Today is a Tuesday, so it seemed fitting that I ruminate on tough guys. I deliberated waiting till Thursday and hammering this one out with Thor, but he’s a very popular fellow. Instead I settled on a less well-known tough guy to work with, but still worthy of getting his own day. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, Tuesday was named for Tiw. The Greeks had Ares and the Norse had Tiw. Tiw was a Norse god of war, but he wasn't an ass about it like some. In fact, the unyielding nobility that has served as Tiw’s claim to fame only serves to bear him out as a tough guy.
You see, way back when in Asgard, the gods tried to live together in a state of mutual cooperativeness. To foster peace and harmony among them, these warrior gods had made a deal not to kill off each others’ children. Unfortunately, this later came to include the children of Odin’s adopted son Loki. Loki had proven himself to be troublesome enough over the years, but wow did he ever have some weird kids. I always thought Hera should’ve given up on popping out little ones, but Loki definitely should’ve taken a vow of abstinence. His offspring weren’t just bizarre, they were prophesied to be key players in Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods. No pressure.
Loki’s daughter, Hela, was cold and grim and stood nine feet tall. They put her in as top dog of Nifelheim. Cold and gloomy, meet cold and gloomy. This place had everything it needed to give Hades a run. Another kid was the Midgard serpent, encircling all of Earth and lying in wait for the end of things. Last was Fenris, a gargantuan wolf who would bite the moon in half during the final clash between good and evil.
Fenris was of such staggering strength that his power worried the other Asgardians, but that pesky pact they’d made forced them to get creative. So they attempted to chain mighty Fenris…many times. Boisterous competitions being what they were in Asgard, Fenris showing off his power to shatter every chain and binding brought to test him became a great game, albeit a frustrating one for those who would have the massive wolf under control.
It was time to get serious. That meant putting the dwarves to work on the problem. Brokk and Eitri had become known as masters of creating wondrous things (these were the guys who’d made Thor’s hammer Mjolnir and Odin’s favorite magical items, after all), so it’s amazing that they hadn’t consulted them sooner. Thinking out of the box, the clever dwarves created a fine golden cord worthy of Wonder Woman herself. This creation was made of immaterial things that could not be broken, whispers and ideas whose essences dwarf magic was able to combine into what they hoped would be a single unbreakable object even Fenris couldn’t break.
The next gathering of the “Let’s Bone the Wolf” club had a different feel to it. Even though they tried to play it cool, let’s face it, a lot of gods are better at arrogance than they are at keeping a good poker face. No surprise then that Fenris got to feeling a little suspicious about the latest game of “Bet you a mead you can’t break this.” To put Fenris at ease, like a sucker, the closest thing he had to a friend agreed to let the wolf hold his hand in his mouth as collateral. Noble Tiw (thought I’d forgotten about him, huh?) calmly allowed Fenris’ teeth to take their hold. When the golden cord was fastened around Fenris’ neck and the free end anchored to a mountain, the test began. Together they all learned that those little dwarves were some kind of mad geniuses. Fenris could not break the cord and the gods wouldn’t release him, so Tiw lost his hand.
Now, did the one-handed war god complain and moan about his loss? Did he curse Fenris or the other Asgardians who allowed him to lose his hand without even an attempt at negotiation? No, he did not. Why not? Tough guy.
Tough guys do what needs doing.
Tough guys don’t make excuses even when failure occurs.
Tough guys persevere, taking the extra steps, going further than those who don’t know what it means to be a tough guy.
Tough guys don’t cry over physical pain. Women may have said, for a little while, that they liked men who cry, but I think they’ve largely gotten over that. What they came to realize was that they sort of liked “sensitive” men who could share their feelings. They seem to have largely tired of “sensitive” men, though. They cry too much. Plus, the communication that’s involved in sharing feelings is cumbersome. Men and women communicate differently. We say the same things differently from each other and we have different body languages. Also, men talk less. And, like it or not, there are different expectations for men than for women. Women can cry over physical pain without having it held against them. Men can “open up” about their feelings, but tough guys don’t do things by half-measures so don’t expect much. To a tough guy, “opening up” for a “good cry” doesn’t accomplish anything worthwhile. He doesn’t understand it so he isn’t likely to do it unless someone’s died or “Old Yeller” is playing.
There's more to the job than just having a Y chromosome. If you want to be a tough guy, you've got a lot of work to do and none of it involves whining. Guys who cry over physical pain better not have hit puberty yet because such an activity will interfere with being perceived as a man. It will certainly remove any perception of being a tough guy. John McLain didn’t cry as he limped along with glass in his foot and neither should any other tough guy. Whether it’s a bullet in the leg or cutting off his own arm, the tough guy remains composed. He is a role model and anything less is unacceptable.
Men, be warned: cry in front of your partner over physical pain and your status will be downgraded. You may even be replaced. No joke. Suck it up and walk it off.
If you want to be a tough guy, step up to your responsibilities. That may mean extra hours at work, extra jobs, doing more around the house…Whatever it takes, it’s going to mean doing more even when no one else understands it.
If you’re going to be a tough guy, you’ll see where you’re needed. You’ll look for opportunities and you’ll get things done.