Brothers from another mother

Transman’s “brothers” teaching him the ways of the street. image:

Transman and his neighbor were driving and as they cruised up the street, Neighbor said, “So, I read some of ‘The Adventures of Transman.'”

“Yeah?” Transman said, playing it cool, keeping his eyes on the road ahead.

“Yeah,” Neighbor said. “It’s easy to navigate. I like how you’ve got all the categories and having some visual element really helps grab the reader.”

Transman glanced over at Neighbor whose lips were tight. Transman guessed that Neighbor was trying to find the right words for a delicate subject. Transman stiffened a little, steadying himself for criticism.

Then, Neighbor said, “I read the part about me making dick jokes. I hope you don’t think I’m a tool.”

Neighbor got quiet. James Brown was on the stereo, singing the words, “I got somethin’ that makes me wanna shout.”

Transman signaled and turned onto Monroe Street.

“Dude, no. When you made that joke, I took it like you were welcoming me into the fold,” Transman said.

Neighbor nodded and said, “Cool.”

The awkwardness gone, they drove on, listening to Bootsy Collins’ bass line on “Superbad” and James Brown shouting out, “Jump back, kiss myself!”


Transman is lucky to have his biological brothers, but he’s extra lucky to have four other men in his life who are brothers and mentors in manliness. Transman’s other brothers include:


“Now you just have to develop a taste for Free-form Jazz.” Robert Mitchum as Transman’s neighbor.

Neighbor has shown Transman how to be a supportive, nurturing father. Neighbor has also shown Transman how to extend good will outside the home. He does a lot to make  our international neighborhood have a real sense of shared community. Neighbor and his sons volunteer at most community events and host a weekly basketball game that draws players of all ages. What is extra cool about the basketball games is the games have provided a space for people from all over the world to bond and have cultural exchange.

Neighbor has an unending amount of curiosity about the world, something he shares with the other men featured in this post. Guys like …


“I’ve broken my ankles skateboarding so many times that they’re no longer insurable. By the way, dude, you really need to read some Roland Barthes.” Viggo Mortenson as Writer. Image:

Transman met Writer in one of Bob Butler‘s workshops. They had kids the same age and had some similar life experiences, but got closer over the years as they worked on developing their writing careers. Each pushed the other to send out stories and both celebrated when one or the other got published. Writer showed Transman a very different kind of masculinity than his father had displayed. Writer showed him that a man can be strong without having to be a Tough Guy with a capital T. He showed Transman that a man can play and have a boy’s enthusiasm for the world without being a child. Writer is a man in balance with the world and he’s a badass on a BMX bike.

Then there’s …


“I will figure out a way to make a washing machine do double duty as a dishwasher and water purifier …wait, that would be triple duty…. have you heard what fractals would sound like if you turn their structure into musical notes? Here, I’ll show you.” Frank Zappa as Musician. Image:

Musician, Writer, and Transman were all neighbors with Neighbor back in the day. Musician’s kids were about the same age as Transman’s and that was what drew them together. Transman and Musician fall into easy conversation no matter how much time has passed since they’ve seen each other in person. He shows his sons that it is okay for men to be intelligent and creative. Too many boys think it’s not cool to be smart and screw themselves out of a decent future; Transman is glad Musician is around to engage Son 1 in conversations about technology.


“Listen, Pardner, you just need to be yourself. Play to your own beat and others will start singing along.” Kris Kristofferson as Troubadour. Image:

Troubadour was a columnist and cartoonist at one of the papers where Transman worked. They sweated out deadlines by swapping jokes and music trivia and Troubadour showed Transman where to find the best sweet tea and peanut butter pie in town. Troubadour is all the good things about Southern gentlemen personified. He makes everyone he meets feel like they are the most important person in the room. He collects the stories, wisdom, and history of the people around him and preserves it for the following generation. Troubadour plays a mean guitar and turns up playing in parks, festivals, and coffeeshops. No matter where he’s playing, he’s happy to have other people join in and jam and harmonize. Troubadour isn’t driven to be in the spotlight, but he deserves all the applause he can get.


“Hey, Transman, go get us some beers outta the fridge. Don’t tell your Mama, okay?” The Wild Bunch as Transman’s male relatives and their friends.

Transman didn’t grow up with lots of positive visions of masculinity. Lots of the men in his young life were rough-and-tumble guys who were a lot of fun to be around, but who weren’t really much more grown up than little Transman. They worked hard, but they also played hard——stepping out on their wives and leaving their families, either on purpose or when the law caught up with them.

At their best, these men were charming, funny, full of great stories, and ready for adventure. Unfortunately, many of these men also bought the worst of the stereotypes about what makes men manly. They pretended to be dumb; they were crude; they settled things with violence or ran away from conflict altogether; they didn’t show emotion or tell people they loved them. The ones that made it to old age wound up lonely and cut off from the people they had hurt and disappointed over the years.

Everyone needs good role models and mentors, and Transman is thankful to have men like Neighbor, Writer, Musician, and Troubadour in his life. He’s glad his sons also have these four people showing them how to be good men and helping them navigate some of the difficult parts of growing up and finding one’s self.

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26 responses to “Brothers from another mother

  • Stacie Chadwick

    My son is an unusually tall, handsome, athletic kid, but underneath the layers of expectation, he’s a writer and poet at-heart who feels so deeply that he wears his emotions inside-out. Your boys are lucky. =)

  • walkwiththerabbi

    You are much blessed my friend.

  • Eli

    Beautiful. Thank you for this read.

  • franoramaworld

    I didn’t realize you’re a recovering newspaper writer, too. Shoulda known by the quality of the writing. And great role models, BTW. One of the problems with “kids these days” is that they don’t have a Zappa to play the role of musical subversive. (And if you want some fun: YouTube the video of a 22-year-old Zappa from 1962 on “The Steve Allen Show,” playing a bicycle …)

    • transparentguy

      I love those clips of Zappa on the Steve Allen show.

      What did you do in the newspaper world?

      • franoramaworld

        I’ve been in newspapers much of my adult life: 10-plus years at my evil hometown-of-sorts paper, the Waterbury Republican-American (college intern, sportswriter/sports desk, entertainment writer), 11 1/2 years at the New Haven Register (entertainment editor/music writer), and five years at The Fresno Bee (assistant features editor). McClatchy threw me out with about 40% of the bathwater in March ’09.

        As fate (and mercy) would have it, I was brought back there in September as an on-call copy editor — no benefits, sketchy hours, just enough to keep me just above water until I can find a way back East. Also, it’s my first time in the work world as Frannie 2.0, and I was welcomed back with (a great many) open arms.

        What about you?

        BTW: I put a link to your post up on my FB wall. Hope some of my friends see your writing …

        Fran Fried, Fresno, Ca. (for now)

      • transparentguy

        You’ve had some really nice gigs … features, entertainment, and sports are fun to write.

        Newspapers have been hit so hard. I’m glad you got hired back, but that has to be really stressful.

        I worked for mostly smaller papers; most were under 40,000 circulation, so I got the chance to try everything. I started as a staff reporter, then moved to copy editing and page design. I was the editor of a weekly for a while and did some turns as an assignment editor.

        I miss the newsroom, but it was so hard to be on call all the time with a family. I did about 10 years of that before going back to grad school, but I’ve still kept a finger in it as a way to put food on the table.

        Link away, link away.

        Where would you like to wind up when you can get back on this side of the country?

  • Alison

    You have some great friends. More than many people are blessed to have. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  • americantransman

    Ooh, is that a collective “you” or just the ones that aren’t in the blogosphere?

  • Joe Pineda

    I hope your friend gets to read this too. I’m glad you found such supportive role-models.

    Maybe misinformation is playing a part here, but it’s as though this isn’t the norm for more people, unfortunately.

  • misslisted

    I guess I needed to cry….I woke up thinking about my 2 sons and my daughter, and how much easier it is for my daughter in so many ways, then I read this and it made it easier for me to understand why.

    • transparentguy

      In what way is it easier for your daughter? I’m glad this post helped you in some way. Hope all your kids realize they have a wonderful nurturer in you.

      • misslisted

        Some of the things you said about male role models you had when you were a child were poignant, and rang true for me with my boys. It has not been as much of an issue for my daughter, but I suppose time will tell. Mostly it is my oldest son…but he is maturing and beginning to show me that he understands the legacy he was given and that he can use it as ground for his own growth and evolution.

    • transparentguy

      Well, your son has you on his side and he’s lucky that you’re aware of what he’s facing. You can make it different for him.

  • “You Slick Up Pretty Good There, Buddy.” « theadventuresoftransman

    […] “I talked to Writer the other day,” Neighbor told Transman. (To understand who Writer and Neighbor are, click here.) […]

  • cristycarringtonlewis

    Damn, I keep missing posts. I just found this one today after reading your latest and greatest. Of course, this was pretty great, too. I believe I’ve met Troubadour. Now, on to write about all the positive female non-role models you have/have had in your life. After all, behind every great man is a fucking awesome woman.

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