I always thought men had it easy. Easier than women, at least.
They can keep the same haircut they had in high school (providing they still have hair), and no one says they need to update it. If they need a larger pants’ size, they just buy them without having an emotional meltdown. A movie can be a hit if it has a hot chick and a great car chase. You can buy them practical things, like tools or truck floor mats, for a gift.
Yet when I began talking to guys while researching this story, I realized it’s not always that straightforward. Plenty of men do keep up with the latest fashions, put a lot of thought into their facial hairstyle and hope to find a meaningful relationship (but not at a bar).
So, gentlemen… read on. From growing a beard to cooking the perfect bacon to meeting women, we’ve got you covered.
A Beard By Any Other Name
Just look around and you’ll notice men’s facial hair is enjoying a serious comeback. And not just with the Duck Dynasty crew. No matter the occupation, it’s trendy to have a beard… or some sort of facial hair thing going on. From college students to granddads, men of all ages are embracing their manliness and showing it off on their faces.
“We take full credit for the explosion of beard popularity in the United States. We grow beards for America. Some people high jump; we grow beards!” quips Phil Olsen, 65, captain of Beard Team USA. Americans won 10 trophies at the World Beard and Moustache Championships in Leinfelden-Echterdingen, Germany, on November 2, 2013.
“I have a hard time explaining why it’s popular,” says Olsen. “For many years, most men have chosen, irrationally, to shave their faces daily, and the only explanation I can come up with is that they want to look more like women. So, what’s really happened is men have come to the realization that that they ought to look like men.”
Olsen, who lives in Lake Tahoe, California, and has won a few beard contests himself, sports a full Garibaldi-style beard, which is broad, slightly rounded at the bottom and nearly 12 inches long.
“The first world championships in the United States were held in 2003, and beard competitions are springing up all over the place,” Olsen points out. “There doesn’t seem to be a central location where they are listed, but BOMB, The Brotherhood of Mustaches and Beards, in South Florida is pretty active.”
Interested in showing off your facial hair? Visit Portland, Oregon, for the World Beard and Mustache Championship on October 25, 2014. You can register in advance online where you’ll choose your category. (Competition officials will be sure you’re in the correct one.) You don’t have to sport a beard to participate; there are mustache-only categories.
“There’s a weekend of activities, and the competition itself is held on October 25,” says Olsen. “One of the popular things about bearding as a sport is that it brings people together across boundaries, such as language, culture and ages. There’s a great deal of camaraderie among beard enthusiasts.”
If you aren’t into competition but are toying with the idea of cultivating some facial hair, Olsen has a few suggestions.
For starters, do nothing. Once that hair gets growing, then experiment with grooming routines and products to find a look that works for you.
“It’s a mistake to think having a beard simply means not shaving,” adds Olsen. “It’s very important that a beard be cared for. You can use the same shampoo and conditioner you use on your head, but there are some specialized products for the beard. Some people use waxes, gels and hairspray to keep the beard in place. This is where experimentation comes into play.”
Your beard and mustache don’t necessarily have to be integrated. This is up to the individual, Olsen says. Nor do you have to have hair on your head to sport a beard. Bald with a beard is a look that’s growing in popularity. If you do have a hairstyle, choose a beard that complements it.
A word of caution: If you’re thinking of trying a “soul patch,” that small spot of hair under the bottom lip, please incorporate some additional facial hair, even if it’s just a “five o’clock shadow” or a mustache. On its own, the soul patch can look like you just missed a spot shaving or, worse, spilled something on your chin.
For additional pointers—not to mention a few good laughs—get yourself a copy of The Facial Hair Handbook, an informative and entertaining guide written by two-time world beard champion Jack Passion.
Find out more by visiting:
Where The Women Are
It’s become common to meet women online, thanks to a plethora of dating websites, but it’s still possible to start a relationship offline. You just have to know where to look. Oh, and you won’t find any bars on this list!
Acting or comedy classes: Try out your best lines without feeling like a jerk. Peruse an adult education catalog for classes.
Adult sports team: Softball or flag football, anyone?
Anywhere they play live music: Locally, check out The Corkscrew for a fun, not-too-bar-like setting with great live tunes.
Book store: With a built-in coffee shop, large chain book stores are perfect for a casual, instant date.
Church: You’ll have at least core values in common.
Dog parks: Yep, the right dog can be a babe magnet. Of course, this means you must actually have a dog… or borrow a cute one from your dog-owning friend.
Community service/volunteer group: You may meet someone who has the same passion for a cause.
Dance classes: Where else do you get to put your arms around a woman you’ve just met and not get slapped? Dancin’ Around Studio in Ocala offers classes in ballroom, Latin, country and swing.
Friday Night Art Walk: You can always walk to a neighborhood bar or coffee shop afterward if you hit it off.
Grocery store: A quick glance at her cart will reveal if you have similar tastes in food… or if she even cooks.
Gym or fitness classes: Working out isn’t just about pumping iron. Women take yoga classes. Should you?
Meetup.com groups: Plenty of topics to pick from and lots of members, many of them female.
Music festival: Casual setting and lots of people up the odds of meeting someone.
Organized club trip: Take a day, overnight or longer trip with others who enjoy the same hobby (scuba diving, hiking, bird watching, kayaking, etc.).
Social media websites: Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, etc. (I personally know one couple, happily married for almost two years, who met via Twitter.)
Standing in line… any line: Instead of staring down at your phone, make the most of the time and scan the ladies in line. You never know…
Wine-tasting events: Date-like setting, but you aren’t stuck if you don’t click.
Tools No Man Should Be Without
Let’s face it; some guys are handier than others. Even if you’d rather call in the pros to tackle a remodeling job, you still need a toolbox stocked with the basics. These will get you through everything from assembling that dining room set your wife ordered on Overstock.com to fixing a bathroom sink leak.
Tools are personal; you may want to pick out your own, but don’t be shy. Drop a hint to the family that a gift card to your local home improvement store would be the perfect present.
Every guy should have:
16-ounce drop forged claw hammer with fiberglass handle (wooden handles break too easily)
Flathead & Phillips screwdrivers several sizes
25-foot retractable metal tape measure
Utility knife with extra blades
3/8-inch socket wrench with 2 extenders & a set of sockets
Vise grip (locking pliers)
Needle nose pliers
Cordless drill and set of bits (Make sure the drill has multiple speeds and is reversible.)
Pry bar (to pull nails, remove molding)
General-purpose hand saw
Safety glasses (They may not look cool but are essential.)
The Fashionable Man
Although the word “fashion” typically brings to mind women, men are definitely into fashionable attire. Trends change, so we checked in with David Desantis, owner of Greiners for Men in downtown Ocala, to see what men are wearing these days.
“We still sell suits for weddings and funerals, but the suit and tie for business is not nearly as prevalent as it used to be. It’s a much more ‘dress casual’ atmosphere now,” says Desantis. “We have financial advisers who still wear suits but not every day, and most of the attorneys who shop with us only wear suits when going to a court case.”
Plenty of guys wear jeans, but the big, baggy look is out.
“A more ‘clean,’ fitted look is in,” says Desantis. “You can dress jeans up with a sport coat or just wear them with a T-shirt. Straight leg is more popular, but there is boot cut. Ladies have had all these choices to make all their lives, but denim fashion has only evolved in recent years for men. Men have to actually try jeans on; the dressing rooms get used now! Times have changed.”
“We’re seeing a lot more color in men’s clothing than in years past.
Females have already had it, and men are warming up to it,” adds Desantis. “There’s plenty of color in the long-sleeve and short-sleeve, button-down shirts. For 2014, we’re seeing ‘ice cream’ and ‘jewel tone’ colors like pinks, purples and brighter greens. It’s not all navy and khaki anymore. Wrinkle-free is a big option. You can still take the shirt to the dry cleaners to get cleaned and starched, but you can wear it all day and it doesn’t look like a wrinkled mess.”
So what about tucking in your shirt?
“To tuck or not tuck is such a personal opinion,” says Desantis. “I, personally, am a tucker. Shirts these days are being cut a little shorter and finished at the bottom differently because so many men are leaving them untucked, but that is strictly a casual look.”
As he explains, a shirt with a flat bottom hem, think Hawaiian or rugby shirts), aren’t made to be tucked in. However, if a shirt has tails, it should be tucked. Whatever you choose, once you decide to tuck in a shirt, stick with that choice because you’ll look like you just rolled out of bed if you decide to untuck halfway through the day.
“If you tuck your shirt, you need to wear a belt, and your belt should match your shoes,” adds Desantis. “Your socks should match your pants, not your shoes, so when you sit, your socks look like an extension of your pants.”
Speaking of socks, is it ever OK not to wear them?
“Lots of guys wear loafers without socks,” says Desantis. “It’s a comfort thing. There are no rules, but you don’t want to wear too dressy of a loafer without socks. They do make ‘no-show’ socks you can wear with tennis shoes or loafers.”
No self-respecting man should be caught in public wearing socks with sandals. This is a serious fashion faux pas. If you want to cover up your feet, put on a pair of shoes, but please, no “man crocs.”
Trim-fitting shirts & pants
Flat front pants
Wrinkle-free dress shirts
Straight leg jeans
Lace-up wing tips (suede or two-tone) worn with jeans
Smell is one of the most powerful senses when it comes to evoking memory or pleasure, and guys certainly aren’t immune to that. Here, not in any particular order, are some of the most popular masculine scents.
Cordite (as in used gunpowder)
Freshly cut grass
Auto parts store
Original Old Spice
Any activity that involves raw meat and flames is guaranteed to be manly, right? Whether you use a state-of-the-art gas grill or prefer to cook over old-fashioned charcoal, there’s something incredibly satisfying about preparing food on the grill. Plus, you can’t beat the taste. Try these handy tips from Chef Greg Mullen at Artisinal Dish in Ocala, where Wagyu beef is their specialty.
Build a fire appropriate to what you’re cooking. A piece of fish or a hamburger will cook much faster than a pork shoulder or rack of ribs, which require slow roasting to break down the connective tissue.
Let meat come to about room temperature to cook more evenly (but follow food safety tips, so don’t let it sit out for hours).
Avoid “flare-up” by cooking meat with a good deal of fat in a cast iron pan on the grill. You’ll still get that great grill flavor, but you control the flame, so you’ll have zero flare-up and the pan gives the meat a great sear.
Grill the first side one minute to 90 seconds longer than the second side to have evenly cooked meat.
Buy an instant-read thermometer. A $5 thermometer can save a $100 piece of meat by telling you the internal temperature so you don’t over or under cook it.
Leave it alone! Don’t press or poke the meat when cooking, and try to flip it only one time, unless the recipe says otherwise.
Keep a grill log.Jot down type of meat, thickness, what works (or didn’t) and include comments on the final result. Then, next time, you won’t have to try to remember, plus you’re constantly improving your grilling methods.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you’ve never cooked fruit or pizza on the grill, try it. Make your own barbeque sauce; do something different. Toss an herb, like a sprig of rosemary, onto the grill and use it as a garnish for the finished meat.
Cook Bacon Like A Pro
OK, so you can bring home the bacon, but do you really know how to cook it? Choose one of the following foolproof methods to cook perfect slices of bacon. Then, all you have to do is whip up some scrambled eggs, toast a couple slices of bread and you’ve got a quick, protein-rich, tasty meal for any time of day.
In the frying pan:
Start with a cold pan and bacon cold from the fridge to reduce splattering. Cook slowly over medium to medium-high heat. Turn often so it doesn’t burn and to reduce shrinkage (never a good thing!). Pour off fat as it accumulates in the pan. Prick slices with fork to keep them from curling up. Drain cooked bacon on a layer of paper towels.
In the microwave:
Skip the high-tech microwave bacon cookers, and just use a microwave-safe plate large enough to hold bacon in a single layer. First, place a paper towel on the plate, and then cover with a single layer of bacon slices. Cover with a second paper towel and cook on high. Six slices will take four to five minutes, but you’ll want to check doneness after the first couple minutes. Once it’s done to your satisfaction, remove from microwave and let rest a few minutes so it can “crisp up” (and so you don’t burn your mouth).
In the oven:
Preheat your oven to 400°F. Lay slices of bacon on a rack inside a baking sheet. This method results in crisp bacon that isn’t curled up. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on how done you like it.
Raise Your Glass
There are always exceptions, but most guys like beer, and some establishments have capitalized on this fact.
Infinite Ale Works opened March 15 on South Magnolia in downtown Ocala, offering a haven for craft beer lovers. With 40 craft beers on tap, it’s a great spot to try something new and socialize. For recommendations, you can trust the waitstaff, as Infinite Ale Works has certified beer servers, which means they know their stuff.
“Some are from around Florida, some are rare beers that are very limited, and we have a lot from Belgium that you can’t find anywhere else,” says Tom McDonald, manager and co-owner, who first got into craft beer when he opened Pi on Broadway in 2009.
“Sampler” sizes are available so you can try different beers and educate yourself as to what you like. You can even pick up a “growler,” a sealed draft beer to go, if you want something out of the ordinary for that barbecue or friend’s cookout.
“These are specialty hard-to-find beers,” explains McDonald, adding that the establishment, which is open every evening except Sundays, begins brewing its own beer this month.
“There are so many different facets to craft beers, and part of the appeal is that there are a whole lot of beers in one place that people can try,” says Adam Fisher, general manager of World of Beer in The Villages, which opened last September and is open seven days a week, serving lunch and dinner and lots of beer.
World of Beer debuted in 2007 and already has 55 stores in Florida and across the country.
“We have a really knowledgeable staff, and they can recommend beers, which gives the customer an opportunity to try beers from around the world and expand their view of what beer can taste like, as opposed to their perception of beer,” adds Fisher. “Lunch time, especially during the week, is a great time to come in. That’s when you can get the most one-on-one time with your server. Aside from traditional beers, we have alcoholic ciders, wine and other craft cocktails, as well.”
World of Beer also offers a full food menu (check out the giant German pretzel), live music and entertainment, making it a fun and friendly destination.
Find Out More
infinitealeworks.com / facebook.com/InfiniteAleWorks / wobusa.com / facebook.com/wobthevillages
Top 10 Action Movies Of All Time
We won’t promise intellectual stimulation, but if you’re looking for action-packed excitement, you’ll find it in the following:
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Shoot ‘Em Up
Drunken Master 2
And if you’re looking for guy movies that have won Oscars, here are the top 10:
The Bridge on the River Kwai