On what it means to be a man

Trent Ernst, Editor


I’ve always been a bit of a rebel.

But not your regular sort of rebel. No, I rebelled against those people, too. I was my own kind of rebel.

Growing up, there were all sorts of voices trying to tell me what to do, who to be.

A large part of that involved what it meant to be a “guy”.

You know what I’m talking about. Guys don’t show emotions, guys drink beer and smoke and fart in public with no shame. They can fix cars and wire a house and are impervious to pain.

When I was young, I made a conscious choice to not do what the world told me to do. To be my own person.

Often times, this lead to making choices simply because they were contrary.

For instance: I grew up in the 80s. At the time, the symbol of female beauty was the pneumatic bottle blonde, make-up caked to plastic perfection.

So, I decided that was something that I found completely unattractive. Not the colour of the hair or the how well endowed a woman was, rather, the fake-ness of it all. Instead, I started to find myself attracted to women who were real. Which isn’t code for anything, just … real. Not surgically enhanced. Not the result of two hours of make-up every morning. Women who were comfortable enough with how they looked to not have to try and ascribe to someone else’s definition of beauty.

For instance: As a guy, I was expected to take shop class. Instead, I took Home economics, learning to cook and sew. Just for fun. And because that’s where all the girls were. I also took photography and drafting and some of the more creative courses. When I ran out of options and had to take small engine repair, I completely tanked, never actually succeeding in getting the engine back together.

As a result of these choices, I am now editor here at the Tumbler Ridge News as opposed to, say, working at the mine making about four times what I do now.

Not that I’m bitter or anything. Really, I’m not. I chose this path. You can either do something you love, I told myself, and probably wind up struggling to make a living, or you can work a real job and do what you love on your days off.

I chose the former. No regrets.

Except…well, except for the fact that I am now completely useless when it comes to doing guy things like fixing cars. Or in this case, RVs (I’m pretty good at farting, though…)

Need someone to write an eloquent editorial that will bring people to tears? I’m your man. Want the bestest photo of yourself ever? Give me a call. Want your car fixed? I hear there are shops for that sort of thing.

I mentioned last editorial we just picked up a new-to-us tent trailer. Trouble is, somewhere along the line, the power converter stopped working.

So, after doing all that I could do to get it working (not much), I had to find a real guy to take a look at it.

In this case, Tim. Tim is a real man. He drives a big truck. He carries a bag of tools and knows how to use a voltmeter.

He came over and he actually took the power converter apart and discovered that one of the resistors had snapped off on the board. Now, I understand the way these things work, but the actual pulling things apart without blowing anything up? That’s way beyond my ability. I had to ask for instructions on how to use a trickle charger to recharge my dead battery. (I also had to borrow said trickle charger off Tim, because of course I don’t own my own.)

Having pulled the converter apart and discovering the broken bit, he went home and grabbed his soldering iron and tried soldering it together.

That worked for a few minutes, but the soldering ultimately melted, so Tim lent me the aforementioned battery charger, plus not one but two spare batteries that he just had kicking around for this purpose. I mean, really.

We made it safely to the lake and back, thanks to Tim, and all he wanted in exchange for his help was a thanks. So, thanks, man.

Which made me realize something that women have known for a long time: it’s good to have at least a couple guy friends who know what they’re doing. So thanks to Tim and Dan and Jeff and all the real men who have helped this artsy-fartsy (emphasis on the latter) fake his way through these guy things. And if you ever need a finely crafted story? I’ve got your back.