The image of men in contemporary culture generally falls into one of five categories.
There is sitcom man, who is usually plain or ugly and weighs much more than his wife. He is an idiot, who is unable to do the simplest task and should feel lucky any woman would have him.
There is pro athlete man, whose boorish behavior is exceeded only by his sexual conquests and ridiculous salary demands.
There is Playboy man, represented by the fossilized Hugh Hefner who, were it not for what he pays the blonde bimbos who hang on his arm and the little blue pills he takes so he might convince himself and others that he is still desirable, would long ago have been stuffed and put in a museum.
There is soldier man; not the hero who gives his life for the freedom of others, but the few the media pay attention to that commit atrocities.
There is "Brokeback Mountain" man and we know their story, whether we've seen the movie, or not.
Where can one find real men these days? One place is in Bob Greene's new book, "And You Know You Should Be Glad," published by William Morrow. The title is taken from The Beatles' 1963 hit, "She Loves You" and the sentiment is taken from an era in which men were less confused about who they were. This is the best book I have ever read about male bonding.
It is the story of five boys who meet in kindergarten in Bexley, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. They remain close friends for 57 years. When four of them discover the fifth, Jack Roth, has cancer, they return to Bexley to be with him. They help him relive his life and their own. If you are a man and after reading this book you don't cry and feel more a man than you've ever felt before, you have no heart. You will cry because you either have or had friends like this, or you wish you had had them.
Greene is a master at transporting strangers into lives and places you have never visited, but he makes you feel at home. He taps the difficult realm of male emotions as few men I've known. He calls this book "the biography of a friendship." And he says even though we may not have known Jack Roth, "there is someone in your life very much like him."
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