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Being a big man with soft hands is great if you’re a masseur or a porn star or Shaquille O’Neal. But for the rest of us burly gents, owning mitts with the texture of a toddler’s tuchis is nothing but a sign of weakness. When someone tells us, “Oooh, you have the smoothest hands,” what she’s really saying is “If we get a flat tire in the middle of nowhere, the bears will probably eat us before you figure out how to work the spare.” That sad thing is, she’s right. You puny dudes have it easy; no one expects much out of you except smarts and quickness and the ability to squeeze through the dog door when your date gets locked out of her house. You’re so cute and cuddly—gosh, she just wants to put you in her pocket like a li’l hamster! But if we XXL guys are anything less than the Brawny Man, we’re basically no-good Baby Hueys. (I won’t even go into the shame of being a big man with soft hands and absolutely no hair on his legs. And no, I’m not a swimmer.) So Sam Martin’s new How to Mow the Lawn: The Lost Art of Being a Man, a tiny book packed a-plenty with barrel-chested knowledge, is an invaluable resource for those of us big and tall boys who know how to use a wrench to re-create our favorite Three Stooges skit—but couldn’t actually, uh, wrench something if our sad, spoiled lives depended on it. When my fiancée, Jennifer, once asked me to fix our leaky faucet, she quickly added, “Hahaha. Just kidding, hon. I’ll call the landlord.” But now that I’ve got my manly manual, I can’t wait for something to go horribly, horribly wrong in the apartment. Bedside lamp explodes? I’ll rewire it! Martin, as he does for each of his 100 or so tutorials, provides a list of the stuff I’ll need: “wire cutters, screwdriver, wire stripper or pocketknife, new wiring, new plug.” That sounds easy enough: Jen has most of that stuff in her toolbox. Then the author, a senior editor at This Old House magazine, lays out his “How to” in six E-Z steps, starting with “Unplug the lamp” and ending with “Add a new plug by stripping the other end of the wire and—” And so on and on. (C’mon, like the lamp’s ever gonna explode.) But then, after covering such other rugged endeavors as “Laying a Concrete Tile Patio,” “Starting a Fire Without Matches,” and “Mixing the Perfect Cocktail,” the author gets a little carried away with the helpful hints, most notably in the section “Gaining Points With the Fairer Sex,” which is offensive on all sorts of levels. I have no trouble with this guy telling me “How to Carve a Roast,” but when he advises on “Getting Your Foot in the Bedroom Door” it’s just kinda creepy (Step 7: “To unclasp a bra with one hand…”). Of course, I shouldn’t criticize Martin’s thoroughness too much. After all, thanks to him, if I somehow can’t fix a flat tire when Jen and I are in the middle of nowhere, I can scare off the hungry bears via the instructions in “How to Defend Yourself Against Wild Animals.” All I’ll need to battle the beasts is…”that whistle you packed”? Ah, man, I shoulda been a porn star. —Sean Daly