent analyzing every verbal and physical cue between friends and strangers alike to detect even the slightest hint of homosexual overture. More fundamentally, many of us approach each other with the mindset that another man is, or may be, homosexual without basis. Someone’s sexual orientation shouldn’t change how we handle ourselves with any individual. The reality is that many of us do change our style of interaction based on what we know or learn.
The issue is that the trivialization of the male bond, and the resulting pre-determinations we make amongst each other, often prevent us from creating some of the most essential relationships of and for our lives. This issue also influences us to derive, associate and confirm our identities as men from some of the least valuable sources, e.g. entertainment, crime, peer pressure. The male bond is, and should always be something much greater. It creates brotherhoods, offers protection, teaches and develops skills, allows us to communicate and relate, and most fundamentally, helps us understand ourselves and evolve as men. Such benefits extend to our families, wives, sons, daughters, strangers and into our communities.
Taking all those variables into consideration, and reflecting on both routine and very unique experiences, I have compiled a list of the most important men for the majority of men.
I was accustomed to buying packaged meat from my local grocery store, until I couldn’t find the cut of beef I wanted during one of my visits. I spoke to the butcher and he made a recommendation, which I proceeded to follow. He cut the beef for me and I was on my way.
That experience changed my life. Make it a point to know the guy who cut the meat you eat. Most butchers take pride in their work, and will recommend accordingly. Consuming good meat, from someone who takes pride in their work, will make your meal that much better.
Cobbler (Shoe Repairman)
A man’s shoes speak volumes about him. The Cobbler is one of the most important people you could ever know. I personally refer to my own as my ‘Shoe Guy’, as a badge of honor since his work directly correlates to my appearance.
Spend a little time talking to your Cobbler about your shoes and what you want him to do with them. These guys aren’t engaged in conversation nearly enough. Ask questions about your shoes, and shoes in general. One of his key focuses in life is to take care of shoes, so take advantage. He’ll tell you about the quality of your shoes, and what you need to do to take care of them.
You’ll learn a lot, know how to take better care of your shoes, as well as up your shoe game. Hint, Steve Maddens don’t fly with an honest shoe guy.
Want to have a good night out, one that fits your mood or the occasion? The bartender is often the catalyst for making it happen. A good bartender is sometimes better than a psychiatrist at understanding human behavior. He (or she) can often quickly read his customer and knows how to make his customer’s desired drink. If you don’t have a specific drink in mind, your bartender will make a great drink recommendation based on the information he has about you.
Some bartenders look cool, but you can’t really know until you take your first sip. Watch out for the inexperienced bartender, as he can easily cause a night out to fall short of expectations. Also, be sure to let him know about it if he gives you a bad drink. There’s simply no excuse.
To a man, an automobile can be his first or second love, depending on his relationship status. Unfortunately, many of us don’t have the benefit of wrenching on our cars. That’s where the mechanic comes in.
A good mechanic is probably one of the most honest types of men who provides a service to another person. Though a man loves his car, most mechanics show little emotion over most cars they encounter. The reason, mechanics understand that auto repair is a business. Therefore, they know how to detach themselves from the emotional aspect of automotive. Make no mistake, the good mechanic takes pride in his work, whether it be an oil change, repair or overhaul.
Mechanics are often misunderstood and underappreciated, as the layperson often has a very simplistic view of what a mechanic does. A mechanic is an engineer, a scientist, a parent, a teacher, a doctor and an artist. It is these elements that often make the mechanic an enigma.
If you are not happy with the service you receive on your car don’t resign yourself. Finding a good mechanic is oftentimes challenging. Once you find a good mechanic, your ownership and service experience can be very rewarding during every visit to your mechanic.
Tailor / Stylist
A personal tailor / stylist is arguably the most important man in your life, after your father, uncle, brother or best friend. The fact that he is the most service oriented among the other most important men in your life, makes a good tailor / stylist a rare breed.
His job is multi-dimensional, in that he often has the difficult task of making someone look good, who may never have given his appearance any thought or priority, or simply has no fashion sense. His job can be equated to that of a skilled surgeon, balancing personality, body type, individual style, fit, finish, occasion and budget to achieve the desired result; the reason you came to buy a suit in the first place.
The tailor and stylist also has a personal and professional interest in achieving a favorable end-result. He wants you to make an impression, as it speaks to both his skills and taste. If the impression is favorable enough, you will likely end up being a repeat customer, as well as his living business card.
Boy / Young Man
One may ask how a boy can be one of the most important men in your life. In this age where over half of all marriages end in divorce, many children are now born to and raised by single mothers. Additionally, the day-to-day exposure children have with adults is primarily with women. Many boys need mentors for a plethora of reasons.
Teach a class, volunteer, coach a sport, host a workshop, or simply hang out with a boy whose father may not be present. Even the most simple, infrequent interactions with a boy can have an immense positive impact on his life. The power of the bond between man and boy often goes overlooked. Being a mentor also teaches you something about being a man once you recognize the influence you can have, and the difference you can make, in a boy’s life.
Brother / Best Friend
We all need someone we can call a friend; someone we can relate to, confide in, laugh with, and sometimes fight with. A brother or a best friend are almost interchangeable terms between men who share such a unique bond.
This man will challenge you when he believes differently, tell you when you’re wrong, save you from a bad situation that he can see from miles away, and bring you back to earth when your ego becomes too inflated. A brother or best friend never shows jealousy or envy. He’ll compete with you when necessary, and will concede honorably when defeated. He’ll celebrate your victories, defend you in times of trouble, and support you in defeat.
If there is any man who understands manhood, at least in the physical sense, it’s your Urologist. If you don’t have one, I recommend you find one immediately. Men are often terrified of the Urologist. The first thing that comes to mind, when men think about the Urologist, is the dreaded Prostate exam. Though it is unpleasant, it is necessary.
No one understands you better physically, and in many ways mentally, than your Urologist. He’s the guy you want to ask all the questions you are too afraid to ask your dad, friend or brother about the male anatomy and sex. Be forthright with him, and even candid if necessary, about your questions, issues or concerns; he can and will help.
You should be visiting your Urologist for a routine exam once a year. Your manhood depends on it.
Your teeth are one of the biggest influencers of your outward physical appearance. Your dentist’s job is to sustain and or enhance that influence. Many people say they don’t like the dentist because it generally involves some type of pain, or leads to a more involved procedure than they originally anticipated.
I look at it the other way around. My dentist’s job is to take care of my teeth, so that I can feel good about my appearance. Dental work doesn’t come cheap, so my perspective is that I want to know exactly what my dentist intends to do with my teeth, and why he wants to do it. I also ask him about the long term implications of the work he suggests.
Establishing yourself with your dentist as a client, rather than a patient, fundamentally changes the nature of your relationship with your dentist. It often forces your dentist to better communicate with you and approach you with more sensitivity. Such an approach will make dental visits much more pleasant and leave you with the feeling that you’re in charge.
When people compliment you on your teeth, you feel that it’s because of you; your dentist just followed your orders.
Coach / Mentor
As men, we sometimes think we know it all, and want others to believe it too. Consider this, have you ever had a conversation with an older man, and he tells you something about how to do something, how to handle a situation, or something about yourself? After listening to him, you realize that you’ve had it all wrong or didn’t have a clue, and that, in your mind, he has made some sort of profound revelation.
Having a mentor or coach in our lives reminds us that we don’t know everything, that there are still many challenges for us to meet, and there is still much for us to learn and master. Good coaching often puts everything into balance. We often become humbled, desire to try harder, and are willing to listen more intently from someone who knows, because we realize that they are doing it for our benefit; something we as men don’t often find.
Your barber is a supremely unique individual. His job is to give you a clean and groomed appearance, under your direction of course. As you sit in the grand old barber’s chair, he skillfully grooms your hair and face, from all 360 degrees and various angles around the chair. He also does it with some pretty impressive tools; tools we dare not try on ourselves.
He may tell you a story, or listen to yours; rarely pausing his work, unless there’s something really hilarious about the story. If you’re fortunate enough to go to a real barbershop, congratulations on being a member of the last great bastion of the male kingdom. Your wife or girlfriend doesn’t know that a trip to the barber means you’re spending a couple of hours at a proper boys club.
It’s where we leave our stresses at the door, tell and hear the biggest of tales, laugh uncontrollably, and receive profound advice on almost every subject from some of the best life experts around. If you have a son, you look forward to the day that you bring him to the barbershop. It is a rite of passage that he won’t immediately understand, but will surely cherish in time.
A good father is certainly the most important man in any man’s life. There are arguably universal lessons and values that every father teaches his son. He is the reference that all sons look to in order to define and understand themselves.
A father passes on tools that will hopefully guide his son through life. As men, many of us reach a point in our lives where we recognize the things our fathers tried to teach us, and the meaning behind them. As we journey through life, we discover that the tools provided to us by our fathers were designed to help us effectively function and survive.
Our understanding and discoveries begin to create a sense of obligation to preserve all that our father instilled in us. It can best be described as a legacy. This legacy was designed by our fathers, and perhaps their fathers. The intent was for us to carry this legacy on in our own lives, and perhaps extend to our own families.
This list is by no means exhaustive, and we welcome your feedback on which men exemplify the most important men in your life.