She sits across from you in the dark, bright, busy, empty restaurant cafe bar. Her familiar face from that number one critical darling TV show movie is so beautiful you would weep if you weren’t a man. She’s got a personality, so don’t feel guilty or anything. She contains multitudes, which you see reflected in her soul when she plays the fearless, nagging, comforting wife of a damaged spy soldier cop each week.
She expresses opinions and also she does a kind of exercise every day. She has voted. But that’s not really the point, is it? The point is that she is deep, like chocolate or wine.
By her, we mean her face. And tits. Not that the magazine that once published Frank Sinatra Has a Cold and The Falling Man would be so indelicate as to mention those lightly shaded mounds peeking out from the top of that girl next door, rock star, sex kitten blouse. Those breasts like femininity in 2015 America.
Also her face is symmetrical. Which is literary. It’s like a lyric essay, how her face is like that. The symmetry of it speaks volumes about late capitalism. She says things out loud, but it is her face that speaks in deeper, more fundamental tones, like a cello or your mom’s comfort food.
You see her in her underwear on the cover, right? But you didn’t see how comfortably she posed in that dripping, transparent tanktop. You, because you don’t know her and also live in Middle America, will never truly get that she is just as luminous while bare-assed in our studio as she is up on the big and also small screen.
She is poetry. Her thighs especially. They’re like molasses and cream and your first tentative erection. You haven’t studied poetry since high school because real poetry is in the calluses on your hands when you hold your son’s hand and you’re both playing baseball. But her skin and lips are the kind of literature that we have today in 2015. Metaphorically, you will study her vagina in English class tomorrow. Also literally.
We put her in that unbuttoned man’s shirt and loosened tie and nothing else because we know — we know — about the tumultuous state of gender roles in 2015. We see her laughing refutation of the archetypical American pinup girl, and we want to fuck her even more for it, and then give her another Oscar.
But we would fuck her respectfully. No — with reverence. Because she’s a sonnet about a lost, sexy deer, and she is a rich Bearnaise sauce. We would fuck her like we did in our minds while she fiddled with her phone in that cafe, almost like a person would. But she is not one. She is an essay. She is a limpid-eyed, babbling brook that you and your grandfather visited as a child. A strangely arousing painting of Elvis. A vintage sports car in a black and white portrait. A wounded sparrow you would totally do.
He is standing manfully, staring at other manful actions like maybe a pickup sports game or a beer tasting happening a short distance away. He would join in with lithe confidence, if he weren’t being profiled right now by the magazine that published The Falling Man and Frank Sinatra Has a Cold. Look at him relaxing, yet vigilant. He’s dripping with masculinity there in a t-shirt and jeans that you can purchase for 1500 dollars. Look at his face. His jawline is being a man today. Because he’s strong. But the kind of strong that exists in 2015, with its myriad post-feminist complexities and hunger for perfectly cooked meats.
He does stuff. It’s movie stuff, or possibly niche TV stuff, but by God he is just DOING THINGS ACTIVELY all day long. Now he’s leaning, and also standing with his legs apart, and also sitting confidently — like a man who knows how to play Mass Effect while wearing an eight thousand dollar suit and eating a rare steak. A man who has read Gravity’s Rainbow and feels it in his entire being as he lifts. A man who doesn’t hunt, but totally could.
He’s a metaphor for masculinity, this man. Manning about there. He’s kind of like Hemingway. But someone way less trite than that. Steinbeck, maybe? Yeah, he’s the kind of man who could wear a mustache like Steinbeck. The kind of man who invented mustaches. No, he’s someone more truly American than that. He’s like Captain America watching Humphrey Bogart wrestle Steve McQueen. But also like a cowboy detective racecar driver. But less hick than that. Because the essay on the decline of the American farmer, and what it means about your father, and all our fathers, is actually on page 68.
Anyway, he’s a man.
Manhood in 2015, can we ever dissect it? Can we — or he — ever figure out masculinity in a post-9/11, post-Obama, post-bailout, post-man America? Maybe. But that would be too navel-gazing for him. He’s thoughtful, but not in a way that would distract him from going skydiving while wearing jeans and a blazer that’s surprisingly appropriate for work or the bar afterwards. He knows manhood in his fingers, which he can use to please any woman, especially the ones you lust after. But he wouldn’t brag about that, he’d celebrate it with confidence.
Fundamentally, he is too much of a man to stop being a man today. He is manhood in the most fashionable past, and also its bold, unpredictable future. That’s why we took his picture in black and white for the cover! In short, he is you in all your contradictions and nuances. But better than you. But also surprisingly humble and also every single other man in 2015. Whiskey is great, isn’t it?