The Hard Hat

Guys Having Fun With Guys Without It Getting – Weird
Have fun, Live longer
The HHBrotherhood: A Complete Lack of Elegance
News Flash – Men Can Be Stubborn
Origins Of The Hard Hat Brotherhood
Raising the Barn and Lowering the Blood Pressure
Self Realization For Men or How We Can Be Our Own Worst Enemy

News Flash – Men Can Be Stubborn

Why am I always the last to hear about these things? Maybe I never got the email or was too busy playing my video games but somehow I missed the news flash that men can be stubborn. I know now that I am indeed stubborn because my wife constantly informs me of this. The realization came to me at the point when I realized that I was in the middle of a conversation with my spouse where she was again explaining my alleged stubbornness and the actual words I said in response to this were “am not”. If all men are as stubborn as this, it is not hard to see why this behavior is detrimental to our health and that it is time for us all to rethink our position.

How can being stubborn hurt your health? Think about the last time a man you know, say your father or brother, hurt himself seriously enough to warrant a doctors’ visit but just said, “It’s nothing”. Sure, the finger is almost severed in half and there is a pool of blood a foot wide where he was working, but it’s “nothing”. Is this how a grown person should act? The obvious answer is of course not. Yet, it is a common occurrence for men. Things like avoiding the yearly physical, having our eyes tested or having that weird looking mole checked out have become a sport of sorts for most men. The “it’s nothing” nature is a strong one for us guys.

Is it a pride thing or are we just being lazy? We know we should do things that are beneficial to our health and well-being but we insist on the easy way out. We come up with excuses like “Doctor’s don’t know everything”, “I’m as healthy as a horse” or the ever popular twin to “it’s nothing, the “I’m fine”. Recently I had a rather eye opening experience when my doctor informed me that I was basically a walking time bomb. Being seriously overweight, out of control eating habits, complete lack of exercise and an attitude of being indestructible was leading me to death’s door. My wife was scared to death I would drop dead one day and began an all out campaign just to get me to go to the doctor for a check up. She left no stone unturned and used the whole arsenal she had. First it was coaxing – “ It will be easy, I’ll go with you and it will be done before you know it”, then it was scare tactics, “Your mother died young because she wouldn’t take care of herself either”, then it was facts – “Men your age have a 68% higher rate of heart attacks if they don’t see a doctor regularly”, and finally it was threats – “No more lasagna until the check up is done”. Now that one hurt. If you have ever had her lasagna you would know why that one almost got to me!

Yet I persisted, “There’s nothing wrong with me” I said with disinterest. “You need to go for your own good”, she said with the attitude that I had already lost this debate and I was one step from getting a Thwacker to the head. She had made the appointment and was now, literally, dragging me out the door. “You’ll see, I’m fine”, I reminded her as I picked up the car keys. “That’s what I’ll put on your headstone” she replied.

We arrived at the doctor’s office and I was pretty confident that I had nothing to worry about. After all, I reasoned, how bad could it be? Never, ever ask that question…about anything…ever.

The next hour or so went by in a blur of my doctor going through a laundry list of my substantial health issues, each item complete with the morbid forecast if I didn’t change my ways, with my wife by his side giving me the “I told you so” nod after each one. I don’t know which was more frustrating, being told by my doctor that my wife was right all along or living with the fact that I already knew what she said was true and I had been too stubborn to admit it and try to fix the problem. Either way I was paying the price for my stubbornness and it could have cost me my life. Needless to say I now am more aware of what I eat and try to limit the things that I know are not good for me, exercise more and work on a better lifestyle. And my wife has graciously cancelled the order for that headstone.

It would appear that I do not own the market on being stubborn. I myself have run across this affliction with other men as well. For example, when I ask Red Hat Society ladies if their husbands would be interested in joining The Hard Hat Brotherhood, I frequently get the reply “My husband would never do a thing like that”. When asked why not I almost always get the same reply. That he is so stubborn and even after seeing how much fun the Red Hat Society is for women, he is unwilling to take the leap of faith and join a club or organization that would bring friends, relaxation and fun into his life. Which then begs the question “Why don’t they want to do it”?

The only answer that I can come up with is the same reason that I didn’t go to the doctor. I was too lazy to get interested in the reasons why I should go in the first place. This was followed by the arrogance that I was indestructible and didn’t need to be troubled with such petty things. Just as studies have proven that we need to get yearly checkups to monitor and control the things that can become a problem for us physically, other studies have shown how much men need to belong to social groups for their mental and psychological well being. It is our stubbornness, which keeps us from doing what is right, and sometimes it takes a good kick in the butt or Thwacker to the head to get us back on the right path.

So, gentlemen, I would like you to consider this your kick in the butt. You need to be involved in social settings, you need to have friends, you need to laugh and you need to have fun once a month at the very least. This is every bit as important to your well being as your yearly check up, not nearly as expensive and far more enjoyable…especially for those of us over 40 or 50…and you know what I mean! Don’t take the lazy way out or the “I’m fine” way out. Be as interested in your mental health as you are in your physical health. Find some guys, sign up to be a Hard Hat Brotherhood Crew, get together and do what ever is fun for you on a regular monthly basis. That is all there is to it. I can guarantee you that the benefits to your emotional, mental and spiritual well-being will be evident about 10 minutes into your first gathering.

And don’t forget to send me an email and let me know how it all turned out. It is great for my well being to hear about the fun and friendship going on out there!

Raising the Barn and Lowering the Blood Pressure

Back in the mid 1800s the idea of “leisure time” was a foreign concept. Most people worked, finished the work and started some other work. There was very little down time or time for anything that didn’t directly involve making a living. The majority of households were farming families of one kind or another and working from sun up to sun down was the norm not the exception. Even for kids old enough to understand and be taught there were chores to do each day. Women worked not only outside the home, as in out in the barn, out in the fields, out in the garden, but they also were “housewives” that cooked and cleaned and canned and washed and…well you know the story. Even their supposed “leisure” activities involved things that were important to the household and meant a better life for the family. Things like quilting, candle making, knitting and sewing. Everything that went on was for the survival and betterment of ones family. It was not an easy life by any means.

Fast-forward a hundred years to the mid 1900s. Almost all the tasks that were once done by hand and took days are now done by machine and take only hours and in some cases only minutes. This new industrial age of faster and easier made leisure time a common thing in modern America. Farming became automated and took half the time, clothing and blankets could now be bought in stores as well as bread and milk. Candles and gaslights were replaced with electricity which was quickly followed by television, the family car and telephones.

Leisure time took on new meaning and with it came the birth of the country club, social organizations, neighborhood organizations, travel, resorts and of course the good ol’ backyard cookout. Families got together for birthdays, neighbors had each other over to talk about world affairs. Card playing clubs met regularly and of course there was the yearly family vacation. Leisure time was as common as breathing.

Now fast-forward a mere fifty years to our present day. We have come full circle. With the advent of bigger better faster everything our lives and time have now become overwhelmingly over scheduled. Cell phones, computers and email, iPods, Blackberries, 978 cable channels all scream 24/7 for our attention. The advent of wireless communication makes anyone, anywhere available at any time to everyone. Once again, we have no leisure time because instead of needing to work hard to survive, we need to work hard just to keep up and meet all the demands we have placed on ourselves. At this rate in another fifty years we will be completely obsolete, as humans and the world will be run for us by our machines. Zager and Evans had it right with the song “2525”. Don’t remember them? Think, “I, Robot”.

Not surprisingly the incidence of stress and stress related diseases has gone up ten fold since our forefathers time as well as suicides, bankruptcies and divorce. We pop more pills, drink more spirits, eat way too much, don’t sleep nearly enough let alone exercise at all and then wonder why we are sick and tired all the time. The tragedy is that we have done this to ourselves folks. We have crammed our lives so full of gadgets, stuff and running from one thing to the next that we have forgotten about people and connection and time to relate to those around us. You disagree? Ok, when was the last time you actually wrote a letter? Not an email, a letter. You remember, the things that people used to do with the stationary, a pen and stamps, in your own handwriting. An actual letter to someone you care about. I sure can’t remember the last time I did. And guys, have you ever written a love letter? Yeah, me neither. At least not that I can remember. My communications with my wife now amount to a quick phone call during the day, when I can fit it in, and a quick “how are you, yeah fine here, ok, love ya, bye”. That is the whole conversation. Ironically, she has a handful of letters, yes, love letters, yes, from someone else, that she received almost 20 years ago. Why does she keep them? And I quote “because they are proof that he took the time and made the effort to tell me how he felt.” She and this guy have been best friends for many years now so no, I am not offended or worried. She keeps the letters as tactile, solid proof that once someone took time to say how they felt. Wow. You can’t tie a cell phone call in blue ribbon and read it again later, can’t even do that with an email because it is not the same. And their friendship has endured. Interesting.

When was the last time you took the time to say how you felt or just sit and watch the rain or listen to some birds out the window? We have modernized our lives to the point that our machines now run us. We interact more with them than with people. Which brings me to the Hard Hat Brotherhood. The reason our organization is so vital to men’s lives today is precisely because we live such crazy frenetic lives. The Brotherhood is a way to build in one day a month where you interact with people, without appliances, face to face and enjoy some leisure time together. We offer the good old fashion barn raising type of socializing where everyone met for a united purpose to achieve a common goal. So what if that goal is to watch a ballgame, outside in the open air and yell and cheer until you are hoarse? So what if the “barn” we are raising is actually a cold one in between laughing at the guys fishing stories of the one that got away? None of that matters. What is important is that we are making time, for a few hours a month to share ourselves and our time with others of like mind and do some serious relaxing. What matters is that we are choosing to connect with other human beings, not machines. The rewards are beyond measure in how we will feel when we do have to return to work, our family responsibilities and our crazy lives. Even a little leisure time pays great dividends in distressing and reenergizing our minds, body and spirit. So find a crew in your area or start one of your own and reconnect with yourself and others in a relaxing, leisurely way at the next Hard Hat Brotherhood event.

Now, where did I put that pen and stationary

Have fun, Live longer

You know, having fun has never been a problem for me. Give me a piece of string and a stick and I can entertain myself for hours. Now that I live in the modern age of wide screen televisions, broadband connections and computer gaming, I have to work really hard at being bored. Ironically, it is all the high tech gadgets and gizmos at my disposal that are directly contributing to my demise. Why, you may ask are these modern conveniences contributing to all our demises? Well, for one thing they are just that, convenient. One doesn’t have to DO much of anything to be entertained. For another, during this uninvolved entertainment one is more than likely sitting and probably mindlessly munching and or drinking something that is not good for the body.

I recently watched a commercial for a popular beverage that shows a guy taking “baby steps” to try to improve his health. You see the guy sitting in a recliner. Then in a pathetic attempt to show his new interest in physical fitness he lowers his footrest and keeps his legs out for about three seconds then breathlessly puts the footrest back up and sinks into the chair in exhaustion. The part that made me take notice was that nagging voice in my head saying “geez, that’s me!”. This recognition was quickly followed by the equally disturbing question “when was the last time I took a walk or heaven forbid, worked out?” Funny how my clothes have been tight lately, must be leaving them in the dryer too long. The fact is, I have been gaining weight and that is not good for my health. We are in a country that is increasingly growing larger around the middle and it is time we just plain stopped it. Getting off our collective butts and going out and having some fun is the solution. Men tend to be less on the out and about track and more on the in and relaxing track. What we have to do is change our behavior, one step at a time.

For the most part, no one likes change. It is not easy to go against what the habit has been. Guys tend to avoid change like the plague because it takes us out of our comfort zone. But like any journey the one to better health, both physically and emotionally, starts with a single step. To that end I am going to make a suggestion to all of you that you decide here and now that you will take better care of yourself and your health and that you start to do this by taking one small step. Not the type of small step our friend in the commercial took, but a sincere step toward a better lifestyle. Now, being a man I understand that the whole motivation thing is a problem. I’m lucky, my motivation for most things comes in the form of my wife Char and her trusty 2x4 to the back of my head. She claims I can be a bit stubborn and resistant to change. She also is one smart cookie and when her efforts at being nice fail, she resorts to dirty tactics and pulls out that whole “reality” thing. She has this way of hitting me right between the eyes with “the facts”. Like the fact that most men live an average of 7 years less than their wives. The fact that most men die of diseases or complications that were almost entirely within their power to change with a little effort. The fact that taking two 15 minute breaks a day and walking around the block, office building or parking lot adds up to a 30 minute heart healthy aerobic workout, no added calories from the vending machine, a reduced stress level and a clearer head for the rest of the work day. And the one I find most applicable to the Hard Hat Brotherhood, the fact that we are hardwired from our days as cavemen to be part of a “tribe” and that doing so in this modern age means our survival and well being just as much as it did a million or so years ago. True, we no longer have to worry about being eaten or stepped on by a dinosaur, but we do have to worry about the stress of our jobs, our family dramas, our own bad eating habits, social isolation and sedentary lifestyle killing us just as fast.

Did you know that according to many doctors an isolated lifestyle for men in particular is just plain not healthy? This also goes back to the earliest times of man. If you wanted to survive you did it as a group. Everyone relied on everyone else. Some kept watch while others slept or ate. Some hunted while others guarded the homestead. The loners withered and died while the clan who played together and stayed together ultimately survived. Same thing in the here and now, we are happiest when we share our lives and with others. Today many doctors recommend that guys join a men’s group purely for the health benefits. As much as men feel they don’t need anybody else we are social creatures and it is that communication with each other that helps keep us whole. I see it many times when I meet a new member. Many of them have no real friends. Usually it is only the people they work with and maybe have a drink with on the way home. But there is no real friendship or fellowship. For many busy men their closest friend is their wife. This is usually a matter of convenience since they live in the same place. I am not knocking this arrangement and indeed I would be lying if I said my wife was not my best friend and most trusted ally. But face it guys, the women are different than us. If you don’t believe me just ask your wife or significant other her definition of “a relationship”. I promise you, it is much different than your definition. Not better or worse, just different. Women being different is a good thing for both them and us. It is that whole balance thing. Think about it, would you want to be married to or with someone who was only the female version of you? For most of us that would give new meaning to the term “identity crisis”.

The fact of the matter is men need other men as friends. All creatures need their own kind to relate to. That is how I ended up with two neurotic cats. My wife said having just one wasn’t good because he would have no one to be friends with or to relate to. So we got two and I must admit, they are best friends and do have a version of hanging out that is exclusive to them. If even cats need this dimension of being with their own kind then admitting that we need it is not so hard. True friendship is the key. I am talking about the kind of friends you turn to when you need someone to understand what it is like to be a guy, a father, a husband or a grandfather. Someone who understands the special stresses felt at different stages in a man’s life. Someone of your own kind who can relate and speak your same language. Face it guys, we need each other. And in this time of national security crisis, war and natural disasters having a friend to hang out with or call up is the least expensive most rewarding thing you can do for your mental health. A friend to take a walk with or go hunting, bowling or play tennis with and you have improved your physical health. A friend to laugh with….well, you have hit the fountain of youth.

The Hard Hat Brotherhood is here to offer all men the opportunity to enlarge their circle of friends in a painless, easy to use, inexpensive and fun filled manner. One small step guys. That is how you start. Take that step today and join a crew or start your own. Bring a new guy to your next event. Tell someone about us. To paraphrase Neil Armstrong - one small step for you, one giant step toward having fun, better health and longer life!

Guys Having Fun With Guys Without It Getting – Weird

Being part of a growing men’s organization I am constantly doing research on different men’s issues. Interestingly enough I found many new facts by reading the articles on the website. One particular area it discusses is the topic of how and why it is good for guys to belong to a club. It is a fact that it can be down right unhealthy not to go out and interact with others on a regular basis. The problem is that many guys are not comfortable making new friends, especially if they are of their own kind. This paradox can be frustrating because we find ourselves trapped between having to get out of our comfy recliners and being stressed out over the possibly of not being accepted in a new circle of acquaintances.

I have observed that there is an almost phobic feeling for a guy when presented with the challenge of making new male friends. Before the Hard Hat Brotherhood I had an incredibly difficult time getting myself to meet and communicate with others. Part of my apprehension was because I was a bit of a recluse and preferred a solitary lifestyle to one where I actually had to talk to another human. It was much easier to sit in my comfy chair and just watch the game. Another reason was the fact that I hated the idea of rejection especially from another guy. Heaven forbid I didn’t measure up to the standards of someone else. Too short, too fat, too geeky, not geeky enough, wrong class, wrong job, wrong clothes, hair parted the wrong way, wears glasses, loves seafood, hates spinach. My gosh, who knows what all could be wrong with me and I will never be accepted anyway so where the heck is my remote? Yeah, much safer here where I understand all the ins and outs of what is going on.

It is pretty plain to see that guys can have a hard time busting out of their shell and improving their lives. Now compound that with the fact that guys do not want their interactions with other males to get, you know, weird. Ever see the situation where a new guy in the group is at a sports event and the home team has just won by one point in the absolute last two seconds of the game? The men erupt hooting and cheering as they jump up and down patting each other on the back and even giving each other congratulatory hugs. Then somehow the same hug that a second ago was a completely natural expression of happiness suddenly becomes – weird. A knee jerk reaction ensues and they actually turn in opposite directions as if to say, “Never saw that guy before in my life”. The fear of being labeled is the leading reason why they don’t want to put themselves in that situation in the first place. It is a vicious cycle that takes courage and a leap of faith to overcome.

The thing to remember is that it can be done. Men, when given enough encouragement or become desperate enough will take the chance and join a group, club or organization like The Hard Hat Brotherhood. Recently I attended one of our many Crew events. This is where a bunch of our guys get together to do some “guy stuff”. We all met at a local expo center to visit this year’s Outdoorama; a virtual smorgasbord of hunting, fishing and camping demonstrations. As we started gathering at the main entrance I personally was excited to meet one of our newest members. He had just joined a week or so before and was part of our Nomad Crew. Nomads are individual members that cannot join established Crews due to travel or some other thing that keeps them on the move. This being the case that meant that he was coming to meet all of us for the first time, alone. I realized how courageous an act that was and when he walked up to all of us and introduced himself I made sure that mine was the first hand he shook. This helps me to overcome my own latent fears. Practice makes perfect.

One of the ways to overcome the fear of meeting new people is to remember that you are only new once. After that, you are one step closer to being another part of the establishment. The approach to meeting new people is also important. This is where the old “fake it until you make it” credo comes in handy. If you look confident and like you are glad to be there, then it comes across that way. Even if you don’t necessarily feel that way, you can still put that image forward. The irony is that when you act that way you do start to feel that way. So then the question becomes how exactly do you act that way?

The two things that anyone will notice first when they meet you are your voice and whether or not you make eye contact. Since both are part of the introduction process of meeting anyone, those are your best places to start. It is really pretty simple. When you meet someone for the first time, make eye contact, say hello and introduce yourself with a solid, confident voice. That is all there is to it. Now you are off to a good start and the rest should be easier. And if you don’t do stellar at these things right off just remember this; to the best of my knowledge no one has ever actually died of embarrassment. As my wife always says, try not to take life too seriously, your never gonna get out of it alive!

So what does this all mean? Are men doomed to a possibly shortened life because we don’t take the time to go out once or twice a month and commune with fellow men? Could be, there is another fact on the MenStuff website which mentions that the average woman has six close woman friends of which to talk to about personal issues. The average man has only one and it is usually not even a man but rather his wife. We know that there can definitely be a health benefit if we go out and interact with other guys. So it comes down to us acknowledging our fears, taking a chance and actually joining a club that you can feel comfortable with. It is worth it. Do yourself a favor and get out of that nice comfy chair; you will be glad you did.

The HHBrotherhood: A Complete Lack of Elegance

Being the founder of the Hard Hat Brotherhood I have had the pleasure of observing what I refer to as “Guy Behavior”. In other words, I get to see first hand the actions and attitudes when guys get together. Not “men” mind you but specifically “guys”, which by way of definition means when the veneer of a politically correct man is removed and the true guy spirit within is revealed. For example, the word “man” equals a three-piece suit and tie on an individual that can be taken to a social engagement with minimal supervision. A “guy” is that exact same individual who is now hogging the remote control and eating cold pizza in his underwear. No one said that “guy-dom” was pretty; functional maybe, but not necessarily pretty.

Recently an article in a Chicago newspaper featured an interesting quote about the Hard Hat Brotherhood that I thought to be profound. In the article the woman basically stated that there was an ever-growing group of men known as The Hard Hat Brotherhood and that they “lacked elegance”. When I read that statement I paused for a moment and thought to myself, “well duh, what did ya expect?” The profound part, which I found humorous, was the fact that the lady being interviewed had just finished singing to the columnist “I’m a Little Tea Pot”. Now is that a case of the teapot calling the hard hat inelegant? Anyway, I loved the comment that we lack elegance, in fact I believe that guys in general love showing this very type of behavior. Why else would we do things that are deemed socially unacceptable to women? We have elegance...of a sort. Do we not wear clean jockey shorts to all our HHBrotherhood events? Do we not proudly sport our neon colored hard hats for all to see? Are we not the ones who extol the virtues of hanging out with those of our own kind in the spirit of true guystuffness? I ask you, is that not elegance?

Maybe the appearance of inelegance is because there are so many inelegant ways that guys can present themselves. For example, did you ever see how a guy repairs things? There are two key components that are in every guy’s toolbox without fail. These are duct tape and more duct tape. We have a Crew in New Haven, Michigan called Tools of the Trade. Foreman David Smith informed me that their motto is “When Only The Right Tool Will Do” and proudly displayed right smack in the middle of their Crew logo is a big roll of duct tape. Guys have found duct tape to be the great equalizer of all men as far as fixing anything at any time. Case in point; not too long ago one of my home toilet seats cracked leaving the potential for a nasty pinch if extra precautions were not taken. The solution – after cleaning the wounded area with the proper solvent, a vigorous quantity of #5 grade grey duct tape was applied. This was not only to prevent the afore mentioned nasty pinch but also to keep the broken area from further damage due to constant use. Problem solved.

Another example of male inelegance would be how guys act around their wives and girlfriends. We would love to think of ourselves as dashing James Bond types just oozing class and debonair qualities. Unfortunately the only oozing that may occur is a direct result of the double meat and bean chili we had for lunch. Guys can’t help it.

If we are out at some gathering and the game of the week just happens to be going on at the same time, what are we supposed to do? The solution is a set of mini headphones and a portable radio. As long as you are not discovered everybody is happy. I am sure if the Pastor at my wedding had found me out he would have given me the big thumbs up. He had twenty bucks riding on U of M too.

After reflecting on my own guy behavior I have concluded that the overall number of examples that can be considered as inelegant are incalculable. Yet even if most are deemed not “proper” in social circles one in particular does merit an honorable mention.

I believe that “zoning out” when in a long-winded conversation with your significant other is perfectly acceptable and should not be considered as a lack of elegance. For those who are not familiar with this term, and you know who you are, zoning out is the semi-meditative state a guy puts himself in when the afore mentioned long-winded conversation with said significant other reaches a point that: A) it no longer contains any content that has significant relevance to him, B) you suddenly find that your naval lint is more interesting or C) you did not want to participate in this conversation in the first place. “Zoning” as guys call it, should be considered a self defense mechanism and the key reason many relationships last longer. The point at which zoning can be considered a lack of elegance is when your significant other catches you and now realizes that you haven’t been listening to a word she has said for the past fifteen minutes. For this reason one should show some signs of restraint in exactly how deep one actually zones out.

Ultimately, it is not that we as guys are trying to denounce all proper behavior, rather I feel that how we as men act around each other is what brings us closer together. The ability to be ourselves, regardless of the social norms usually observed is what makes a HHBrotherhood event a time of relaxation and fun. It is those shared moments when the stresses of every day life are not so pressing that we can feel the tension slip away. At this point we are reveling in our complete, inelegant guyness and loving every minute of it! Of course, it is also right about this time that the double beef and bean chili kicks in and the true inelegance begins. But then, we are guys, it’s what we do.

Self Realization For Men or How We Can Be Our Own Worst Enemy

It can be said that guys in general are not the most observant creatures on the planet. Woman, on the other hand notice every detail and change to almost everything around them. For us guys, a major difference has to be readily identifiable before we see any change. Allow me to offer a time- tested example of this difference in observations.

I have lost count of the number of times throughout my life when I was suddenly plunged into the horrifying mind-field every man dreads worse than his “yearly exam” (if you are over 40 you know what I mean). Can you relate to this one? A woman you truly care about has done something new to improve her looks and asks the mother of all scary questions “So what do you think?” Now most guys will have no clue what she is talking about. I certainly never did. The question hangs there in the air while the man does a scan of her that would make any Star Trek crewmember envious. Unfortunately, he can’t come up with a thing that looks different. Now his heart is racing, his palms sweaty as he realizes that the precious seconds to answer this question fast enough are flying by. Once that time has elapsed no answer will matter anyway. As the last nanosecond of time runs out he manages to blurt out in desperation “LOVE the new hair style!” only to watch the woman’s face fall in disappointment as she sighs heavily and walks away.

Why can’t guys realize the subtle changes around them? I have found after talking with fellow HHBrotherhood members that a common theme does prevail. We are less apt to notice changes around us if we cannot or do not assess and prioritize importance in ourselves first. If we never expand the borders of our immediate surroundings, either physically or emotionally, meaning we don’t break out of our usual routine of solitary pastimes and begin to spend time together with other guys, then we are cheating ourselves out of some of the best richness life has to offer. I am in not way suggesting that we neglect our responsibilities to our families, jobs or other important communities, merely that we look around us and see if we are allowing time for ourselves to enjoy the company of others of our kind.

Richard Wright once wrote: “Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread." My goal with the Hard Hat Brotherhood is to help men achieve self-realization with regard to a basic need for socialization with other men. This can be extremely frustrating at times. We absolutely should go out and socialize with other men on a regular basis; it is a natural and needed part of a healthy lifestyle. The frustrating part is that guys who need to do this the most are the ones who resist it the most. Many feel they don’t need to enrich their lives and they are perfectly fine as they are. Emotionally closed off, socially shut down and comfortably numb maybe, but they are just fine.

I have come out of an enclosed bubble and I am here to tell you that your whole world opens up when you realize what you have been missing out on. I have seen it with our members when they come to one of our HHBrotherhood events. They actually say things out loud like “I have not laughed like this in years”, or “I should have done this long ago.” Once you realize how good it is to participate in a fun, comfortable environment with friends you are never the same. The Hard Hat Brotherhood provides a simple and fun way to do this. Come on, give us a try. The worst that can happen is a realization of the fun you have been missing out on!

Origins Of The Hard Hat Brotherhood

Sometimes it just takes a good THWACK to the back of the head.

My name is Andrew Smith a.k.a. Andy, the Head Hard Hat and I would just love to tell you that the origins of the HHBrotherhood came to me as an inspiration out of the blue. The truth is it was more like a two-by-four to the back of the head – THWACK!

You see, I’m a guy and before the Hard Hat Brotherhood existed I exhibited typical guy behavior. For fun let’s name that behavior “Husband-Couch-Potatoitis” and I will give you a few of the symptoms. See if these sound familiar. I spent hours on end in front of some sort of luminary device like a large screen TV, computer monitor, gaming console… you get the idea. So captivated by these seemingly harmless appliances that the only communication I was able to convey to my wife, Char, came in the form of nods and grunts. Selective hearing soon set in. That is when your wife gets no response to requests like “take out the garbage” or “the lawn needs to be mowed”, but does get an immediate response to “honey, would you like a cold one?”. Any of this ring any bells? Unknown to me at that time I was sinking into a solitary stagnant existence much like a hermit, only with cable and broadband connections. Needless to say, my wife was not too pleased with my behavior and soon she started shopping around for a two-by-four.

Char became involved with the Red Hat Society in February 2004. When I say involved I mean like to exist you need air, water, food and the RHS. The kicker is I didn’t even realize at first that she had started her own Chapter, named it the “Flaming Red Divine Divas” and she was now The Queen. I was too busy watching ESPN. Even as the family room started to fill up with a wild assortment of newly designed hats, feather boas and rhinestones I was still oblivious. All I cared about was that the three hat stands, complete with large hats, on top of our projection TV did not impede the current game of the week. My first real recollection that something was up was when I had to physically start moving the hatboxes out of my computer chair. You see, I sort of had a ‘slight’ obsession with computer games when I wasn’t watching television. As you can no doubt imagine I was a bit slow on the uptake back then. My constant self-isolation was building stress in our marriage and the THWACK of all thwacks was a comin’ but I still didn’t have a clue. That was when fate stepped in.

My Queen was about to hold her first RHS Chapter Event. An event is when a bunch of Red Hat Society ladies get together and do things. I was in my usual male mood of wondering why I had been taken out of my busy schedule of watching television to be dragged along to unload and help setup all of my wife’s RHS stuff. Okay so I was a bit of a jerk back then – remember this is in the past. We finished the setup for her and the Red Hats ladies started coming in. My wife looks at me, smiles and waves and I realize that is my cue to leave. Here I am, literally on the outside of a restaurant looking in and waiting. As I am about to start exploring my new outside environment, I notice some of the other RHS husbands standing near by. I knew one of them so I went over and we started talking. Joking at first about our ladies, the conversations then turned to more in-depth topics. I suggested we find someplace to continue talking and maybe get something to eat. Everyone agreed and we ended up having a great time, just us guys – go figure. After a few more RHS events it became the normal thing to do. Drop off the ladies, set-up the event and then go out with the guys. We actually looked forward to meeting up just as much as the ladies did.

After three or four months of doing this my wife suggested that since I liked doing this so much, why not start up my own guys club? My response was typical male-like behavior; I rolled my eyes and whined that “nobody is going to want to join a guy’s club!”. “How do you know if you don’t try?” she said, smiling that sly smile that always means I already lost the debate. THWACK! Well you know, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing to try.

She suggested that maybe we should have hard hats and that way we could even decorate them. My response was less than enthusiastic; I am thinking, “you have got to be kidding me. No male in his right mind is going to decorate something like a hard hat and wear it out in public – No Way”. THWACK! Hey, you know we would be a club and we do want to draw some attention to ourselves otherwise no one knows we are a club, right? Why not. The guys thought it was a great idea and we all started creating our own hard hats.

The Hard Hat Brotherhood was born and with it I found a new outlet. Through this outlet I have been able to maintain great friendships with guys all around the country. I absolutely love being able to not only go out with just the guys a few times a month but also have combined events with our Red Hat wives so we can share fun times together. As men it is easy for some of us to just let ourselves fall into an isolated way of existing. I have found through the HHBrotherhood that it is also just as easy to go out and make friends and actually enjoy life instead of just passing through it. It took my wonderful wife Char and several THWACKs to the back of my head to figure this out. It is now my joy and goal in life to help other men figure this out as well. As young boys and men many of us were part of “a gang” of some sort, be it sports, band, science club, cars, poker night, etc. and treasured those friendships. We now provide that same type of friendship and interaction for adult men. The guys know they have “Brothers” all across the country and we are spreading around the world.

The Hard Hat Brotherhood is now an international organization made just for men and is currently sweeping the United States and now all over the world. Based on the simple premise that men sometimes just want to go out and be one of the guys. While participating in HHBrotherhood events there are no rules, regulations or honey-do lists. Any guy from age of 18 and up may join in the pursuit of having fun doing “guy stuff”. Please visit our website at and be sure to sign yourself up. General membership is free. You can also email Andy, the Head Hard Hat at and always remember the Hard Hat Brotherhood motto: Testosterone: Our Guys Are Full Of It!

©2010, Andy Smith

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Source: Andy Smith, HHBrotherhood Central, 8449 Parkridge Drive, Dexter, MI 48130, or 734.846.2283 or or E-Mail.

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