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Real men will read this list

OPINION

  • Jon Hamm as "Mad Men's" Don Draper
Jon Hamm as "Mad Men's" Don Draper (AMC )
September 19, 2013|By Ernest Wilkins, @ernestwilkins | RedEye

If I asked you what a "real man" is, what would you say? According to a Business Insider post last week from @GSElevator, an anonymous Twitter account run by a man who claims to work for Goldman Sachs, a real man gets his hair cut at the Mandarin Oriental Barbershop in Hong Kong and owns a handcrafted shotgun. Not gonna lie; I think he might not be right.

What about you? When I say "real man," do you imagine a strapping young lad with rock-hard abs? The type of guy who can rock a tuxedo like James Bond while rapping all of Bun B's part in "Big Pimpin' " as he makes you a five-course dinner? Or what about a weathered older guy? A raconteur who was there when Bruce Springsteen performed "Born to Run" the first time, a gruff yet sweet individual who has definitely killed a man, but it's cool because he can fix whatever's wrong with your car in less than 15 minutes?

I ask these questions because it has become apparent that there isn't an actual answer to this question. Until now.

Yes, I'm finally ready to debut The Last "How To Be A Man" List You Will Ever Need. Are you ready? Good.

1. Don't be an a-hole

If you don't do anything else, PLEASE adhere to this one. It's so easy! All you have to do is be confident in yourself and show empathy. See, at the core of every a-hole is a big juicy glob of insecurity. You feel lesser so you hide behind titles such as "realist" and "alpha male." Sorry, sweetie. You're just an a-hole.

2. Don't die early

I'm not going to tell you what to eat, or how often to work out, or even that you should work out. All I'm saying is, don't die early. If you know there's a behavior that will lead to you dying earlier than expected, don't do it or do it in moderation.

3. Speak up

This one is a two-parter: Speaking up means being assertive enough to ask for what you want without fear and also not allowing people to spout ignorance around you. Real men speak up when they know something is wrong and ask for what they want. If you're in a social situation and don't say something when someone spouts off something racist/sexist/homophobic/xenophobic/anything else that sucks for fear of rocking the boat or making the situation awkward, then you're a coward. Address this stuff head-on.

4. Eat everything

If not for the cultural experience (culture kills ignorance—it's science), then for the fact that food is delicious.

5. Develop a personality

Do you know people who are just the human equivalent of a crouton? They contribute nothing, and end up making you worse off than when you started. Avoiding being one of these people is an easy goal, but that doesn't mean it should be taken lightly. Find a hobby. OK, got one? Now, don't let that be the only thing people know about you. Do three other things (work counts as one) and then shuffle your interests. There, you are now an interesting person.

Look, I know you probably want to flood my inbox with thank-you notes, but please understand that I did it for the greater good. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to learn the rest of those Bun B lyrics.

Ernest Wilkins is Chicago's wingman.

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