On Walking and Chewing Gum

Steve Fendt
6 min readJun 29, 2022

Thoughts of a gentle bloke in 2022

I have no idea whether I’m going to click ‘publish’ when I’ve finished this. Perhaps it will languish as a draft for weeks; perhaps it will be published in the small hours of the morning. Then I may tear back the bedcovers with a resounding ‘Nooooooo!’ at break of day and rush to my computer to delete it.

It wouldn’t be the first article of mine to meet that fate, not by a long chalk, so you’d best read quickly, hypothetical reader.

Let me start by acknowledging that this is written in a wider context in which my petty sorrows and existential trivialities are of infinitesimal consequence. Further, that I have, as an individual, an Australian, a person of pinko-grey complexion and the possessor of a Y chromosome to go along with my X, much to be thankful for.

That said, as individuals we must walk and chew gum: strive to be both decent members of our multiple overlapping communities and attentive to our own emotional housekeeping. Each is perhaps the corollary of the other.

And all is not well in my untidy inner household. It has not been well for a long time; perhaps it has never been well. I suspect that goes with a writer’s job description. To distil my current malaise into a single sentence:

This is a difficult and unhappy time to be a gentle and kind man.

There: it has been written, and already I feel the urge to delete this and bugger off back to bed. It’s 4:40 a.m.

We are frequently told, as men — and society is fond of addressing us as if we were all card-carrying members of some collective*, or even a multi-penised superorganism — that we should open up more. Be less stoic, more emotional, less toxic in our masculinity.

*Yeah, we all get that, whatever our gender. I know.

Then, when we put the cards timorously on the table, it’s: ‘Oh fuck off with your whining, man-baby.’

Admittedly, much depends on context. Interrupt a woman’s desperate or furious plea for empathy and support with ‘Yes, but now let’s talk about why as a man I have it sooooo baaaaad,’ and the above is a reasonable response.

Steve Fendt

https://stevefendt.substack.com Short stories, serial fiction, memoirs of a possibly quasi-true nature. Aussie tales of banjos, beaches and the bush.