the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Strong, Silent Type


Cover Your Mouth wrote this comment on my last post after I worried that my post was being taken too seriously:

Listen Neil, if it makes you feel any better, I don’t give a shit about your financial stability or whether or not you’re “getting what you deserve from your marriage.” I come to this site everyday because your posts make me laugh. As long as you’ve got the 6 bucks a month it takes to keep a blog going and your relationship with Sophia continues to provide humorous post material, then I’m happy. I hope my callousness has lifted your spirits.

Why did I actually enjoy this comment?  Why am I actually more comfortable with a comment like this than a caring one?

Men usually write comments like that.   I usually write comments like that. 

MY father was not a strong man physically.  I never saw him get into a fight.  He wore Woody Allen type glasses, but you couldn’t pay him to actually watch a Woody Allen movie.  He loved movies about men.  Real men.  John Wayne.  Clint Eastwood in his spaghetti westerns.  James Bond.  Men who never complained, but always got things accomplished.  In reality, he was nothing like these characters at all, but I think he felt like he was the man in charge and the moral compass of everyone.  He never complained about his health or let anyone pick up a bill.  That’s what Gary Cooper would have done.  He would go bonkers to learn that when I had dinner with Sarah last week — SHE picked up the check.   Now that’s a shonda.  (Yiddish: disgrace)

Sophia’s step-father, Vartan, is an elderly man.   He walks with a cane.  He has trouble lifting one of his arms.  He never lets his wife carry the grocery bag.   Even I need to fight with him to do something for him.   It would hurt his pride to be seen by others as needing anything.

Every day I watch All My Children, along with Sophia, and countless other viewers.  Every man on that show is like a rock, always there to rescue Erica or Kendall or Babe from some traumatic event or emotional breakdown.  The man’s main role in life seems to be “a rock” for their woman.

I don’t consider myself a stereotypical male.   I love Broadway musicals.  I’m more than happy to let Sophia use all the tools in the house.  I do not touch a hammer or a nail.  I’ve never opened the hood of my car without the presence of the guy from AAA.  But during the last two posts, I heard my male ego scolding me: 

Neil’s Male Ego:  “Why are you setting yourself up on your blog for people to care?  And women, especially.  You don’t want anyone to worry about you.  That’s unmanly.  A man doesn’t take advice.  A man manages on his own.  A man takes care of his own marriage.  His own career.  He doesn’t ask for help or show any concern.   Does Clint Eastwood ask for help?”

Neil:  “You got a point there.  Like a quarterback.  He can’t have any doubt.  Win one for the Gipper!”

Neil’s Male Ego:  That’s right.  Just laugh away everything.  You spend way too much time with the girls.  Stop reading those knitting blogs and those poetry blogs.  Join a fantasy football league.  You need more male readers.  They write the comments you are comfortable with — the sarcastic, uncaring ones, you know — like the ones you write.   Write less about Sophia and more about your “dinner date” with Sarah of “The Delicious Life.”  So, why exactly is her life so delicious?” 

Neil’s Penis jumps up in protest.

Neil’s Penis:  “F**k your male ego, Neilochka.  Don’t listen to him.  You just keep on doing what you’re doing.  Anything that gets their panties off.”

Neil:  “But, Penis, I thought women like the strong, silent, manly type.”

Neil’s Male Ego:  “You see.  You’re doing it again.  You’re setting yourself up for female bloggers to say, “Oh, Neil, that’s not true!  We love sensitive men like you.  We are modern women.  We don’t like those boring manly types. We feel bad for you…”

Neil’s Penis:  “Good, Neilochka!  Let them say that.  Maybe one of them will finally f**k you!”

Neil:  “That’s not why I’m blogging, Penis.  I just don’t want readers to lose their respect for me.  I don’t want to appear needy!”

Neil’s Male Ego:  “That’s right, Neil.  Be a man.  Be strong.  Remember the Alamo!”

Neil’s Penis:  “Your male ego is so old school it ain’t even funny.  He’s never going to get you f**king again.  Listen to me!  Be a puppy dog if it will work!  Women like vulnerable.”

Neil’s Male Ego:  “Shut your mouth, Penis. No woman wants a man who makes LESS than she does…”

Neil’s Penis:  “Bite me!  He’s an “artist.”  Let her pay the bills while he does the shagging…”

Neil:  “Help!  Someone help!”

Arthur Kramer, Neil’s father, comes down from heaven.

Neil:  “Dad?!”

Arthur Kramer:  “What is it, Neil?  I’m in the middle of watching “The Guns of Navarone” on DVD.”

Neil:  “I’m having an internal conflict over being a man.  I need you… as my father… and as my main male role model.  Can you help me?”

Arthur Kramer:  “Well, I’ll tell you one important thing.”

Neil:  “Please do, Dad.”

Arthur Kramer:   “And I want you to forever remember these words of wisdom that are coming from the afterlife itself –”

Neil:  “Yes…”

Arthur Kramer:  “No man lets a cute food blogger pay her own restaurant bill!  And pay for you too?  What a shonda!”

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:  Heaven or Hell


  1. Pearl

    See, Neil…. Your father still cares — even in heaven. He must be tired of defending your actions to others up there, he figured he had to come down and tell you himself where you screwed up.
    Now get out there on the stage of life and be the buckaroo you were meant to be!
    G’night from Toronto…

  2. Roberta

    Penis got mouths?

  3. Felicity

    Neil. My soon-to-be-ex husband (#2) is a blue-collar employee AND “sensitive.” You know what? I can’t stand catering to his neediness.
    The Man? (that would be the new one) is about 40 lbs lighter than present husband and a white-collar guy and you know what? He’s all flippin man. He’s not quite silent but he is strong and I feel safe with him and…
    Just saying. To disprove your theory about what women want. I have discovered…I def don’t want a sensitive guy.

  4. Scarlet

    One of the first times I read a more serious post by you, I thought you were being sarcastic. Maybe you were, but the comments were all really heartfelt so then I didn’t want to put my own, funny comment and appear callous.

  5. Becky

    I’m really glad I’m not the only one with interesting internal dialog.

    As to the question “what do women want?” Same as you men. We want it all, of course. Someone who will take turns being senstivie and being The Rock. Someone who will keep us safe and whom we can rescue too. Just like I hear y’all want someone you can take care of but who isn’t “needy.”

  6. Leah

    Oh Neil…I have to admit that you’re right, but so is your penis. I mean, I’m dating a “strong silent type” and most of my guy friends are the “sensitive male type”. And in general I find the sensitive guy thing something I wouldn’t want to date, but am happy to have around to talk to. BUT (and that is a big but) I also want my strong silent type to be a big softie. (And he is.)

    In those spaghetti westerns, usually the Gary Cooper type was fighting for the honor of some woman…or was going home later to his lady so that he could find respite (yes, I used that word in a sentence) and love.

    Wait a second…did I just REALLY write all that drivel in your blog comments? Fuck it…just go watch fantasy football and some porn man!! (As long as you keep dancing with the broom handle too!)

  7. Dagny

    Ummm. Anyone who writes about their lack of a sex life as much as you do is needy. And I know that I don’t tolerate needy.


    Have you ever seen that movie “Sybil”? The multiple personalities thing?

  9. paperback writer

    You’ve tapped into my husband’s psyche haven’t you?

  10. Mist 1

    Your penis talks too much.

  11. Rhea

    I love men who are sensitive and intelligent and kind and they don’t need to earn a lot of money. Of course, I don’t date men. Friends of mine who are involved with men either want men to be politically progressive, sensitive nurturing, good parents kind of guys, and others want the guy to be in charge. I think most heterosexual women are attracted to the ‘guy in charge’ and it’s almost hardwired into our culture and difficult to change. But I believe if men can’t have all their emotions and not always have to be the ‘working stiff’ the world will not change for the better.

  12. Katie

    My dad (an “alte kocker,” WWII vet and otherwise Gary Cooper kind of guy) explains away his lack of skill using building tools thusly: “”There once was a Jewish carpenter, and look what happened to him!”

  13. Michael

    Real men don’t have internal conflicts. Gary Cooper didn’t even question his masculinity and John Wayne never conversed with The Little Duke.

  14. Neil

    Of course John Wayne was really named Marion.

  15. wendy

    Ok.. the truth is I married a fixer..”real man”..good provider. Strong and silent. You, Neil, ah, my very cute,pretty Neil.You are something for the side. I love men like you. Men that make me laugh. That talk. That think about things other than money. BUT I am married to a practical man. Face it Neil…If you were a woman..and I was a man,…I’d get you a nice apt somewhere..and buy you pretty things. But this situation works well..just as it is…for me, at least.

    (PS I posted some”fall” in CO for you my blog…and also..sorry..go to May 31st in archives…Farriers vets and Jeans oh my…for a post on your subject for today..and a Fathers Son..2 days eariler..for more on this mannly topic)

    I just called you pretty. Now go read..come on ..girls LOVE guys that put out!!

  16. EEK

    I’ll be the first to admit. I don’t know what I want. I can only hope that I’ll know it when I see it.

  17. Neil

    Maybe I should stop talking about watching “All My Children.”

    And Wendy, just out of curiousity, if you did get me this apartment (high speed access and a dishwasher included), how often would you need my services?

  18. Postmodern Sass

    Uncaring and sarcastic…a-ha! So that’s why I have so many male readers. Thanks for the insight, Neil. Now where’d I put those knitting needles…?

  19. Lynn

    Okay, “Shut your mouth, Penis.”


  20. Non-Highlighted Heather

    I don’t want to appear needy!

    Oh honey, that ship sailed a long time ago.

    Of course John Wayne was really named Marion.

    That didn’t stop Clara Bow from bedding him. Well, nothing really stopped her from bedding anyone.

  21. ms. sizzle

    maybe you should take up horseback riding? or spend some time herding cattle? would that help you?

  22. Non-Highlighted Heather

    Rats!!!! I didn’t close off my italics. *%#&*#@*#&!!!!

  23. V-Grrrl

    Yadda, yadda, yadda. Do we have to spend another afternoon checking our belly buttons for lint? Me, I like all kinds of men–and men that like me a lot are my favorite kind. ; D

  24. othurme

    What’s with everyone wanting to silence the penis?


  25. Neil

    I had put up another post because I was anxious about this one, but I decided to take the other one down and leave this like it is — because that is what a man would do!

  26. Sam in Seattle

    Men? I am more comfortable with comments like that than caring ones too. I had a boyfriend sit me down and talk about feelings once. It was scary!! I kept worrying he was going to cry..

    Of course, I am also irrational and emotional and cry quite a bit myself so never mind.

  27. Melissa

    The strong silent type usually have nothing interesting to say, and I don’t want to rescue a man. I don’t want the type of man that needs to be rescued. But I do like comforting them…

  28. Cover Your Mouth

    I wore my chaps to work today under my Banana Republic slacks. Hey, it’s not everyday a city girl with a desk job and soft hands gets compared to John Wayne.

  29. Churlita

    The last thing I want from a penis is conversation.

  30. schrodinger

    Neil’s Male Ego and Neil’s Penis need to get a road show. Like Bing and Bob. Clearly, the Penis is Bob.

  31. Jody

    Roberta – Penis got mouths? – Well they do have a “head” so can we assume they have a mouth?

    Katie – hysterical. By the way, I know men of all religions who don’t know how to handle a hammer or screwdriver so this phenomenon does not just occur with Jewish men albeit they do seem to be in the majority.

    EEK – I totally agree. I don’t know what I want specifically either because each guy is different. When the right combination of passion, compassion, sensitivity, intelligence, manliness comes along I hope I will recognize him as my perfect fit (flaws and all) just as he will recognize me as his.

    Neil – the soap operas probably are not a good thing. Not that I need to tell you this but soap operas mess with reality. If you are trying to find the “soap opera” kind of relationship then you need to go get hired on one. Besides sex (we get that is a strong need) try to figure out what really is important to you and look for those qualities in a woman. You are who you are – sensitive and needy as you so indicate – perhaps you can work on the neediness (nobody man or woman enjoys being around an extremely needy person – but that doesn’t mean we don’t have needy tendencies from time to time) if you think that is truly a weakness (sometimes all it takes is for you to recognize it before it gets out of hand and put a halt to it). As for the rest, you are the “man” to the “woman” who gets you.

  32. Mo

    I’m all for the sensitive, artsy ones. But in bed, I fantasize about them going all macho on me. Hawt!

  33. Neil

    I changed my mind. I’m not needy. And I’m not indecisive.

  34. Mo

    Neil, did you see that Blog Laughs will now review you in 2-3 more weeks? They’re going to a once-weekly review system.

  35. laurie

    I’m way too emotionally messy and crazy to be with a guy who is also doing some… emoting and stuff. If I wanted all the talking, I’d be with a woman. Or your penis, apparently. ha!

  36. better safe than sorry

    lol, you’re so insecure for such a great guy. how is that even possible?

  37. The Moviequill

    Zack and Kendall reuniting rocks!

  38. kristen

    I like men needy until they need me and I like men macho until they start scratching their balls. It depends on the man and macho or not, FUNNY always wins.

  39. Neil

    Moviequill — Not you, too!

  40. mckay

    would it surprise you to know that john wayne was rather insecure?

    maybe insecure is just another way of saying someone’s truly aware of all the facets of being human.

  41. Neil

    McKay — winner of Blog Crush of the day for tomorrow for getting me out of this jam!

  42. Tony Peaker

    Sure it’s good to be macho and manly. But you can’t keep it up all the time. I know I sure can’t, eventually I crack and need to have a quick emotions outpouring.

    Lately it’s been more emotional than macho, but that’s fine by me.

    Say/write/be whoever the hell you want to be Neil, I’ll still be reading it either way.

  43. iso

    First Vagina monologues now Penile dialogues?

    The latter could seriously hamper natural propagation- unless of course people are encouraged to speak into the mic…

    Err… anyhow, I’d rate that what woman want (or any one else for that matter) from your perspective isn’t half as important as what you want. That is not to say that everyone else needs are not important, but for numero uno it is rather irrelevant (and possibly confusing) if you are unsure of yourself. Want to knit teletubby sweaters for the neighbour dog? Be my guest and give the mutt something else to chew to shreds. Want to be a macho tough and buff meat head? That’s probably the best approach if you don’t want anyone to know about your little dance with piles but it doesn’t make it any less uncomfortable. People who are sure of themselves attract other people.

  44. Adolfo

    Of course, I am also irrational and emotional and cry quite a bit myself so never mind.

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