50 Things a Man Should Be Able To Do

Every man does not need to know how to tie a bow tie. Let’s get that clear up front. I don’t know why it is on every “Things a Man Should Know How to Do” list but it’s simply not true. If you have a reason to wear a bow tie (e.g., you’re going to prom, your name is George Will) then you can ask someone or you can look it up. That’s why Google and preppie college Republicans exist.

But there are some things that every man should be able to do. Here are fifty. Not necessarily the fifty most important (though some are), just fifty things a man should be able to do if he wants to live a good life.

1. Forgive your parents – They did the best they could . . . or they didn’t. Either way, you’re a man now so it’s time to move on.

2. Ask your parents to forgive you—You know what you did. They do too.

3. Change a diaper so that the baby is cleaner and you are no dirtier than when you started.

4. Perform CPR and the Heimlich maneuver.

5. Use a soldering iron to fix a loose connection.

6. Comfort a child—If you want to judge the character of a man, observe how he treats a child. He may not have any himself—he may not even like kids—but if he can provide them comfort when they are scared or hurting then he can’t be all bad.

7. Cook one signature dish.

8. Calculate square footage—Width x length.

9. Innocently flirt with a woman at least twice your age—Without causing offense or being disrespectful, of course.

10. Write three coherent, connected, and grammatically correct paragraphs—If it’s really necessary, you should be able to repeat the process well enough to add three more. Unless you have a job that requires extensive writing, that’s probably all you’ll ever need to get by.

11. Navigate your way around an unfamiliar city without getting completely and utterly lost.

12. Differentiate between various types of mortgages and insurances and know which one is best for your situation.

13. Get a prostate exam without crying.

14. Know what a prostate is.

15. Make and follow a budget so that you can get out of—and stay out of—debt.

16. Tell a spellbinding (though not necessarily true) story.

17. Survive in water for at least a few minutes without drowning– 71 percent of the earth’s surface is covered by water. You’re bound to fall into it sometime.

18. Know the four lifesaving steps—stop the bleeding, start the breathing, protect the wound, treat for shock.

19. Give a great compliment—Tip: Be specific, be sincere.

20. Tell a joke that is (a) clean, and (b) funny.

21. Make a brief, informative speech in public without having an anxiety attack and/or using PowerPoint.

22. Type with more than two fingers.

23. Know how to use the mass transit system in any city within 100 miles of his home.

24. Use reference materials to find out any information that you’ll ever need to know.

25. Recite the Ten Commandments from memory—If you remember them, it’s easier to follow them; if you follow them you’ll avoid about 90 percent of the self-inflicted damage that will screw up your life.

26. Carry on a conversation with someone who bores you to tears.

27. Recognize when you are boring someone to tears with your inane banter.

28. Make a plan for the first 24 hours after a zombie apocalypse—Sounds silly but you’d be surprised how much you can learn about yourself by thinking through unlikely scenarios.

29. Perfectly cook scrambled eggs.

30. Push-start a car with a manual transmission—By the way, as I learned in the summer of 1988, you can’t push start a car with an automatic transmission. (I still don’t know why I was stomping on the brake as if it were a clutch.)

31. Tell the difference between snark and wit.

32. Properly maintain your basic form of transportation, whether it be a car, bike, horse, feet, etc.

33. Grow food—even if you never owned a vegetable garden, you need to understand the basic theory of how to grow food. When the zombie apocalypse happens, you’re going to be hungry.

34. Make it through the rest of your life without saying the thirty-seventh dumbest sentence in the English language: “I have to learn for myself.”

35. Endure an insult with grace.

36. Wash a load of white clothes without turning everything pink.

37. Load, shoot, and clean a firearm.

38. Admit being wrong in a situation that will cost you dearly.

39. Physically protect your loved ones and be willing to risk life and limb if necessary to keep them safe.

40. Lead your family in prayer.

41. Cogently explain and defend your most fundamental beliefs, preferably without raising your voice.

42. Hug another man.

43. Take harsh criticism without being defensive.

44. Differentiate between love and lust—and avoid the latter.

45. Recognize wisdom and know how to get it.

46. Help someone who is vomiting (without throwing up yourself).

47. Write a letter of recommendation.

48. Write a love letter.

49. Avoid the Three A’s That Ruin Your Life: Anger, Adultery, Apathy.

50. Be able to list at least 50 more things a man should be able to do.

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  • Don

    #50 is cheating.
    Can’t believe you bailed on the bow tie. Up front. Who in their right mind would get married in a pre-tied bow tie? Best 30 minutes of my life was helping my dad tie his when he tied the knot again. Just sayin.

  • tgirsch

    I have had about three prostate exams, only one of which came after I turned 40. New medical research suggests that absent symptoms, there’s no need to start checking until 50 (the previous recommendation was to start at 40). And by the time I reach 50, they may decide that there’s no need to check at all (absent other suggestive factors) — they’re already sort of leaning that way, as I understand the state of affairs. So I may be off the hook.

    In my case, the challenge isn’t to get through it without crying; it’s to get through it without complaining that I didn’t get dinner and a movie first. I’m only 1-for-3 in that regard.

  • Robert Smith

    I’m not sure about #9. I don’t know any women who are over 100.

  • GarlicClove

    why just men? Most of these, ANYONE should strive for.

  • Louis

    Wow, how heterosexist and what antiquated notions of masculinty! Really sad :-(

    • Tanya

      I like the humor in it -you don’t have to fact check everything about it. It doesn’t have to be politically correct and its got the same zing to it that I enjoy from most late night comedians.You made me laugh and laughter is good therapy.

  • http://strangeherring.com Anthony Sacramone

    A man should be able to tell a Chuck Norris joke. To Chuck Norris.

  • http://PoetAndPriest.com Paul Hughes

    Well more than half of these are good for anyone. Nearly all of them *are* for anyone with minor tweaking.

  • Pigpen

    “Change a diaper…” Ha! Don’t you just love modern men! What is a true man? Let me guess, a man who cries at Bambi! har-dee-har-har Hey, how about being fearless and all-knowing even when he is so scared that deep down he is figuring the odds on whether he’s going to mess himself? How about being able to flirt with a woman HALF his age AND be good enough at it to get her to flirt back? How about knowing how to properly field dress a deer? or zero a rifle? How about being able to look the loud-mouthed bully in the eye and not look away no matter what violence he threatens? How about knowing at least one three-punch-combo for when Mr Loud-Mouth attempts to make good? No, I didn’t think so. Enjoy your quiche. And be sure to thank your mother for it. Maybe you can practice that “flirting with a woman TWICE your age” thing while you do.

    • Tanya


  • Tiff

    Okay on the bow-tie, but a man should know how to tie his own neck tie.

  • pagansister


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  • Dorfl

    It’s an old post, but: Isn’t point 18 in the wrong order?

    “18. Know the four lifesaving steps—stop the bleeding, start the breathing, protect the wound, treat for shock.”

    Unless you have a severed limb or something, blocked airways are likely to kill you much faster than bleeding would, so you really want whoever is doing first aid to make sure you can breathe before doing anything else. Hence the mnemonic ABC: Airways, Breathing, Circulation.