‘Cause I’ve got a golden ticket – Part II

Now that the show is over, I feel I can share this with all of you who missed it. The following is the piece I wrote and was honored with performing in The MENding Monologues this year.

My mother, and Jakob, were in the audience.


Note: Each time you see (My sons face) typed out, during the show those lines were read by different cast members – except the last one. That was me.

Six Words or Less by James M McCullock

Let me ask you a question, and don’t answer out loud. Just think it. What does it mean to be a man? Now, I am sure you immediately thought of something.  Perhaps some of you have the good fortune of being able to think in terms of one word answers. Strong. Reliable. Trustworthy. Sexy. Muscular. Lunch. I am not so lucky. I think in long sweeping sentences. More often than not, verbose metaphors.  Usually using some random but relatable situation, I am able to describe something in a way that almost 99.9% of the population can understand, and all by using the wonderful power of metaphor.

However; here I am being asked to describe what it means to be a man in six words or less. Six words or less. What the …? When I read that, my mind went to immediate implode. And it just kept imploding and rebuilding, imploding and rebuilding.

Okay, let me step back a second and explain. When we were first contacted about being in the cast for the MENding Monologues, our director asked the men to answer this question: What does it mean to be a man? The catch was; our answer had to be six words or less.  I received this at 6:45 in the morning as I was getting ready to go to my math class. All could think was, “Six words or less?” “Six words or less?”

Now, our director is one of the most remarkable people you could ever meet. Powerful would be an excellent description. So, I was immediately intimidated. My initial reaction was, “What answer can I give that is going to impress her?” She loves all these well spoken and fiery Slam Poets. She reads articles written by some of the brightest minds in the world. She has one of the brightest minds I have ever met. And the kicker, and worst hurdle of all, she listens to good music. How in the hell am I supposed to compete with that?

(My sons face)

So I drive to school and the entire time I am thinking of all the possibly clever things I can say. If I could use cinematic tools to help me illustrate; you would see an old green chalkboard being written on and erased over and over and over again, eventually ending with the classic shot of the chalk breaking against the board and the clenched fist going , “Ungh!”

I feel it is important to add – I warned you, I love metaphor – I was stuck in pretty bad morning traffic.

So, I put on music…

(My sons face)

…hoping it would inspire me. Maybe some lyrics will give me an idea, or a particular melody. First problem I encountered, what do I listen too? Dylan? The Beatles? The Shins? Radiohead? Elton John?Mona Lisa’s and Mad Hatters!“Until you see, this trashcan dream come true. Stand at the edge while people run you through, and I thank the lord there’s people out there like you. I thank the lord there’s people out there like you.”Dammit!

Maybe when I get home I will Google the phrase, “What does it mean to be a man?” Yes, I considered cheating. This was serious shit, people.

(My sons face)

Math class was a pointless venture. I did not focus on a single thing, and we were working with exponents and square roots. I am not saying that to make the story clever, I swear to you that is what we were going over that day and math and I have never really gotten along – so it was kind of important I pay attention.

(My sons face)

Walking to my car after class; head down, earphones in, iPod playing Orchard by The Honey Trees. I am ashamed of myself. I can’t answer the question. I am a forty year old single father and I can’t answer the question, “What makes a man?” in six words or less. So much for being clever, huh?

(My sons face)

I get home and I Google, “What does it mean to be a man?”  First site at the top is a blog. This is word for word what I read on the blog, I did not write it. It was written by a man by the name of Jason Morgan.

Just to cover my ass further, I am going to go ahead and use the phrase,

And, I quote:

“Much like a chimera, being a man can be defined in so many different ways. Simplistically, being a man has to do with genetics. Merely having XY chromosomes will not yield what most people would externally recognize as a man…”

Moving on.

The next site was a page titled Steve Pavlina dot com. The tag line for the site is: Personal Development for smart people.

Moving on.

(My sons face)

I stopped. I realized that the reason I was unable to answer the question was because I wasn’t trying to answer the question. I was focused on all the wrong things.

The second night in as we all sat in a room together, men and women, sharing our reasons for wanting to be part of this project – I stood up with tears in my eyes and said I was doing it primarily to be an example to my son. (He turned twelve this March, thanks for asking) I do want, with all of my heart, to stop violence against women. Against everyone, really. In my little corner of the world, and considering the things I have a direct effect on every single day – the most profound and beautiful example of progress in that arena is my amazing little boy. If I can educate him, and imbue him with a strong self- respect and love then the rest is easy. If he can truly appreciate who he is as a wonderful soul on this Earth then he will never have cause to harm anyone, ever. With that kind of power, he will then go on to inspire and educate those young men who will become his friends. And the web begins to spread. An entire generation of men who from the earliest stages of their sexual development are implanted with the idea that rape and violence is wrong. Not bad, right?

I realize this is romantic of me. To think is terms of whole generations. But, why not? We’re here. Let’s enjoy that possibility, because it is a possibility.

(My sons face)

So, to come full circle. “What does it mean to be a man?” in six words or less.

Leading by example, with love. (pizza)


About "Mike"

"We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made of us." - Jean-Paul Sartre "Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life." - Herbert Otto "Heed the still small voice that so seldom leads us wrong, and never into folly." - Marquise du Deffand "Your real influence is measured by your treatment of yourself." - A. Bronson Alcott "Energy and persistence conquer all things." - Benjamin Franklin "If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves." - Thomas Edison "A man who finds no satisfaction in himself will seek for it in vain elsewhere." - La Rochefoucauld
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One Response to ‘Cause I’ve got a golden ticket – Part II

  1. Sky Masterson says:

    That is it, buddy. Bravo! Lead by example is sometimes all we can do when for example, your son hasn’t spoken to you in 3 years. I found myself saying this to one of the young actors in the show I was just in, that caused me to miss yours, when he was telling me about the tension in his dressing room, and some of the shenanigans going on that I was totally unaware of… Lead by example, avoid toxicity (pizza).


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