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I don’t know why, but I bring out the man in men.

A very manly Texas rancher once told me “Josh, you’re more man than I’ll ever be.” Calling me “more man” was his play on the word “Mormon.” I’d never heard of that before he said it. Being told I was more-man than a Baptist Texan made me laugh. He was a pretty clever guy.

But actually, when I say I bring out the man in men, I don’t exactly mean I make men more manly (though it’s totally true).

What I mean is, well, let’s take a step back for a sec. For one, the word “man” has a lot of meanings. I’m not talking about the man that deals with manhood or manliness or masculinity or mankind. Instead, I’m referring to the more informal meanings of “man.”

First, there’s “man” in the exclamation sense, like:

“Man! That’s amazing!” & “Man-oh-man!”

Lastly, we have “man” in the fraternal/buddy sense, like:

“Totally, man.” & “You alright, man?”

The exclamation sense and fraternal sense are the two principal informal/casual uses of the word “man.”

Now here’s where I’m going with this. Some men don’t say the word “man” informally or casually – at all –

There are some men who NEVER say it informally. Never! EXCEPT WHEN THEY ARE AROUND ME.

I’m sure you know guys who never say, “what’s up, man?” Or, “Man! Your blog is amazing!”

There is one quick and easy identifier of these types: These are the same men who close their emails with “Best regards” and “Cheers!” You wouldn’t expect a man who uses language like that in email to throw around the word “man” in informal conversation or otherwise. But when these men are around me, they say “man” a lot.

It’s the oddest thing.

It’s only odd because I have observed that these men become extremely unsettled at what is happening to them.

I can see it in their eyes as they say, “Josh, man, how are you doing, man?”

For some reason, when they are around me, they begin to create new, unnatural sentence configurations of “man.”

“Man! I can’t believe, man, how much, man, [unintelligble] man, man-man,an,ana,manamna\(dfnammann~maa^…” [based on actual events]

It’s like a virus, attacking their speech to the point that their words begin to lose all meaning. Their language becomes a mess of mans.

During these conversations, I can see in their eyes a simmering panic. It’s hard to identify at first but I’ve seen it so many times now I’m used to “the ‘man’ look.” It becomes clear they are well outside their comfort zone. Most of the time they don’t realize what’s happening to them. Some of the time they do. In any case, I always feel for them, although I’ve become more numb to it lately. There’s really nothing I can do. Whatever it is that comes over them causing them to say the word “man” is absolutely out of my control.

As I’ve said, I don’t know why, but I bring out the “man” in men.

While I do casually use “man” in conversation, I don’t use it regularly.

I could see a situation in conversation with these men where I, like a mentor, used the word “man” many, many, many times. Doing that, one can assume, would lead men to respond in like manner to me.

But I promise you, women and men, I don’t use man all that much. I do use it sometimes. After all, I am human. I’m not some superhuman superman. I’m more like a freshman specimen in the school of life. I’m no spokesman or statesman with the acumen to provide any sort of omen, like foretelling an amen to my saying “man.”

And don’t think from the paragraph above that I’m losing my mind: I’m no manic attempting to manufacture this “man” problem. I’m not crazy.

You could call me “mental” as much as you could claim a manhunt for a mannequin from a Manhattan manor whose manipulated manslaughter charge lies on a mantel in a manila envelope emitting the faint yet menacingly potent scent of manure.

You could call me maniacal as much as you could claim a mansion owner with a manscaped abdomen is in a pool of mangoes munching menthol-mandarin flavored Mentos while working on a manuscript for a manual called “Manhandled Manatees with Meningitis” during a manicure.

Point is, I’m trying to make this happen as much as I am maneuvering a mandate to play the mandolin in Manila, which I can assure you, is as likely as me going menstrual or menopausal – it’s simply not on the menu.

Anyway, don’t worry. Whatever this is, I can manage.

But this strange phenomena has led me to wonder why. Why do so many men say “man” around me?

Maybe they say “man” around me because my blog is called “Thoughts on God and man.”

Maybe they say “man” around me because I bring out more fully their inner-man.

Maybe they say “man” around me because I am so manly they can’t help themselves.

Maybe this is what it means to be “a real man’s man.”

Maybe I am a real man’s man.

A man who brings out the man in men.