Nothing scared author Joel Stein more than the idea of having a son.
“When I found out we were having a boy, I freaked out when I saw the penis on the sonogram,” he said.
He says he was worried because he is not what you would call a “manly man.” He’s proudly progressive, emphatically non violent and partial to chick flicks. Not exactly Earnest Hemingway.
Frankly, he was worried whether he was up to the job of raising a son.
“I grew up in the ’70s with a feminist mom, listening to ‘Free to Be You and Me,’” Stein said. “My mom thought the Boy Scouts are a fascist organization, so I was not allowed to join, which was fine by me because I heard that a lot of the stuff they did was outdoors. Not comfortable with that.”
And so Stein embarked on a journey to change that and try to tackle all the “guy things” his own childhood lacked, including hanging out with firefighters, doing basic training with the Army, learning to drink Scotch and talk sports, and even learning how to handle himself in a fight.
“It was not very Mr. Miyagi,” Stein said. “The first thing [the instructor] did was he got the Muay Thai guy, the Thai kick boxing guy, to kick me in the leg very hard, so I knew what that felt like. It feels awful, and then he got the jiu-jitsu guy to choke me up.”
But that was just the beginning. Mixed-martial arts hall-of-famer Randy Couture then gave him a sustained pounding.
“Randy Couture wanted me to feel what it’s like to be in a real fight,” Stein said. ”So, he made me suffer for five minutes. Every time things were getting dark for me he would just walk away then I would get back up and then beat me up again and then walk away, he’d beat me up again. It’s awful to watch.”
Stein’s trials and tribulations are documented in his new book, “Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity,” in stores now. In the end, Stein said all he went through did make him feel “maniler.”
“I now think we’re the sum of our experiences and that there is some genetic personality that we have, but the most stuff you do, the more you change,” he said.
“I feel like I’m better prepared to be his dad because I will introduce him to thinks that I would not have introduced him to,” Stein added. “Even if he thinks the book is stupid, I think he will appreciate the fact that I’m now going to take him camping.”
Tune into “Nightline” tonight to watch ABC’s David Wright’s full interview with Joel Stein, and see what happens when they fight in a cage match, and then get pedicures together.