Sun | Mar 25, 2018

As a man: The man at the steering wheel

Published:Sunday | June 5, 2016 | 12:00 AMMel Cooke

At five years old, our son strongly associates becoming a man with driving. Not that he puts it that way - he says he wants to become a 'Daddy' so he can drive. That includes taking his children to school, but he may find out one day that it's not all fun and games.

He has already made the association between being a man and driving, and it will not be long before he makes the link between the type of man and the vehicle that he drives. At some point, he will begin to assimilate the advertising agenda, that cars determine a man's personality (not the other way round, that a man's personally is reflected in what he drives).

Yes, driving a car means more to being a man than simply being an adult. The type of car he steers provides for an instant assessment of the kind of man he is.




Driving a pickup automatically makes him a rugged, down-to-earth, rough-and-tumble sort of fellow, even if he does not know the difference between a flat-head and a Phillips screwdriver. If he is tooling around town in a long-front, short-back sort of car, the guy is automatically a confident, cool dude. The higher-end luxury unit automatically makes a man sophisticated, although his concept of an aged alcoholic beverage is how long a beer has been in the refrigerator. A beat-up car, or something that is on the smaller side, makes him unambitious; a minivan instantly creates a bland sort of fellow.

All of this adds up to a lot more pressure, in general, on men to be men, for the males who are susceptible to that sort of influence (which is more than even those of us who think we are unaffected realise). So, the fronting is on, particularly for young men just coming into their own and earning some money. It is a vicious cycle - for having pushed themselves to the limit in order to acquire a ride which says something striking and outstanding about their personality, they most likely will attract a woman who is seeking the faÁade that he is putting up. And she will push him not only to keep it up, but push more and more.

The crash is inevitable.

There is another part of the man-and-car saga that cannot be left out - the older fellow with the young car. Not young only in terms of the age of the vehicle, but what it says about him. We have all seen it: a man who is driving a car that is a real young boy's hot whip, blazing on the tarmac with his top buttons down, showing a few grey hairs with a big grin pasted on his face. It is strikingly odd, but think of it this way - he has worked hard all his life, sacrificed for the children to make it through school and now can spend some money on a good car for himself. Maybe it is the first time in his life that he has been able to do so.

Make the man hold the leather steering, turn up the stereo and lean back until he is almost lying down. He has earned it.