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Immaturity and the modern male

Past generations matured more quickly out of pure necessity

Published: Wednesday, June 19, 2013 9:36 a.m. CDT

Get this: A new study finds men don’t mature until age 43. If only my father could have enjoyed such a luxury.

Great Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper reports that the study, commissioned by Nickelodeon UK, examined differences in maturity between men and women. It found both sexes agree that men are far less mature and women reach full maturity 11 years sooner.

Some examples: Men still have their mothers do their laundry, laugh when they burp or break wind, snicker at dirty words and don’t know how to cook even the most basic meals.

Compare such modern males to my father.

He was 3 when his father died in 1937 — in the thick of the Great Depression.

His mother had to work full-time to support him and his sister, and she worried constantly about them both — particularly about my father.

He was immature when males are supposed to be, as a boy, and he got into a bit of mischief, pulling pranks and doing the things boys used to do.

He once told me that he and his lads thought it a funny idea to set a large rock onto trolley tracks. A trolley made a spectacular noise when it hit the rock, scraped along and nearly jumped off the tracks — but luckily, nobody got hurt.

My father’s mischievous ways were finally tamed in the ninth grade, when his school’s football coach persuaded him to join the team. The coach became a father figure to my dad — who discovered a talent for carrying a football with power and speed. (He was inducted into the Carrick Football Hall of Fame about 15 years ago.)

Football taught him responsibility. It matured him.

He was only 16 when he met my mother and that matured him, too. His dream was to marry her and, soon out of high school, he began searching various opportunities so he could provide for a family. He passed on college football scholarships, disappointing his mother and coach, to try his hand at pattern-making and plumbing. His plans were interrupted when he got drafted into the Army, but when he returned two years later, he found a secure position with the telephone company.

By the time he was 23, he was married, with his first daughter — to be followed by five more children over the years.

His entire life was devoted to working hard to provide for his family. He never kept more than $5 a week for himself to buy an occasional cup of coffee.

It’s amazing how rapidly things have changed from his generation to today’s.

My father will be 80 next month. Until he retired, his entire adult life was about work and sacrifice. His only respite was enjoying a few ice-cold beers when he got home at night or an after-dinner nap on the back porch. He was fully mature in his 20s — a maturity born out of necessity.

Perhaps if my father had been born in the modern era, he would be just as lackadaisical as today’s males. But then again, my father had to mature to win my mother’s heart, so they could have a home and a family and a good long life together — and that is exactly what they accomplished.

In any event, it is true that modern males are maturing later, which explains this joke: Q: Why are men so much better at psychoanalysis than women?

A: Because when it is time to go back to their childhood, men are already there. ———

Tom Purcell, author of “Misadventures of a 1970’s Childhood” and “Comical Sense: A Lone Humorist Takes on a World Gone Nutty!” is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. Send comments to Tom at Purcell@caglecartoons.com.

©2013 Tom Purcell

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