Enjoying my masculine pleasures is a provocative title for this post or at least it might be construed as such. Whenever I go down this road I am often criticized for my opinions, but this blog is primarily for me—so, oh well. As gender roles continue to evolve, and there is more tolerance shown to those who don’t conform to society’s notion of normal, the traditional aspects of masculinity and femininity have become increasingly blurred. Maybe this is as it should be, it’s not really for me to say. I do know that I am done with apologizing for being a man. Totally done.
I am admittedly a dinosaur who thoroughly enjoys his (non-sexual) masculine pleasures, primary among them are: the savouring of a fine single malt Scotch whisky, smoking a premium cigar, eating a good steak and enjoying the company of a loyal dog. Simple pleasures to be sure, often enjoyed in solitude, but also at times in the company of like-minded men. Rarely do I enjoy these pleasures in mixed company, although there have been notable exceptions. I have other interests and pleasures of course: books, music, photography and travelling for instance, but these aren’t exclusively male.
Single malt Scotch whisky is often an acquired taste, it was for me. I don’t know many women who like whisky (Scotland) or whiskey (USA). I drink it neat, with a few drops of water or on the rocks. Water actually helps to release the full flavour of the distillate. We’re talking a few drops of water, not drowning it. Melting ice serves the same purpose but you have to drink it quickly before the ice-melt dilutes its goodness (its perfection). Scotch whisky is to be savoured (like a fine wine) and not gulped. Anyone doing Scotch shooters should be shot (pun intended) on sight.
The MacAllan and The Glenlivet (both of the Speyside region of Scotland) are favorites, but perhaps my all-time favorites come from the Islay region and include Lagavulin and Laphroaig among others. Islay Scotch whiskies are renowned for their heavily medicinal “peaty” taste and don’t necessarily suit everyone’s palate. To indulge in a wee dram to ward off the winter chill is to experience pure delight. Nose the pungent bouquet and slowly drink and savour the “peaty” elixir of the gods as it warms the cockles of your heart.
A premium cigar is typically antithetical to a harmonious man-woman encounter. With few exceptions women find cigar smoking a foul and nasty habit (even if they smoke cigarettes themselves). I was introduced to my first cigar when I was a young (very young) nineteen year old Marine Corps Sergeant in Vietnam (1967-1968). It was love at first puff. I’ve never really been a cigarette smoker, never acquired the habit, but cigars are a different story. You smoke a cigarette for the nicotine fix, you smoke a cigar for the flavour (no inhaling).
I’ve smoked cigars all around the world. I’ve even smoked the near-mythical Cuban puro in Cuba. Contrary to the legend I do not think Cuban cigars are the best in the world (maybe once but no longer). For my money some of the best cigars today come from Nicaragua, and foremost among those might be Mombacho Cigars of Nicaragua in Granada, Nicaragua. I practically lived in their factory and showroom for two weeks drinking award-winning rum and smoking their premium cigars. Perdomo, C.A.O., Gurkha and Onyx #4 all rank high in my book too.
World-class beefsteak is also a treat for the senses if not the wallet. A perfectly grilled steak is beyond Nirvana for most men (it rivals sex). I get the vegetarian thing, I really do. I was a strict vegetarian (and also abstained from alcohol) and even by beloved cigars) for almost eight years while travelling a Buddhist path. But I learned that true Buddhism (or spirituality) is not predicated on abstention (a discussion for another time perhaps). I’ve had Kobe steak in Japan, Argentinian steak in Argentina, Canadian steak in Canada and American steak in the USA. Kobe is the best I’ve ever eaten, followed by the USA, Argentina and Canada in that order.
A good loyal dog is a man’s best friend. I’ve owned thirteen dogs in my lifetime and they were all great in their own way. But the standout for me was my German Shepherd “Major-san” the wonder dog. I’ve written about him extensively on this blog and I miss his presence every single day. Loyal, brave and protective almost to a fault. Always by my side whether sitting by a fire at home, travelling to the city or days & nights backpacking in the desert. He had his own pack that carried his food, water and sleeping pad. My best friend EVER. May you R.I.P. my dear friend and companion.
A few final thoughts and a message to my women friends. I will be seventy years old in May and I’ve learned it’s not how long you live but how well you live. Simple pleasures are the best. Am I suggesting a person live a completely hedonistic selfish life? No I am not. What I am suggesting is that life isn’t about total abstention and denial, simple earthly pleasures are not sins or immoral in themselves. Life is to be enjoyed and appreciated as much as possible. I would preach moderation not denial. Just my perspective after so many years on this planet Earth.
Finally, a message to my women friends out in the blogosphere: Let the man in your life be a man. Let him indulge his simple pleasures without judgement, consternation or punishment. Let him drink his Scotch, smoke his cigar, eat his steak, have his dog or hang with his buddies. Is he a good man, a good provider, does he take care of you? Does he love you and treat you with respect? Men are simple creatures and easily satisfied—we are not complicated. My marriage didn’t allow this latitude and I left it—I didn’t cheat or abuse, I just got fed up. Want to impress the man in your life? Learn to pour the perfect drink, properly prepare a cigar (an art form in itself) or grill the perfect steak. Let him spend time with his dog and his buddies. I think the payback will be greater than you might think. Just a thought.