Maybe my greatest pet peeve is tough guys, ones with a sharp bone to pick or a look-at-me point to prove. You know who I’m talking about, the ones who walk around with I.L.S. (Imaginary Lat Syndrome) where they saunter into a crowded room with their arms puffed out to show their fantasy strength.
Among the multiple symptoms of tough guys include the “I’m just cleaning my gun” when a boy is dating his daughter or when a man posts “He’s lucky he didn’t break into my house” when he looks for and shares on Facebook a local cop story about a break-in.
Once I was at a car dealership with a guy, and afterward he said to me, “I could have gotten you a better deal.” Then why didn’t you? Tough guys are notorious for I-would-haves and you-should-haves.
Is this an indicator of insecurity or fear, a generational thing, or is it more menacing than that? Is it a true, deeply carnal twitch or reflex they share with my German shepherd when he sees the neighbor dog? Does it feed them?
My boys are tough, but they aren’t tough guys. Roger was tough, but he wasn’t a tough guy. It’s simply the biggest turn-off to express one’s toughness and not show it naturally, to express it ahead of time with no need or want.
Social media has created a different type of tough guy. The bravery that comes with a shield of QWERTY is ugly and transparent and their words have no meaning in real life. It makes me smash my dry palm to my weary forehead and breathe so I can move on without letting it annoy me.
Just be silly, be real, and show humility. Nobody is after you like you think or like you hope, and nobody actually thinks you’re tough except you and your son. Whoever he is, he’s watching, so just chill.