Rites of Manhood Ain't What They Used to Be

Steve Wiley is Jackalope Ranch's Parent Hood. He's a slightly unorthodox father of five who will weigh in weekly with his mildly-rebellious views and observations. Wiley has spent the past 25 years managing and owning Valley record stores, including the past 14 at his beloved Hoodlums Music. If you'd like to see how he came to write this column, watch the video.

Alkira-Kiuma Ceremony or the Tossing Ceremony of the Aranda Tribe (1904). At age twelve, the boy's first initiation ceremony, tossed and caught by various male relatives..

"Initiation into manhood just ain't what it used to be." So began my teaching moment with my 14 year-old son.

In late October, we were sequestered in the back room of our darkened house, avoiding would-be trick- or-treaters because we didn't have any candy (our ASU neighborhood doesn't have many front porch lights illuminated on Halloween, and we have lamely given in to the Dark Side as well).

See also:
- Three Gifts That Won't Be in My Kids' Christmas Stockings
- Old Spice Man Gives Advice on Manhood, Answers Mantastic Questions

He wasn't happy about it. After all, we're talking about missing out on nine or ten pounds of candy in a pillowcase. Lest you think we are hard-asses, let me put the "boy" in perspective for you. He's 5' 11" and 180 lbs. A freshman in High School.

But Dad, Why Can't I Trick-or-Treat?

Mom had taken his two siblings to a party, or to a more trick-or-treat-friendly neighborhood (I'm not sure because I only sorta pay attention to details), and for the first time ever, my eldest son was not part of the candy-collecting clan.

I began to explain to the man-child just why he was stuck hiding out with the old man:
He's gotten too big to be showing up on people's doorsteps in the dark. I implored him
to imagine the scene where some little old lady opens the door to a giant, hairy, un-
costumed goofball booming out "Trick or Treat" in his now-deep voice (which can still be heard in the next county, just like when it was a higher octave).

I told him that he should think of his removal from the candy-begging ranks as a ritual
into manhood. Unimpressed, he stuck to his claim of mistreatment.

Come and Play With Us, Danny

Earlier, we had decided to watch The Shining, which to me holds up as one of the
scariest (and most well-made) movies of all-time. He's been starting to watch R-rated
movies (thankfully, as we've watched every decent PG-13 movie on Earth twice), and
he's a big movie fan. He knows how I feel about this one, and he's been begging me to
watch it since he was twelve, but I've been holding out.

I felt like he was ready for it. All we had to do was fold some clothes, and then
it was show time. But alas, the whining continued.

Back to that Lecture, er, Teaching Moment. So I launched:

"Oh my God, you really do have it rough here in the 21st century. Scrapping trick-or-
treating to watch The Shining is your manhood ritual? Do you know what they used to
put kids through in the old days?"

Poor kid. Little did he know that I just finished the magnificent "Power of Myth" with
Joseph Campbell (which prompted me to pick up three other Campbell books), so I am
brimming with mythological information, including rituals galore. I jumped at the chance
to use the knowledge on the kid (like it's a spell or something).

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