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Being a man is hard. Where previous generations opted to take the easy road, defining manhood with tangible accomplishments like carving out a homestead in the untamed wilderness or shooting at the Axis of Evil from a trench, our modern approach is much more subtle and high concept. We are trying something new. We refuse to just plow through the fleshy folds of life with the firm morals and rigid convictions of our grandfathers. No, instead we've opted to stay flexible and rubbery, capable of shifting our concept of masculinity on the fly. And while it doesn't always satisfy the needs or expectations or even the women of the era, we are courageously ensuring that the world will never suffer a shortage of ironic T-shirt companies, or mods for the original Wolfenstein, or 30-year-old dudes wandering around Central America for a year just really finding themselves.

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History will remember our sacrifices.

Even though it's tougher now than ever to say for certain what characterizes a man, there are still a few tacit rules by which all men live. So ladies, if you find yourself uneasily wondering whether your boyfriend, your son, your husband, or even your father can legitimately be called an adult, I have created this helpful checklist. What follows are four simple tasks every guy worth his salt should be able to accomplish using nothing but his two hands, his ingenuity, and maybe a quick 45-minute Internet search (accounting for extra time spent listening to '90s cartoon theme songs on YouTube).

Building a Fire


It doesn't matter whether a man is in his backyard, lost in the woods, or attending a children's music recital, if he can't get a fire going at a moment's notice, he is a hopeless failure. Fire has been so integral to the success of our species that now we can't help but start them, even accidentally on the sides of freeways and with grease in our own kitchens. In fact, if a man can't build a fire, you should rip open his trench coat and make sure he's not just a bunch of rabbits piled on top of each other pretending to be your boyfriend.

Ferenc Szelepcsenyi
"But I framed those Maroon 5 lyrics for you. Didn't that mean anything to you?"

The trick, of course, is to start small when building a fire: create a teepee of dry twigs, stuff some tinder or kindling in the middle, and then gradually add bigger and bigger pieces of wood in the same structural form as the fire catches and grows.

But What if That Sounds Like a Lot of Work?

Fair enough. I get it, the modern man doesn't always have time to sit around blowing on dead grass and bark. These aren't the carefree days of living in caves and eating every animal and berry in the forest for free. He has people counting on him in other quadrants of his life, specifically his followers on Twitter, who are waiting for hilarious updates about his camping trip. So consider this rule amended to: Every modern man should be able to build a fire using only a Duraflame log, lighter fluid, and 87 matches.

It's even shaped like masculinity.

The Duraflame log saves him time so that he can build a fire and still find a high spot with mediocre service, effectively killing two birds with one stone, figuratively, though, because he likely can't throw a rock hard enough to kill anything. The lighter fluid is a precautionary measure to ensure he gets the log lit even if he forgets to read the instructions on the wrapper, and the 87 matches are crucial because he will inevitably discover he can build a little Lincoln Log house out of them, then burn it to the ground. Something he will no doubt want to Vine.

Running a Mile

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In elementary school, most of us had to endure physical fitness tests that ensured we could each do pushups and situps and run a full mile. In the United States it was called the Presidential Fitness Test, presumably because it was the '80s and Reagan wasn't sure yet if he would need an army of tiny super soldiers to fight World War III. But if that was the lowest bar America could set for children, then surely an adult male should be able to meet the same requirements. While it may not come in handy all the time, a man should have enough authority over his own body to haul that sack of guts for 5,300 feet without stopping.

Pictured: All of us, more or less.

"But what about the people with asthma or polio or something?" you may be asking. "Does that preclude them from becoming real men?" And my answer is, of course, "No, but trying to piggyback on their disability so that you don't have to run a mile is a decidedly unmanly thing to do. Now get going, Devon, or whatever your name is."

But What if That Sounds Like a Lot of Work?

It's just one mil- OK. Alright. I realize that test was conducted in the '80s, and that the definition of manhood can change quickly over a short amount of time, given new advancements and knowledge, sort of like CPR training. So if a mile just sounds too damn far, then I'm happy to amend this rule: The modern man should be able to run a mile or, at the very least, hustle to the kitchen for a cheese stick and a soda before a Hulu commercial is over. A feat of that caliber showcases both physical strength and pure determination in one shuffling, sock-sliding exercise. I can't foresee a single woman in the world who could witness that without getting misty-eyed with the knowledge that, yes, there are still some men left in the world.

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Changing a Car Tire


For some people, changing a tire might as well be magic. They wouldn't know where to begin, or even that their car has been hiding a fifth wheel all these years. But a man with steely resolve and a cool head will assess the problem, take stock of his tools, and utilize his God-given knack with machines to wrestle that car into a serviceable state.

"Hell, I'm blind and I can do it."

It's as easy as opening the car manual and just following the steps: loosening the lug nuts, placing the jack under the frame, cranking it up until the tire lifts fully from the gr-

But What if That Sounds Like a Lot of Work?

Are you kidding me? Just read the manual. It's all right there, there's probably even pictures. It's also pretty much a uniform process regardless of what kind of car your parents bought you, so if you do it once, you can do it again. Forever. Just take some time to read it and you'll be fine. Alright?


But What if That Sounds Like a Lot of Work?

Goddammit. Yes, fine. HERE: The modern man should be able to change a tire (with only three phone calls to his father). Fair enough? Three is all you get. After that, you're just a lost kid who made a lot of mistakes and deserves to be stuck on the side of the highway for a night so that he can really evaluate some things. I hope you have a Duraflame log in your trunk, because it's probably going to get cold, you dummy.

Dividing Up a Bill

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Let's qualify this right away and say this: The modern man should be able to split a bill on a first date to an arcade-themed restaurant, even if he only has a cellphone calculator. That should pretty much cover everything, right? Surely every man can manage that, through the power of subtraction? She only ordered bread sticks anyway and then stared at the door the whole time. Nobody, not even society at large, is asking anything of you outside of some very simple math before you make her watch you play Street Fighter. That's literally all it takes in the present day for you to gracelessly hurtle into manhood like a quivering bud into a flower on time lapse, but a dreary flower that's really good at StarCraft and getting good deals at Guitar Center. So, maybe a carnation or something. That's the level of manhood you can achieve if you can just learn to split a goddamn bill. That's it. That is it.

But What if That Sounds Like a Lot of Work?

Oh fuck you.

You can follow Soren on Twitter or Tumblr, or you can find him at Guitar Center.

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