What is a “real man”? Ask men, you get one answer. Ask single women, another. With married women, there are expletives. What I think is based on more than two decades and endless hours around the likes of Editor Cappa, the other guys in the office, and you Four Wheeler readers, whom I’ve met over the years at events, on the trail, and prior to obtaining restraining orders.
Therefore, if I had to describe a “real man,” it would probably include:
• Always dirty somewhere
• Aroma of carb and Carl’s Jr.
• Obsessed with Craigslist, eBay, Truck Trader, and whatever is parked at the side of the road in the high or low desert
• Incapable of wearing anything other than T-shirts
• Closet void of anything other than T-shirts
• Free time or day off spent in the garage or shop
• A Stephen Hawking mind when it comes to trail repairs, modifying, fabricating, Jeeps, Chevys, Fords, Rams, Toyotas, Nissans, Unimogs, engines, portal axles, four-links, and types of beer, but no clue who Stephen Hawking is.
And with that, a new series was born in Four Wheeler, “Are You a Real Man?” What are man things? What traits make a man a man? How do you become a man, let alone a “real man”? While thinking about that, Cappa called. He had a doomsday theme for this issue and wondered whether a “Real Man” story could be done with that in mind.
While thinking about that, Andrew called. He’d just broken up with a woman, and when his mouth wasn’t full of Ben & Jerry’s She’s-Devil Food, there was mention of both yoga and “Real Housewives.” But he was really calling to ask whether I could give him a ride home after he dropped his Prius off at the dealership.
So, meet the subject for this series of stories, Andrew. The plan is to encourage him to step away from the Downward Dog and reintroduce him to his manhood (which you males know can sometimes get lost while trying to keep your womenfolk happy). Each month, he will relearn how to be a “real man” from “real men.” That’s the plan, as long as the Mayans aren’t right about this whole end-of-the-world thing on December 21. Even if they are, a “real man” lives to see another day, right?
The second order of business was to learn how a “real man” would survive doomsday. The first order of business was to see how Andrew planned to.
I asked whether he had an emergency kit and extra food stashed away. “I don’t have any supplies. And I don’t have any food, because I don’t know what I’ll be in the mood to eat then.” Let’s take a different approach. Had he ever been in a disaster? “You mean like a first date?” How about outdoor skills? “When I go on hikes, I make it back to my car.” He does have a good sense of direction, is physically and mentally astute, is a problem solver, and is very competitive, “which means I don’t like to lose, so I want to be the last man standing. In survival, people give up. If you have the will to live, you find a way to make it.” He was right. He might already have the best skills of all.
Since we were sort of building his new survival kit, I asked what he wanted to include. His first request was a swimsuit model. Then: “My friend, Art.” You see, Art’s a MacGyver, who can build or make anything in any situation. When we asked Art what his number one survival item would be, it was not Andrew. It was a knife.
Next, it was time to get Andrew professional survival training from a “real man.” Taking Art’s advice, he armed himself with his SOG fixed-blade Ops M40 and folding Aegis AE-01 knives (www.sogknives.com). “I would say I’ve used them for hunting and tracking wild boar, but I’d just be trying to impress the readers. I open boxes from UPS.” We hopped into a vehicle of “real men,” a ’12 Ram 1500 Express Crew, to spend the day surviving the natural way with Christopher Nyerges (www.christophernyerges.com). He’s been on the National Geographic TV show, “Doomsday Preppers,” and is also an author of survival books and guides to edible plants. He teaches courses on survival, but it was interesting to learn he doesn’t have a crazy bunker setup like many preppers/survivalists. “I don’t have a massive survival kit,” Christopher told us. “I got interested in survival in my early teens, wanting to learn how Native Americans lived on the land, and I wanted to backpack lightly.” In school, his focus was botany and ethnobotany.