The vaping industry, tragically unrepresented by the National Rifle Association, is in danger of seeing its profitable berry- and s'mores-flavored business go up in smoke, or at least in vapor. The doctors say vaping kills you.
I'm an old-fashioned pipe smoker. Not so long ago, I was sitting outside at my job, peacefully puffing a pipe, when I was approached by one of the office vapeheads, a guy in his 20s.
"Oh, you smoke a pipe," he said, puffing on a metal and glass contraption that looked like a see-through carburetor.
"Yeah," I said. "It's like vaping, but for men."
I suppose my 62-year-old somewhat tweedy self can be excused for throwing the oldest insult of all at another man, which is to say that the other man is doing something a woman would do. Maybe someday that kind of sexist insult will vanish from America, but if the young guys I know are a good indication, it's gonna take a while.
Down here at the scratch-ticket end of the economy, we are greatly encouraged to be manly men, to be "alpha males." In fact, "beta male" is one of the insults my young male buddies sling at each other, usually while vaping. They say it the same way me and my buddies said, "Hey, Nancy," to each other as an insult.
At an age when most high school boys could clean me up in a fist fight, I am rapidly withdrawing from most expressions of traditional maleness, though I can still be counted on for a few things: I work hard. I keep my promises. And I plunge nearly all of my paycheck into household expenses.
Still, I don't own a motorcycle, or a "Kill 'Em All, Let God Sort 'Em Out" T-shirt, and I carry a modestly sized jackknife in my pocket, not a saw-toothed monster on my belt.
Most governments like traditional masculinity. It fills the armed forces with young men. It makes us vote for our guns over our wallets. It ensures that we will never look at our skinny paychecks and considering joining forces with underpaid women, underpaid men, minority group members and, worst of all, gays. It ensures that we will forever have more interest in flying the Confederate flag than we have in walking a picket line to rid ourselves of our own bondage.
Oh, sure, we kill ourselves at an alarming rate, but only a beta male doesn't see the charm of, the outright maleness of, going out with the taste of gun oil on your tongue. Alpha male swagger drives us to mass shootings, and Nazism, and woman beating, and excessive drinking and everything but rebellion against those who really hurt us.
We are strong, but we are misdirected. And we are more misdirected every day, being told from all sides that the only acceptable form of manhood is a uniform or a gun, or both. "Don't Tread On Me," says the flag we hang up in our garage, but a foot is on our neck every minute of our lives, until the nursing home strips our soon-to-be-widow of every dime we ever saved because only beta males want national health insurance.
As for the vaping industry, tell them to tape a bullet to the side of every vape item they sell. They will thus become constitutionally protected instruments of democracy that cannot be banned no matter how many die.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, "The Land of Trumpin'," is a collection of his startlingly male columns about politics, Donald Trump, and how to trim your fingernails with a bayonet. It is available in paperback from Amazon.com, and for Nook, Kindle, iBooks and GooglePlay.
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