the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: manliness



Some of you may have noticed that during the day, I changed the photo at my last post from a stock photo to one where I am wearing the purple bathrobe.

This photo is me is un-retouched. No filters. No Photoshop. No flashy photographic gimmicks. I owe it to Sophia for pushing me into presenting myself au naturale. As I discussed two weeks ago, putting a photo of myself online is not an easy thing for me to do. Today, there was a war of words with Sophia over this photo issue, a back-and-forth much bigger than the one over the bathrobe itself.

This morning, Sophia woke me up. She was reading my post on her laptop. She thought the previous photo was a loser and the post would be better if it showed myself wearing the purple bathrobe. She suggested that we take a photo in the living room.

After she took the photo, I went into my office to check it out. I hated the way I looked and started to Photoshop it. I tried to reduce the size of my bed-head hair, and to eliminate my unshaven double chin.

As I worked with the zillions of Photoshop tools, Sophia stopped by.

“What are you doing?” she asked, in that certain voice that I know means trouble.


“You’re Photoshopping yourself again, aren’t you?”


“So, you look great in that photo. Why do you need to do this?”

For some reason, Sophia gets pissed at me whenever I try to fix myself in photos. She is of the belief that it is “unmanly” for me to be “so vain” about my appearance.

“What about when I take your photo?” I asked, ready to debate. “You’re always so picky!”

“That’s different. I’m a woman.”

“You don’t complain when I dress up.”

“That’s because you look sexy when you dress up. But it’s not sexy to have a man Photoshopping his own chin.”

“Why not?!”

“You’re a MAN. This is how a man looks. You’re not supposed to look all air-brushed. It’s so gay.”

“That’s an insult to gays.”

“OK, my apologies to gays.”

“Can I go back to my Photoshop please?”

I returned to Photoshopping my photo.

“Are you trying to photoshop your double chin?”


“Now it makes you look like you have goiters.”

“Yeah, you’re right. Let me try to use the blend tool.”

“Now you look like you have a tracheotomy. Why don’t you just photoshop in an oxygen mask?”

“Maybe I’ll take my whole head off and lower it over my chin.”

“Then you’ll look like a Hobbit. Is it really worth it? Don’t be so insecure, Neilochka. You look cute. Women will see the real you and will still go “ooh” and “ahh.” Just the way you like, I promise.”

“Are you sure you just don’t want me to look bad?”

“Why would I want that?”

“So, if we split up, I won’t date some hot blogger before you date someone else?”

“We have split up. Go date someone. Be my guest. You’re the one who doesn’t want to leave my house!”

“C’mon, Neil, listen to her – publish it. ” yelled my Penis. “Be confident.”

“You, too, Penis? I asked.  “But aren’t you worried that no woman wants to f**k a man with a double chin.”

“No,” my Penis responded.  “No woman wants to f**k a man who Photoshops his chin.  It’s not the size of anything you have, but how many times you can make her yell, *&@&% me again, you $@*&%$!”

“Your Penis is right.  Be a man,” said Sophia, nodding in agreement with my Penis. “This is what you look like, chin and all.  Accept it and be happy with it.”

Damn, Sophia was right.

So, Mazel tov to me. TODAY, I became a man. I published the photo — totally un-retouched.

A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month: I Am So Over Boobs

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

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