In my previous blog post, Part I, I wrote that the most important thing to local people in western North Dakota in evaluating a man, is that he will stay and show up for work. Everywhere else that I have lived, this criteria never even entered people’s minds.
I will try to explain how different this is, the way western North Dakota evaluates men, by giving some examples of the most favorite men in the rest of the United States. The actor Paul Newman had a long career as a leading man and as ladies’ man. He was not big, tall, or muscular, but he was charming, handsome, and boy-ish looking. I watched many movies with Paul Newman: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Color Of Money, Hud, The Verdict, The Long Hot Summer, and Cool Hand Luke. Paul Newman was well-liked in all of his acting roles, and he most often played a character who was quick-witted, sharp, intelligent, charismatic, spontaneous, adventurous, and out for a good time. Everywhere that I have ever lived men would admire or be envious of someone as sharp, handsome, and charismatic as Paul Newman. Everywhere that I have ever lived women would have loved to have had a relationship with a man like Paul Newman.
The most recent Paul Newman movie that I watched was The Long Hot Summer. In this movie, when Paul Newman came to town, he was walking and carrying a suitcase. Besides being poor, it was soon learned that he had a terrible reputation. But because he was handsome, intelligent, sharp, and quick witted, he soon won the admiration of the wealthiest man in town, who began to insist that he mate with his daughter. The wealthy man’s daughter tried to resist the character played by Paul Newman, but she couldn’t. Throughout the movie, from beginning to end, Paul Newman was always threatening to leave. Which made the wealthy man offer Paul Newman a lot to stay and have children with his daughter.
In western North Dakota a man does not get evaluated on wit, charm, charisma, handsomeness, or intelligence, but on whether he is going to stay and show up for work. In most of Paul Newman’s movies, he plays a character that is on the run, trying to get away, adventure seeking, and not staying in one place, which rates very low with North Dakotans.
The leading men in movies, are the ones that the vast majority of the public finds heroic, handsome, and appealing. James Dean, Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, and Clint Eastwood were the leading men, the ladies’ men, the heroes, that most often played characters that were independent, couldn’t stay in one place, and were on the run, which rates very low with North Dakotans.
What the vast majority of men and women found to be heroic, exciting, admirable, desirable, and attractive, was a handsome, physically fit, in-shape, independent, intelligent, quick thinking, adventure seeking male: Tom Cruise in Top Gun, Mission Impossible, Jack Reacher; Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones; George Clooney in the Quiet American, Michael Clayton, Oceans Eleven; Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall; Daniel Craig in James Bond.
Everywhere that I have ever lived, I have seen women attracted to men that were physically fit, in shape, handsome, charming, charismatic, adventurous, intelligent, sharp, and quick witted, just like the characters played by the actors Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Harrison Ford, Tom Cruise, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Daniel Craig. However in western North Dakota, like I have been saying, local people use as their main criteria for evaluation of a man is that he is going to stay and show up for work.
Getting to the point: The men that stay in western North Dakota and show up for work kind of look like bulls or bears. Men in western North Dakota are assessed and evaluated like live stock or farm animals. Local men and women look at men, and if they don’t see extra fat on them, they don’t see how they are going to stay outside in the winter. If they don’t see that the man has a large frame and extra fat, they don’t see that he will be able to do much work or stay out in the cold. The local men and women in western North Dakota think that a good man should look like a prize pig or a prize bull at the county fair.
Everywhere else that I lived, women would dream of running on the beach hand in hand with their boyfriend, jumping in the waves, rolling in the sand. God only knows what the women in North Dakota dream about.