My evangelical mother insisted my brother and I participate in a weekly high school bible-study. Our granola group leader was moving to the Czech Republic to teach English and our new leader was, you could say, not normal. This older gentleman, well in his forties, was the epitome of quiet, professional, badass. He didn’t talk much at first. As time went on he called each and every kid in my group out on their bullshit, including me. He taught us how to think critically. He taught us to shoot. He watched us make mistakes, and freely helped when we asked. One of the most important lessons he taught me though, mainly by example, was to be a force-multiplier, not a one-man island.
When I went to college I was without my support system. I fell apart pretty quick. Wandering around the local downtown on a December evening, avoiding studying for finals and looking for smokes, I happened upon a hole-in-the-wall cigar shop off in an abandoned corner. I plopped my ass in a chair inside the cramped establishment as the twinge of quality tobacco smoke crawled up my nostrils. There were four men huddled around a small table, with a bottle of single-malt and some cards. They eyed me, unsure if I were a temporary interruption, or one of the drunk college kids common in the area. I kept my mouth shut and listened.
The men spoke about women, cars, sports and everything in between. They were all of different backgrounds and ranged from mid-thirties to late sixties. The only employee, a slender middle-aged man, would seldom speak, but commanded attention from the others. Just as I was analyzing the scene, the man calmly turned to me, and in a manner that was stern yet inviting, pointed to a specific cigar near my seat, and said “ditch that cigarette, grab one of those and pull up a chair.”
After a night of bullshitting and listening to countless stories, debates, and man-chat, I went back to my dorm. I dragged my roommates back with me the next day. The same men were at the cigar shop and seemed to cautiously appreciate the injection of youth. We were all intelligent, well spoken and knew our place in the social hierarchy of this weird little bubble: rock bottom.
The four men from the night of my introduction were not the only members of this small society. Other men came and went. A rhythm was noticeable among the regulars. Like clockwork, evening would come, and parts of the group would appear, sometimes the entire ensemble, and a quorum would be had on the red stone pavers out front, well into the night.
As time went on, the regulars of that shop guided my college buddies and I with care and concern that grew out of a slowly earned trust. Not everyone saw eye-to-eye, but respect was paramount. That shop was the safest place I knew to take my problems or ideas with school, women, work, and even my family. Despite moving away, I still go back whenever I can, and regularly speak with others who found sanctuary from the world in that little spot. That happen-chance stop on a December evening years prior, became one of the turning moments of my manhood.
Men need male companionship
To wander without aim or companionship is not beneficial to any man. And to leave other men to the same fate of chance as I is negligent on my part. That cigar shop had nothing special about it. Sure the ever-present cloud of smoke, hugging the low ceiling, helped keep the weak of heart out, but it was not unique. Men congregated at that spot because there were other men there; men of virtue and morals, all alphas in their own right. What kept these men together was the effort made by one man, the shop employee, to call them, invite them and remind them of their haven, amid their busy work and social lives. A male safe space isn’t actually a physical space, its a network. This site being a prime example.
The employee of the cigar shop was like my group leader in high school. They are force multipliers, they are leaders. Men need to forge the bonds that tie us together. Alpha males will always be driven, and consequentially busy. It is the leader who takes the bit of time to gather the group, which generates a male-safe space. If every male adopted this small responsibility, and helped form groups of men to which they were accountable, wherever they may be, male safe spaces would not be hard to find. In addition, mentoring younger men would be much simpler, as a group has more resources than a lone mentor. Most importantly, a space would be less vulnerable to detrimental influence, due to the increased difficulty for unwanted members to make their way in.
Find other like-minded men, make commitments, and grow your space. Seek out the space you need rather than sitting there like a beta wishing you would stumble upon it. If you can’t find a space that fits, make the space you want and make it well.
Find your network
We men are, if anything, logical and intelligent. That last thing men want, is to waste time on someone who is a lost cause, or repeatedly displays behavior that labels them a risk. For those of you who are currently in the position I used to be in, here are some simple guidelines to follow when you go looking for a network of alpha males.
1. Pay attention. Watch with all your faculties.
2. Listen. Biggest key to listening, which seems to be confused these days, is to keep your trap shut. Talking is not listening. Listen to men who speak to other men with virtue and justice.
3. Be prepared to contribute something. After you’ve passed the probationary period (often unspoken, but existent), you will be accepted as one of the group. “Probation” is different from space to space, some may require little vetting, others may ask you to pledge your firstborn. Do not expect a network to allow you to leech their resources without giving of yourself, be it time, wisdom or other.
4. Make the effort. I’m not saying be a bitch, but make the effort to keep in contact, schedule and follow through. Phones have been around for a while and they aren’t for playing games all the time.
5. Admit your mistakes the instant you become aware of them. Of all the men I consider equals or elders, each one is well aware of the struggle that is manhood. The one thing they don’t put up with, is an individual unwilling to acknowledge their mistakes, or even worse, someone who fails to learn from them.
Barber shops, golf courses, pool halls, shooting ranges, club houses, and many other bastions of masculinity is what our fathers and grandfathers grew up in. It’s left to us to stop the political correctness, femininity and general pussification that is invading them.