The penis, the penis. penis. That dangly little appendage, so potent in its vulnerability to impotency, how it dangles short, over-compensated, and slightly to the neurotic, hanging jeering and jabbering like a monkey, taunting the insecure and the napoleonic.
Penises, I think, would get along fine, or at least the metonymic penis, standing in for all male psychology, burdened and warped with societal expectations and biological predispositions, they would get along o.k., until you throw a woman into the mix.
By no means am I blaming women for conflicts and wars and phallic statues, I just merely note that they are the gravitational pull that sets all heterosexual maledom’s obsessive little circlings about masculinity a-going.
For example: There are men in my building who never open the door for themselves, they will wait patiently for me to come over. There are men who call me outside to heft their laptop oh so heavy from their car. There are men who come down and have me explain how to change a light bulb (twist gently to the left, or, higher a certain number of feminists and wait for a joke to happen). There are men who volunteer information about their haircuts and hair coloring, projecting phantom compliments on to me.
But put a women in the lobby, and ah, how the day looks brighter, how virile they become! How high they lift their computers, how thick they think their hair looks (if they tilt their head back and keep their bald spot out of sight), how eager they are to run to Home Depot and come back with two chain saws to get that damn light bulb.
My personal favorite is when a man comes into the building with his lady friend and puts one hand symbolically on the door as if he is opening it for his woman, protecting her. This happens not infrequently, and it is generally entertaining, if a little silly. It can be frustrating if I go to do something that they normally have me do for them (Say, get their two grocery bags) and they hurriedly dismiss me, lest I reveal their strange little secret.
This is one of the many roles of the doorman, a convenient prop for social interaction, an immediate placeholder in any number of imagined hierarchies. These men just can’t simply resist even attempting to hold the door for their special lady friends even though I am paid to hold it for them (see “door” in “doorman”). I do not ascribe to these standard and socially determined characteristics of manhood (lest I lose out) yet I find it fascinating how often people do and to what silly, petty extents they will go to to establish their masculinity along these lines.
And there I am, holding the door in a way that makes it seem that they are holding the door, making sure that their penises don’t get caught on the way out.