I’m a man
by Julien Barthès
I’m looking at my face in a mirror,
putting hair gel on my head.
Tonight I shall go to my first party.
I’m 14, I’m a man.
There are 6.6 billion men on Earth
but half of them are women.
I’m getting on the bus that will take me to the
party. The driver, he’s a man, too.
I’m looking him straight in the eyes
fiercely, so he’ll know I’m a man.
Men have got 23 pairs of chromosomes—
Their sexual chromosomes are XY.
Men are capable of fully bipedal
locomotion, thus leaving their arms available
for manipulating objects using their
hands, aided especially by opposable thumbs.
Tonight, I’m gonna drink my first
beer. Then I’ll definitely be a man. Homo
sapiens appeared 130,000 years
Ago, in North Africa.
“An excellent man; he has no enemies; and
none of his friends like him”, Oscar
Wilde wrote. Lots of girls are waiting for me
at the party. As a man, this’ll be my day.
I’m still a man
I drank my beer, and I got sick. But
I stayed at the party pretending the
big stain I made on my shirt was
tailor-made, because I’m a man.
Still I did not venture to drink another
ale, knowing that life expectancy at
birth in Hong Kong, China, is 78.9 years
for a man. In Wayana culture, stinging
ants are applied to the body of a child who
proves to be a true man by remaining
still and silent, but no girl seems to
realise this at the party and talk to me.
They were dancing – dancing is
the most popular hobby among
women, right before gymnastics, and horse
riding – paying no attention to me.
So I had to try and talk to some of
them. Men are really good at
languages, they speak 6,700 different
languages all around the world !
Nonetheless, I couldn’t find my words and
had to go home early because my mom –
every man has a mom - made me promise.
Really, it’s hard to be a man.
2 poems by Julien Barthès