I, like most men, fancy myself a manly man.

I, like most men, fancy myself a manly man.


"My handiness knows no bounds!" I congratulate myself as I fashion a crude dog house, using only my wits and a few thousand dollars worth of power tools.


"This beast is my minion, and I, its master," says my inner-monologue as I stroke the hound on my lap.


At about 5:30 a.m. Friday, the power went out. I knew it went out because my iPhone buzzed in protest when its charger went dark. That small device, which connects my hand to all human knowledge through thin air, was now running on battery power. I was literally only eight hours away from being without high definition streaming video of my favorite shows.


"Great," I thought to myself, "now I’ll have to reset the clocks."


With my electric heating system rendered a useless hunk of metal in the attic, a funny thing started to happen over the next few hours; the house got cold. Like, ghost of Jacob Marley cold.


"No problem," I reasoned. "I’ll just build a fire."


I set about readying myself for the several minutes I would have to spend outdoors. Layers of socks. A balaclava fit for a kidnapper with hypothermia. A coat that could double as a sleeping bag. Water-tight boots probably rated for a Category 5 hurricane.


Looking like someone dressed to train police attack dogs, I gathered what I could find in the yard and returned to the house.


As I sat at my fireplace attempting to light three ice-covered logs, a few scraps of two-by-fours and the remnant of a cardboard box that had recently delivered a new thermostat (the irony was not lost), it hit me: Whatever measuring stick we use to gauge manliness these days is infinitely shorter than the same stick two generations ago, which itself was significantly shorter than the measuring stick of our forefathers.


We are pansies compared to the men and women who settled the West, fought a couple World Wars, and could certainly start a fire without a lighter and 10 back issues of "The Family Handyman" magazine.


As my relative powerlessness — figuratively and literally — sank in, I looked over at the dog, my minion, happily chewing on my shoe.



Happy birthday Sunday to: Katlyn Stirling, Lyndon Trotter, Jean Hagy, Glenna Perrin, Marie Pruitt, Izzy Aliman, Robert Adams, Marcus Jackson, Naysia Taylor and Gabriel Dulap of Sherman; Levi Chaney of Dallas; Ray Hinton of Grandview, Mo.; Daryl Jay Galbot of Shawnee, Okla.; King Durwood White of Spring, Texas; Michael Wayne Byrd of Denison; Danny Shugart of Yantis, Texas; Nancy Coffman of Whitesboro; Betty Little and Brad Slate of Pottsboro; and Mandy Orr of Pilot Point.