Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Animal Love

Dr. Awesome,

When is it ok for a man to love animals? I work next to a guy who has a calendar featuring pictures of kittens playing amidst balls of yarn, and this wigs me out a little bit. Am I crazy, or is this kind of animal love unhealthy?

Brandon, Huntsville, AL


You aren't crazy...men are not supposed to love kittens. At best they may mildly approve of them because their wife or girlfriend has one. The most manly response to cats is somewhere between indifference and animosity. Having a kitty cat calendar is way, way out of bounds.

Your question is a little more general though. There are tons of folks out there, men and women, who have an excessive appreciation of many different kinds of animals. How do you know if your appreciation is excessive? Go look around your room or house, and if you see pictures of this species frolicking in a country meadow-themed art piece, then that is excessive. Look in your closet, and if you have this animal on any of your shirts or sweaters or something, that is excessive. You all know what I'm talking about...I think all of us went to school with someone who was widely known as "the horse girl," for example. My next door neighbor was one such horse girl, as was another girl in elementary and middle school. Their bedrooms were all horsed-out, and they had horse trapper-keepers and horsey pants. Appreciation of horses at this level is weird, and I think that extends beyond horses to any animal. I think all of us also went to school with somebody who really liked bugs and insects, and that's even weirder. Perhaps you were the bug boy yourself. Regardless, if you as a male or female have artwork or clothing predominantly and excessively featuring horses, kittens, puppies, dolphins, elephants, squirrels, cattle, pigs, chickens, kangaroos, dinosaurs, pandas, camels, whooping cranes, spiders, penguins, or really any animal found on Noah's Ark, then you are weird.

I can think of two possible exceptions to this rule. The first is for team affiliations...in that case, it is acceptable to have artwork and clothing featuring tigers, eagles, bulldogs, thundering herds, etc. The second exception is for hunting/fishing related animal clothing and art, and that is only acceptable because gun violence is usually involved. More often than not, guns are cool.

Ok, so we've established that obsession with any animal that leads to questionable clothing and decorating decisions is not permitted. I do put some allowance for little kids to be obsessed with an animal, because they don't know any better, and as parents you just have to educate them and hope they'll grow out of it. My next door neighbor growing up never grew out of being horse woman, and she's leveraged her horsitude into a horsey career as a Head Stable Lady. Good for her, I'm glad she's happy, though she kind of looks like a horse now (another unfortunate side effect of excessive animal affection...remember how the guy who liked bugs also kind of looked like one?). But all that notwithstanding, parents should probably only tolerate animal obsession for so long before they go into their kids bedroom and rip down the kitten posters. Otherwise these kids will grow up thinking kitty calendars are ok, which will lead to them putting said calendars in their cubicles, which will lead to them being belittled on internet man blogs.
Bottom line, don't be obsessed with one species of animal.

This leads to the very first part of your question...men, it is unacceptable for you to love animals that aren't a) manly dogs or b) sports-themed or c) animals you shoot at or d) animals that can kill you. Think about it, if you go to a woman's office or a woman's house and see kitty pictures, you think she might be a little kitty crazy but not excessively weird. And if you go to a man's house or office and see a picture of a black lab carrying a bird in its mouth, that's cool. But what if you go to your buddy's house and you see pictures of anything that could be described as cute or cuddly? Immediately warning sirens should be going off and you're thinking "yikes, there are bunny rabbits on the wall, run!" So please, men, don't be that guy. Unless your wife is making you, don't be a cute and cuddly animal guy. And even if your wife is making you, don't flaunt it with pictures or even by bringing it up in conversation. It makes the rest of us uncomfortable.

So Brandon, it's easy to see that, through poor parenting, your coworker has become has pansified kitten-loving tool box. If you have a blunt object handy, now would be a good time to go over there and beat him mercilessly. Or, if you aren't into going to jail for assault and battery, at least resolve to yourself that you won't let your boys (or girls) grow up to have an bizarro obsession with animals.

Dr. Awesome.


David June 18, 2008 at 12:34 AM  

I just discovered your awesome blog through the Manival and I have to tell you that you have pretty much the best website ever. I was gonna go to bed but I've been shaking with laughter as Dr. Awesome dispenses his awesomeness on our collective heads. I'll be up till the wee hours of the morning learning how to be truly awesome. I do have a request: can you enable the little email subscription feature in Feedburner? I would dearly love to receive these manswers in my email inbox so I am sure never to miss a one.

dbme June 22, 2008 at 1:20 PM  

Also just discovered you through AoM. This is an awesome post.

I've personally found that the best way to show your affection toward your pets is to threaten them with the prospect of being speared or cooked in an Asian dish.

It makes a nice pat on the head seem super affectionate and your wife will know you love it without you ever having to say it.

The one exception to all of this of course, is when your dog goes missing. I recently blogged about my experience with losing my dog. After you find your lost dog it's okay to let her lick your face. And for you to tell her you, ehem, l*ve her ;)

John B. June 23, 2008 at 11:05 AM  

Pictures of horses are OK, as long as they involve thoroughbred racing or betting on racing.

cordieb September 18, 2008 at 5:28 PM  

Cool! LOL! From a woman's point of view, if I visited a man who had pictures and decorations of kitty cats, it would be a real, real turn off.

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