Tag Archives: Guys

Why ‘Stranger Things’ Is the Perfect Show for Middle-Age Guys

I just finished the second season of “Stranger Things” and if ever there was a perfect streaming series for middle-age guys, I don’t know what is.

For the uninitiated, “Stranger Things” is a bit of “The X-Files” meets “Stand By Me,” the coming of age movie based on the short story by Stephen King of a group of boys on an adventure to see a dead body.

For those repulsed by the premise of that plot and who wonder how boys could unite behind such a “mission,” well, I would just offer these two thoughts: You never were a boy and/or you don’t have sons.

Without giving away key plot points, “Stranger Things” tells the story of a band of preteen boys who fall into a series of supernatural adventures.

My wife recently summed up the central premise of the smash series this way: It’s boys doing stupid things.

To which I responded: Yeah! Isn’t it great?!

For guys of a certain age (read: in their 50s), this show hits all of the right buttons.

It features boys on bikes, using walkie-talkies, playing dorky games and trying find their way through school while fending off bullies and the stray supernatural occurrence.

It captures the gangly awkwardness of preteen boys and their sense of camaraderie and loyalty, even when it is punctuated with swearing at each other.

The show absolutely nails the preteen boy angst of trying to figure out girls: We don’t like them, right? Oh wait, maybe we do? But if we do, where does that leave our friendship with each other?

And then, of course, there is the whole ‘80s vibe, which no other show apart from maybe “The Americans” captures as well.

Vintage video arcade games? Check.

Gas-guzzling cars built like Abrams tanks? Check.

Sound track of music we grew up with? Check.

My wife could only shake her head at some of the reckless and bizarre situations the boys in the show get themselves into and ponder how realistic some of those moments were.

Um…let me just suggest that by my real-life standards, they were spot-on.

I mean, let me offer these true examples of acts of stupidity I engaged in with my friends:

* Building squirrel traps by digging holes in the ground, lining them with thorns from bushes and covering the holes with grass.

* Taking an air gun, squishing the muzzle into the ground to fill it with dirt and then firing the dirt balls at cars as they entered a parking garage. This was not the original intent of the rifle, which when you cocked it and pulled the trigger, made a popping noise but somehow we figured out an “adaptive use.”

* Posing my friends to appear as drug dealers or a suicidal addict prepared to jump out a third-floor window so I could create a photo essay.

Yeah, I would say that by comparison to some of my childhood adventures, the cast of the hit Netflix series might have to try harder to top some of my stranger things.

‘My Own Particular Aesthetic’

​With clarity and conciseness, my older son coined a slogan that epitomizes the don’t-give-a-crap attitude that makes guys great.

I am convinced his insight belongs on coffee mugs, T-shirts and the business cards of men everywhere.

Here is the backstory: No. 1 son broke the toilet seat in the downstairs bathroom and set about replacing it. The toilet, though, has an odd shape. It is mostly oval but with a tapered front, making an off-the-shelf replacement pretty much impossible to find.

The last one my wife ordered from Amazon.

Undeterred, Mike went to Wal-Mart and got a replacement seat, only it does not fit properly.

The lip of the cover overhangs the bowl by at least half an inch, the effect of which is almost comedic. It is a bit like a toddler wearing his dad’s shoes.

When my wife confronted Mike about the misaligned replacement, Mike (who is 23) came back with: “I have my own particular aesthetic.”

​​I am copyrighting that because Mike crystallized the guy ethic toward getting things done, sometimes with less than perfect results.

It encompasses a blend of this-is-all-the-craps-I-give (which is to say zero), an attitude of “Hey, it’s fixed, isn’t it?” and I-am-comfortable-doing-things-my-own-way-even-if-it-is-unconventional.

Take for instance my beloved childhood friend John.

John (aka MacGyver) is a tinkerer who can jury-rig solutions that would make Rube Goldberg envious.

The one time I laughed so hard I actually clutched my sides and fell to the pavement came when John, myself and our buddy Pedro were walking along Westchester Avenue in the Bronx.

Pedro had plastic frame glasses that were perpetually breaking, with the lens coming loose or popping out.

John’s solution?

He had the cap of a Bic pen he tried to melt with a lighter, hoping the plastic would fall into place and forge the frames. The problem was Pedro had to hold the frames as John carried out the repairs.

The results were about what you would expect:

Melting plastic falling on Pedro’s hands and fingers, Pedro screaming and cursing at John, who insisted on trying again, and me on my knees, laughing so hard that the only thing that drowned out the commotion we were making was the subway on the El above us.

This attitude of why-strive-for-perfection-when-you-can-achieve-practicality abounds.

Me, for instance, I don’t fret about making hospital corners when I make the bed. So long as the sheets don’t come loose, I’m good.

And my friend Rich wrote: “Repaired my son’s truck bumper with duct tape, plastic bottle, broken pieces of the bumper and some epoxy glue. Lasted about a year.”

This approach goes back to prehistoric times: Consider those crude cave drawings of woolly mammoths.

Clearly a guy’s handiwork.

I am certain he was in a rush to finish the drawings so he could spend more time inventing fire. And duct tape.

MacGyver and Other Tales of Improvised Engineering


A New Feature: ‘Ask Us Men’!

Introducing a new feature at About Men Radio we call “Ask Us Men.”

The concept is simple and is offered especially as a service to our female listeners and readers:

What do you want explained about inexplicable guy behavior? What questions have you always had but were too afraid to ask? What things about what we do and how we do them just leaves you mystified?

We invite you to raise any topic — no matter how far-ranging or embarrassing.

Why we like porn? Bring it.

Why we don’t open up much emotionally? Sure thing.

Why we are genetically incapable of asking for directions? HEY! Wait a minute! Now that’s crossing a line…!

Anyway, send us your questions, comments and unwanted Halloween candy to amr@aboutmenshow.com or post your questions on our Facebook page.

Enlightenment is only a few keystrokes away!

Like us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AboutMenRadio and follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/aboutmenradio

Have a question or a comment? Write us at amr@aboutmenshow.com