Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Gearheads and Other Hobbyists

Fellow blogger CantBeJustMe over at Taking Back the Reins has made an excellent post about the proper motivation for working the MAP. His point is that you have to be doing this for your own reasons, not to change your wife's behavior. It took me 10 years of Al-Anon meetings to learn that the only person I can control is me, and I still sometimes need to be reminded of that.

But in getting to that point, he mentioned something else:
    I’ve always been a gearhead.  I’ve worked on and rebuilt countless motorcycles, cars and trucks.  If it has oil and gas in it, I can fix it.  (on the opposite end of the spectrum, if it’s green and grows in the ground, I can kill it.)  Since my kid is almost at driving age, we’ve batted around the idea of fixing up an old car or truck for his first car.  Circumstances lined up and I’ve got a 40 year old truck in the yard, and I’ve started working on it. 

In what would appear to be an amazing coincidence, I also have just acquired a vintage vehicle. Mine is a bit older than 40 years, in fact it's a bit older than 50 years. It hasn't been driven since 1982. It's going to take a lot of work to get it running.

It also just happens that my wife's father was a professional mechanic. 

She suggested the other day that I might want to get some help from my brother-in-law. "You don't think I can do anything mechanical, do you?" I asked. "Well, I've never seen you do anything mechanical..."

And it's true. Working on modern electronically controlled engines just isn't a lot of fun. But my first car was a 1966 Chevy. I was constantly tinkering with it, and those simple old engines are easy to work on. 

I think seeing me with grease under my fingernails is giving my wife a warm fuzzy feeling, since her dad always had grease under his fingernails. More importantly, getting this car running is going to be a DHV. By showing competence in yet another area of life, her estimation of my value will be increased.

Of course, that's not the reason I tackled this project. But it's certainly a nice fringe benefit.

So, guys, take my advice: Get a hobby. Not some girly hobby like scrapbooking, but something manly. Fix up an old car, or build a model airplane. As long as it's suitably masculine, it doesn't much matter what it is. What's important is that you do it well. Display confidence and competence, and you will reap the rewards.


  1. Outstanding post. I'm descended from three generations of GM workers myself, and my father made certain I knew how to do anything to a pre-computer car except rebuild a transmission. There is a sublime masculine art in the construction, repair, and restoration of a car. I'm not necessarily advocating every Red Pill dude become a motorhead, but it's amazing how restorative an afternoon with a wrench and a car can be.

    The hobby thing is spot on, but don't call it a hobby. "Hobby" is a diminutive term, something for mild amusement. "Avocation" on the other hand means "job I don't get paid for", more or less. It elevates your "hobby" to the level of passion, which is only proper. Whether it's grease, hunting, sports, video games, or bareknuckle boxing, your avocation is that element of your masculine life that can be counted as successful even though it doesn't necessarily advance your income or your SR directly. Women love to see a man passionate about something other than them (Indeed, Mrs. Ironwood can't see me sitting down and writing without being resentful of the interest I show something that isn't directly related to her). And a successful avocation can make up for a lot of the spiritual lack in a boring day job. Plus you can often count on a solid avocation to turn into a nice retirement job some day -- that's what an uncle of mine did with his woodworking "hobby".

    Keep up the good work! And have her bring you some lemonade and a sandwich while you work. Get's hot out there.

  2. Excellent points. I'm consistently surprised by the men I know who have basically no hobby's or interests. I try and engage them in conversation about what they like to do, and there's nothing there. Watching SU basketball is not a hobby. Having an interesting avocation ups your social standing with other men as well, and just plain makes you less boring to everyone.

    Two summers ago I built Sea Kayaks with my then 16 yr old son. Double points for creating a sea worthy vessel (very Alpha) and spending time with my son (Beta, but in a good way) It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.