Real men don't teach.
At least not real American men. Real American men make money. Lots of it. They make deals and have their secretaries arrange things for them. Real men discuss cars and sports and their second homes; take exotic vacations to places they do not want to visit, but their wives heard that this was a must see. So they go. Real men promise that they will relax and not do business while they're away. But real men lie. A lot.
Real men wear expensive footwear and drink alcohol at pretty much every meal after breakfast. Real men read the business section first or the sports section first, quickly followed by the business section. Real men actually care if their favorite sports teams win. Seriously, deeply care. It's unbelievable. And they carry their teams' losses around with them for days.
Real men drive fast or demand their driver drives fast. Real men have no time for small talk. Or children. Though they expect their children to do the right thing. They do not communicate what the right thing is; their children are expected to intuit the correct behaviors by observing their father. Though they rarely see their father.
Real men donate money, but not time, to institutions. Real men serve on boards. They relish the time before and after the committee work is done. Real men occasionally attend church or synagogue. Real men in America do not pray at mosques. They would prefer not to even drive by one. Or know that one exists within their city's limits.
Real men are politically to the right of center. They trust a man who looks good in a suit. They will vote for him.
Real men are not all that concerned with the future, the environment, small acts of kindness or the world to come. They believe that if there is a hereafter, they've done enough good things to deserve a place in it. No questions asked.
Real men worry about their wills and how their money will be spent when they die. They hate the idea that they will die and try not to think about it. They also try not to think about sex, particularly sex with women who are not their wives, but they can't help it. Women are everywhere. Plus, they work around so many smoking hot babes who look up to them. When real men fantasize about sex they do not stop to consider that they are carrying around an extra 20-40 pounds and this is not attractive, even to their fantasy sex partner, who has the good manners not to call attention to their love handles during their fantasy intercourse.
Oh yeah, real men are heterosexual. I can't believe I even had to include that. A given.
Real men like dogs, but do not clean up poop.
Real men have bank accounts and investments their spouses don't know about.
Real men eat meat, regardless of what their know-it-all, whiny physician says every year at the end of the check-up.
Real men are litigators, never mediators or negotiators.
Real men do not teach.
On any level. Not even business classes at the graduate school level or at a law school.
Real men deal with facts and figures and products that can be stored in warehouses.
But real men don't teach. Real men don't work for the government. Real men don't come in contact with youth. Unless that youth is a prostitute.
I realized at age 19, I was not a real man. And would never become one.
Spring 1970. The social revolution was in full swing. Even in Texas where word travels slowly. After UT football games which I attended, most of my buddies headed to the Haufbrau to drink beer or to Tim Ayo's house to smoke weed and drink beer.
I drove into East Austin. Shantytown. I tutored a fatherless black kid, Don James, in math and English. After studying, we'd shoot hoops.
I knew then I would be a teacher, not a real man, who would have nothing in common with most of his college friends. I knew I would never join them on vacations or live in their neighborhoods or discuss real estate or annuities.
I still don't know what annuities are. But I think they are a good thing to own. For real men, owning is good.
Real men don't wake at 4:32 AM and type words. Real men would take a pill and go back to sleep. There's money to be made after sun up. One needs to be ready.
The problem with being a teacher, with not being a real man, is, and there's no getting around it, almost no one takes you seriously. Not even your students.
You talk and talk. You encourage and prod and scold and smile and preach and beg and take the little screw-ups home with you, in your mind. And most of their parents don't care; but some of the kids do. A handful or two.
What a teacher does never shows up on the stat sheet. Like setting a pick in basketball.
And here's the down part of being a teacher, you're stuck with it. It's all you want to do; all you can do. In addition to your family, and in my case, my dogs; it's all you really care about. So you do it. At some point you ask yourself why. But by that time, you're too old to do anything else anyway.
You know one thing for sure, no matter how well you do your job no one is going to reward you for it. You might get a $20 gift card the day before winter break. But that depends on your school's zip code.
Truth is, most days you're okay with being only a teacher and not really a man.
Today, this morning, is not one of those days.
But in a few hours, I'll be in my classroom teaching. And I'll get over it.